Marketing for doctors and advertising are one of the most important tools that a medical specialist who seeks to learn how to advertise a medical office can have.
Knowing how to use it correctly can be the difference between success or failure in the private environment.
Health professionals who know how to use marketing and advertising can create monthly flows of hundreds of patients who constantly knock on the doors of their offices. This helps them to stop relying on other health professionals to refer them patients and stop relying on employment; it also helps them position their clinics and/or private practices as leaders in their city. Without forgetting that it also allows them to generate more income and to live with more freedom.
At GrowMedical, we have worked with dozens of health professionals on their marketing campaigns which currently help them to have 100, 200, 300 and even more than 500 patients EVERY MONTH in their offices or clinics (you can check our services here).
What I am going to show you next are the specific steps that we have followed (they are proven to work) so that you can implement them successfully. It could be said that this article or guide is a marketing plan for a medical office, clinic or hospital, so follow it to the letter.
Table of contents
1. Traditional Marketing
First, we need to talk about traditional marketing: print media, radio and television; we will also talk about the 2 main reasons why this type of advertising is dying and why doesn’t work in medical marketing.
Print advertising, radio and television, work through the premise that, if we want to see more people, we can put an ad in the newspaper or in a magazine, we can announce our practice in a radio program, or we can announce it in a television program.
The idea of being able to reach millions of people quickly seems very seductive, but the reality is that it isn’t as powerful as it might sound.
1.1 Segmentation is the first fail
One of the main failures of traditional advertising is that we reach too many people who don’t really need our services. In addition, we get to them through the interruption, which makes our advertising even less powerful.
What does it mean that we get to them through the interruption? We reach them through a publicity cut to interrupt their favorite program. We are interrupting their experience with an advertisement.
Why does this characteristic of traditional advertising pales against digital marketing? Because with digital marketing we can appear specifically in front of those people who are looking for our medical or health services. In addition, with digital marketing we can reach people who have a specific age, a certain gender, certain interests, a certain geographical area. We can reach practically whoever we want.
That’s why advertising in magazines, if you’ve done it, or advertising on television, won’t have the impact you would expect. You are reaching many people who aren’t interested.
Throughout this guide I will talk in detail about how we can achieve and take advantage of this topic of segmentation in your marketing, but not without first talking about the other great failure of traditional advertising.
1.2 The cost is the second fail
Traditional advertising is too expensive. For example, appearing 2 minutes on television has an extremely high cost (more than 1000 dollars), as well as having a segment on the radio. Printed advertising may not be as high in prices, but it is highly ineffective because of the issue we mentioned earlier (segmentation).
Modern advertising (digital advertising) can be carried out with anyone who has a relatively modest budget compared to traditional advertising.
Now that we are talking about why traditional advertising doesn’t work, let’s start to get into the matter of what you must do to achieve impactful results in your private practice through a marketing strategy for doctors with digital advertising.
2. Your value proposition: The foundation
When it comes to marketing for doctors, the differentiators that you can offer to your potential patients are one of the foundations when promoting and / or advertising the services of your private medical practice, health profession or clinic.
You must have this very clear, because it is the message that you are going to communicate through all the advertising channels that we will mention later.
The important thing is to answer the question: What makes me different from others?
The differentiators are what makes someone decide whether to buy or not to buy.
For example, when you buy a computer, you always look at what it has to offer. Maybe you prefer to buy an Apple computer because they tend to last 4 years or more. Or maybe you prefer Apple devices because you want to be perceived in a certain manner. You may prefer a regular PC because it is much cheaper than an Apple computer, or because it gives you more versatility in terms of the software you can use compared to an Apple computer.
Your potential patient does something similar with you.
Maybe the patient prefers to choose you because you have a sub-specialty, or a master’s degree, because you studied abroad, because you have some modern technology, because you are in a location of high socioeconomic status, or because your services are cheap, among many other reasons.
These are some questions you can ask yourself to be clear about your differentiators:
- What did you study?
