According to a 2008 survey of over 12,000 physicians, only 17% of physicians rated the financial position of their practices as “healthy and profitable”. 17 percent! Yes, that means that 83% of those physicians aren’t making money. In fact, a recent Wall Street Journal article by Dr. Sandeep Jauhar reports that the “return on educational investment for primary-care physicians, adjusted for differences in number of hours worked, is just under $6 per hour”. That’s less than the average federal minimum wage!
So what medical marketing and media strategies can doctors and practices apply that really work in order to increase profits and salaries?
Communicating on a one-to-many basis has many advantages including being:
- low cost,
- easy to deploy,
- quick to implement,
- precision targeting; and
- the ability to personalize.
Most importantly, research reports confirm, select forms of email marketing are among the most effective tools available for brand awareness, retention and for new business acquisition.
It’s important to note that this is not appropriate for every doctor-marketing situation. And, to be effective, email marketing may need professional handling to bring together the right combination of creative elements (such as the list, content, and other key considerations), as well as abiding by anti-spam regulations, personal privacy restrictions and professional, best practice standards.
Search Engine Optimized (SEO) Blogs & Websites
Speaking of advertising in the Yellow Pages, say hello to Google – the new Yellow Pages. Today, Pew Internet Research says 77% of online health seekers began their last session at a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Search engines, like Google, have become so sophisticated for helping people find what they’re looking for, that now you can literally type medical specialists or medical specialists near me into their search box and it will populate a list of the most authoritative medical specialists in your geographic area.
But wait…what do you mean by “authoritative”? Well you see, Google ranks pages based on two primary metrics: Authority, which is a measure of how many people share or link back to your content, and Relevancy, which is a measure of how well you create content that relates to the keywords users type into search engines (like Google) to find your website or blog. Websites and blogs who create relevant content that gets found by internet users, and then gets shared across the web, is deemed as being authoritative.
A great example of a doctor who’s marketing herself by creating highly relevant and authoritative content is Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson MD, MBE of Seattle Children’s Hospital. She started the “Seattle Mama Doc” blog to share her story of being a physician and to give moms childcare health advice. As a result, she was able to establish a social media network of over 26,000 Twitter followers, and was even featured as TIME’s Best Twitter Feeds of 2013. I can only imagine what having a social network like that must be doing for business.
Engaging Social Media and Referral Marketing
With that being said, Social Media and networks like Twitter, should not be neglected. DC Interactive Group’s Rising Use of Social Media and Mobile in Healthcare Infographic depicts that 41% of people would choose a healthcare provider based on their social media reputation. Of those surveyed, one-third of them now use social media sites like such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and online forums for health-related matters. The types of content that they were most likely to engage with or share on those networks included care received at a hospital or medical facility, and a specific doctor, nurse, or healthcare provider that they had a positive or negative experience with.
Social Media, however, can be used in many ways other than engaging with patients online. This Philips Healthcare LinkedIn case study is a great example of a healthcare organization who used LinkedIn to establish “thought leadership” and expertise in their respective field of healthcare and lighting. Philips created the Innovation in Health LinkedIn group to create discussions and build their credibility by directly connecting with their target audience – medical, healthcare, and technology professionals. The group now has over 100,000 members globally! Imagine how that kind of marketing could affect small medical practices…
Mobile isn’t the only way that you can get creative with your medical marketing strategy. Online videos on channels like YouTube are very effective as well