Physician Branding: Marketing Your Practice and You

physician_symbols_atIn a recent practice management article, Fred Balzac, a medical writer and editor, believes “marketing—especially in the current digital age—can be an indispensable tool for attracting enough new patients to ensure that growth occurs and continues.”
Eric Grigsby, MD

Dr. Grigsby’s view of medical practice marketing is informed by the fact that more and more patients are getting their health-related information from digital sources. He cited a survey showing that 72% of US adults living with chronic conditions use the Internet, and that such users are more likely than other adult Internet users to obtain medical information online. Meanwhile, approximately one in five Internet users have consulted reviews and rankings of healthcare service providers and treatments. These data suggest that practitioners need to familiarize themselves with the concepts of search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine (or targeted digital) marketing.

“That term [SEO] hadn’t been invented when I first started in practice, and there was no concept that people would go to the digital world for health information, said Dr. Grigsby. “But certainly they do, and we’re expected to participate because most patients now … go to the doctor when they need information that they can’t get from the Internet. So, we’re definitely a secondary source of information for our patients.”

Specialists in SEO can help tailor information on a practice’s website to boost search rankings, especially for specialty or location-specific searches (eg, “pain management in Napa”), but only if they know who the audience is, what they’re looking for, and how an individual practice fits the bill—insights that are best provided by the practitioners themselves. “Marketing is not necessarily the accelerator—you may have enough patients coming in your door already,” observed Dr. Grigsby. “But it is certainly the steering wheel, so that you can direct your information to patients—if you find that you can direct it to [the type of] patients whom you’d like to see.” Read the full article in Neurology Reviews

Being found on the internet is an important part of digital marketing for physicians, but it also just part of the equation. Once you’ve been discovered online it is vital that the “digital-face” you present to the world is clean and effective. Keeping your website up-to-date is crucial for attracting new patients AND keeping your existing patient base engaged. Here, is some valuable advice from Ron Romano and Dr. Neil H. Baum’s article titled, “5 Ways to Wake Up Your Website.”
1. Go mobile
Make your Web site “thumb friendly.” Mobile technology has taken over the desktop and laptop worlds. Now nearly everyone is using a hand-held smartphone or tablet for their Internet needs.

2. Add patient reviews
What others say about you is far more important than anything you can say about yourself. Almost half of prospective patients will check out your online reviews before calling you to schedule an appointment.1 Therefore, it is very important that you ask for positive feedback from your patients and post it to your Web site. We recommend that you capture compliments from your existing patients when they are in the office. Have a computer or iPad handy for them to create a positive review; patients who “promise” to do it when they get back to the office or home rarely follow through. Testimonials should be visible on your homepage and can link to another testimonial page or review site.

3. Share your videos
What’s hot and what’s not? To answer that, just take a look at how many people watch videos on YouTube every day! People don’t want to read anymore; they want to be entertained and spoon-fed information.

4. Hook‘em on the homepage
If you want your Web site to create a favorable first impression, your homepage should reflect that positive impression. Remember, the homepage, as the face of your practice, is the first thing that a patient will see long before she picks up the phone or comes to the office.

5. Place calls to action on every page
Contact us! This is so rudimentary, yet many Web sites do not have easy-to-find contact information on their homepages. Be sure to include your phone number (which could be different than your regular phone office number so you can track how many calls you get from your Web site).
Read the commentary by Ron Romano and Neil H. Baum, MD

And finally one of the most visible physicians on social media , Kevin Pho, MD, shares his knowledge in a YouTube video about how all physicians can develop their own personal brand using a “hub and spoke strategy”.