- Where did you study it? Identify if it was in your city, in a renowned university, abroad, etc.
- Where have you worked? Have you worked in recognized institutions?
- Which associations or organizations have certified you?
- What societies are you a member of?
- What training or certifications have you done?
- What technology do you use to give a better service?
- Do you offer any procedure or treatment that your competitors don’t?
- Are you in a recognized hospital in your city?
- How many years of experience do you have?
- How many patients have you seen? Including private patients and public patients (everything counts for your experience in the eyes of your potential patient).
- How many treatments or procedures have you performed? Including private and / or public. For example, if you have performed more than 5,000 vasectomies.
- Have you obtained mentions on any magazine, TV show, radio program, newspaper, etc.?
- Have you published outstanding research? Which and in which magazines?
- Do you accept credit / debit card payments?
- Do you accept monthly payments?
- Do you have parking? Is it paid or is it free?
- Do you offer coffee service?
The differentiators that you or your clinic can offer aren’t limited to these, but they are a great starting point and will always be the basis for a good marketing for doctors that yields results.
Having clear the differentiators of your clinic or practice, now we can move on to communicate them.
3. Your website and what it should have: The core of your marketing
The second step in your marketing strategy for doctors is your website. Your website is the core of your medical marketing strategy because it is the main platform that shows your curricular information. It’s practically your business card.
On your website we will communicate all the differentiators that we listed in the previous section.
It is important to mention that the website, by itself, won’t help your practice or clinic attract more patients. It is an important piece in your medical advertising, yes. But it is important to promote it once you have it. In the next section I will talk about that. For now, let’s focus on the advantages of a website and what your website should have.
3.1 What are the ADVANTAGES of having a website?
- Presence 24 hours. The websites are active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It allows you to be always selling.
- To be perceived with greater authority. A specialist doctor, health professional, or clinic that has a website, is perceived by their potential patients with more professionalism.
- It is the basis for attracting patients. For most strategies on the internet, you need a website.
- International visibility. Because there are people who are looking for health professionals from outside the country, having a website ranked in the search engines (we’ll talk about that in a moment) allows you to be seen by foreigners looking for doctors in your country.
- Understanding of your potential patients. Knowing which sections of your website your potential patients visit (tools like Google Analytics allow us to do that) gives you an opportunity to understand what their needs or interests are.
Now let’s talk about what your medical website should have.
3.2 What should your medical website have?
3.2.1 At least 4 sections
Your website must have at least 4 sections:
- The homepage. This must clearly communicate your value proposition.
- The “About ” page. Which offers your complete curriculum. You can see an example of an “About” page in this link.
- The Services page. Which should clearly communicate the symptoms, conditions and procedures you perform. You can see an example of a services page in this link.
- Contact page. Which should show the map to get to your office, your address, phone numbers, WhatsApp and a contact form.
3.2.2 Be responsive to mobile devices
Nowadays, most of the visits a website receives come through mobile devices. Your potential patient is using his mobile device to search for information.
Therefore, it is extremely important that your website, and your marketing for doctors in general, be focused on a good design that adapts to mobile devices so that the experience is satisfactory.
How can the experience of your potential patient be satisfactory on your website?
When a person enters a website that is very difficult to use, what they do is press the “Back” button because they don’t want to struggle. And this reduces the chances of your potential patient to become a real patient.
3.2.3 Clear and easy to find contact methods
If the main objective of our marketing is to be contacted by potential new patients, then it is clear and logical that we should have very visible contact methods.
Preferably, the contact methods should be in the header and, if possible, always be visible even when the potential patient moves to the bottom of the page.
3.2.4 Clear title about what our main service is
There should be no confusion when the patient wants to identify what our website is about. The header of our website should communicate if our site is a dermatology practice, plastic surgery, a hospital with various specialties, etc. If we don’t correctly communicate what our website is about, our marketing won’t work as we expect.
3.2.5 Calls to action
Calls to action are clear invitations to the patient to make contact, schedule an appointment or access deeper sections of the website. Ideally in the form of buttons, because these buttons stand out. The calls to action are a key piece in a successful marketing for doctors.
