Please don't cringe when I mention the words "medical practice marketing". Please stop for a moment and read my words below.
I hope to pleasantly surprise you with the realization that what I am about to describe is not used-car salesman tricks. Far from it! No ... I'm asking you to be yourself, show up in a way that you hope anyone you were buying from would show up, and do that exceptionally well!!
Marketing isn't Selling. You are not going to push any creams or vitamins or extra procedures on any unsuspecting patient.
Medical practice marketing is, to paraphrase Wikipedia:
... the process by which your practice create value for your customers (patients, referrers) and builds strong relationships, in order to capture value from customers in return.
Marketing is used to identify, satisfy and keep the customer. With the customer as the focus of its activities, the marketing concept holds that achieving your practice's goals depends on knowing the needs and wants of your target markets and delivering the desired satisfactions. It proposes that in order to satisfy its objectives, a practice should anticipate the needs and wants of consumers and satisfy these more effectively than competitors.
The only things you need to pay attention to in that definition are my highlighted words.
It's all about patient's desires and the desires of other "customers" such as your referring doctors.
With this in mind, here are my five no-brainer strategies to get you started:
1. Decide what your practice's promise is that you intend to deliver on
Do you want to have a generic practice just like all the others around you, where chaos reigns, the waiting room is full of irritated patients and the staff grumbles its way through the day because "it's a job"?
Or do you intend to plan to create intentionally and consistently a positive experience for your patients ... and your staff? Your practice's promise is part of its Brand -- what it becomes known for.
2. Be on time!!!
This action alone is a winning strategy -- it shows respect for the value of your patients' time, and makes for a much less stressful day for you and your staff. To get there, you may have to fiddle with your scheduling until you find the right mix of slots for walk-ins, add-ons, urgent referrals and scheduled appointments.
3. Insist that your staff greets people by name, smiles and makes eye contact.
Hire the right staff and then train them how to interact with patients, being friendly and outgoing, while respecting patient confidentiality. Remember - you will have to show up likewise.
4. Ask your patients what their pet peeves and likes are.
Find out what patients do and don't like about your practice. Use a simple anonymous survey (you can use a paper form, or an on-line tool like surveymonkey). Be willing to act on the information you gather.
5. Manage your physical space
How often do you go into your waiting room after hours and just sit there, observing, experiencing it, wondering how patients feel in it?
This little tactic will quickly reveal shabbiness, out-of-date magazines, faded prints on the wall, scuffed carpeting ... all those little "uglinesses" that leave a negative impression in the minds of the people who had to sit there for a while.
What about your exam rooms? How fresh do the walls and counters look?
And your office? Are there piles of charts and X-rays littering the surfaces?
A clean, uncluttered physical space creates a sense of calm, for everyone.
I encourage you to take these 5 relatively simple actions right away, to begin creating an uplifting experience for your patients ... one that invites them back and encourages them to spread the word.
By attending to these details, you may never have to give away another penny of your hard-earned money to slick marketers!
Philippa Kennealy ran a private family practice, and a hospital, before building her coaching business helping MDs launch and run successful practices and businesses. Visit her online at www.entrepreneurialMD.com to learn more.