If you’re just starting out in private practice, it’s important to have a marketing plan so your practice has the best chance to grow quickly.
It can take time for referrers to learn about your practice and to develop industry relationships that can build your patient base. Marketing is a good way to attract potential referrers and patients.
Get your marketing basics sorted for your medical practice
- Brand it
- Get a website
- Create a digital presence
Your brand is much more than the logo, fonts and colours you choose for your medical practice. You need to develop a unique and memorable brand identity that reflects what’s important to you and your team, and is designed to attract your key patient demographic. If you encapsulate these factors effectively, your brand will inspire an emotional connection with potential referrers and patients and help you build your patient base, so you can be more financial stable in the long term.
There are some things you should keep in mind when developing your brand identity:
Brainstorm the patients and referrers you want to attract
You can either do this individually, or with several members of your team. This will help you define and document what you want your practice to be and the people you will help, which is an integral part of a design brief. Some prompts for your brainstorm might be:
- What sort of patients will we be seeing and what’s important to them?
- What sort of experience do these patients have at other practices and how will you be different?
- How do we want patients to feel when they visit our practice?
- How do you want referrers to describe you to patients?
- Who will refer to your practice? Describe them in detail – consider creating a fictional persona to make this more personal.
- What is important to your staff? What makes an experience with your staff unique to your practice?
- What are competing practices in your area doing well or not well?
Invest in qualified, experienced design
While it’s tempting to go down the affordable route and use a relative who dabbles in design, or purchase a pre-made logo for $50, this will likely hurt your business in the long term because it looks unprofessional or won’t be up to the same calibre as competing practices. Your brand is the first chance to make a good impression, and it can be costly to change a brand identity later, so it’s worthwhile investing in this early. A brand designer is also not the same as a web designer or your average graphic designer. When searching for the right person, you should ask to see their portfolio and find out about their approach to brand design, including the number of revisions included and their brief process. Freelancers will usually be more affordable than using a brand agency, however, a brand agency’s work may be more polished.
Tip: Make sure you consult the marketing guidelines for Australian medical practices.
Get a website
The first thing you can expect referring doctors and patients to do when they see your practice is Google you. You can use a free tool like Wix, Squarespace or even WordPress to create and host a simple website. Squarespace in particular is great for building a website yourself, or you can hire a web designer/developer to create a website for you which will save you significant time.
Showcase your brand identity
Your brand identity should be applied to your website in a tasteful way, which is why it’s helpful to hire a web designer, or have a designer’s input. You should also take special care crafting the wording on your website – your wording is part of your brand identity too! You could also hire a content writer with SEO experience to ensure your website is optimised for Google.
Provide a positive user experience
Make sure it’s easy to find information such as your contact details, a contact form, how to book and where to find your practice. These should all be easily accessible from the homepage and most other pages of your website. You should have an easy to navigate menu that includes your team, your services and your contact details at a minimum.
Have photos showcasing your team and practice
A few photos of your practice, your clinicians, your colleagues, the consult rooms, and the fitout can build a sense of safety and trust in you and your practice. While a professional photoshoot would be beneficial and will make the most of your space, it’s also possible to take high quality photos on your personal camera or phone.
Create a digital presence
When a patient looks for your practice, they will start by Googling you. They might look at your location in Google maps, or click on a Google Ad you’re running at the top of the page. They may search for you on Facebook or Instagram to look for reviews or see who you have helped in the past. They might search for specialists using a directory website so they can ask their GP to refer them to their preferred specialist.
A digital presence will ensure your practice is there, wherever your patients expect you to be and give your practice the best chance of being found. Having a greater digital presence across various channels also gives you a better chance of appearing organically in search results for people searching for specialists in your area.
Use Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to extend the imprint of your brand to other spaces online. Follow other practitioners in your community and engage with them to increase recognition of your practice and give people a peek at your humanity “behind the curtain”. Facebook and Instagram may be more suited to attracting patients, while LinkedIn may be better for forming connections with other medical professionals.
Tip: We know you’re busy, so use a free social media tool like Later or Buffer to schedule posts for your social media accounts several weeks ahead of time.
Request patient reviews
Depending on the type of your practice, it may be appropriate to request reviews from your patients. Specialists such as dermatologists or plastic surgeons can rely heavily on reviews to build rapport in the community and trust with potential new patients. Google is a great place to request patients to leave a review for your clinic because they will see these reviews in map listings and on the first page of Google when searching for your practice. The best time to ask for a review is soon after their appointment or procedure, so consider building the request into a thank you email or survey email sent after their visit.
Your brand is built to be a true representation of who you are as a business, and how you wish to be perceived. Keep it simple and ask yourself, ‘what would I want to see?’ Make sure your website is easy to navigate and most importantly, make sure your patients can book an appointment or easily get in contact with you. Create social media accounts where your patients are likely to be and post regularly to reach them.
Read more of our new to private practice series below: