Management Of Medical Practice Promotion, With A Solid Foundation
Management of medical practice promotion involves more than an A-frame and appointment cards or a listing on Google maps. Just like practice management, it requires a diverse set of skills and knowledge but ultimately must reflect the vision of the medical centre.
Medical practice promotional activities should take a more proactive approach to make the general public aware of a medical clinic, by informing, educating and where relevant, entertaining. This approach offers greater exposure, rather than just a simple “Hello, we are here” level of communication, and when executed properly, can target the people that are most likely to benefit from the style and range of services offered.
For example, if you are a medical clinic that has doctors with a qualification in Obstetrics, then promotional activities should maximise exposure to those whom pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period are currently relevant.
Marketing mediums vs vehicles
To acquire this level of accuracy in promoting any aspect of a medical centre, exposure to a potential market will be dependant on the marketing medium and the vehicle of promotion chosen. A marketing medium may be newspaper, radio, social media, with a vehicle being a specific example of each – advertising in the sports section of a local newspaper for example.
In other words, a printed marketing medium like brochures could be used within the promotional vehicle of a letter drop, to capture a geographic market. Whereas a paid online advertising campaign can directly target more focused demographics that can also include the age, gender, interests, and occupation of the audience.
Knowing where you want to go with any promotion is paramount, as then the best suited ‘medium’ and ‘vehicle’ can be chosen. This destination should consider such things as whom you wish to reach, what you wish to say to them and what elements of the medical practice are to be affected as a result. A summary of these elements could be written as ‘an increase in enquires by local private patients for diabetes management’.
Each medium and vehicle of promotion can be planned to focus on a set of demographics, but it is important when choosing these to think of which ones will reach the people you wish to communicate with. Facebook Ads may be good for reaching people with an interest in pregnancy health and childbirth, but if your message is less specific and with a much wider demographic, then Adwords may be a more suitable vehicle.
Devoting a portion of your advertising spend to Facebook Ads and Google Adwords is especially useful when you are in the process of a medical practice set up. It can provide an adjunct to marketing that may take longer to implement or gain traction, such as email newsletters or a ranking high on the list of results for specific Google search terms.
For generic promotion such as the opening of a new clinic or notification of a new doctor starting, it is best to use a broad variety of marketing mediums and vehicles. We all use different forms of communication and our preferences for seeking information vary, so covering a generic promotion with a broad stroke of marketing ensures current and potential patients are reached.
A solid base of good website structure and content
No matter the medium or vehicle, the efforts of marketing will lead your selected audience to eventually to your website. It could be to know more about the medical practice, to book an appointment online because they cannot make calls during working hours, or to check what services are provided by the doctors.
A bit like a good reception service that is quick to answer the phone, can help with your inquiry and set you at ease, a website must have a mixture of qualities. So ideally a good website will be fast to load, easy to navigate, with information that is clear and concise. After all, a users website experience can be more positive if simple items are in order, for example, that the phone number to call or location of the business, is easy to find. The structure of the website plays a part too, ensuring that the content of the page is ‘responsive’, adapting to the layouts of phones, tablets, and desktops.
The front door of your website is the home page, with an ‘appointments’ page being the virtual reception desk. The home page should act as a business card, so when people visit your home page they are given clear visual and written clues as to what your medical practice is about.
From the pictures you choose and the colour scheme, through to the key phrases and tone of writing used, an impression will be formed. Like any advertisement, time may be limited in getting the impression you are aiming for, across to the reader. Therefore the top section of the home page should offer the basics, such as a contact number, clear navigation and ideally the option to book online.
Further into the site, there are some basic pages that can provide a clear idea of the medical centre. Almost all websites have an ‘About Us’, ‘Contact’ and/or ‘Location’ page. This is easily extended by having a page that lists the doctors of the medical practice. This can outline the doctor’s respective qualifications and professional interests, helping to build trust even before the viewer has called to make an inquiry or booking.
A services page can highlight what treatment is available along with areas of health that can be addressed, such as ‘Women’s Health’ or ‘Skin Health’. Some practices have a ‘News’ page, handy for changes to staff, clinic hours, billing or treatment, while others have a ‘Blogs’ page with general information articles. Sometimes news and blog items are combined on the one page to add variety.
The main thing to keep in mind is that the website should cover all the major search terms you wish to be known for. By carefully constructing and crafting the information within the site from the start, a good foundation is created for onsite search engine optimisation.
SEO and other free forms of medical practice promotion
Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is maximising the potential visitors to your site by ensuring that your practice website appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine search.
Another way to think of this is Google being a giant directory that helps people find your medical practice. What words would they search for on Google to find you? The most obvious would be ‘your suburb’ and ‘medical practice’. But what about the suburbs around you, and maybe they might search for ‘doctors’ or ‘GP’ instead of ‘medical practice’. Maybe they will search for ‘‘medical clinic’ or ‘medical centre’ and not use a suburb at all in their search. They could be seeking ‘bulk billing’ or ‘after hours’ and from here the list will expand exponentially.
Once it is decided to promote a medical centre, it is wise to first identify these terms, and combinations thereof, that you wish to rank for organically on Google. Ideally, this is known before the website is built so that the terms can be included into how the site is structured and the work of adding these words to content can be incorporated from the start. It can be done later, but planning for this means you pay once and have the benefit of a clear vision of what terms needs to be promoted.
Although a major job that requires planning, a site that contains words to match search terms you wish to be found for, is only the tip of the SEO iceberg. The use of hyperlinks takes SEO a step further, whether they be within the website to key pages, external links to quality resources or the hardest of all, having reputable sites link to your medical practice website as a point of reference.
