As an office manager of a medical or surgical practice, you have to stay on top of the day-to-day operation of your office. On top of that, you may also be involved in managing your practice’s marketing.
When you’re responsible for making sure the everyday processes in your office run smoothly, it can be difficult to keep up with your practice’s marketing efforts. How do you stay on top of it all?
Every practice has different marketing needs, but these are some of the top things you should consider when managing your practice’s marketing.
1. Have a clearly-defined marketing plan.
It’s important to sit down with the doctors and practice owners to come to a clear consensus on the focus of your practice’s marketing efforts. This is especially important if you are managing a group practice, or if several people will be involved in marketing work. Take the time to write up a marketing plan that is easily accessible to everyone involved in the marketing process. We’ll get into the specifics of a good marketing plan in a later post, but the overall goal is to focus on setting protocols and standards so that everyone involved is on the same page.
2. Manage all of your social media in one central location.
If your practice has pages on multiple social media networks, it can be time-consuming to log in to each one separately to post. And what if you don’t want to post right away? Some social networks like Facebook let you schedule future posts, but not all social networks allow for that. The solution? Use a service like Hootsuite or Buffer to manage your social media posts. You can connect most of your practice’s social media networks to these applications, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn, so that you only need to log in to one site to manage of all of your social media posts. With Hootsuite, you also have the ability to monitor and respond to others’ posts on all of your social media streams. You can even schedule posts in advance. This feature comes in handy if you want posts to go out while you over a holiday break or while you are on vacation.
3. Email marketing is a powerful tool.
Email makes it easy to stay in contact with your patients, and takes up very little of your time if you use an automated email marketing system like Constant Contact or MailChimp. These systems allow you to manage your email contacts and send out messages to multiple patients at the same time. Email marketing is useful for several different types of communication. You can send out routine messages like appointment reminders, but you also have a chance to make an impression on your patients.
If you have the time or staff to help you out, try putting together newsletters or health tips that you can send out to patients that opt in. This helps to remind patients about your practice, even if they don’t need the doctors’ services right away. Another thing that makes an impression on your patients? Email the forms a patient needs for an appointment so he or she can fill them out at home and bring them in for the visit. Patients will appreciate the fact that they won’t have to spend additional time sitting in the waiting room filling out forms.
4. Don’t forget about direct mail!
Email marketing is great for newsletters and routine communication, but in some cases direct mail can make a big impact. When you get a new patient, try sending out a “Welcome to the Practice” letter. You can also send out birthday cards on patients’ birthdays; you already have patients’ birthdays on file, so you don’t have to collect any additional information to send out a birthday card.
Sure, you could send out emails welcoming new patients or wishing them a happy birthday, but sending out actual letters and cards gives it a more personal touch. You don’t need to send out mail all the time; reserve it for the occasions when it makes an impact. Think about it this way: as consumers, we often sign up for emails from different businesses, whether they are in retail or they provide a service. Your email inbox is probably flooded with “Happy Birthday!” emails on your birthday, but how many of those businesses actually send you a card? Which one stands out more–one email among many, or a card in the mail? Go with the option that stands out, and patients will appreciate the effort.
5. Emphasize what sets your practice apart from others.
Setting your practice apart from others doesn’t end with sending out letters. As an office manager, you are well aware of the strengths and advantages in every aspect of your practice, from office amenities and services to treatment methods. Those strengths are what sets your practice apart from others, and patients looking for a new doctor will look for that information. Does your practice offer a procedure or treatment method that no one else in the area offers? Do you have brand-new, state-of-the-art facilities? These are things you should emphasize in your marketing efforts.
6. Check for updates often.
Your practice’s information can change over time–doctors retire, new doctors join the practice, your phone number changes, etc. A critical part of online marketing is making sure all of your practice’s information stays up to date. This includes your website, of course, but you also need to check your local listings in the event that your phone number, address, or hours change. If patients look for your office online and find incorrect information, they may move on to another doctor.