In a recent Power Talks webinar, Damien Adler, along with co-hosts Fiona Harrington and Danielle Hopkinson, unpacked 3 key areas for health practice marketing.
Damien is the co-founder of Power Diary and a private practice owner, so his insights are based on the practical experience of building a psychology brand from scratch and what he has learned from working with Power Diary customers around the world.
Fiona Harrington heads up strategy and communications at Power Diary. She has consulted for many small and medium businesses and grown her own businesses from the ground up, including an online platform called Word of Mouth Online, which became Australia’s largest online review site for businesses.
Danielle Hopkinson is Power Diary’s marketing manager. She has over 16 years of experience covering many different aspects of marketing focused on helping businesses grow and expand their brands.
This article covers three vital aspects of marketing a health practice, based on insights gathered over many years at Power Diary supporting practice owners, as well as personal experience.
Why Does Marketing Matter?
If just the mention of the word ‘marketing’ conjures up images of businesses trying to push people into products they don’t want or need, it’s understandable that you’re having trouble putting yourself out there. But, in essence, marketing is just communication. And, if you do it in a way that feels natural and authentic, then you have nothing to worry about.
Marketing is about 3 things:
- Awareness – you can’t have a big impact if no one knows about you.
- Education – educate your customers on your area of expertise.
- Building connections – it allows your business to keep current relationships and build new ones.
Marketing is not something to shy away from. It just needs to be done in a way that reflects your values and the values of your practice.
Grow Your Referral Network
92% of all consumers trust recommendations over other advertising methods, and there are two main types:
- Professional referrals (from fellow health practitioners, like-minded groups, the media, schools, and professional networks.)
- Client-to-client referrals, where your client refers another client to you (such as a friend or family member). Growing that network is important to you in the context of the longevity and the growth of your business.
When it comes to professional networks, there’s often a hub and spoke model in health settings around the world where the family physician, paediatrician, or the GP is the central person that people would go to for general medical advice. And from there (the ‘hub’), the person would be referred to a specialist. If you can get onto the list of one of these core referral hubs, there’s an amplified effect as you receive consistent referrals.
But how do you get noticed and get on their lists?
1. Differentiate Yourself
Stand out and be a bit different, but don’t make it complicated.
- Decide how you want to introduce yourself. It’s often best to send a letter and then make a follow-up phone call; share how you approach your client work and your availability and include a colour photograph.
- Keep your website up-to-date; the referral partner may sit down with the client and pull up the site so the client can learn more about the practice.
- Identify potential referral partners and then follow them on social media, try to understand what’s important to them, and engage with their posts.
- Keep in touch, let referral partners know when a new team member joins (along with a photo), and if you add any new services to your offering.
- Send referral feedback letters to establish relationships and build trust even if it’s not mandated.
- Know who your top referral partners are, and remember to reach out and thank them.
Each of these small actions differentiates you from the competition and will keep you top of mind.
2. Websites for Health Professionals
Potential clients and referrers want to see you, see the practice, and feel comfortable, so make it easy for them by including everything they need on your website.
- Include practitioners’ names
- Share the services you offer
- Make the information clear and easy to find
- Use recent photos and include a bio
3. Position Yourself as an Expert
Position yourself as the go-to person for your space, don’t worry if you’re not the best presenter yet; it takes time and practice. You’re not trying to sell anything; you’re there to educate and talk about your subject area so it doesn’t need to be fancy, as long as you’re authentic.
You could get started by reaching out to media, radio stations, podcasts, community groups, and journalists in your area to offer assistance on stories or to pitch ideas. Don’t overthink it; pick topics that are relevant and talk to local media people about covering your topic.
Smaller local radio stations, community newspapers or community groups are also great avenues. If you stay focused on offering education and delivering great value, it’s very easy to do. It’s not time-consuming, and you can quickly become a source that journalists will contact.
In addition to professional referrals, recommendations from your clients can quickly grow your business. But, in a practice, this can easily be overlooked, and consistency can be difficult to achieve. A great client experience is the cornerstone of client referrals, and that’s where a practice operations manual and a customer service policy come in so that each team member has a reference for how to treat clients in any situation.
It’s often the small things, water in the waiting room, new magazines, timely follow-up calls or even birthday messages. Because, especially when it comes to health care, people ask their friends and family for recommendations, whether for a child psychologist, a paediatrician, a massage therapist, or a physio. If they’ve had a great, consistent customer experience, you will be the one they talk about.
