Unless your practice has a very large or unlimited marketing budget, you’ll likely have to prioritize where to spend your marketing dollars.
There are so many methods you can use to market your practice, so there are a lot of different ways you can divide up your marketing budget. It’s important to be strategic about how you spend those dollars, rather than just spending a little here and there until your budget runs out.
We recommend focusing on your core marketing needs first, and then expanding out if you have leftover dollars. When we’re advising practices on how to prioritize their budgets, this is the order of priority we typically recommend.
Top Priorities: The Marketing Must-Haves for Medical Practices
If you don’t have these areas covered, they should be the top priority for your marketing dollars. Consider them the “core four” for marketing your practice.
1. Your Website
Always invest in your website first. Typically, all of your other online marketing efforts will lead patients to your website, so you want to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. Additionally, your website is the aspect of your online marketing that you have the most control over. You don’t have total control over how search engines rank your website and show your maps, or what types of reviews people post, but you do have power over what your website looks like, how it functions, and the content on it.
Not sure if your website is up to par? See our post on the 10 Signs You Need a New Website for pointers on how to make your website the best it can be.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing goes hand-in-hand with your website. If your website looks great and functions well but doesn’t have the right content for your patients, then it won’t do a good job of converting those website visits into scheduled appointments.
It’s tempting to go with cheaper content options like a patient education subscription and leave it at that. But when your content is potentially the same or similar to other practices, it isn’t telling patients anything about your approach to treatment or why they should choose you over other options. Going the “cheap” route on content is a missed opportunity to help your practice stand out.
Is your content marketing on the right track? Check out our post on What Patients Want from Your Marketing Content.
3. Local SEO
Once you have your website and content where it needs to be, you need to make sure local patients can find it when they search online. That’s where local SEO comes in.
Local SEO primarily involves making sure your local listings are as consistent as possible on every online directory, and that you have as much information about your practice locations as possible on every online directory. It also ties into your content in that your location pages should have all of the key details too and the other content on your website should be locally relevant.
Why is local SEO so important? Find out in our post, Local SEO and Why It Matters for You.
4. Online Reviews, aka Reputation Marketing
When patients are searching online, they’ll hopefully find your website if you’ve covered items 1 through 3. However, they’re also likely to find reviews, either on your Google listing or other 3rd party review sites. And the majority of patients aren’t just scrolling past those reviews; a recent survey suggests that over 70% of patients consult online reviews when selecting a new provider. So, it’s important to make sure that you pay attention to your star ratings on these sites and build up a good number of reviews so that your rating doesn’t take a big hit if you happen to get a negative review.
The process of getting reviews from patients is often called “reputation management.” To us, that has a negative connotation and implies that you are only addressing online reviews when the negative ones become a problem. We believe in taking a more proactive approach to reviews. Most of your patients likely think you’re great and would be willing to post a review if you asked. So, we call it “reputation marketing.” (Learn more in our post, What is Reputation Marketing?)
Lower-Priority Marketing Strategies
So, what if you have all four of the above items in place and still have marketing budget left over? Well, that’s a great spot to be in!
These are strategies that we would consider to be lower in priority than your core four, but can still be very beneficial:
- Paid Search Ads – If you have enough remaining marketing budget and are vying with competitors to get to the top of Google results for key searches, paid search ads are the next marketing strategy we’d recommend tackling. Ads are taking up more and more of the real estate at the top of Google search results pages, so even if you get to the top of organic results, you might not get the search visibility you want without ads. (Learn more about why online ads are becoming increasingly important for medical practices.)
- Social Media Ads – Social media ads are a great strategy to try if you are trying to get the word out about something that patients wouldn’t know to search for, like a new location or a new procedure/service offering. We find Facebook is the best social network for ads, but Instagram could work if you have a younger patient base. (Find out how to choose the best online ads for your practice.)
- Traditional Advertising (Print Ads, Billboards, etc.) – A lot of practices spend tons of money on things like print ads and billboards. While these types of ads can help make your presence known in your community, it can be difficult to track the effectiveness of these ads, so this is why we consider it lower priority. We recommend putting more of your budget toward the marketing methods that you can easily track from initial interaction all the way through patient appointments to determine a real return on investment.
The above is certainly not an exhaustive list of all of the ways you can market your practice, but these are some of the most common marketing methods our clients use. The big thing here is to focus on your core four items first, and then branch out if you have the budget. If you neglect those four items and spend your marketing budget elsewhere, your efforts may not be as successful as they could be.