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Marketing Your Healthcare Practice

Your Low and No Cost Marketing Plan 

An award winning marketing plan can be implemented with a limited budget or no budget at all. When selling a service like healthcare, it doesn’t take thousands of dollars. Effective marketing is usually done one-to-one. Advertising mediums such as newspapers, magazines, billboards, and direct mail do not work as effectively for service industries as compared to selling products like food, clothes, shoes, etc. Below are just a few ideas to get you started. Keep in mind that there are more marketing ideas than you have time to implement.

Guiding Principles for a Low and No Cost Marketing Plan:

  • Keep in contact with your established patients every two to three months. Consistency and patience with your marketing message is a necessity.

  • Develop your core marketing materials (i.e., your service description and biography). This is the foundation upon which all your marketing instruments are based.

  • Patients usually refer others to you within the first 3 months of their first office visit. Build on this enthusiasm.

  • Use low and no cost methods. Get to meet your prospective patient in the community. Get involved. Build the Human Bond before you Build the Business Bond.

  • Say “thank you” for the referral.

  • Listen to your patients and prospective patients for their interest in coming to your office.

  • Track your results to see what is and is not working.

There are two types of marketing – Internal and External.

Internal Marketing Ideas

The internal marketing is the way your office looks and feels. The literature around the reception and treatment rooms, the color of the walls, the way people are greeted by you and your staff, how the telephone is answered, the way you speak with your patients. These are very important to keep patients and interest them in sending others to you. This is covered in more detail at our workshops on Low and No Cost Marketing.

Once the patient is discharged from care, contact is important so your name and the quality service you provided does not become forgotten. This is why external marketing is important.

External Marketing Ideas

The external marketing to your established patients should be done every two to three months. Some examples of Low and No Cost Marketing methods include:

  • Send Birthday Cards to your patients. Most billing software has a program to print mailing labels based on the birth date field. Recommendation: Place the cards into unsealed envelopes three months in advance. This allows for a more efficient use of time. When the beginning of the month arrives, mail only that month’s group of cards. If you have a newsletter or special seminar/workshop or announcement, include it with the birthday card.

  • Send Welcome to the Office Cards for new patients. Include a little note like “Thank you for choosing our office for your care. Your trust and confidence is appreciated.” A small gesture goes a long way – patients will not only remember it but talk about it to others.

  • Send Thank You for the Referral Card to the person who sent the patient to you. In the card you can write “Thank you for referring ___________ to our office. Your trust and confidence in our care is appreciated.”

  • Send a Newsletter to patients on your mailing list every two to three months. Leave extra copies around the office for established and new patients to read while being treated. Take extra copies to networking meetings, lectures, local merchants, etc. To create a newsletter, we’ve made it easy for you. Go to the Publish a Newsletter section of our web site. There you will find edited, copyright-free articles which you can insert into your newsletter. These are written by the president of The Supply Center, Dr. Kevin McNamee, D.C., L.Ac. Utilize DESIGN ESSENTIALS by expert graphic artist Jean Drummond, L.Ac. for valuable tips on how to do it yourself. Download artwork from the Images & Clip Art section to enhance your newsletter. These are also a gift from The Supply Center.

  • Send Season’s Greetings Cards and be sure to put in a reminder that “Now is a good time to take care of any aches or pains before your insurance deductible comes due.”

  • Host a “Patient Appreciation Day” which includes entertainment, refreshments, etc. Have a raffle for healthcare items for those in attendance. Invite others in your building, at the Chamber of Commerce, your networking and service groups, etc.

  • Hold a “Food Fund Raiser Day” where inconsideration of payment for services, each patient brings $20 worth of nonperishable food. Send a press release to the local paper, advertise the event in your patient newsletter, distribute flyers to local merchants, networking groups, service organizations, etc. Invite the press to cover the event.

  • Offer free seminars, lectures and workshops in your office on various healthcare topics. Invite your current patients to bring a spouse or friend who may decide to become a patient of yours.

