Once you’ve established your practice’s web presence, advertising and media efforts are a great way to take your marketing to the next level. These efforts will help you get in front of patients who may not have heard of you through online searches or word-of-mouth.
1. Establish branding for your practice so you’re easily recognizable in the community.
Branding will help patients be able to instantly recognize your practice throughout different mediums–your website, social media, blog, advertising, etc. Choose a color scheme, logo, and practice name that looks professional and makes your practice stand out from others in the area. Keep the branding consistent throughout all of your marketing efforts so that patients can easily identify information that is coming from your practice.
Unless your practice is large enough to have an in-house marketing team that handles graphic design, you’ll probably need to hire a company to help with your branding needs. You’ll also need to pass on any branding details to any team members or companies who help manage your various marketing efforts, including your website, social media, and print media.
Since your practice will likely have to outsource this work, the amount of effort on your staff’s part is low, though you’ll need to be available to approve and provide feedback.
Branding design costs will ultimately depend on what you need. Logo design tends to be the most expensive branding option. However, this is usually a one-time cost (unless your practice decides to change something), so this shouldn’t be something you have to regularly budget for.
2. Focus on what sets you apart from other practices to differentiate yourself.
This is especially important if your practice is located in a highly competitive area. When a patient is searching for a new doctor, they want as much information as possible to be able to make an informed decision. For example, if there are 5 orthopedic surgeons in your city, but your practice is the only one that offers a certain technique or treatment approach, that’s something you’ll want to point out on your website and in your other marketing efforts.
A lot of this can be accomplished through your content marketing efforts. Make sure the content on your website is not only informative, but shows how your practice is different. These details may be the deciding factor for patients when comparing your practice to others in the area.
You know what makes your practice great, so it shouldn’t take a lot of effort to come up with ideas on how to differentiate yourself. If your office is handling any content updates to incorporate these ideas, it will probably take at least a few hours to make those updates via a content management system. You can also outsource this work if you don’t have time for the actual implementation.
If your office handles the work, it won’t cost you anything. If you outsource this work, your costs can vary depending on how much work needs to be done.
3. Run some “traditional” ads offline.
Have an event coming up, or want to announce a new location or addition to the practice? Traditional advertising methods are a great way to do that. Billboards, print ads, and radio and TV commercials are all great options that can help your practice grab the attention of potential new patients. Just make sure you are targeting your ads for your desired audience. For example, run ads on channels or in publications that are more likely to be viewed by the patients you want to target.
You will need to work with an advertising agency to get the ads designed and placed, so the effort may be slightly lower in comparison to other marketing efforts. However, if your practice is planning on writing the ad copy, that will take some effort. You’ll also need to be available to provide feedback to the ad agency. TV commercials would probably require the highest effort on your part, since the doctors and other staff members would ideally be in the commercial.
Costs can vary based on where you place your ads and how long you run them. If you’re running the ads for a limited period of time, you may need to pay upfront for the entire run of the ad. If the ads are run for an indefinite period of time, you may pay for them monthly. Television commercials will likely be the highest-cost option, because you’ll need to pay for a film crew, editing, and placement of the ad itself.
4. Send out press releases to notify patients about upcoming events.
This isn’t something you need to do frequently, unless you have several events going on. Press releases are a good way to help get the word out about events in the community like a speaking engagement, an open house, or a health fair. You can email them to local news outlets to see if they will publish the information. There are no guarantees that your event will be run if you don’t pay for ad placement, but it’s worth a shot if advertising isn’t in your budget.
Putting together a press release can take some effort, especially if you’ve never done it before. We recommend creating a template for press releases to make it easier to fill in necessary information. There are a number of templates online that can help.
Sending out a press release shouldn’t cost you anything if you are sending to local news outlets. If you are sending out press releases on a regular basis or want a wider reach, you should consider hiring a PR company to help manage those efforts. A PR company is definitely a big investment, but it’s worth it if you ultimately get more patients from these efforts.
