Physician marketing is a bit different than practice marketing since the emphasis is on the physician’s personal brand, as opposed to a complete practice. Physicians often rely on return patients and word-of-mouth marketing.
In this article we’ll be exploring the different ways physicians can improve the number of new patients they get, and how they can develop a better relationship with existing patients.
Doctor marketing should be focused on attracting new patients, and then developing a strategy that helps the physician retain the patients for the long term.
Traditional marketing such as print advertising can be expensive, and often not as good as you might think, so we’ll explore cost-effective online and offline alternatives. If you’d like to dive into a tactical marketing guide, see our Search Engine Optimization for Doctors guide on our website.
Why Physician Marketing?
Physician marketing isn’t just limited to private practitioners, but clinics that have several physicians working in them.
- An effective physician marketing strategy will lead to the development of the physician’s personal and the practice’s brand as well.
- A good physician marketing strategy always includes networking – either through seminars, speaking events, or general healthcare business events. This leads to increased recognition for the physician within the medical community
1. Social Media Marketing for Physicians
Social media might seem like an odd choice to market healthcare services, but its influence simply cannot be ignored, even by doctors.
According to PwC Health Research, 42 percent of consumers turn to social media reviews before choosing a practice or physician.
If you’re creating original content for your practice website blog, sharing it on social media can help in promoting it, and get some traction for your social media profile as well.
An idea for social media content would be to share seasonal tips regarding personal health, such as how to stay healthy during flu season.
Dr. Kevin Fong, a physical therapist from San Francisco, says that half of his new patients come through Google Search, Yelp and other social media platforms.
“People are smart, they can cross reference (your reputation) from social platforms. The more presence you have on all platforms, the more validation it builds when they see you” – Dr. Fong (www.kevinfongpt.com)
“Doctors practices are business just like others, people sometimes forget that. We look to use social media more, showing that our customer service is
on point – most people leave surgeries – either for second opinion, or their current practice customer service and patient management isn’t up to scratch” – Dr. Giuseppe Aragona (www.prescriptiondoctor.com)
Dr. Lacey Chittle (www.drlaceychittle.com) says that she couldn’t have imagined that social media would be such a big part of her business.
Dr. Chittle uses Instagram to market her practice, and says “I used to think that i should have started (with Instagram) 2 years ago. I think it’s important to use social media as a platform to get business.”
Dr. Jordin Wiggin from Ontario, Canada says, “We get a lot of our clients from Instagram because our target market is hormonal fertility and a lot of women are active on Instagram.”
Taking a cue from Dr. Wiggin, we would suggest doctors to study their target audience. If you’re a plastic surgeon for example, Instagram holds a lot of value since you can share your success stories and before-after photos.
There are a lot of networking opportunities for doctors these days – both online and offline. Let’s start with offline networking first.
Offline networking for doctors is rather straightforward, but you have to know where to meet the right people. Healthcare conferences and events are great places for physicians to meet and exchange information about the services they offer.
Dr. Ahuva Gamliel (www.mibaso.org), a naturopathic doctor who runs her own practice, recommends business networking groups as a way for physicians (new ones too) to grow their practice and personal brand. Doctors can even go to the Chamber of Commerce as a way to get exposure for the services they offer.
“The main driver of business to our practice are referrals from other healthcare specialists. We get a lot of referrals because we spend a lot of time referring out to the specialists we work with. Our strength is helping our patients find good resources for all their healthcare needs. The more we refer out, the more we get back. We also make lots of introductions among practitioners in our network. This creates an environment where we are all working together to support each other and our patients” – Chris Ygay (www.privatepracticedollars.com)
For online marketing, the process is even simpler. LinkedIn is a great place to start, as there are thousands of doctors using the platform. An up-and-coming physician can connect with practice owners or other doctors to collaborate or get referrals.
And it’s not hard to connect with doctors on LinkedIn! Here’s a simple script that has helped us connect with thousands of doctors on LinkedIn:
Hi Dr X,
Your profile showed up when I searched for Hormone Doctors. I’d like to add you to my professional network. I hope you consider connecting.
3. Create Healthcare Content
One way of building authority, trust and generating interest from prospective patients is to create high-quality healthcare content and posting it on your website.
This is true for any kind of business, but for physicians and practices, it’s almost necessary. People go online to look for health information, now more than ever.
As a physician, it’s fairly easy to create content since there’s plenty of experience to base it upon. Publishing blog posts about staying healthy, being accountable for treatment plans (ones offered by the physician especially), and so on, all make for great content.
Organic content that’s reflective of your experiences as a physician can help build trust, as well as portray you as a thought leader. Publishing content also has the benefit of attracting trust from events, podcasts, healthcare magazines (online and offline), radio, and even television.
