The economic downturn has left the public considering each and every purchase. Healthcare has not been left unscathed by this change with some clinics finding more noticeable economic shrinkage than others. The more resistant clinics have considered and adapted their marketing strategy to reduce the unit marketing cost per referral without substantially increasing their budget.
At The Clinic Finder we have considered 10 marketing tips for growth of a practice in the economic downturn. Over the next 10 weeks we will explore and advise on simple, effective and low cost options to improve patient numbers starting with Internet opportunities.
The Internet is a powerful marketing tool with 77% of households having Internet access in 2011 . The Internet is used for many purposes from social media to health information. The modern clinic has an opportunity to exploit the Internet to provide patient referrals and raise awareness of brand and profession.
Having a medium to access Internet is imperative. Luckily there are several initial stage options for a clinic:
- Individual Clinic Website
- Internet Directories
- Social Media
Individual Clinic Website
A well-developed business website is a good starting point for clinics. There are thousands of website developers who can produce a low cost website in a short period of time.
The most important element of a website is being found. Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the process of making your website more visible for people searching on the Internet. If you were a chiropractor then you would want people to find your website when searching with the term ‘chiropractor’. A general term like chiropractor is extremely competitive, therefore being more specific using location may help you to be found. Make sure any website being built has Search Engine Optimization as a foundation stone.
Internet directories are an excellent place for clinics to develop a web presence. Many are not free so I would start with free options first. The Clinic Finder is an ideal opportunity for free referrals and web presence.
An Internet directory has many people working in the background to provide your services at a cost unsustainable to an individual or small business.
Remember the directory needs your help; if you find a directory useful let your colleagues and friends know. Helping directories will bring you more referrals by improving their authority within Google and other search engines.
Social media includes Facebook, and Twitter. To start using Facebook register a company page and invite your friends to ‘like’ your page. You can even use a link like this: http://www.facebook.com/theclinicfinder.
The idea of the Facebook medium is to interact and link with your friends’ contacts and then to their friends’ contacts until you build a list of hundreds or thousands of followers. By having followers you have an open audience for spreading messages, promotions and testimonials; all with the intention of improving your branding and patient numbers.
The strategy for Twitter is similar but involves following either individuals or companies. Set up a profile and start following others and requesting them to follow you. You can even use a link like this: http://www.twitter.com/theclinicfinder. Entice your followers to keep following you by adding two to three messages a day with offers, news, education material and testimonials. Remember you can only use 140 characters per tweet.
Good luck and remember the next set of tips will be with you on Friday 3rd February 2012 courtesy of The Clinic Finder.
 Office for National Statistics