3.2.6 Social evidence that other patients accept us
Always, as far as possible, we must demonstrate to the potential patient that other patients have accepted us positively. The fact that other patients leave you positive comments about your services is a powerful weapon to persuade new patients.
The simplest way to do this is to show opinions and testimonials of real patients.
Note: Always use real opinions.
Most of the potential patients, and internet users in general, don’t read much text. So, it’s important to add visual indicators that are easy to understand and scan with your eyes for your patient.
Add logos of the institutions that have certified or accredited you, especially if they are recognized, transmit to your potential patient the authority that you have as a health professional or as an institution.
3.2.8 Clear information about the health professional who serves
In the Spanish-speaking countries, according to my experience and that of health professionals with whom I have worked, the patient prefers to be treated by a doctor, and not by a brand.
What do I mean by this?
That the patient wants to know who his doctor is. He doesn’t like to visit any doctor he doesn’t know, even if he is in a recognized hospital or recognized clinic.
That’s why it’s important that you show your face on your website, or the faces of your clinic’s health professionals. This includes talking about who you are and what your most outstanding credentials are.
3.2.9 Conveniences you offer
There are potential patients who will come to you for the simple fact of accepting insurance, accepting payments with credit or debit cards, or offering financing options (the latter I recommend for doctors who perform expensive surgeries). So, you must communicate this very well on your website as well.
3.2.10 Videos of TV shows in which you have appeared
If you have appeared on television talking about the conditions you are dealing with, it is extremely important that you get those videos and insert them into your website. Nothing can convey more authority than this.
3.2.11 Information of the hospital in which you treat
If your office is within a recognized hospital in your city, it is worth communicating it on your website in a clear way so that your patient can identify it.
3.2.12 Numerical indicators of experience
If you have served many patients, performed many procedures, or have many years of experience, you can communicate them with clear and easy-to-understand numerical indicators.
It is always important to try to add all the information discovered in the first section. Always.
The more information of this type you add to your website, the more powerful your marketing for doctors will be and the more chances you have of converting visitors to your website into real patients.
When making your website, it is worth considering the help of an agency specializing in making websites, or an independent professional who makes websites. This will save you a lot of headaches.
Having a well-worked site, the next step is to make your potential patients see it.
4. Search engines: your main source of patients
In a successful marketing strategy for doctors, in most medical specialties and health professions, search engines will be the main channel to attract first-time patients to your practice.
Why do search engines offer such good results to attract patients?
It’s very easy to understand.
In search engines, your potential patients are looking for information and health services. They are the ones who are looking for a specialist like you. The only thing that needs to be done is to appear in the searches they perform when they look for someone with your specialty and health profession. As simple as that. This is the key of a successful marketing for doctors that will change in a definitive way the course of your private practice.
Now, we should try to understand the types of Google search results, which are key to having more patients.
The types of search results could be defined as the formats that Google has to show websites and companies in its search engine. I’ll explain the 3 most important to you below and what you should do to rank on them.
The above image shows the three most common types of search results and how they are placed in Google. Now let’s see each one in detail.
4.1 Google Ads
The first type of search results is Google Ads. This is the fastest way to advertise for doctors.
Google Ads is an advertising platform of Google. We can create an account and, through configurations, tell Google that we want to appear in its browser in the form of text ads every time someone does a search related to your medical specialty in your city.
A website is necessary to be able to advertise in Google Ads.
Google charges you for every click someone gives on your ad. The cost per click depends on many factors.
In the Google Ads settings, we can set a daily budget to not exceed that expense. For example, we can tell Google that we only want to invest $ 100 USD per day, and having had clicks that exhausted that budget, our ad stops appearing, and begins to appear again the next day.
The main advantage of Google Ads is that you can have almost immediate results. As soon as you have a website and you start advertising on Google Ads, you start seeing potential patients as well.