  • Send press releases to the local newspapers concerning timely healthcare topics. Do this monthly so that when a question arises concerning your specialty, you may be called for comment. Write healthcare articles for the local newspaper. Keep a copy when printed and put it in the waiting room for patients to read. Distribute reprints or copies at your networking functions.

To utilize these low and no cost external marketing ideas, you will need to do the following:

  • Purchase thank you for your referral and welcome to the office cards. If cost is a factor, purchase these from your local office supply store like Office Depot or Staples; buy the blank ones and hand write your message.

  • Purchase birthday cards. Check the local office supply store or discount stores and buy in bulk if possible. You can get them pre-printed which is more expensive, but saves you time, or blank on the inside for your personal message.

  • Purchase season’s greetings cards. These can be either preprinted or blank for you to insert your message. As you can see, it does not take much to reach out to your established patients

Developing a Targeted Marketing Plan

  • State (on paper) your marketing purpose/goal. It may be general or very specific. Example: I am looking to provide care to all children in the area. Or, I want to be the source for all sports injuries.

  • Give a statement that describes how you will accomplish this goal by focusing on the key benefits. For example: The care I provide will increase children’s immune system and keep children antibiotic free. Or, I will enhance athletes’ performance by decreasing time down from injuries and increase flexibility for improved muscle contraction.

  • Describe the market or audience you are going to target. For example: the children are between the ages of 3 to 15 and have a history of chronic colds and annual flues resulting in ear infections, sore throats, and lost time from school. Or, athletes who compete in 2 mile or greater races and want to improve their time.

  • List the marketing tools you will utilize to reach the audience and interest them in the benefits of your care. Be specific. For example, seminar at the local schools or colleges, business cards, brochures, articles in the local newspaper, etc.

  • Track the cost versus return for your marketing plan. First, list the Marketing Budget you have set aside for this plan. Then identify the number of people you wish to reach (this is the market size). For example: There are three high schools in the area and each school has 10 long distance runners. The market size is 3 x 10, or 30 people

  • Create the instruments to get your message to the target market. This includes using age-appropriate vocabulary when designing brochures, flyers and other promotional materials. For example, high school athletes will relate very differently to words in a brochure than moms of 3 to 15 year olds. Use the book Words that Sell by Bayan to establish the words for the market. It will help you transform a boring brochure into an exciting media piece which inspires the reader to attend the seminar or call you for an appointment. Words That Sell, a tool to use throughout your career, is available for purchase from The Supply Center.

  • Use your day planner and establish the date and time of the phases needed to get the marketing plan underway. (A plan without a timetable will rarely get done.) For example: June 20th write the text for the brochure using Words That Sell. June 22nd have it proof read by three people. June 24th take it to the graphic designer for layout. July 1st take the final design to the printer for print. July 15th pick up the brochure and mail to the market. August 30th give the presentation. September 1st call people from the seminar who had questions or expressed interest in coming to the office. Send a thank you card to the organization that hosted your seminar.

  • Monitor your marketing plan results. This is as simple as placing an 8 ½ “ x 11" piece of paper by the phone. Create columns and rows on the paper. The first column is the marketing method, the second is the cost of the plan, the next several rows are the next 6 to 12 months, and the last is the total contacts and the cost per contact. Each time someone calls the office or comes in as a new patient, the receptionist places one mark in the month by the marketing method for each contact. At month’s end, compute the cost per contact by adding the number of contacts and dividing by the total cost. See example below.
METHOD
COST
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
TOTAL & COST/PT
Seminars
$150
2
1
1
0
3
2
0
0
0
9 / $16.66
Service Group
$500
1
0
0
2
1
0
0
1
1
6 / 83.33
Networking Group
$500
0
0
0
1
1
2
3
1
1
9 / $55.55
Chamber of Commerce
$350
1
2
0
0
0
0
1
1
1
6 / $58.33
State Association
$300
0
0
1
2
1
0
1
1
0
6 / $50.00
National Association
$450
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
1
1
4 / $112.50
Personal/Interest
$75
0
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
0
2 / $37.50
Religious
$50
0
2
1
1
1
1
1
0
1
8 / $6.25
Friends/Family
$50
0
0
1
0
1
2
0
0
0
4 / $12.50

 

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