Three Pillars of Successful Practice Marketing
As more functional medicine practitioners exit the insurance payer system in an effort to find greater satisfaction in their work, they find themselves in the unfamiliar (and sometimes uncomfortable) position of having to market their practice in order to attract new patients.
Here are three pillars of successful practice marketing to ensure your practice gains traction and becomes profitable quickly:
- Build a Strong Marketing Foundation
A strong marketing foundation means two things:
Differentiating yourself in the marketplace by selecting a well-defined niche.
Developing a deep understanding of your ideal client.
Practitioners often believe they will attract more patients by being everything to everyone. However, this “generalist” approach often misses the mark because most people willing to pay cash for services have a specific health condition that is not being adequately addressed by the conventional system and thus, are looking for a specialist.
Sometimes practitioners worry that by having a niche they’ll limit themselves or become bored. Never fear: You don’t have to choose an overly narrow niche, and you don’t have to turn away people who come to you for other issues. Niching is a marketing strategy by which you seek to attract a certain kind of client; it’s not a hard and fast rule that says you can’t help others, if you wish to.
The second step in building a strong marketing foundation is to develop a deep understanding of your ideal client. How old are they? What gender? What do they struggle with? What are their hopes and dreams? Most importantly, what results do they want? This is key: You may think you’re selling products or services, but what you’re actually selling are results. In your marketing, use results-oriented language that exhibits an emotional understanding of your ideal client and watch your appointment calendar fill.
- Leverage Online Strategies to Reach Your Ideal Client
It’s never been easier to reach a large audience of potential clients online. Start by putting up a great website. Per the first pillar detailed above, your website should clearly articulate who you serve and what results you can help people get. Your site needs to identify your niche and speak directly to the frustrations, hopes and desires of your ideal client. It should also express your unique point of view and approach to medicine.
Make sure your website can be found by hiring someone who knows SEO (search engine optimization) and can help you incorporate keywords and optimize for Google. Also, be sure to claim your Google business listing and complete your profile.
Another powerful online strategy is email marketing. Every practice should be sending out a regular newsletter at least once a month, or even better, a single-topic communication every week. Provide value by educating and commenting on health topics in the news. When you have an engaged email audience, you have a cheap and easy way to fill an event, book appointments, generate referrals and more.
- Use Offline Strategies to Establish Yourself as the Go-To Expert in Your Community
While online marketing is powerful, don’t forget about these tried-and-true offline tools: public talks, networking and referrals. In the Prosperous Practitioner Summit, which I co-hosted with Miriam Zacharias, MS, we heard repeatedly that these three strategies were responsible for fast growth, particularly in the first few years of a new practice.
Public talks are ideal for a number of reasons: They provide instant credibility, they build your reputation and selling happens effortlessly as a by-product of teaching. A well-crafted educational presentation need only finish with a gentle invitation to schedule an appointment or free consult. No ”icky” self-promotion involved.
Networking has obvious benefits, one of which is that when prospects meet you in person, they quickly develop the “know, like and trust” factor. Remember: Networking can happen any time, even at the grocery store.
Finally, referrals can have dramatic results for your practice. Get to know aligned practitioners in your area and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships. Don’t forget to ask happy patients to refer their friends and family. Over time, referrals can generate a steady stream of new business.
By Julia Zaslow, NC