Effective Direct to Patient Marketing
5 Steps for your medical practice’s success. Used by hundreds of clinics in US and Canada
In today’s healthcare industry there are many ways to market your medical practice. A popular way to grow your business and patient count is using a direct to patient marketing strategy. This method focuses on marketing to the patient who is tasked with making medical decisions. It avoids using doctors and other providers as intermediaries to market a medical practice but instead focuses on the patient. In recent years this has been a noted shift in the medical marketing industry. There are several ways you can market directly to the patient.
Key ideas for marketing directly to the patients
1. Creating A Patient Persona
To engage in direct marketing, you need to know how your target audience will react to marketing tactics. Creating a patient persona helps you fine-tune your direct marketing efforts so they are as effective as possible. Using a patient persona enables you to refine a message, so you say the right thing to the right people at the right time. In many ways, a patient persona is a map that guides your direct marketing efforts, so they remain on target.
2. Understand The Language Your Target Audience Uses
The medical terms used in health care are not the same terms used by the general public. You are marketing to the patient, not a doctor, so you need to use the language they use when looking up medical terms. For example, a patient is unlikely to search for the term medial epicondylitis. They will, however, use the term “Golfer’s Elbow.” When creating marketing materials to use online or offline, you will want to use your target audience’s everyday language. You might have a target audience that doesn’t even know the name of the condition or illness they are suffering from. To help connect patients with the help they need, you will need to include symptoms in your marketing materials. Using the previous example above, someone might search for “elbow pain” or “funny bone pain” and not even use the term “Golfer’s Elbow. All in all, you need to show your target audience that you understand their needs. Using easy to understand language will help get your message across.
3. Keeping A Patient’s Comfort Level In Mind
Medical practice makes a mistake if they do not keep in mind how a patient feels when suffering from an illness or a condition. Their feelings and emotional state should play a role in your marketing efforts. How they feel will profoundly influence their decision making. Understanding that will help you craft a message that is effective for them. For example, if the subject is a sensitive subject, like a sexually transmitted disease, your marketing language will be different from that of a sprained ankle.
A patient will appreciate a medical practice that respects a patient’s feelings and empathize with what they are going through. Respecting the privacy of a patient is also very important. For example, a brochure about sexually transmitted diseases should not be flashy and garner a lot of attention.
4. Help Patients Make A Health Care Decision
To effectively market to your target audience, you need to understand how most of them make that final healthcare decision. If you can identify what factors play a role in a decision-making process, then you can design your marketing to influence those factors to guide a patient to decide to select your medical practice. One of the first places a patient will look for health care information is online. Designing your online marketing efforts, including your website, is critical to capturing their attention to include your medical practice in their research. If you can capture their attention, you have a foothold on their decision-making process. From there, you can influence them to choose your clinic for their health care needs.
In addition to understanding their healthcare needs, you should also examine fears patients have when seeking care. Fear is not always a contributing factor in a healthcare decision. If you sprain your ankle and can not walk, chances are you will not avoid treatment. The same can not be said if a patient believes they may have an STD. The fear of finding out they have a sexually transmitted infection and the stigma they believe goes along with it, may cause them to avoid testing or treatment. A patient may just have overall general anxiety about going to the doctors or a fear of needles. Acknowledging, addressing, and reassuring patients that you understand this fear and can help them through it will allow you to target an even larger audience for your medical clinic. Showing this compassion and understanding of both fears and needs is an excellent way to directly market to patients.
5. Use Your Mailing List – Both Email & Direct Mail
When patients visit your clinic, they will give you plenty of information, including their physical address and most likely their email address. Use this information, with their permission, for your marketing campaigns. While email has been the preferred mode of marketing over the last several years, you should not completely discount a direct mail campaign. Reduced mail volume has made it more likely your marketing material will be seen and not lost in the jumble of other mail.
Email campaigns should be designed to inform patients about your medical practice with something useful, educational, and informative. An email once a week reminding people of your hours of operation will be deleted, and the patient will unsubscribe. An email talking about a local health crisis, new service being offered, a recent hire, or special holiday hours of operation will instead be well received. Unlike social media posts, you do not need to send out emails every day or every week. An email campaign once a month or once every two weeks will generally get you good results if they are written well and use high-quality pictures. If your medical practice is offering a weekly special, that would probably justify a weekly email.
Direct mail should be approached in the same way as an email campaign. Sending something out once a month should be your goal. Create marketing material that will be long-lasting and pinned up on a bulletin board or fridge. Sending coupons, postcard reminders, or announcements in the mail can be very useful. Your goal should be your patient saving whatever you send them to see it every day and not thrown away after reading once.
Engaging patients with direct marketing can be very effective. Instead of just talking to a patient, you are trying to start a conversation. Empowering them to make their own healthcare decisions will build brand loyalty to your medical practice. The relationship you develop with them may even turn them into Brand Ambassadors. When they become a Brand Ambassador, they will go around praising your medical practice to everyone they encounter, for free! Some medical practices encourage patient engagement by providing incentives for referrals.
All in all, direct patient marketing should be one of the strategies you use and implement when promoting your medical practice. At PatientGain.com, we can help you use this tactic and guide you to what has worked in the past with our other clients. Call today and set up and appointment with our experts!