Medical Marketing and Digital Obstacles Faced By Physicians

The mission of medicine is, of course, to help and to heal. But the practice of medicine is also an entrepreneurial endeavor. Clinics are also businesses, and to continue fulfilling the medical mission of caring for patients and families, they must be profitable.

That means healthcare systems and medical facilities are just like any other business insofar as they need effective marketing to help them grow and thrive. However, when it comes to marketing, healthcare practices face unique challenges.

Building Trust

Given the very real life-or-death consequences that apply in the healthcare industry, healthcare marketing must always be undertaken with a degree of gravity. Healthcare consumers may distrust clinicians who appear frivolous or cavalier in promoting their practices.

Thus, the onus is on healthcare marketers to overcome any initial reluctance the target audience may feel about healthcare marketing. Consumers may, at first, resist the idea of a healthcare provider advertising on social media, through email, or on television and radio.

However, if your content is strong and your tone earnest and professional, you will likely be able to leave a positive impression on your audience. This is especially true if you use your content strategically to provide valuable information that health consumers want and need.

For instance, you may use your website, blog, and social media accounts not only to provide information on your medical services but also to educate your audience on health topics or offer free advice. In this way, you build your reputation as a trusted authority and go-to resource for information relating to disease prevention and management, mental health, wellness, and related concerns.

Best of all, as you develop content that boosts your practice’s reputation, you’re going to be improving your search engine optimization (SEO) at the same time. The more credible your content and brand, the greater the likelihood that you will satisfy Google’s rigorous E-E-A-T algorithm and, thus, land a prime spot on a search engine results page.

Tailoring Content to Audience Needs

Another significant challenge in healthcare marketing is the burden of tailoring content to the needs of the target audience. In many cases, healthcare systems and clinics serve a vast patient demographic, treating patients of all ages, ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic groups.

That means that market segmentation can be tough, especially if you’re a small practice with a limited marketing budget and a small marketing team. The good news, though, is that with a little creativity in your content development, you can reach people without either spending a king’s ransom or resorting to a scattershot approach that doesn’t really target any audience.

The wide variety and immense reach of today’s digital platforms means that you can affordably access a broad audience, using the media that will best suit the desired market segment. The key is to leverage every tool you can from the digital marketer’s toolbox, including email marketing, long-form blogs, videos, and podcasts.

As you do so, you must understand exactly who you are targeting through each channel. For example, millennials and Generation Z are more likely to engage with and respond to social media and video content than their older counterparts may be.

On the other hand, Generation X and baby boomers may prefer long-form content, direct emails, and podcasts, as well as traditional media channels, such as television and radio ads.

This can certainly get confusing, especially as you’re organizing publication dates and other important milestones in the meantime. To make the process more efficient, use different methods like process visualization. This provides visuals to the content publication calendar and breaks down each step. With it, you can focus on making your content more substantial rather than worrying about the minor anxieties that come with the process.

As you identify the media that will best reach each target segment, you will then want to align the content, from subject matter to presentation style, to the expectations of that segment.

Leveraging Online Reviews (Even Bad Ones)

One of the most important things you can do as a medical marketer is to cultivate a sense of community between clinicians, patients, families, and prospective patients. Building thriving online discussion forums, including soliciting patient reviews, is an ideal way to do this.

Inviting these reviews, though, means that there will inevitably be the occasional negative review. And while negative reviews can certainly be upsetting, they do not have to damage your clinic’s reputation.

Indeed, you can transform negative reviews into positive factors for your practice. This is because negative reviews often provide an invaluable opportunity to learn and improve in your practice. The information you glean from your patient’s complaints can be used to resolve service issues in the front office and deficiencies in care within your clinical team.

These practical improvements may then be integrated into your digital marketing. How you respond to negative reviews can be a powerful tool for not only mitigating the potential damage of a patient complaint but also for turning the complaint into a benefit. When audiences see that you react to negative reviews with respect, concern, and a sincere effort to resolve the issue, they’re likely to end up trusting and engaging with you even more.

Evaluate Your Marketing Efforts Afterward

The key downfall of many medical practices when initiating a new marketing strategy is setting it and forgetting it. If you’re not actively keeping tabs open on your marketing efforts and how they’re being received by potential patients, all your work up to this point would be wasted. The true question is: how will you continually evaluate your progress?

You can do this in a variety of ways. For one, qualitative methods should be relatively easy as a practitioner — you can give patients a survey when they first visit to ask how they found you initially. Even sparking conversations wouldn’t hurt with the right patient.