In order to have successful results and without so many problems, I suggest you go with a specialist in these topics that can help you implement your campaign, so you don’t waste money and time in bad configurations.
4.2 Local Google results
Another type of result in the search engines are the local search results of Google My Business.
The local results are those that appear along with the map and the address of other offices. These results aren’t always activated. Google only shows them in phrases where he thinks the user intends to visit a local business (Google is very good at identifying these intentions).
So, what you need is to be registered in Google maps to make your office appear in the local results when someone is looking for a specialist like you in your city.
Depending on the competition in each city, appearing in the local results can take 1 month, or even more than 6 months.
4.3 Organic results
Finally, organic results are the traditional results and have always existed in the history of Google. These organic results were previously what received the most clicks, but currently receive more or less the same number of clicks as ads from Google Ads.
Appearing in organic results requires a website, and this website needs to be optimized to be search engine friendly.
The activity of optimizing a site to make it appear in organic results is known as search engine optimization or SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In summary, it consists in making your website comply with the factors that Google considers when defining who is listed above in the search engines.
You should seek help of a search engine optimization specialist to be able to carry out this strategy with the least possible complications, since it is a very advanced technical task.
Appearing in the search engines can take from 6 to 12 months to reach the most privileged or visible positions, but it is worth the investment in time and money.
4.4 Observations about the types of search results
Ideally, in your marketing strategy, you should aim to appear in the 3 types of results. In my experience, each of the results takes a third of the pie. Appearing on one or two of these channels can also help you, but not in the same way it would help you appear on the 3.
Most of the medical specialties and health professions that work in having a good marketing for doctors, will have the best results through the search engines. However, there are medical specialties that can get very good results from social medial marketing, specifically on Facebook.
Now, many will ask. Do I have to be present in all social networks?
The answer is: you have to be where your potential patients are. This is important in order to reach them. But that doesn’t mean you have to be everywhere where your potential patients are.
In addition, I always consider the saying “don’t bite off more than you can chew” very true.
Being in many social networks, especially if you don’t have time, or staff that helps you meet them all, will end in very bad results in your marketing.
My experience has shown me that the most important social network is Facebook. Because most people who have Instagram, also have Facebook; People who have Twitter also have Facebook; People who have SnapChat, also have Facebook.
So, the bottom line is: we must be on Facebook because it is certain that our potential patient is there.
Important note: In recent years, younger generations are starting to use social networks like Instagram and Snapchat. It is possible that, in the future, we need to consider them in a marketing strategy for doctors.
Why do social networks work well for some specialties while for others don’t?
The science behind that idea is very easy to understand.
What does the average user use Facebook for?
The main use that people give to a social network like Facebook is to entertain, relax, spend time, connect with family and friends. That is, people are on Facebook, not to find companies or solutions to their problems, but mainly to entertain themselves.
When we want to advertise on Facebook, we are interrupting that experience they have. Which DOESN’T WORK to attract patients in most medical specialties.
People go to the doctor when something hurts, not when we put ads on Facebook. That’s why search engines are so powerful. People are looking for your medical specialty because they already need you, they already have discomfort.
Social networks work spectacularly well for medical specialties such as:
- Plastic surgery.
- Bariatric surgery.
If you have any of these specialties or health professions, then you should take Facebook very seriously in your marketing. The medical specialties and health professions for which social networks work aren’t limited to these, but for these it works spectacularly well.
Why does it work so well for these medical specialties?
Let me explain.
There are problems in a person’s life that last for many years. For example, morbid obesity, which bariatric surgery solves, and partly nutrition, it’s a problem that lasts for years, perhaps decades, in a person’s life. When we put in front of a potential patient an ad on Facebook showing the “before” and the “after” of a bariatric patient who lost 40 kilos in 12 months, despite interrupting his or her experience in the social network, we are sending him a message which is very important for him, because morbid obesity is a problem that affects not only his physical health, but also his psychological health.
