If you’re responsible for running an orthopaedic practice, you know you face a very different challenge in marketing your business than someone responsible for a plastic surgery or dentistry practice. That said, you have an opportunity to learn from these practices in terms of marketing.
In general, plastic surgery and dentistry practices tend to take a much more active approach to marketing than orthopaedic practices do, because they are cash-based businesses. In many cases, insurance reimburses very little for services, if at all, so patients are paying out of pocket for these services. Not all of the marketing methods they use will be applicable to your orthopaedic practice, but some of these strategies can be adapted to work for your practice.
What marketing cues can you take from plastic surgeons and dentists? Give these strategies a try.
1. Social Media
Plastic surgeons and dentists in particular tend to have a very active presence on social media. Since these tend to be very cosmetic-oriented specialties, there is certainly a lot of content there to share on social media. Plastic surgeons and dentists will often run specials and post about them on social media to get the word out.
While your orthopaedic practice may not not be able to post specials, you can still benefit from an active social media presence. Take a look at what these practices are doing well, and follow their lead. You will often see a lot of “before and after” images and videos on social media pages for plastic surgeons and dentists. While your patients may not be able to physically see your results in an image, they can see how well a hip replacement patient can walk after surgery, or how well an athlete can throw after a rotator cuff repair. Videos like these can serve as your “before and after.”
You’ll also see a lot of patient testimonials on social media for plastic surgeons and dentists. This is definitely a social media practice you can adopt for your orthopaedic practice. Ask your patients to post reviews on your Facebook page. Some may even be willing to film testimonial videos for you to post on social media.
However, if you decide to set up social media pages for your practice, you do need to commit to a certain level of activity. You need to have an active presence. Post relevant content regularly, and respond to comments and posts from your followers. This is critical if you want to build an active following on social media and get the word out about your practice.
2. Business Cards and Promotional Items
Dentists and plastic surgeons often have business cards and small items like ink pens, pencils, magnets, and note pads with the practice’s phone number and address ready to hand out. This makes it easy for patients to keep your practice’s information at hand whenever they need it. You may also be able to give them out to referring primary care practices, so they’ll always have your number on hand if they need to refer a patient. You can even give them some extra business cards or promotional items to hand out to the patients they are referring.
Some plastic surgery and dentistry practices send out newsletters to patients who sign up. These newsletters may contain relevant articles and news about the practice. You can either send a newsletter by mail or by email via an email marketing service. You should only send newsletters to people who opt in–not all patients will want that type of communication. Your newsletters might include content on how to keep the joints healthy, injury prevention, exercise, or new procedures / services offered in your office.
4. Ask Patients for Referrals
Patient referrals are a big part of marketing for plastic surgeons and dentists. These types of practices actually ask patients to refer other patients, and some even have referral programs in place so that patients have extra incentive to refer their friends and family. While a referral program may not be appropriate for an orthopaedic practice, your practice can certainly do a number of other things to encourage patient referrals.
First, make sure to go the extra mile to provide a positive experience for patients. If you keep your patients happy, they are often more than willing to recommend your practice to friends and family. It also helps to have content on your website that explains your procedures and services. This is not only helpful for your current patients, but can also be a useful tool for your current patients to pass on to friends and family who may also need orthopaedic care. These referred patients can then go to your website and learn more about how your practice can help, which reinforces the positive recommendation.
5. Direct Mail Marketing
Direct mail is another effective tool that plastic surgeons and dentists use to promote their practices. These types of practices often mail postcards to prospective patients living in the neighborhoods surrounding their offices. While orthopaedic practices may have to do a bit of targeting to reach the right patient base, these direct mail postcards can be helpful in attracting the attention of new patients. Depending on your practice’s specialties, it may be helpful to target a particular age group with your postcards. Make sure the postcard is well-designed, and mention some of your key services. Since you won’t be able to cover more than a few bullet points on your postcard, don’t forget to include your practice’s phone number and website so prospective patients can get more information.
Plastic surgery and dentistry are specialties that often produce visible changes to patients after a procedure is complete. Those kinds of results lend themselves well to video, because patients can easily see the before and after. While a joint replacement or ligament repair procedure may not produce results that patients can see on the outside, that doesn’t mean orthopaedic practices can’t use video to their advantage.
When an orthopaedic condition or injury requires surgery, the patient often has significant disability. The goal of the surgical procedure is to help the patient be able to get around again without an assistive device, or to regain certain athletic abilities like throwing or running. In these cases, photos can’t really demonstrate the benefits of orthopaedic surgery. However, video certainly can. A video of a patient walking after hip or knee replacement surgery or an athlete throwing again after a rotator cuff repair can help your patients better visualize how surgery can help them.
Because orthopaedic practices tend to be so different from dentistry and plastic surgery practices, they may not be able to market themselves in exactly the same ways. However, orthopaedic surgeons can certainly take a lot of cues from practices in these specialties and adapt them to reach the right patients.