This consistent experience includes your presence on social media with a regularly updated feed and a website with recent photos and information. It also makes it easier for a client to recommend you, they might want to tag you on social media or share a positive review, but if you’re not active on social media or registered with review sites, you won’t get notified so that you can be the first to respond and show that you’re engaged and care about your clients.
2. Connect with Clients
Connect with your clients and grow your audience using newsletters and bulk communications because as your email list grows, your business grows. This is one of the most commonly overlooked ways to keep in touch with current, past and potential clients. Remember that people don’t always make a decision to use your services straight away, but they might sign up for your newsletter or download a guide on your site, and then you can keep reaching out to them once a month on autopilot, and then, in time, they might make an appointment.
Benefits of Email Newsletters
Email newsletters allow you to communicate directly with clients, position you as a source of knowledge and build trust. They also make clients aware of your services, where a client may be referred to you because of a specific service you offer; from your newsletters, they might learn something else about your offering and make an appointment for something unrelated.
In an age of information overload, it could be easy for a client to forget about your practice, but if you’re getting in touch regularly, keeping them updated and sharing tips, you’ll stay top of mind.
What to Include in Your Newsletter
Your newsletter could include:
- Blog posts that are relevant to your clients
- A sign-up for an event (like a webinar or a course)
- An article from a professional association
- Products that clients might be interested in
- Recent news items related to your industry
- Reminder about your upcoming holiday closures and your schedule
- Reminder to book an appointment
Send Newsletters (with MailChimp and Power Diary)
Here’s the part where you’ll go ahead and reach out to them. If you didn’t know, Power Diary integrates with MailChimp, and for smaller practices, it’s free. Yup, it’s free for up to 2000 contacts and 10,000 emails per month, and with the templates they have already set up and ready to go, it couldn’t be simpler. And you can get strategic, segment your list, send different newsletters to different audiences, and even send newsletters to your referrals.
If you need help getting Power Diary to talk to MailChimp, this is a great tutorial from our knowledge base.
Use Bulk Messages
For functional communications, such as a change to opening hours or introducing a new team member, rather than using a newsletter, you might instead opt for bulk messages that can be sent as an email or text directly from Power Diary. Text messages, in particular, are effective with close to 100% open rates, and any replies to those messages come back into Power Diary so that you won’t miss a response.
3. Use the Data You Have to Market Better
With Power Diary, you have a system that contains all the information about your business in one place, so you can leverage the reports and features within Power Diary to improve your marketing.
Here are the top reports to look at:
- Client Sources Report – run the report and see exactly where people are coming from.
- Recent Referrals Report – look at referral patterns so you can see who’s referring the most. If you drill down into a specific entry, you can also see the amount of revenue that’s been generated linked to that referral source.
- Inactive Referrals Report – identify who hasn’t referred to you in a while, and you can send a follow-up to get back to the top of their list.
- Services Report or Activity Summary – filter by location and service to pinpoint the biggest revenue drivers as they may be of more interest to your target market.
- Client Demographics – see who is choosing your practice based on gender, age and other data
- Birthdays – you can set up prompts where, with a click of a button, you can send a birthday message to a client.
- Recurring appointments – if there is a risk of a client dropping off, you’ll know when they’ve had the last appointment in a pack and can follow up with them.
- Set up reminders – maybe you need to follow up with a client in 3 months or set up a call back for your admin team to do in 6 months; Power Diary will send a prompt to action that task.
Next Steps/To Do’s
- Take profile pictures – they don’t have to be professional; use a smartphone with a good camera and update your team profiles, so people know who you are and what you do.
- Write a great introduction letter – and include a picture when you send them. Then set up recurring reminders, preferably from the admin, so that you can get these referral introductions going out on a regular basis.
- Create a template for the referral feedback letters.
- Reach out to your local media and offer help, become the resource they trust, be natural and be yourself.
- Conduct a client experience audit – find out how your clients feel about your practice, the waiting room, and the treatments, and then use the feedback to improve.
- Create and improve your social media presence.
- Register for online review sites, and pay attention to reviews you receive (set up recurring reminders if it’s something you’re likely to forget about.)
- Start a regular newsletter, be the source they can trust and provide them with the information they need.
- Start using other bulk communications
- Run Power Diary reports, and use that information to inform your marketing.
At Power Diary, we’re passionate about helping health practices grow, and marketing is a crucial part of any practice’s growth strategy.
For more on growing your practice:
- Watch the full webinar presentation here;
- Download the Marketing for Health Practices eBook.