As the old saying goes, you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Likewise, you shouldn’t stick to just one marketing strategy for your practice, either. Incorporate different elements into your strategy for the best return on your investment.
Below are 50 different ways you can market your practice. As you read, you’ll find that a lot of these items are interconnected and work very well when combined.
We’re certainly not suggesting that you go out and try all 50 at once (although more power to you if you have the time and resources to do so!). However, this list should give you some ideas of what you can incorporate into your marketing strategy.
1. Get a website.
According to Pew Research Center, 72% of U.S. adults have searched for health information online. This means that if you want to attract new patients, you’ll need to market yourself online. There are lots of different ways you can market yourself online, as you’ll see below, but all of those marketing efforts need to point to one central location, or hub: your website. Don’t have a website? You’ll definitely want to get one if you want to be able to compete with other practices in your area.
2. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly.
Not only do you need to have a website, you also need to make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Is it easy to navigate your site on a smartphone or tablet? If not, it’s time to consider getting a responsive, mobile-friendly site. Google has recently begun issuing warnings to sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, saying that these sites may not rank well in search results. In our experience with the 500 healthcare practice websites we’ve built, we’ve seen up to 40% of a practice’s online traffic come from mobile phones and tablets. You certainly don’t want to miss out on that much traffic.
3. Ask patients and colleagues for referrals.
Referrals are a great (and free!) way to get the word out about your practice. Connect with colleagues in different specialties to learn more about what they do and how you might be able to refer patients to one another. Happy patients are also good referral sources. If a patient is very pleased with the care you provide, he or she will most likely tell friends and family about your practice. Focus on keeping your patients happy, and watch the referrals roll in.
4. Implement SEO best practices.
Search engines are constantly evolving, and in order to get a favorable spot in search results, you need to follow the best practices of search engine optimization (SEO). Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to get to the top of search results, but taking the time to correctly implement SEO practices can pay off in the long run. Weed out things like low-quality or duplicate content, and avoid using spam tactics like keyword stuffing and link scheming. Instead, focus on quality content and local listings.
5. Create custom content for your website.
Quality custom content should be a part of your SEO plan. You can create custom content to inform patients about your practice, qualifications, procedures, and services. Quality content is an important factor in search engine ranking. Don’t try any of the “shortcut” tactics we mentioned in #4, though–they could hurt your ranking. Instead, create content with your patients in mind; what information do they want and need to know? Search engines are now intuitive enough to figure out whether or not you are providing quality information, so stuffing the content with the keywords you want won’t work. However, if you have well-written content with accurate, descriptive information, search engines will recognize it and award you with better ranking.
6. Claim your local listings.
Once a patient has decided to schedule an appointment with your practice, he or she will need to know where to find you. This is where local listings come in. If you claim and verify your local listings in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, these search engines will display that information when patients in your area search for you. If your listing doesn’t show up, or your listing information is incorrect, your new patients may have a hard time finding you and get frustrated.
7. Optimize your local listings.
Once your listing is claimed and verified, don’t stop there! Fill out as much information as possible to make your listing stand out. Add photos of your practice, fill out hours and specialties, and add a short description about your practice. The more information you can give, the better.
8. Keep your website up to date (content and technology).
If your website contains old, outdated information and potential patients can’t find the information they are looking for, they may get frustrated and move on. It’s important to check for updates periodically to avoid this frustration. In addition to keeping your information up to date, you also need to keep your site up to speed with the latest technology. If your site is very old, chances are people who are on mobile devices will have problems navigating it. This can create more frustration among your patients, and may eventually cause you to lose search engine ranking. We suggest going with a responsive web design to alleviate those worries.
9. Establish branding for your practice.
Branding will help patients be able to instantly recognize your practice throughout different mediums–your website, social media, blog, advertising, etc. Choose a color scheme, logo, and practice name that looks professional and makes your practice stand out from others in the area. Keep the branding consistent throughout all of your marketing efforts so that patients can easily identify information that is coming from your practice.
