Marketing your practice effectively is something that requires considerable thought, and careful design.
In today’s private practice, it is one of the major issues and choke points with marketing plans. So consider, doctor, first, who is your ideal patient? What are all of the characteristics? Age, gender, health issues, demographics?
And, if you are not filling your practice with your ideal patients, then a really hard look at that is a must before you go any further. Really take time on this one. For example, when I was doing my orthopedics post-grad program, I aggressively pursued knee, shoulder and ankle injuries. These were my ideal patients then. I knew I could do a great job with them, and I really enjoyed the most challenging cases that often failed in other methods of care. Hard charging athletes were the direct targets of my marketing programs. I sponsored athletic events, gave workshops at athletic clubs, promoted my affiliations with college athletic teams, etc.
Surprisingly, very few professional doctors, that are owners of their practice, in a first contact (primary healthcare) type practice have even identified their ideal patient, and wonder why they are frustrated or unrewarded financially in practice.
Start by taking a very thorough look at the demographics of your area. If you have been in practice a year or more, run these numbers from your own software. Then, a really good exercise is to get a large local map, circle a radius around your office and have your team or marketing assistant use pushpins or marker dots to plot where your patients are coming from. I am sure you could do this with a web based tool as well. I still find a large paper map has had the biggest impact on effective planning. When it’s completed, post it on the wall right next to your marketing calendar.
Doing this mapping allows you to really see where your people are coming from. Upon completing this, the next step is to identify clusters. Are these neighborhoods, industries and certain areas of town? What are the common links, if any? Spend time on this, as it speaks volumes about your reach, and effectiveness of your overall plan
In urban settings, this may be only blocks. In rural areas, it could span many miles across county lines. Almost every doctor who has this analysis done by their staffing assistants is astounded by the findings.
Assuming your practice is filled with your ideal patients, you need to identify what their common characteristics are. If they come from specific groups, then they have commonalities. They read certain papers, have common interests in the community and, quite likely, are involved in certain activities. It could be PTA, athletics, church or maybe it’s grange or the annual fair committee. Don’t neglect local radio or TV or industrial connections either. For example, the “Friday Night Lights” crowd in almost every city, town or county has a powerful interest in not only the football game broadcasts, but also the sports shows that follow, columns in the local newspaper and, now more than ever, websites devoted to their coverage.
Herein lies the most powerful tip. Identify the target market, and then promote yourself and your practice directly, professionally and consistently.
However, don’t be a shadow. Get involved in their activities. Sponsor their events. Help them out when they need it most. Go out of your way to be helpful and these activities, combined with effective and coordinated targeted marketing, will reward you for years to come.
Be sure to effectively use every tool you can. So much is available at little or no cost to you at all.
But, Doctor, if you’re not filling your practice with ideal patients, make sure you start compiling their most common characteristics. Is your location and décor conducive to attracting and keeping your ideal patient? If not, you have some internal work to do, as well.
Once your vision is clarified, make sure your staff knows all about it and fully incorporate it into every step of your marketing calendar, tracking and planning. In today’s world, do not neglect powerful modern media.
In coordinating your entire marketing calendar and campaigns in this way, you will never have a shortage of new patients in any area or economy!
John Hayes Jr., D.C.
Dr John Hayes, chiropractic consultant, has an extensive clinically balanced background, and works actively with many doctors whose sole purpose is to deliver excellence in patient care. His purpose is to provide fellow healthcare practitioners with the systems, platforms, tools and executive skills needed in today’s very complex arena, without unneeded stress. Perfect Practice Web extensively trains his clients in chiropractic marketing and practice development. You can find out more at perfectpracticeweb.com and neuropathydr.com or call 1-781-754-0599 24/7.