Other tasks are more mundane, like the listing of your business on local directories to increase online credibility of the medical practice and in doing so improve the ranking of the medical centre in Google maps Business Listings.
Although ‘free’ the management of medical practice promotional activities such as these requires time and someone with the ability to do them. If the plan is to actively promote the medical practice, then not doing them will require more money spent elsewhere. So a wise move is to have a framework from which to build website SEO within. That way every time something is added to the site, the content is contributing towards a greater purpose – being found by the audience you are seeking online.
Paid medical practice promotion
As mentioned earlier paid promotional activities, can be used from the point of opening a medical practice, while the website gains traction in Google listings. Even after achieving the desired ranking on Google these paid ads can remain on a reduced budget to increase exposure.
For starters though, after setting up your Google Business listing you may be sent a voucher from Google to try Adwords. This is handy as the first ads created will need to be refined, as will the ‘keywords’ or search terms used to show your ads.
The biggest investment time wise is at the beginning, as ads must be written and search terms selected including ‘negative keywords’ – for words where you don’t want ads to show. The reason being that you may have had a lot of clicks for ‘Bulk Billing Medical Centre’ but your practice does not bulk bill. Then it is essential to add ‘Bulk Billing’ to the ‘negative keywords’ list to avoid any more clicks on those ads.
Important as a Pay Per Click (PPC) setup for ads means that every time someone clicks on an Ad, a deduction is made from your budget. Fine for those businesses with mammoth budgets, but for those already carrying the costs of setting up a medical practice and paying ongoing expenses, every dollar counts. Depending on what paid advertising platform is used, it pays to dig a little deeper into the settings so as to reduce costs and increase the likelihood of search traffic reaching the services provided.
Google Adwords management is complex but benefits from being tied into both the website and Google Analytics. With Google Analytics both the ‘paid’ traffic from ads, and the other ‘organic’ traffic to your website, can be monitored to determine, to some degree, the overall efficacy of this mix of medical practice promotion.
Also by creating ads that match the content of the pages they are linked to, the cost per click can potentially be reduced. So once again pre-planning of the website to match what you wish to be found for online, can also be cost effective for some paid advertising, down the track.
Content can also be utilised in email marketing, by combining news items from within the medical centre with other material like a recent blog. A typical newsletter could contain news of a change to opening hours, a simple article on the difference between a headache and a migraine, and then a reminder that this season’s flu shots are in stock.
There is some cost to sending these email newsletters, if using a platform like MailChimp, and just like paid advertising the set up of an email template requires some time to be dedicated to it initially. Once set up though, all future email newsletters can utilise images and text already used in blog or news items.
Along the way patients who opt into the medical centre’s free monthly newsletter subscription can be added to the database of the clinic. Regular mail outs using this email database can offer an extension to the services provided by doctors and clinic staff, by keeping patients informed, educated and sometimes entertained.
Social Media selection
We all have varying degrees of experience with social media. For some of us we may only know Facebook and Twitter by name, and have no idea what LinkedIn or Instagram do. But consider that the people you are trying to communicate with do know, and use these social media platforms on a regular basis. It may be possible to connect with this audience by other means, yet this is still an avenue of medical practice promotion worth considering.
The management of setting up, contributing and monitoring of these platforms can be managed by those who are in contact with and understand what a medical practice has to offer. Rather than just having news or blog items sitting on your website, that material can be put to use as it has for Adwords and email newsletters, by posting the content on the social media pages that are set up.
The content posted on social media falls into one of three categories, of educating, informing or entertaining. Education may be the posting of news articles of interest, information may be promoting a local charity event or a new doctor starting, and entertainment could be something simple like photos of a staff member celebrating their birthday at the centre.
Whatever the content, posting should be consistent and the content in line with the feel and look of other marketing material, especially the website.
Tying together management of promotion
For specific services that are in need of advertising, the creation of a blog or page on that topic is a great way in which to tie all of the above together. In simple terms, the blog or page will be indexed by Google and so may contribute to ranking with terms associated with that service when people search online. The content and be linked to from Adwords or Facebook adverts and those ads can be targeted more specifically, both reducing the cost of wasted clicks and increasing relevancy to the audience. A blog can be used on email newsletters or posted on social media. The contents of a web page can be utilised in brochures or a screen slide in a waiting room.
So content, especially on a website, is king. In-depth, engaging and unique content is highly valued by Google. Aiming to write well-written content will come in handy for all of the marketing material mentioned, and reuse of this content will save time and money that could be spent elsewhere.
Whatever your plan for promotion, know that every bit counts.
Also with any promotion, it is important to know what guidelines and legislation relating to medical practice advertising have been put in place to protect the public. In the previous article Setting Up Medical Practice Advertising For Success, it was noted how important it was to ensure that those involved in the management of medical practice promotion be up to date with understanding these guidelines and the legislation. These guidelines should be taken into consideration when undertaking any of the above forms of medical practice promotion, and in doing so protect the reputation of the medical centre.
If you would like to know more about how marketing can be used to meet your goals, and what potential it holds for developing your medical practice, please contact Nicky Jardine on 1300 798 831.
DISCLAIMER: THE INFORMATION USED IN THIS ARTICLE IS FOR GUIDANCE ONLY. IF, AFTER READING THIS ARTICLE, YOU ARE STILL UNSURE IF YOUR ADVERTISING COMPLIES WITH THE NATIONAL LAW WE RECOMMEND YOU SEEK ADVICE FROM YOUR PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATION, INSURER AND/OR INDEPENDENT LEGAL ADVISER.