How to market a private practice?

Kris BorgraeveMarketing

Health practice marketing carries one big risk: the risk of total overwhelm. It may lead to hasty decisions and a lack of strategic overview. Perth specialist doctors report up to 30% loss in patient numbers and are often at risk of purchasing random tactics and services. We have mapped the components of a waterproof marketing strategy for private practice owners.

Health practice marketing in the combined Google/YouTube space may not have been on your radar before, and Google officially calls them "micro-moments": the short moments over the course of a day where we do a quick search on Google. Doctors who thought they would be able to ignore this new reality for a few more years, now start feeling a shift in the success of their practice. If you feel you could be one of them, it's time to apply some best practices.

1. Stop the tactical approach

Some common errors in health practice marketing: Quick fixes with Google Ads. The new girl at reception doing Friday afternoon Instagram posts. Paying an overseas operator to "do some SEO" (Search Engine Optimisation). They are the typical pitfalls in medical marketing. Why is that? As a doctor your weeks are filled and your focus is on highly complex activities, so you don't have the time to vet the latest in digital tools and platforms. Certain types of providers will happily push tactics and tools your way, hoping that your business is eager to buy.

Solution: Take a step back and work out a strategy that starts with your business goals, and reliable data on patient search behaviour in your area for your niche. 

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2. Understand the new patient

Your patient of the past was given a referral by the GP and shows up without questioning it. Your patient of today has read up on some of the symptoms before seeing the GP, and has potentially been causing a slight level of irritation citing various theories about the condition this patient thought he or she was suffering from.

Whether you like or dislike it, the New Patient uses Google. TNS Australia and Google did research on patient behaviour and found that 61% of all Australians search for local health services on their smartphone on a regular basis. Availability of the appropriate treatment and price are the drivers of the search, and on average, patients check out 2 to 3 doctors online.

Take a moment to reflect on what this means for your practice. If you don't insert your brand in this process so you get in front of those thousands of searching patients...chances are someone in your niche in the same area does get the traffic and you don't.

Solution: Get updated on the possibilities in patient search behaviour analysis. Learn more about the way Google scans medical websites.

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3. Stop flying blind. Use data.

Would you happily switch off the monitor during your next theatre session? You would probably agree that having access to information is essential in your line of work. The good news is that you can get clear on how patient searches work, and you can start anticipating for those "new conversations" on your website.

For every medical niche, our Search Engine experts analyse and map the search behaviour. Which layman's terms are used in popular searches? What are the exact questions asked by patients in the Google search window? For example: "What are the symptoms of endometriosis"?  and "What to expect with ACL surgery"?

This information allows you - and your marketing team - to look at your website content through a new filter. Every page, every image, and every YouTube clip you publish, is now matched with the relevant search terms used by your future patients.  That's how data driven marketing helps doctors become leaders.

Solution: Apply for a free detailed digital competition assessment now.

4. Think & feel outside the square

The leading doctors I come across have found a balance between conveying factual, medical and technical information...and coming across as approachable human beings on their website.

If - for a moment - you imagined that your website was a TV channel. Would you want it to be the most boring, poorly produced channel of all times? Or would you hope that it matches your qualities as a surgeon, specialist doctor or practice owner?

How do you achieve this with your website? The strategic approach will define your style, the design will be in line with patients' expectations in terms of user-friendliness.

And most of all: your website needs to incorporate part of your story. Your "why". Your personality. You chose to do this type of surgery because you saw how it helped a loved one. You enjoy pushing the boundaries of innovation with new techniques to improve patient outcomes. You thrive on maintaining and improving people's quality of life.

The more we see & feel that you are not only experienced and highly qualified (isn't that the minimum expectation when we trust someone in your role in theatre?), but also a human being who loves living life...the more rapport you will build and the more trust you will inspire.

Solution: Ask us to guide you through the strategies we design to maintain patients' interest on medical websites. Check out Dr Tamara Hunter and The Surgeons Collective.

5. First Things First

It makes sense that - as you choose to be more strategic about solutions for your health practice marketing- you will tackle priorities first.  If your practice offers treatments that are seen as a commodity by patients (a range from cosmetic surgery and bariatric that may also include dentistry), then a short term push with Google Ads may boost your patient numbers. But be aware of the fact that Ads only work when you keep paying for them.

Organic search makes your pages show up under the ads, and many patients know that that is where you find information that isn't pushed by advertising. Google ranks pages that have real content, so if you plan to give your practice an online presence with a long term vision, then organic is a wise priority.

Solution: Ask for a free consult and we will set it up for you. Over the phone, Skype or face-to-face.