It’s a known fact that 8 out of 10 internet users are going online to search for health information. If you don’t have a website for your medical practice STOP reading this. If you have a website, social media business pages and haven’t claimed your local citations read on.
1. Resolution Action Item: Claim your business listings on Google My Business, Bing Places For Business, Yp.com, Local.webmd.com, Yelp, Vitals and your Facebook Fan Page. It’s
tedious work, but worth the time and it’s FREE. Patients are using their smart phones, tablets and personal computers to find physicians, dentists, cardiologists and other medical specialists to address their health needs. Unfortunately, patients in your local area will not be able to find you if you haven’t established your online presence.
Local searches for businesses (via directories) are up 58%. What does that mean for your medical practice? Well, if your professional name, business name and phone number is incorrect or inconsistent in the associated business directories, local residents can’t find you. If your practice is in a high transient or metro area, your Name, Address, Phone, (NAP) is crucial during local searches. NAP will not get you to the top of the local search results pages; however, it will give you a chance to be found in the local maps. Updating and maintaining NAP is one of the techniques used by SEO experts to improve your local online presence.
2. Resolution Action Item: Update your NAP information on all business directories. One of the tools 94th Street Marketing uses for our clients is Moz Local Search Tool. Updating and managing your NAP listing is a time-consuming, but essential task, if you want patients in your local area to find your online medical practice or service.
Reputation management is the new buzz word within the marketing field. Physicians are always asking how can they get more reviews or what can they do about negative reviews. When we hear this we always ask clients two questions: “What is your review strategy?” and “Did you respond to the reviews?” 65% of negative reviews are posted by patients who waited for long periods of time without communication from the Staff or Physician whereas less than 5% of negative reviews are about a Physician’s ability or skills. To overcome negative reviews you must have a strategy.
3. Resolution Action Item: Develop an internal review or, better yet, a Professional Compliment Strategy for your medical practice. Most patients will not leave a review due to the extra steps required to do so. Make it easy for them. 70% of your patients probably have a Gmail or Yahoo email account. Point them to social media sites that accept those email accounts. Also, don’t let negative reviews go without a response. We’ve all had bad days; put yourself in the patients shoes when responding to negative reviews and always be positive. Here’s an example of a positive response: “Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to submit your review. Our goal is to provide our patients with ultimate care/service and sometimes that care far exceeds the time allotted for your appointment. We are sorry you were not seen at your scheduled time; we know your time is valuable. Your feedback is important and will assist us in improving our patient care/service goals.” Also acknowledge positive reviews with a reply such as “Thank you for allowing XYZ practice to manage your health care needs.” Anyone seeing these reviews will see that you care about your patients and medical practice brand. The only cost for replying to reviews is your time.
Refresh your website. As a medical professional you are always updating your skills, techniques and services. However patients will never know what new skills or specialty services you provide unless you inform them. Think about the training classes you just invested in/completed or the new equipment you just purchased for your office. Is that information on your website or social media pages? Your website is the first impression for patients. Some time ago, there was an ad campaign tagline for a homebuyers magazine guide where the focus of the campaign was this: “If you are seeking to buy a new home you need to get this home buyers guide.” This was a fact because this guide had all the new home developments in the area. At the end of the ad a person said “I never knew those homes were there.” Well, this is the same thing potential patients will say when they can’t find your updated skills, techniques and services on your website or social pages — “I didn’t see that service on your website, so I went to Dr. XYZ,” or “I didn’t know you did that procedure.” To stay relevant in today’s local market you must update your website and keep patients informed.
4. Resolution Action Item: Refresh your homepage or landing pages with your most recent services and/or medical segments. During the refresh of content, check to make sure your website is mobile compatible for local searches. Review your website on your mobile devices, phones and/or tablets. Make sure it’s easy to read and navigate without having to resize the pages. If you can review your website without pinching or resizing it, great, your website is responsive (if you can’t consider a redesign of your website). Here are a couple of tips on refreshing your content: 1) Don’t change your title tags; 2) Keep your new content the same length as the old content. In other words, if the old content was three or four paragraphs, keep the new content the same length.
Marketing your medical practice locally isn’t hard. It just requires a significant investment of time and knowledge. And just like any trend, it’s always changing. So take advantage of these trends to better position your medical practice locally.
One of the best marketing books that’s often overlooked is “Positioning”, by Al Ries and Jack Trout. In one of the chapters, it talked about the leader and the follower. A follower is always copying the leader in the market with a me-too strategy. Whereas a leader is always being innovative and never loosing their positioning. Ever wondered why your colleagues’ websites appear higher or more frequently than your information on web search pages? It’s because they have taken the time to market their medical practice and become a leader.
In this New Year, take the time to review your local marketing strategy and your competitors. If you don’t have a strategy, develop one; then develop a local marketing budget and set goals for yourself and your practice. If you don’t have time to develop a local marketing strategy for your medical practice, here are two ways to get a plan developed:
Contact a local community college or university business school and speak with the professor about assigning a few students to develop a marketing strategy for your medical practice for college credit.
Hire a consultant / agency that works within the professional services industry.
94th Street Marketing Group is a niche-advertising agency that works with physicians in all specialties. We help medical professionals develop their local branding and marketing message. Why us? Well, we know what works and doesn’t work to locally position a medical practice; and, we do it without overspending. That’s why our tagline is: “We Are Budget-Conscious Marketing Agency.”