10. Focus on what sets you apart from other practices in your marketing.
This is especially important if your practice is located in a highly competitive area. When a patient is searching for a new doctor, they want as much information as possible to be able to make an informed decision. For example, if there are 5 orthopedic surgeons in your city, but your practice is the only one that offers a certain technique or treatment approach, that’s something you’ll want to point out on your website and in your other marketing efforts.
11. Try out email marketing.
Email marketing is a great way to communicate with your patients and can be very beneficial to your practice. You can use email to send out routine information like appointment reminders, but you can also use email to send out marketing materials like newsletters (#13), upcoming events, or health tips (#14). When your patients opt-in to email newsletters or health tips, it gives you another way to keep communicating with your patients even if they don’t need to visit your office regularly. Email marketing systems like Constant Contact and MailChimp also allow you to target your audience so you only send emails to people who can use the information you are sending out, and you can automate your messages so it doesn’t take up a lot of your time.
12. Don’t forget about direct mail, though.
In a world where we are used to using email for our day-to-day communications, direct mail can make an impact–as long as you use it thoughtfully. When a new patient comes to your practice, send out a “Welcome to the Practice” letter. Also, since you have your patients’ birthdays on file, you can send out birthday cards. Small, personal touches like this will really stand out to your patients and make them feel welcome in your practice.
13. Send out newsletters (email, print, or both).
Newsletters are a great way to keep your patients informed. Your newsletter may include news articles related to different conditions you treat, health tips (#14), articles from your blog (#28), events in the community (#41), or a combination of those items. You may have to try out different types of content to figure out what works for your practice, or conduct a survey (#33) to find out which types of content patients want to read. If you do email marketing (#11) in a system like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you can create newsletter templates to expedite the process of getting the newsletter sent out. If you have enough demand and the resources to do it, you can also create a print version of your newsletter and mail it out to patients or keep some copies in your office for patients to pick up. Just remember, whether you’re sending newsletters to patients via email or regular mail, you’ll only want to send them to those who opt in to the service. No use in wasting your time and resources on something a patient doesn’t want.
14. Give out health tips.
By giving out health tips, you are reassuring patients that you care about their well-being, even when they don’t need to come in to your office. You can send out health tips in a number of places: on social media (#23), in your newsletter (#13), or in blog posts (#28). You could even try sending out periodic emails with health tips as part of your email marketing plan (#11). You could email a health tip every week to patients who opt-in. You could also try a “Health Tip of the Day” on social media.
15. Send out appointment reminders.
Patients appreciate extra attention like appointment reminders. If your practice uses a HIPAA-compliant appointment reminder system, or an EHR (#13), it’s quite simple to automate appointment reminders. If you have a smaller practice and the staff available to do it, you could also call your patients to remind them of appointments.
16. Produce pamphlets and brochures.
Pamphlets and brochures can help to inform patients about your practice, your services, and the conditions you treat. Be sure to incorporate your branding. You can give these brochures to new patients, have them in your office for patients to pick up, add them to care packages (see #38), or give them out at health fairs (#42) and other events.
17. Offer take-away items.
Everyone loves a freebie! Send your patients home with items that have your practice’s branding. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive–items like pens, magnets, and notepads are all small and relatively inexpensive to produce. Be sure to include your practice’s phone number so they’ll always have it handy.
18. Run some “traditional” ads offline.
Have an event coming up, or want to announce a new location or addition to the practice? Traditional advertising methods are a great way to do that. Billboards, print ads, and radio and TV commercials are all great ways to do that. Just make sure you are targeting your ads for your desired audience.
19. Send out press releases.
This isn’t something you need to do frequently, unless you have several events going on. Press releases are a good way to help get the word out about events in the community like a speaking engagement, an open house, or a health fair.
20. Run a paid search campaign.
Paid search is a quick way to drive traffic to your website, and it can be very useful if you target it correctly. Paid search is great if you’ve just launched a new website and want to get some exposure. However, you’ll want to supplement your paid search campaign with other marketing efforts–traffic from paid search will end once your end your campaign.
21. Optimize your landing pages.
If you’re running a paid search campaign (#20), you want to make sure you’re sending your visitors to a page that contains useful information and answers their questions. You may have to do some research and try out different things to figure out what works best.
