If your medical practice doesn’t have the patient volume or market share it deserves, it may be your marketing. If your competition is implementing the strategies below, and you’re not, chances are you’re missing out on new patients.
Patients must have three questions answered before they make an appointment. It’s our job to know what they are and make sure the answers are all “Yes.” The questions are:
Do I know you?
Do I like you?
Can I trust you?
These questions are not asked out loud. They are the underlying questions that make up a patient’s ‘gut feeling’.
This marketing exercise is sometimes known as building the ‘know–like-trust’ factor.
Do I know you?
At the most basic level, prospective patients need to know you exist. They must have an awareness of your practice or your doctors.
This doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money ‘building your brand’. Spending lots of money on the off-chance that someone may need your services in the future isn’t wise. There are more strategic methods that produce a higher return on your investment.
You need to be sure you’re top of mind when patients need you; at the moment they are seeking a solution to their problem. This can happen at several places. At home on the internet, out with friends, at a primary care physician’s office. For the purposes of this article, I’ll focus on patients who self-refer themselves.
SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
SEM is paying for your business to have an advertisement at the top of search listings for certain keywords. Keywords could be symptoms, procedures, or disease states. SEM campaigns for medical practices can be very effective. These campaigns also have an ‘on/off’ switch, which makes turning the flow of patients on quite easy. However, the rising cost of these ads is making it more challenging to return great ROIs.
SEM campaigns for medical practices can be very effective. These campaigns also have an ‘on/off’ switch, which makes turning the flow of patients on quite easy. However, the rising cost of these ads is making it more challenging to get great ROI.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Optimizing your content to rank higher in natural/organic search results. This is a longer, more complicated process, but with large dividends if done right. Ranking high in the ‘free’ search results can provide a slew of patients without the need for ongoing investment.
Google MyBusiness Listing/Google Maps
Google has been working on improving local search results. If you search for a urologist on Google, you’re most likely going to see a map with several options. Often, these listings will be before the paid ads for that keyword and the organic search results. Optimizing your business listing is critical.
Take the example below. A search for “Urologist” in my area brought up 10,500,000 results. However, a map and three businesses were listed first. Of those three, only one had a website, and also had a dozen good reviews.
Do I like you?
If patients feel a connection to the practice or a physician, they are more likely to make that first appointment.
The challenge is creating a liking effect without ever meeting the prospective patient. You want to get across that you’re human, you understand the patient, and you want to help them.
This is the perfect place to inject some personality into a medical website. Lots of physician bios are only 1-2 sentences long and only include where they went to school. When creating bios for clients, I like to ask the doctors a few questions.
Why did you decide to be a doctor?
What’s the best part of being a doctor?
What should patients know about you?
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Using answers, I’m able to create a more compelling and personal physician profile.
Including an image from their personal or family life (in addition to a professional headshot) is also beneficial. The more a patient can relate to the doctor as a human-being the better. If video production is in your budget, it’s an excellent way for patients to ‘meet’ a potential doctor.
Don’t use stock photos of people on your website. It’s difficult to relate to someone in a stock photo. If you’re using an image of a model pretending to be a doctor or nurse on your homepage, you’re probably doing more harm than good.
It’s worth the investment in photography of your physicians, your locations. Being authentic is an important part of creating a liking effect.
The physician profile should also show they understand the patient’s challenges and problems.
Instead of saying, “Dr. Smith specializes in BPH,” let Dr. Smith tell a story:
“I have a lot of patients who say they get up several times a night to urinate, and they’re losing a lot of sleep. That tiredness can have serious effects on their relationships and performance at work. One of the best parts of my job is knowing that I can dramatically improve their well-being.”
Do I trust you?
Finally, patients need to trust you. Not necessarily in the way we trust our friends and family. They need to trust that you can help them. Luckily, physicians with MD or DO behind their name already have a leg up in creating trust via authority. Here are a few more ways that a medical practice can increase trust.
Do you have educational content on your website? An overview of certain diseases with explanations of the treatment options? Providing patients information up front is a good way to increase trust. For example, if certain foods increase the likelihood of developing kidney stones, consider making a list. Then, publish it online.
Professional Profile Picture – Smiling
Professional photography is a must when trying to establish trust with a medical practice. Important, authoritative individuals always use professional photos. Since you want to increase trust, we recommend you do the same. And, make sure you smile – since several studies have shown the trust-building power of a smile.
Online Reviews/Reputation Management
Almost every patient is going to seek out opinions before scheduling with a new doctor. Are you taking an active role gathering feedback online? Are you waiting for reviews to come in by themselves? Are you satisfied with the reviews you have?
The number one reason patients don’t leave favorable reviews online is that they don’t know it’s important. Many are patients are willing to write reviews but don’t know how, where, and no request has been made.
Every medical practice should have a process in place that makes it easy for patients to share positive stories.
The look and design of your website and branding can help or hurt your reputation. If your branding looks outdated, one might assume your medicine is too.
If your website looks cluttered and is difficult to use, one might think getting an appointment will be a chore.
Even color choice can have an impact on trust. Blue is common among healthcare companies due to its ability to portray trust, authority, and loyalty.
Attract More Patients
If you take the time to address all three of these questions, you will soon have more patients calling you.
Need help with implementation or have a question? Contact us today.