5. Run a paid search campaign to get in front of patients searching for a doctor online.
Paid search is a quick way to drive traffic to your website, and it can be very useful if you target it correctly. Paid search is great if you’ve just launched a new website and want to get some exposure. Paid search can also help you get highly-targeted traffic from patients seeking out specific procedures and services. However, you’ll want to supplement your paid search campaign with other marketing efforts–traffic from paid search will end once your end your campaign. We also recommend implementing some form of tracking for online appointment requests so that you can track your return on investment and adjust the campaign accordingly.
If your practice has a marketing department and is comfortable with running the campaign, it can reduce your costs for paid search, but will add to the amount of effort needed from your team. There’s a lot of benefit in working with a paid search expert, especially one that understands medical practices, so that you get highly-targeted traffic.
You can set your own budget for paid search, but we recommend a budget of at least $1,000 per month in ad spend to get the quality and volume of traffic you want. If you’re paying someone to set up and manage the campaign for you, you may also need to budget for a setup fee and monthly management fees.
6. Optimize your landing pages for your ads so patients find the information they need right away.
If you’re running a paid search campaign (#5), you want to make sure you’re sending your visitors to a page that contains useful information and answers their questions. This increases the chances that these patients will move forward with booking an appointment. You may have to do some research and try out different things to figure out what works best. If you’re working with a paid search specialist, that person may be able to provide some guidance in optimizing your landing pages.
Landing page optimization can require a lot of testing and effort. We recommend consulting with a marketing company or your paid search account manager to get the best results.
Depending on your agreement with your paid search provider, landing page optimization may be included. If not, you can expect to pay for optimization, which may include things like A/B testing and scroll tracking to see what patients react to and how they interact with the page.
7. Know your peak season to figure out when to invest in marketing.
If your practice is located in an area that is a popular vacation destination, you can target your marketing efforts to those patients. For example, during the winter, some patients living in colder areas may spend the season in a warmer area, and they may need a local doctor. These patients are often called snowbirds. If your practice is located in a popular winter retreat destination, you can start targeting your advertising to those patients before the season begins.
The effort it takes to figure out your peak season should be minimal. Your office can likely identify trends in appointment requests from patients. The real effort will be in adjusting your marketing efforts accordingly, coordinating with everyone involved in your marketing strategy.
Knowing your peak season can actually help reduce your costs, or help you spend your money more wisely. If you know patients are more likely to seek appointments at a certain time of the year, you can make sure to reserve more of your marketing budget for that time so that you are targeting patients when they are seeking out your services.
8. Get on social media media to connect with your patients.
Social media can be a great way to connect with your patients and influencers in your field, and it is another area that can help to solidify your branding. Facebook and Twitter are great for connecting with your patients, posting health tips, sharing your blog articles, or posting announcements about events and news related to your practice. LinkedIn is useful for connecting with others in your field. You don’t have to be on every platform available–just make sure that you are able to keep up and post regularly to the networks you do decide to join. Make a plan if needed to help you stay on track.
In order to post regularly, you’ll need to put a considerable amount of effort into social media. Tools like Hootsuite and Buffer can help you schedule out several posts at once to save some time, but it still requires a lot of effort to get everything done.
Simply having social media accounts is free. If you’re using a post scheduling tool, that may require a relatively low monthly cost, depending on which tool you use. You could also hire a marketing company to help you manage your social media, which will increase your costs, but decrease your effort.
9. Get on YouTube to share videos with your patients.
YouTube videos can be great additions to your website and very useful educational tools for your patients. They can also help new patients get acquainted with doctors before they book that first appointment–it helps them attach a face and a personality to the information. YouTube videos can be used to share health tips, explain procedures and services, and share the outcomes of certain procedures (ex. a patient walking after having a knee replacement procedure at your practice).
Just make sure to avoid anything too graphic, like a video of a surgical procedure–it may be off-putting to some patients. Dr. Mike Evans has become very well-known for his illustrated YouTube videos–they still get the point across without being gory. While you may not be able to produce illustrated videos, the idea of non-graphic, compelling images is something that you could incorporate into your video strategy.