However, quantitative methods may give you a better overall picture of your progress. You’ll need to look for the right key performance indicators (KPIs), though. KPIs like revenue growth and customer acquisition are not only great indicators for your practice’s overall health, but they can also help you decide if your marketing efforts are doing any good or not.

Once you do your research, you can analyze the results and decide how you would like to regroup from there.

The Takeaway

Although there are always things you can do to improve your medical marketing, know that few practitioners get it right the first time. There is a reason you went to medical school rather than obtaining a degree in communications or marketing, after all.

However, understanding the various obstacles that arise and knowing how to overcome them can help physicians and marketers alike achieve exceptional growth. Effective medical marketing, indeed, is essential to cultivating a strong brand and building thriving relationships with patients, families, and healthcare consumers.

 


 Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter. 


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Why Marketing Is Essential for Private Medical Practices

Consumerism across all industries has drastically changed the way professionals need to market their products or services, and the healthcare industry is no exception. With so many options available to patients today, healthcare facilities and companies must go the extra mile to market their business if they want to continue attracting and retaining new customers.

This is especially true for smaller, private practices. The field of private medicine is even more niche, which means you have to do even more to stand out against larger healthcare companies. It’s all too easy for someone to do a search and find the bigger, more popular facilities that can address their needs, but it’s much harder to find the smaller places that offer more specialized care and services.

The only way to make yourself known among the myriad medical solutions providers, general practitioners, and healthcare specialists, is to engage in marketing yourself. Marketing is essential for private medical practices for two main reasons — the first is somewhat obvious, and it’s the axiom that you can’t sell anything without marketing it first. Sure, you might be generated leads through referrals, but you can’t rely on others to market for you forever. The second reason is that your competitors are already doing it. They’re already fishing in your pond, and you’re never going to catch any fish without casting a line yourself.

Even if you are only comparing your business to other private practices, it is still a competitive market. Just because you offer specialized services does not mean you can simply sit and wait for patients to find you. You have to actively put your services out there and market them in a way that shows patients why they should choose your business over other private practices.

What is Medical Practice Marketing?

Marketing is the practice of using strategic outreach and communications to attract and retain customers. For healthcare workers and the private medical practice field, this specifically involves developing a marketing strategy that shepherds people through their healthcare journey from start (when they are just prospective patients searching the internet) to finish (or for as long as they remain a client/patient).

Some of the best medical practice marketing strategies utilize multi-channel tactics to target specific markets through the use of online and offline efforts to drive engagement. The more places your marketing is, the more new patients you will attract.

What Medical Practice Marketing is Not

To further help you understand what marketing is and how it can help your practice, let’s consider some common marketing misconceptions which could be influencing your hesitance about developing your own marketing strategy:

1. Marketing Is Too Expensive

Marketing is neither expensive nor inexpensive. Like anything you do or buy for your business that offers you a return on your investment, marketing is what you put into it.

If you buy a piece of cheap medical equipment, it might not really bring you the results you were hoping for, which means it might not end up being worth the money you paid for it. But if you buy the higher priced piece of equipment that is more reliable, it is a larger spend upfront, but in the long run, it’s not really expensive because it gets you a much higher return on your investment.

In this same vein, good marketing isn’t really expensive because of what it gives you; good marketing can be low-cost and still significantly boost your return on investment (ROI). No matter the cost, good marketing brings you more clients and patients. It increases your profits.

Of course, it’s also all about how you spend your money on marketing. If you have a quality, well-thought-out strategic plan, you can be more mindful of your budget and make the money that you do put into marketing go a lot further for you.

But if you simply throw your money at marketing that you haven’t really put the time and effort into, then yes, you might end up wasting that money, which means you might end up having made an expensive purchase that doesn’t deliver results.

2. Marketing Is About Quantity, Not Quality

As marketing has increased in popularity in recent years, many believe that you just need to constantly produce as much marketing content as possible to stay ahead of the game. But this just isn’t true.

A little time spent on quality marketing will go further than a lot of time spent on poor marketing. In general, good marketing still takes time and effort, but you don’t need to constantly churn out content if you do things well the first time around.

As a private medical practice, you don’t have the time to be a content-generating workhorse. And you don’t need to be. If you simply put in a little extra time and effort upfront, then you will have higher quality content that is more reliable and will deliver results over time for a longer period.

3. Marketing Is Only About You and Your Business

While your goal with marketing your practice might be about improving the success of your practice, your marketing should not center around you and your business. Marketing is really about your customers — your patients.

If you stand and shout, “hey, look at me, come look at my business and what we’re doing,” you might initially garner some attention, but today’s consumers are more discerning than they used to be. This means the marketing experience really needs to be about them, what your business can offer them, and how you benefit them — not the other way around.

If customers or patients don’t think you actually care about them and their needs and you are just trying to make a sale, then they won’t stick around. So your marketing shouldn’t be about you; it should be about them and what you can do for them. In fact, investing in community building is one of the most effective ways to humanize your brand — give to your customer base, and they will be much more likely to give you their business.

4. Marketing Isn’t Substantial Enough

While content marketing, such as the content on your website and blogs, is a big part of marketing, it is not the only part of it. If you want to expand your reach and generate more revenue, your marketing needs to be multichannel or a mix of different mediums.

A good website and website content is a great place to start, but simply building a website and paying for some blogs every now and then will only get you so far. Again, what you get out of your marketing will depend on what you put into it.

So when creating a strategy, consider all the avenues through which you can market your practice. This includes digital marketing, such as your website, blogs, e-newsletters, emails, social media, videos, podcasts, digital ads, etc., as well as traditional marketing, like print advertising and tv and radio ads.

The more varied your marketing, the more it will engage and attract your target audience. Consumers today like to be wowed. If you do the same thing over and over again, they will lose interest. As such, it might even be worth it to hire a third party that specializes in multichannel marketing solutions — at the very least, you know that you’ll be getting fresh and effective strategy and ideas.

How To Build a Quality Medical Practice Marketing Strategy

Now that you know the “why,” it’s time to start considering the “how.” How do you create quality marketing for your private medical practice?

There are so many ways you can go about this. There is no one right way to build a marketing strategy. And in many ways, it can depend on the specific needs of your individual practice. But we’ll cover the basics with a few of the best medical practice marketing strategies.

1. Build a Consistent Brand

Consistency is key in brand strategies and marketing, especially in the healthcare industry. Your audience needs to know exactly what to expect from you and to walk away from their experiences having had those expectations met. The way to do this is to build a strong and recognizable brand that delivers on its promises.

What is your brand—your practice all about? What do you care about? What kind of experience do you offer your patients?

Your customers need to know who you are — that they can trust you, and that you will deliver the experience that you said you would. This not only boosts your brand’s awareness but will result in higher customer retention rates.

2. Create a Quality Website

Seamless digital patient experiences are a must in today’s world of digitally savvy consumers. In healthcare, this starts with a quality website that patients can easily navigate and find exactly what they need. Websites are also a great way to collect consumer data that you can use to improve your marketing.

Think of your website as the face of your business. It is often the first thing a prospective patient sees when looking into your business, so it needs to make an impression. If your website isn’t good, chances are people won’t bother to come visit your practice in person.

A quality website with a seamless digital experience can make all the difference in the healthcare industry. If your website isn’t professional and engaging, then the customer will assume that your business isn’t professional and engaging.

3. Optimize Your Content to Improve Search Rankings

Again, one of the first ways a prospective patient discovers a new medical practice is through their website. The way they find that website is by conducting a search using sites like Google.

If you want your practice to be among the first results that pop up after someone performs a search, you need to be using SEO — Search Engine Optimization. SEO involves using keywords and phrases in your content to help people find you when they are looking for certain services.

For example, if someone needs help with a certain medical condition like diabetes, and your practice specializes in endocrinology, you would want to use specific keywords or phrases in your content related to that topic so your website will come up in search results for that person. If you don’t optimize your content, your website likely won’t rank high compared to your competitors, which means people won’t discover your practice as easily.

4. Boost Your Social Media Presence

Billions of consumers use social media today, and not just for socializing and posting pictures with their friends. Social media is a tool for discovering new brands, products, and services. So if your medical practice isn’t on social media, you are missing out on a large audience.

The notion that social media is unprofessional is outdated. Everyone is on social media, and it is an excellent way for your practice to engage your patients and prospective patients by posting tips, news, and other noteworthy healthcare information. This helps users keep you in mind when they require medical services.

Wrapping Up

These are just some of the tactics you can use to get started, but the important thing to take away is that your private medical practice needs quality marketing. And that marketing can significantly boost your chances of success and help you attract and retain more patients. The healthcare industry is always changing, so it’s essential to stay on top of marketing to ensure your private practice stays relevant and competitive.


 Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter. 


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.

Marketing and Design Tactics to Make Your Medical Website Standout

The patient is the heart and soul of any medical practice. Supporting patients and their loved ones through some of life’s most important, and often most difficult, moments is the mission of every healthcare provider.