This is all great for improving your practice’s or physician’s brand.
Of course, content creation should be approached intelligently. Physicians can’t just write about whatever they like. Rather, the content should be created keeping in mind their specific target audience. A sports doctor should focus on creating content on non-invasive procedures and the topics their audience cares about.
Doctors should absolutely know about SEO. SEO is the practice of making a website more visible – or higher ranked – on search engines such as Google and Bing.
Many people search online for physician recommendations, and if your website is SEO-optimized, it’s going to be near the top of the search results.
A website that is ranked number 1 for the search term “seattle hormone doctor” will get the most attention.
If you haven’t hired a professional to do it, your site probably isn’t SEO optimized. Fortunately, there are several free SEO audit tools such as __ to help you decide whether you need SEO or not. Also, look up your website on your smartphone right now and see how it displays on it. Does it look right, or broken?
Half of your website’s traffic will come through mobile devices, and if your website looks broken on these, you can imagine the business that’s being lost as well.
If that’s not enough for you, we’ll make the decision simpler: if you’re not getting patients online, you need SEO.
We asked Dr. Ahuva about the best thing other doctors could do to attract more clients, to which she answered, “Their website needs to have good SEO, good rankings (and) good visibility. The website should have good content and (project) a good image.”
5. Better Patient Experiences
Giving your patient exceptional care that’s rooted in a deep relationship with them will do wonders for your practice. This isn’t a direct way of marketing to new patients, but it’s definitely a powerful tactic nonetheless.
When your patients are happy with the results and care they’re getting from your practice and its physician(s), they’re much more likely to refer their friends and family to you.
Dr. Fong recommends that doctors should add more touch points into patient care, and approach it as an experience rather than a one-time thing.
Patients frequently tell Dr. Fong that they prefer more expensive clinics just because these clinics check in frequently and really care about the patient’s health.
“It’s all about how much you’re integrated with their lives and recovery”, he says.
He recommends doctors to follow up and check in after they’ve seen and treated the patient. Even something as little as picking up the phone when the patient calls can mean a great deal.
Doctors shouldn’t hesitate to ask for referrals, provided their patient is doing well and has reached a milestone in their treatment successfully.
We asked Dr. Aaron Slotkin (www.holisticnutritionbyaaron.com), a nutritionist and pharmacist from Los Angeles on how he asks for patient referrals.
“If they’re doing well, I ask them to refer me to others who might benefit from my services. If you go to a dentist and they mess up, you obviously won’t recommend them”, he says.
Dr. Mike Golpa on the other hand, prefers not to ask his patients directly for referrals.
“From my point of view, it’s not proper for the medical professional to ask patients about referrals directly. Yet, I see nothing wrong in leaflets or posters in the waiting room, informing about our social media channels and other internet services, engaging the patients to share their opinion. This is optional, and if they feel, they can use the time waiting (of course, not too long) to do that or assess our appointment afterward at home, taking a leaflet with them” – Dr. Mike Golpa (www.g4bygolpa.com/)
“The best thing other doctors can do to attract more patients is to take care of the patients they currently have. When you educate your patience and do things that are beyond what would be normal in a physicians office, your patience will inevitably talk about your company and bring their friends along with it. Nowadays, people are tired of going to big pharmacy driven healthcare systems. They want time with the provider and to be taken care of as an individual. When you do this, patients will flock to your care” – Dr. Alex Spinoso (www.cellspark.com)
Appearing on, or starting your own podcast can be a great marketing tactic for doctors and practices. There are many niche podcasts focusing on different specialties within the healthcare industry.
And these podcasts are always looking for qualified doctors to appear as guests for interviews. Doctors should make a list of podcasts where they might be a good fit, and start reaching out to them.
Logic Inbound does podcast pitching for its healthcare clients, and we’ve found that for every 10 podcasts that we pitched, we got 1 podcast that was willing to host the client. It really isn’t rocket science.
Dr. Fong says that he’s interested in starting his own podcast as well, for interviewing people from his industry. It allows him to exchange ideas with similar professionals and progresses the work he does.
7. Reputation Management
Consumers are more likely to leave online reviews when they have exceptional experiences – both good and bad ones. So most reviews physicians will receive online will either be glowing, or scathing.
It’s important to thus engage in reputation management, even if you don’t like looking at reviews putting you down. A bad patient experience is one thing, but leaving reviews unattended can be worse as it’s going to affect your online reputation.
Make an effort to reply to every single review. If there’s a bad review, get in touch with the concerned patient and engage them. It’s a good sign for prospective patients when you’re communicating with disgruntled customers.
Practices should also be wary of this, and should have proper customer support procedures in place to assist patients who don’t have their expectations met.