On the other hand, with plastic surgery and dermatology something similar happens. A large percentage of women, starting from their first years of adulthood, begin to have beauty needs and desires that evolve over time. But they always have these deeply rooted needs and desires. That’s why advertising on Facebook also works for these specialties.
5.3 Facebook pages
We already talked about the medical specialties and health professions for which Facebook works.
Regardless of whether Facebook works for you or not, it is worth at least having a page on this social network within your marketing strategy to be present and show yourself active.
Making a Facebook page is FREE, and it is important that you make one as soon as possible.
Regarding the content that you share on Facebook and the frequency with which you share, I recommend the following.
If you are from a specialty that DOESN’T benefit from Facebook, publish something at least once a month. There are people who will find you in the search engines, but then they will look for you on Facebook. We don’t want them to see your page too abandoned.
If you are from a specialty that DOES benefit from Facebook, publish something at least once a week, but preferably try to post things as much as you can. If Facebook is going to be one of your main attraction channels, it is important that you look as active as possible.
What should you publish?
Mainly, you must publish results that you have obtained for patients, before and after photographs, testimonials, etc. What we want to quickly demonstrate are the things you can achieve for your potential patients.
If this doesn’t apply to your specialty, or you don’t have many photos, then share information about the conditions that you treat, or the procedures you perform.
5.4 Facebook Ads
But not everything ends up by just having a Facebook page.
To get serious results on Facebook with your marketing strategy for doctors, what we need is to invest on paid advertising.
Facebook allows you to invest from 1 dollar per day. There are no excuses for not investing. But of course, the more you invest, the better results you can get.
The most important thing to understand here is the power of segmentation on Facebook.
We are going to assume that we have a practice of plastic surgery in Columbus, Ohio, and we are interested in promoting liposuction. So, obviously, we want to reach people who are geographically in Columbus, who are mainly women, and who are between 25 and 35 years old (approximate ages to be a good candidate for liposuction).
Facebook ads allow us to segment our ads to reach our specific target market. We can reach people in specific geographic areas, specific age ranges, male or female gender, if they have interests in beauty, etc.
That’s what makes Facebook ads so powerful.
Important note: Facebook constantly changes its policies about what can be advertised and what can’t. Before making posts that some people might consider strong or offensive, check Facebook policies. For example, Facebook doesn’t allow us to put before and after pictures in the ads (only in the publications of your page), so we have to be very creative.
6. Online directories on the internet: do they really work?
We already talked about two very important channels: Search engines and social networks.
Now we have to talk about another channel that can give very good results, if we know how to use it correctly.
The main question, and that many health professionals and medical specialists ask me is:
Do online directories work?
And the answer is: of course they work.
But you must understand something very simple, and that we already mentioned in this guide before…
A website isn’t enough to have patients, it needs to be seen by potential patients. And that’s where most of the online directories fail. They look very nice, but they have no visibility on the search engines.
6.1 How to know if a medical phone book is going to work for you?
The simplest way to know if a directory is going to work for you is by doing a search for “[your medical specialty] [your city]”.
Once you’ve verified that the directory has good visibility, then you should sign up, pay to have a prominent profile (preferably the most prominent of all), and fill that profile 100% with your information.
Once your profile is full, look for yourself in the directory listing of the website that appears on Google when a search of your medical specialty is done in your city. If you don’t appear in the directory listing, contact them to tell them that you want to appear in that list on the first spots.
7. Summary of your marketing strategy for doctors
In summary, what you must do to achieve impactful results in a marketing for doctors is the following:
- Don’t waste money on traditional marketing. This includes print advertising such as newspapers or magazines, radio and television.
- Make a list of all the differentiators that you have as a health professional, clinic or hospital.
- Create a website that correctly communicates all your differentiators.
- Make easy for people to find your website through the search engines, when looking for specialists or health professionals like you, or like the ones you have in your clinic.
- In case you have one of the medical specialties that can take advantage of social networks, invest in well-segmented Facebook ads. In case of having one of the specialties that can’t take advantage of social networks, at least stay active with 1 publication per month on Facebook.