Private healthcare providers are often perceived as having a higher purpose, but the fact is you’re still a business that needs to retain customers, earn revenue, and make a profit. If you’re not doing those three things, your healthcare business won’t be around for very long.
Times have changed in the healthcare industry and patients have become ‘healthcare consumers.’ With the mountain of information now available online, they are self-educating and have more choices than ever.
That’s why it’s difficult for a medical practice or clinic to capture the attention of new patients and then have them book an appointment and go ahead with treatment.
What is healthcare marketing?
Healthcare marketing is the promoting or selling of treatments and services to prospective patients.
Before you start marketing your treatments, you need to be consistently providing an exceptional healthcare journey with great clinical outcomes.
When your existing patients are happy, you’ll be creating fans and ambassadors for your healthcare business who’ll help increase patient referrals by recommending you to their family and friends and on social media.
Here are five ways that healthcare marketing can help
#1 – Grows Your Patient Base
The more people you have who are aware of how you help with the transformative treatments and services you offer, the more recommendations you’ll get, which will lead to more patients.
#2 – Saves Money on Advertising Budgets
When done in the right way, your marketing initiatives can help you track the best channels to win new patients, which will save you from wasting a lot of money on the wrong platforms.
You will need to test and see what works best for your healthcare practice and what gives you the best results. Having a few lead generation streams like, Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads and PPC (pay per click) as well as your website and offline marketing, can really propel your healthcare business to the next level.
#3 – Builds ‘Brand Equity’
Your business is competing for patients with other healthcare providers, and marketing helps to establish your healthcare brand in the minds of patients. If your potential patients don’t know you exist, they can’t come to you. If they don’t know what you do then they have no reason to choose you. Marketing helps with all of that and puts your healthcare in front of potential patients.
#4 – Focuses on The Patient Experience
Clearly, the experiences of your patients play a significant role in your reputation. This is especially relevant for people who might be anxious about their health or the health of a loved one. Marketing is a way of promoting that patient experience.
#5 – Increases New Treatment Uptake
Raising awareness levels amongst patients for your newest treatments is important for increasing treatment uptake.
If people don’t know about your latest treatments or medical services, how can they buy them? Having an effective launch campaign around new services means you can pre-empt questions and objections and give potential patients the information they need to make a decision.
Marketing with an end goal?
When you’re growing any business, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your desired result; in other words – where are you trying to get to?
Measuring success when your objectives are clearly defined will be much easier. Without defined goals, deciding where to allocate your resources (time, money energy) will be challenging.
Setting business goals
If you don’t have a specific business goal in mind, it’s easy to get side-tracked and lose focus on what’s important. Business goals will help you stay on track and progress towards your ultimate destination.
You’re going to need to work out your objectives and how you want to grow your business, for example:
– Are you trying to expand by offering new healthcare services?
– Do you have the excess capacity you want to use?
– Are you unable to satisfy the demand for a treatment?
– Maybe you’re an expert with valuable authority in a specific field with the potential to be the clear leader in your area?
Setting marketing goals
Making a name for your business is never easy, and it’s even tougher when you don’t have clear marketing goals.
You need to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals in order to achieve them.
You also need to track your progress so that you can see if you are making the progress that you want to see. This means you need to know your numbers, e.g., number of new patients, average treatment revenue, percentage of no-shows or whatever indicator you’re using.
Finally, give yourself a timeframe (i.e., where do I see my healthcare practice in 1, 3 or 5 years?)
Why is a marketing plan important?
Healthcare professionals need a marketing plan. This will effectively outline what you want to attain and how you’re going to get it to achieve those business and marketing goals. A marketing plan should include the tactics the business will use; it should measure success and set out who will be responsible for each task.
How to create a healthcare marketing plan
Creating a marketing plan requires careful thought, planning and execution.
(By the way, for further reading, here’s a deep dive article about writing a marketing plan).
But with these five steps, you’ll be well on your way to success.
#1 Define Your Objectives
Your marketing should have clearly defined goals aligned with your business objectives. For example, if you’re trying to create awareness for a new treatment, your goal might be to reach a certain number of people in a month or increase traffic to that treatment page on your website.
#2 Research Your Competition
To be successful in your healthcare marketing efforts, it’s vital to first marketing research to understand what your competitors are doing. Identify which tactics your competitors are using and why they’re effective. Once you understand the competitive landscape, you’ll have a clear idea of where to allocate resources best to meet your goals.
#3 Segment Your Target Market
Successful healthcare businesses build trust within their niche so that when there’s an opportunity for you to provide help, patients are more likely to choose your treatments over another provider. Make sure to divide your target market into audience segments so you can communicate with them with more resonance to build know, like and trust.
#4 Create a Strategy & Tactics
Marketing is ever-evolving and requires consistent testing and measurement to determine what’s working and what’s not. Once you’ve defined your audience, you can start creating strategies to reach them with the right message in the right channel at the right time.
#5 Evaluate & Adjust
Testing and measuring everything you do is vital. If you’re doing healthcare marketing, you’ve got to be open-minded and willing to pivot or revise your approach if needed.
The difference between healthcare marketing strategies and marketing tactics
Marketing tactics are the methods that healthcare practices use to promote their products or services. Tactics can include paid advertising, search engine optimisation and organic marketing using social media pages.
On the other hand, healthcare marketing strategy is the overall plan that businesses put in place to achieve their marketing goals. This includes identifying their target market, developing a marketing mix, and setting objectives.
[Here’s] a great video about marketing strategy from Neil Patel and a good wiki article about marketing tactics.
Top healthcare marketing tactics to attract new high-value patients
To attract new patients, healthcare practices can use a variety of marketing tactics. Some of the most effective include:
#1. Creating a modern, helpful website and social media profiles – online presence
#2. Offering free consultations or discount vouchers
#3. Paid digital advertising and marketing campaigns
#4. Hosting open days or special events with limited access or timescale
#5. Organic social media marketing
#6. Email marketing
#7. Using a healthcare marketing agency
#8. Writing helpful articles about their health services optimised for search engines
The bottom line
Effective marketing is essential for any medical professional or healthcare business owner.
Digital media has revolutionised healthcare marketing by creating channels to reach patients that can meet different business objectives.
A combination of a deep understanding of your ideal target patient, paid social or Google advertising, a good content strategy, and an excellent patient experience will mean you can improve the retention of existing patients and consistently get new ones.
The bottom line is that healthcare marketing can help your business achieve sustainable growth by attracting and retaining the right kind of patients who’ll value your skills and want to pay you what you’re worth.