This is a higher-effort marketing method for your practice, because doctors and office staff will need to participate in video creation.
Having a YouTube account is free. If you plan on paying someone to film your videos professionally, your costs may vary depending on how many videos you need filmed.
10. Contribute to a publication (print or online) to get your doctors in front of a wider audience.
If you enjoy writing blog articles, you might want to consider contributing to other publications. That could mean writing a health column for a local newspaper or magazine, or contributing to another blog. Aim for something that has a wider reach than your own blog. You may have to start with smaller blogs and publications first, but if it goes well, you could work your way up to larger publications.
In general, this isn’t work you’ll want to outsource. It will require a higher amount effort on your part, both in writing the content and coordinating with the publications.
This effort shouldn’t cost your practice any money.
11. Put up an “Accepting New Patients” sign to let patients know you have openings in your schedule.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. It lets people know that you are welcoming new patients when other practices in the area might be full. If patients have a more urgent need for healthcare, having sooner availability is a big plus, so it’s worth the effort to let people know. You may also be able to add it to your website by adding a banner or placing the notice in a prominent place on the homepage.
This is a very low-effort strategy for your practice.
Costs should be fairly minimal, even if you have to pay your web developer to add the information to your website.
12. Do local news interviews to share advice and expertise with local patients.
Whether you do a regular health segment or are interviewed for a news story related to your area of expertise, appearing on the local news station is another way to get your name out there. If the news station likes working with you, and there is good viewer response, you may become the station’s regular “go-to” for health-related information.
You’ll need to prepare for your interview and spend time filming it, but you can choose to participate as frequently or infrequently as you like. However, it will take some effort to get in touch with the new stations in your area to see who is interested. You can save time on this by hiring a PR firm if this is something you want to pursue more aggressively.
News interviews won’t cost you anything, but if you plan on hiring a PR professional to help you book appearances, you can expect to pay that person on an ongoing basis.
13. Target family members of potential patients who may be making appointments on their behalf.
Often, people are searching for medical advice on behalf of an older family member, like a parent or grandparent. So, if you primarily perform hip replacements on elderly patients, don’t assume that having an online presence won’t help your practice. In many cases, you’ll find that a patient’s child or grandchild found you online. Keep that in mind when coming up with your marketing plan. In particular, you can target online advertising to specific age groups to make sure you reach the right audience.
You’ll need to put some effort into adjusting your current strategy, which can vary depending on how and where you’re advertising.
Costs will, again, depend on where you are running ads. However, you can always cut back on ads targeting your primary patient age groups to target family members within your current budget.
14. Get published in medical journals to show off your expertise and research.
Medical journals allow you to show off your expertise in a particular topic to the medical community. Medical journals are much more in-depth and research-based, unlike the other publications we talked about in #10. You can reference or link to these studies on your bio pages on your website, or cite statistics from your studies on your website to give patients information about expected outcomes. This can help reassure patients of your expertise in a particular procedure.
This is high-effort, but can also be high-reward in demonstrating your expertise, reassuring patients, and educating your peers.
Costs for getting your article published can vary depending on the publication, but according to American Journal Experts, in most cases you can expect to pay a submission fee, a membership fee, printing charges, and publication fees.
15. Do podcasts to share information on relevant topics.
Podcasts are another way to share your expertise on different topics and provide information to your patients. Podcasts will allow you to share information in an audio format, which may help patients who don’t have time to read through content. If your practice cares for chronic conditions, podcasts could also be a helpful way to share information on topics affecting your patients. You could also bring patients on as guests to talk about their experiences.
This is very high-effort. Though you are essentially recording yourself (any any guests) talking about each topic, you’ll have to take time to plan out your topics and talking points you want to cover. Then, you’ll have to set aside time to actually record your podcasts, time to review and edit the recording, and finally time to upload and share the podcast. Before investing the time, it may be helpful to gauge interest among your patients.
You’ll need to invest in some good recording equipment so that your podcast recordings come in clear and audible. On an ongoing basis, this shouldn’t cost you much to keep up, although you may have to pay your web developer if you are posting the podcasts on your website.