 

However, the practice of medicine is also, fundamentally, a business. After all, you can’t do this vital work if you can’t reach the ones who need you most. This is where the significance of digital marketing shines through. A robust online presence and, in particular, the creation of a strong, functional medical website, can be instrumental in helping you acquire new patients and build meaningful relationships with existing ones.

 

The problem, though, is that all too often medical websites are geared toward a homogenous target audience that has little relevance or attraction for diverse patient populations. The result is a digital marketing strategy that threatens to reinforce the marginalization of traditionally disenfranchised patient populations, including people of color.

 

This article provides strategies for instituting marketing and design practices that will help your medical website stand out, increasing your access to historically underserved patient populations, including Black patients.

Understanding Your Target Audience

When it comes to developing a marketing and design platform that effectively reaches your target audience and solicits their engagement, the first and most important priority is to understand who your target audience is, what they want, and what they need.

 

Doing this, of course, is no mean feat. It requires both a strong grasp of consumer psychology and deep insight into your ideal customer persona. For consumers of health services, the most effective marketing strategies will be those that emphasize the provision of compassionate and highly competent care.

 

But this is only the baseline of what a healthcare consumer can expect when seeking a healthcare provider. They’re also going to want a healthcare team that knows, understands, and cares about them as individuals as well as members of a diverse community. Diversity and inclusive marketing approaches are of particular value in bringing this goal to fruition.

Marketing to Diverse Health Communities

The credo and guiding mission of the healthcare community is to first do no harm. For far too long, however, inequities within the healthcare system have contributed to disproportionate rates of morbidity and mortality in the Black community.

 

The good news, however, is that health systems are increasingly recognizing the long-standing racial disparities in both healthcare access and quality of care for Black patients and are taking proactive steps to address them.

 

Diversity in healthcare has become a core focus of healthcare practice and health policymaking. In light of this, the onus rests with healthcare marketers to reflect and respond to this shift toward diversity and inclusion within the healthcare system. After all, Black health consumers will never benefit from the health system’s move toward greater diversity if they are not first made aware of this ideological and tactical shift.

 

Making healthcare marketing more inclusive involves reimagining how audiences are represented as well as addressed. This means crafting marketing content that is more reflective of the lives and experiences of members of diverse communities while at the same time avoiding the stereotypes that are often not only just false but also misleading and offensive.

Diversity in Marketing Teams

If you’re seeking to more effectively reach Black patients with your medical website marketing and design, then building a marketing team that is as diverse as the audience you want to target is an ideal first step. There are, after all, cultural, social, and historical experiences that simply can’t be encapsulated in or captured through standard market research.

 

However, when you incorporate marketing team members who derive from the same communities you wish to speak to and serve, you’re going to have a depth of insight into the community perspective that might otherwise have been impossible.

 

For instance, members of the Black community may have unique and specific mental healthcare needs that neither clinicians nor marketers have been professionally trained to recognize. This might include, for example, anxiety and depressive disorders relating to generational trauma, systemic racism, and community violence.

 

Healthcare marketing approaches that speak to these particular needs, using the mental health-related discourse of the target community can help reach patient populations that have for too long been either misunderstood or entirely ignored by more traditional marketing strategies.

Diversity in Market Research

Diversifying your marketing team is one important prong in a broader strategy for better understanding and connecting with patients in the Black community, however. It is also incumbent on healthcare marketers to engage with the communities they seek to target.

 

This might include on-the-ground research using open-ended interviews and research surveys, or it may involve online studies, such as the analysis of online patient reviews, comments, and complaints.

 

Turning to a variety of social media platforms and online forums, particularly those oriented toward members of the Black community, can be an invaluable way to identify critical gaps not only in healthcare service but also in healthcare branding. You may also solicit similar information by developing and maintaining active discussion forums on your medical websites and social media. This kind of active engagement with the patient community can help you better understand the audience and to target your marketing strategies and website designs accordingly.

The Takeaway

For far too long, persons of color have been marginalized and underserved by the healthcare system. This has contributed to systemic racial inequities in healthcare access and quality, resulting in disproportionate rates of morbidity and mortality in the Black community. In recent years, however, efforts to redress racial bias and inequities in healthcare have continued apace.

 

Healthcare marketing is striving to keep in stride with these efforts. Indeed, proactive measures to more effectively reach Black patients are critical to the development of marketing and design tactics that will truly make your medical website stand out. The key lies in understanding who your target audience needs, what they want, and what they expect.


 Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, activism-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter. 


Disclaimer: The viewpoint expressed in this article is the opinion of the author and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the owners or employees at Healthcare Staffing Innovations, LLC.