New and emerging healthcare trends, policy updates, the growth of social marketing and a renewed focus on customer engagement make right now the time start planning for the exciting year ahead, says Jason Borody.
With big changes to the healthcare market coming up, practices will need to focus on the most effective and economical ways to connect
with patients. The industry is changing fast, so don’t get stuck by being complacent.
Word of mouth and referrals from colleagues are valuable commodities to any medical practice. However, in today’s competitive environment, referrals alone are not enough to maintain profitability. It’s time to get strategic with a solid marketing plan, and what better time of year to do it than now.
The facts about online communities
Studies show that 77% of patients searched online prior to booking an appointment. The most commonly researched topics are specific diseases or conditions, treatments or procedures and doctors or other health professionals.
What does this mean? It means medical practitioners not prepared to meet their patients online must be prepared to lose their patients.
Your online-marketing plan has quickly become a critical component of your broader marketing strategy.
The benefits of a good marketing strategy
Healthcare professionals who are able to utilise their online presence correctly can:
• Increase brand awareness.
• Improve the customer-lifetime value.
• Open lines of communication between existing and potential patients.
• Establish themselves as an authority in their field of specialty or geographic location.
More than ever, you need to understand your patients’ online habits, which are continuously changing with technology trends. Rapid increases in the use of Internet search engines like Google now mean that health providers need to be more savvy in the way they approach their clients.
It’s no longer enough to say you specialise in an area – there must be adequate online evidence to support your claims. Such online evidence can take many forms, including directories, wikis, blogs, forums, and comments on Facebook or Twitter. There are numerous places where you, and others, can publish information or personal reviews about anybody or anything.
Engaging with your target audience and providing useful information whenever it is requested builds trust in your practice as well as awareness of your capabilities. Build your online presence in a logical way that both informs and guides your patients without pushing services too hard. Build your reputation and ultimately people begin talking positively about your practice. In other words, readers will come to know and trust you before they walk in your door.
Keep the following in mind when devising your marketing plans for 2014:
• Content is king: Consistently creating valuable content through a variety of channels, such as social media platforms plus your website, eNewsletter, and videos, will help establish trust with patients. This trend proves that mass-media strategies are becoming less effective and that people want to be made to feel like you’re only talking to them.
• Mobile health: Customers have become accustomed to instant access. If you follow the three ‘Rs’ rule – Relevance, Reliability, and Relationship – you can’t go wrong. Provide your customers with compelling content, user-friendly navigation, and tools that facilitate a conversation, which will lead to conversion-related actions such as booking an appointment.
• Socialnomics: We can now build audiences across more channels than ever. There is a plethora of new social media platforms to choose from, which allows you to produce engaging content in a variety of media forms. Diversification is key, building brand equity by making it easier for patients to recognise your brand. Don’t forget to measure your practice’s social engagement by monitoring realtime information about its social reach and degree of interaction.
• Customer centricity: Give your patients a superior experience and you will have a customer for life. Take a look at your practice from a patient’s view and try to get a better understanding of your internal cross-functional touchpoints – this could drastically improve customer lifetime value.
Steps to Success
Successful medical practices need to be proactive in 2014 by managing change with actionable solutions. The keys to growing your business through online marketing are planning, implementing, measuring and tweaking.
In our experience, most healthcare clients are looking for advice on marketing strategies and our aim is to provide customised medical marketing plans. We understand the laws and codes that regulate medical marketing in Australia and develop marketing strategies that are compliant, professional and effective. In short, it is our business to make your business stand out for all the right reasons.
Vividus specialises in healthcare marketing for hospitals, medical centres, GP and specialist practices, and healthcare businesses. The Vividus teamwork to increase community awareness of your practice and help you build your patient list via local-area marketing, a professional website, online marketing, satisfaction surveys, and referral-based marketing.
To develop a marketing plan that will attract patients, improve patient experience and build reputation, call Vividus on 07 3282 2233 or visit www.vividus.com.au.
The content in this article was published in The Private Practice Summer 2013/14 edition. Download the print version by clicking below.