22. Know your peak season.
If your practice is located in an area that is a popular vacation destination, you can target your marketing efforts to those patients. For example, during the winter, some patients living in colder areas may spend the season in a warmer area, and they may need a local doctor. These patients are often called snowbirds. If your practice is located in a popular winter retreat destination, you can start targeting your advertising to those patients before the season begins.
23. Get on social media.
Social media can be a great way to connect with your patients and influencers in your field, and it is another area that can help to solidify your branding (see #9). Facebook and Twitter are great for connecting with your patients, posting health tips (see #14), sharing your blog articles (see #28), or posting announcements about events and news related to your practice. LinkedIn is useful for connecting with others in your field. You don’t have to be on every platform available–just make sure that you are able to keep up and post regularly to the networks you do decide to join. Make a plan if needed to help you stay on track.
24. Get on YouTube.
YouTube videos can be great additions to your website and very useful educational tools for your patients. They can also help new patients get acquainted with doctors before they book that first appointment–it helps them attach a face and a personality to the information. YouTube videos can be used to share health tips (see #14), explain procedures and services, and share the outcomes of certain procedures (ex. a patient walking after having a knee replacement procedure at your practice). Just make sure to avoid anything too graphic, like a video of a surgical procedure–it may be off-putting to some patients. Dr. Mike Evans has become very well-known for his illustrated YouTube videos–they still get the point across without being gory. While you may not be able to produce illustrated videos, the idea of non-graphic, compelling images is something that you could incorporate into your video strategy.
25. Claim your Doximity profile.
Doximity is often referred to as the “LinkedIn for doctors,” but it provides a lot of other benefits as well. You can share information about difficult or unusual cases with other doctors through a secure, HIPAA-compliant network, get referrals from other doctors, and help with remote consultations. See our blog post about Doximity to learn more about the benefits it offers.
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26. Use review sites like Yelp and HealthGrades.
Review sites like Yelp, HealthGrades, and Angie’s List are becoming increasingly popular among patients. Current or former patients can leave reviews about the quality of care they received at your practice, and new patients will often look at those reviews when researching to find a new doctor. Online reviews won’t necessarily make or break your reputation, but they can provide useful insights into any areas where your practice may be falling short of your patients’ expectations.
27. Respond to online comments & reviews.
Review sites and social media pages allow other users to leave reviews and comment on your posts. Don’t just ignore those comments! This opens up the door for you to engage with your patients. It could be as simple as thanking a patient for a positive review, or you could engage in a conversation. You shouldn’t ignore negative reviews, either. Respond in a professional, well-thought-out way, and provide a way for the patient to resolve the issue with you offline. Even if you have some negative responses, if other potential patients see that you have taken the time to address those concerns, it could help to quell some doubts about your practice.
28. Start a blog.
Blogs are a great way to continue adding content to your website on a regular basis. This content should differ from your other website content (see #5). Rather than explaining your procedures and services, you can give health tips (#14), talk about innovations in healthcare, give injury prevention tips, or any other relevant topics your audience would be interested in.
29. Contribute to a publication (print or online).
If you enjoy writing blog articles, you might want to consider contributing to other publications. That could mean writing a health column for a local newspaper or magazine, or contributing to another blog. Aim for something that has a wider reach than your own blog. You may have to start with smaller blogs and publications first, but if it goes well, you could work your way up to larger publications.
30. Focus on patient experience and quality of care.
Your ultimate goal as a practice should be to provide the best care possible to your patients. Other marketing efforts can help you get patients in the door, but if you want them to stay and recommend you to others, you have to make sure that every aspect of care is of the highest quality possible. Remember, word-of-mouth is a powerful tool–give your patients an experience that they’ll want to tell others about.
31. Use an EHR.
Electronic health records (EHRs) can help your practice stay organized and allow patients to easily access their health information. More and more, patients want information about every aspect of their care so that they can make informed decisions. Having an EHR could be a big selling point to patients who want to be actively involved in their care.
32. Get patient testimonials.
Patient testimonials are a great addition for your website. Testimonials show the success stories of patients under your care, which can be reassuring to new patients.
33. Conduct patient surveys.
Are your patients satisfied with the care they are receiving? Do they like your facilities? Is the wait time too long? Find out what patients think by asking them to fill out a survey. You can even put one on your website. Surveys can help you find out if you’re staying on track with patients’ expectations, or if you have areas where you need to improve. Patients will appreciate the opportunity to give their opinions.
34. Answer patients’ questions (FAQs).
There are probably some questions that patients ask fairly often. This is where Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) come in handy. You can write up FAQs as part of your website content (#5), blog content (#28), or include them in your brochures or pamphlets (#16). Patients will appreciate the effort to answer their questions before they even have to ask them.
35. Get quality patient education.
Patients will have questions about their conditions or the procedures they need to have, and patient education gives you a resource to point them to. Patient education also helps to answer any questions a patient may think of after he or she has left your office.
36. Make yourself more accessible to patients
Patients really appreciate a doctor who is willing to address any questions or concerns outside of the office. Offer a phone number or email address where patients can contact you, and try to respond as soon as you can.
37. Add new services.
The healthcare field is constantly evolving, and you need to be able to keep up with the latest advancements. Offering newer, less-invasive procedures will appeal to patients seeking the most advanced care possible. Outside of surgery, you can do things that make care more convenient for your patients, like adding on-site physical therapy.
38. Give care packages to patients.
Care packages could include brochures and takeaway items like pens, magnets, notepads, etc. You can give different types of care packages to different patients. New patients could get a package containing information about your practice and what they’ll need to know. You can also give care packages to patients who have just been diagnosed with a particular condition and provide information on how to manage that condition.
39. Help your patients find you online.
This one’s pretty simple: If you have a website or are on social media, let your patients know! They won’t know to look for you if they don’t know you’re out there! Put up “Find us on Facebook” or “Visit our website” signs in your office, and include that information in your marketing materials, too.
40. Put up an “Accepting New Patients” sign.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It lets people know that you are welcoming new patients when other practices in the area might be full.
41. Get involved in your community.
Getting out in your community helps patients recognize you for your positive work. It also helps you connect with patients outside of the office or hospital environment. Whether you participate in charity fundraising events, donate your time and services, or do public speaking engagements (see #’s 42-47 below for ideas).
42. Go to health fairs.
Health fairs can help you reach out to people who may have been unaware of your practice. Health fairs are another opportunity to offer free screenings and services to people in your community. Having a booth at a health fair can also help you to build brand awareness (see #22) so that patients will remember you if they ever need help in the future.
43. Offer free screenings or services.
This gives new patients a chance to “sample” your care approach and services. It could be something as simple as free blood pressure screenings or a free flu shot to the first 10 patients who visit your flu clinic. This can help you attract patients who might have otherwise gone to a retail or pharmacy-based clinic.
44. Participate in public speaking events and seminars.
This is a way to help show off your expertise on a particular topic. Seminars and speaking events can be for patients (to explain management of a chronic condition, for example), or for others in the healthcare community.
45. Have an open house.
This is very useful if you have a new office location or facility. It allows potential patients to see facilities and meet your staff. It also gives them the opportunity to discuss your care philosophy to determine whether your practice is the right fit. The American Academy of Family Physicians has some detailed tips on how to plan an open house.
46. Get involved with the local chamber of commerce.
Your local chamber of commerce can help you identify other opportunities to get involved with other businesses and the community.
47. Do local news interviews.
Whether you do a regular health segment or are interviewed for a news story related to your area of expertise, appearing on the local news station is another way to get your name out there.
48. Target family members of potential patients.
Often, people are searching for medical advice on behalf of an older family member, like a parent or grandparent. So, if you primarily perform hip replacements on elderly patients, don’t assume that having an online presence won’t help your practice. In many cases, you’ll find that a patient’s child or grandchild found you online. Keep that in mind when coming up with your marketing plan.
49. Get published in medical journals.
Medical journals allow you to show off your expertise in a particular topic to the medical community. Medical journals are much more in-depth and research-based, unlike the other publications we talked about in #29.
50. Do podcasts.
Podcasts are another way to share your expertise on different topics and provide information to your patients.
Need tips on how to implement your marketing strategy? Check out our blog! We’ve got tips on everything from social media, SEO, and marketing strategy for medical and surgical practices.