Dr. Craig Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS
Austin Foot & Ankle Specialists
In today’s highly connected world, getting your practice noticed—in other words, marketing—is more important than ever. Unfortunately, it’s also more complicated than ever, too, and what works today might not work again tomorrow.
Over the course of many years and lots of tests we learn how to test for and diagnose common and rare foot conditions, perform intricate surgeries, master complex technologies, and more. But for many doctors, figuring out how to get your practice online might be the most mystifying challenge of all!
That’s why organizations like the AAPPM and events like the Practice Management Symposium are such essential resources for podiatry practitioners and their staff. Here are four of the most important things the AAPPM has taught me over the years about successfully marketing my own practice.
You need a team that knows its stuff
Obvious, right? Well, in a small practice it’s not always so simple, with doctors often trying to take on the roles of business management, marketing, sales, and providing great patient care, all at once. We do this because we feel we have to, or because we don’t see the value of hiring someone when we can do it ourselves, but this is often a mistake.
As podiatrists, we’re highly educated professionals. We went to school and post graduate training for a long time to acquire these skills. We attend conferences, symposiums, and classes every year to keep up with our continuing education. But that doesn’t necessarily make us marketing professionals, too.
When you try to take on all the marketing for your practice yourself, you hurt yourself in two ways. First, you’re almost certainly not going to be able to market your practice as well as a professional marketer could. Second, it takes your focus away from doing what you do best—providing quality patient care. And that can have a negative impact on your marketing efforts, too, if patients don’t feel like they’re getting your best effort. So hire a person or a team you trust to handle your marketing competently, and focus on what your expertise is—making patients’ lives better.
Today’s consumers are savvier than ever,
so don’t leave them in the dark
Thanks to the Internet, most of your patients have a wealth of information at their fingertips. They know what to look for and how to get it, and before they make any purchase decisions they invest a significant amount of time researching their symptoms, their likely conditions, their treatment options, and all the providers in their area that can help them.
A static, 5-page website isn’t going to cut it in 2016. If you aren’t providing the kind of detailed information your potential patients are seeking, they will choose a competitor who does. If your site doesn’t load correctly on their mobile phone, they’ll skip it for a site that does. If your office doesn’t show up on Google or Yelp, or you don’t have any online reviews, it’ll be much harder to earn their trust.
Take some time to review your own online presence from an objective standpoint. Would you be impressed by what you see? If not, why would you expect someone else to be?
Marketing is not the same as sales
Good marketing isn’t about showing off how smart you are, or even necessarily to push your services above all else. It’s about connecting and communicating with people, providing them with exactly the right informational content, at the right time, that speaks to their current level of need and understanding.
When a potential new patient first encounters you, they’re probably not thinking about all the amazing medical technology you have, or your personal training and credentials. They’re looking for a solution to a specific problem, which they may not have a name for yet. It’s by meeting them where they are with relevant information that you draw them to your website and, ultimately, convert them into leads (or in other words, patients).
Following up with great customer service is crucial
Providing great customer service is immensely important to your business and marketing success. If you treat your patients well, they’re much more likely to return to you for future care needs, refer you to their friends, or even leave a positive review online. Obvious, right?
What’s less obvious is that you can continue to use the marketing apparatus you’ve built to support your efforts to provide outstanding customer service long after the patient leaves the office. You can send them congratulatory e-mails on their birthday. You can provide follow-up surveys to ask them about their experience (and if it was good, invite them to leave a public review or testimonial). You can send newsletters. You can provide relevant information to help them adjust to their new orthotics or take better care of their diabetic foot concerns (and remind them when it’s time for an adjustment or checkup).
Continuing to provide patients with relevant information that exceeds their expectations and delighting them with outstanding customer service is what turns a once-and-done appointment into a lifelong relationship. One of the most powerful assets of good marketing is that it allows you to build and nurture those relationships outside the office.
Struggling with figuring out how to successfully market your practice? You’re far from alone. But thanks to the AAPPM, you have the rare opportunity to learn from the best. Come down to the Symposium, attend the workshops, take advantage of the free 30-minute consultations with exhibitors and speakers, and spend some time networking with your professional colleagues and peers—people just like you, who have been through the trenches and can share the benefit of their knowledge and experience.
We hope to see you in San Antonio! (If you aren’t registered yet, there’s still time). We wish you and your practice the best in 2017 and beyond.