Archive for June, 2010
There are several ways to generate more referrals for your practice, and some of them don’t involve any direct marketing. Here are a few simple strategies that will help to keep your appointment books full season after season:
Improve Your Search Engine Rankings
When patients are looking for specific procedures online, they are more likely to find you when you are at the top of Google search page results. When a coworker or friend mentions your practice name or doctor names, it’s important that you can be easily found after a simple search. Make sure you are investing your marketing resources towards higher search engine placement so that your customer referrals can find you easily after a simple online search.
Focus on the Patient
Make sure your patients feel welcome and comfortable in your office, and take the time to decorate your waiting room so that the patient feels right at home. Showing concern and care for each and every patient builds rapport, and may just encourage a referral. Running a successful medical practice is just like running any other business — keeping your clients happy is a top priority!
Market Your Specialties and Strengths
Define what you do best, and emphasize the key services and procedures your practice offers in all of your marketing materials. Think of ways that a prospective customer would describe you when introducing you to their friends or associates. What makes you stand apart from other doctors in your niche? How convenient is it for patients to schedule an appointment with you, or to find your office? Focus on marketing some key details about your practice so that anyone else can highlight these benefits when sharing information with others.
Become Active in Your Community
Make yourself more visible in the community, either by joining a local Chamber of Commerce, participating in local social events, or even sponsoring community events. Highlight your activities and involvement in the community on your website or blog. Prospective clients may be more likely to refer you simply because you’re at ‘top of mind’ by being visible online, and offline.
Last week, we discussed the importance of managing your brand reputation online, and some effective ways to intercept negative comments or posts about you and your practice.
As more and more patients turn to the Internet to share their experience about their office visit, procedure or treatment, it’s imperative that you have a brand reputation monitoring strategy in place so that you can protect your brand identity and address concerns as quickly as possible.
In addition to using free tools such as Google Alerts, BackType and BoardTrackers.com, there are a few other great tools that will help you better monitor your practice’s brand reputation online.
Technorati is a blog search engine that indexes thousands of blog posts every hour. You can sign up for an account with Technorati and link to your blog or website so that it can be ranked based on authority and popularity.
If you’re using Twitter on a regular basis, you can monitor the popularity of certain keywords in your industry, and also track links that people are retweeting using free services such as TweetBeep or Monitter.
Another simple way to manage your brand on Twitter is to simply run a basic Twitter search on your practice name or primary doctor names.
When you’re fairly active with posting blog comments, participating in social media sites such as Digg Twitter and other microblogging tools, you may benefit from running a search on sites such as Social Mention. This social media search engine provides search results only of blogs and social media tools, giving you an ‘at a glance’ view of any mentions of your practice and doctor names in real time.
Monitoring the effects of your social media activities and keeping up with comments and reviews about your practice is easier when you have an arsenal of tools by your side. Consider using some of these tools as part of your brand reputation monitoring strategy.
Years ago, the only way you would know if one of your patients or clients was satisfied with a treatment, or had a complaint about a recent visit was if they contacted you directly via a letter, phone call or email.
Today, many patients turn to the Internet to share their opinions and comments with friends, family members and the world at large. Review sites and blogs have made it incredibly easy for anyone to publicly post their experience with you and your office within minutes.
Last week, we discussed ways to handle negative comments about your practice, and outlined some specific strategies that can help you continue to attract and retain clients. Since many online conversations happen without your consent, you also need a brand reputation monitoring strategy so that you can respond as quickly as possible.
One of the easiest ways to monitor reviews or posts about your practice is to set up a Google Alert on your company name, physicians and other medical practitioners. Google Alerts provide you with email updates on the latest Google search results based on the keywords you request. You can set up alerts that are delivered to you as they appear, once a day, or once a week. The alert goes straight to your inbox, and can make it easier for you and your office to keep tabs on what is being posted online at any given time.
Patients who maintain a blog, or individuals that post on other people’s blogs regularly may be leaving comments about their experience at your practice, or sharing information about a particular procedure. Backtype is a free service for monitoring blog comments. You can track where and how people are linking to your website, and follow those links to post a response when needed.
Services like BoardTrackers.com also allow you set up alerts on certain words and phrases, except this search is a little more comprehensive and keeps track of mentions across forums and discussion groups.
Again, keeping up with these posts puts you in a more powerful position because it gives you the chance to provide a professional response.
Next week, we’ll discuss some other tools and services that can help you monitor your brand reputation online…
The social media landscape now encompasses hundreds of blogs, social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, and user-generated sites that allow your patients to post reviews and experiences after visiting your practice or office.
While a glowing review of a treatment or procedure can help to bring in more clients, a negative review can damage your reputation.
How can you effectively handle bad reviews and insure yourself against negative comments and feedback from clients?
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that a single bad review won’t destroy your business or reputation — as long as there are a number of positive reviews posted on the same site. Most patients will take the time to read at least four or five reviews, both positive and negative, before making a decision.
If you think the review is unjustified, or that it is particularly vindictive and not based on an actual patient experience or visit, you may be able to have the comment or post removed by the site administrator. Another option is to post a professional response to the site so that other patients can see that you have acknowledged the post, and have an explanation. The key is to take action as soon as possible, and support any unjust negative reviews with a professional and positive response.
In a situation where you can identify the patient, you may be able to resolve the issue and address the negative feedback offline. Some patients may be willing to remove their review or edit their comment after you have approached them in a professional manner and express concern about their experience. In many cases, the patient simply wants to be heard — you can be the first to listen to their situation and take steps to remedy the situation, if possible. Find a way to e-mail or call the patient directly so that you can address their review or comment privately.
Handling negative reviews about your practice and patient experiences can be challenging, so it’s important that you have a plan in place to acknowledge the review and can take steps to improve the situation.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog post with more tips about monitoring your reputation online.
Have you set goals for marketing your practice online? Do you have a marketing strategy, or are you trying different advertising and marketing campaigns to attract more patients this season? Knowing how to market your practice online and achieving the results you want often requires putting together a plan that will connect you to the right patients.
Having a website, running banner ads or sending out direct marketing materials is no longer enough. Your prospective patients are using several online tools and search engines to track you down, so you need to take steps to ensure you?re front and center, wherever they go. Here’s a five-minute marketing checklist to help you get started:
Does your online marketing strategy enable you to:
1. Establish you as an authority in your specialty? Are you providing website visitor with fresh content, blogging about your industry or sending out press releases that position you as an authority? If not, consider ways that you can become more active online.
2. Provide you with a high return on investment? Are you investing your marketing dollars in the right areas? What type of return on investment (ROI) are you getting? Make sure you’re investing in tools and strategies that provide you with trackable results.
3. Build a database of current and prospective patients? From email newsletters to Twitter followers, an effective marketing strategy will put hundreds, even thousands of current and prospective patients at your fingertips. If you’re not actively building this list, you may be missing out on the chance to book dozens of appointments and consultations each month.
Consider all of the ways you are connecting with patients with your online marketing strategy.
If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to the three questions above, it may be time to revamp your practice marketing strategy and focus on efforts that will maximize your ROI and keep your appointment books full.