- Marketing your individual brand requires careful research and planning.
- Attract media attention by highlighting an interesting or unusual feature of your practice.
- Personal touches are very important for retaining current patients and attracting new ones.
Carol Rupe, MD, a family physician in Charlotte, North Carolina, recently added a Facebook component to her marketing efforts, which have included direct mail, speaking at charitable fund-raisers, and participating in health fairs.
Patricia Roy, DO, a family physician in Muskegon, Michigan, welcomed two new midlevels with community announcements and photos sent to local newspapers. In addition, she and her office nurse sat on a committee to plan the sex education curriculum for a local school district. “They loved having the medical input, and it was positive exposure to well-insured school employees, as well as involved parents,” Roy says.
John C. Johnson, MD, an emergency medicine and urgent care specialist in Valparaiso, Indiana, has a “The doctor is IN” sign that faces the highway and, during office hours, is lit in neon red.
M.P. Ravindra Nathan, MD, a cardiologist in Brookville, Florida, has given community talks on “How to Celebrate Your 100th Birthday,” and is planning a fall presentation on “Obesity in America: How to Control It.” He also writes guest editorials for the St. Petersburg Times.
Liza Shiff, MD, a general practitioner in San Diego, California, participates in preventive health fairs where “I can spread the message of early lifestyle changes and intervention,” and she distributes monthly health and wellness handouts at local churches, synagogues, and schools.
Rosanne J. Hooks, MD, a family practitioner in Mullins, South Carolina, ran television ads that showed her staff interacting with patients and featured a voiceover describing the practice’s services.
In honor of his practice’s 100th birthday (his grandfather started the practice in 1910, his father took over in 1951, and he joined in 1988), Peter Menger, MD, an ophthalmologist in Franklin Square, New York, is sponsoring community events and teams, offering free diabetic eye screenings, and speaking about eye health to local community groups and schools.
MARKETING INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT
In tough economic times, with fewer people seeking medical care because they’ve lost insurance coverage or they’re hoarding spare cash, attracting new patients-and keeping established patients in the fold-takes on increasing importance. “The practice of medicine, at its very core, is identical to any business. It is vital to have name and brand identification. It is important to constantly add new clientele. And it is shortsighted not to invest in the marketing of your medical practice,” says Carl Rupe, Carol Rupe’s husband and vice president of her solo practice, Charlotte’s Premier Health.
Determining the best ways to market your particular “brand,” however, involves research and careful planning. “If a patient comes in and says ‘I want an antibiotic,’ you wouldn’t just prescribe it for him,” says Stewart Gandolf, a founding partner of Healthcare Success Strategies, a medical marketing company headquartered in Irvine, California. “You’d do an exam, make a diagnosis, and come up with a treatment plan. We tell doctor-clients that marketing requires the same approach-diagnose where you are, examine the marketplace, and then develop a promotion plan that suits your practice, because every practice is unique.”