We are often asked: What is a typical marketing solution for specialist medical practices? The answer? There is no off-the-shelf solution for medical marketing as each practice has different needs based on the specialty, areas of interest, training and sub-specialisation, the location, and the level of competition.
Here is a marketing case study for a metropolitan based ENT practice.
- Multiple doctor practice.
- All doctors are sub-specialised covering all areas of expertise: Ear & Hearing, Nose and Sinus, Head and Neck, General ENT, and Paediatric ENT.
- All doctors have a public post.
Why did they reach out for marketing?
Aggressive competitors had been steadily nibbling away at referrers. The business had gone from growth to plateau and was showing worrying signs of decline. They had been receiving complaints about the practice team. They wanted to stabilise their referrer base and change marketplace opinion.
What marketing was recommended?
Development of a strategic marketing plan. This had three sections:
This gave us the opportunity to fully understand the practice at that point in time and included:
- Review of referrer data from Genie to map changes in referrer behaviour, identify lost referrers and revenue, and highlight areas of opportunity to create targeted action plans.
- Review of front desk performance.
- Review of digital presence and marketing to date.
- Competitor review and analysis based on access, front desk performance, price, digital presence.
- Identify suitable marketing channels, frequency, reach, and media spend mapped out into a 12-month timeline with a budget.
Recommended implementation and timeline
The initial strategy was based over twelve months. Recommendations covered 2 factors:
- Foundation pieces.
- Active outreach (segmented into GP referral growth and direct to public).
Implementing the plan – Foundation Pieces
The marketing review highlighted the following issues:
- The practice had a front desk that was performing badly (highlighted through pre-determined mystery shops and low rating Google reviews).
- A poorly designed brand which didn’t properly reflect the practice.
- A website with a URL that didn’t match the practice name and was comprised of stock images, plagiarised content, broken links, poor grammar and social media icons that were defunct (Google +) or not linked as the practice did not have the platforms in use (Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram).
- No specialist profile or brochure for hand out purposes.
Getting the foundations right is key to creating a strong, believable brand and successful marketing outreach.
If your front desk is rude to patients and if your website looks cheap and home-made with incorrect or copied information – there is no point in undertaking an active marketing program. These are the first experiences a patient or referrer has with your practice. To gain consumer trust, you need your patient or GP to be treated well when they call or attend your practice and to find you have a credible online presence.
What marketing foundation pieces were recommended and implemented?
Front Desk Training
This was the most pressing item that needed attention for this practice. The training was based on inclusiveness to teach the front desk about the expectations of their performance going beyond paperwork, bookings and billings and their pivotal role in the practice’s ongoing success. It was focused on understanding personality types, body language, positive attitudes and messages, and the unique points of difference to be conveyed to visitors.
The training has been followed on by regular mystery shops to ensure good habits have been maintained.
The brand’s logo looked tired and out of date using an old-fashioned font and icon. The colour palette was good. It was important to adjust the logo as this guides the design of all marketing collateral.
The brand was refreshed using a modern icon and font and the addition of a positioning tagline. The original colour palette was kept.
The only real photographs on the original website were poorly lit, amateurish photos of the specialists. The rest of the images on the site were overused stock shots (white coats and stethoscopes).
The professional photography shoot included images of each specialist in business attire and scrubs, as well as the practice team and ”patient models.” It included:
- Drs consulting with colleagues in the practice
- Drs in consultation with patient
- Medicine in action (theatres)
- Dr and team interaction
- Team and patient interaction
Design and development of a unique, professional 40-page responsive design website based on the refreshed logo and utilising photos from the photography shoot. This was to showcase images of the practice, the doctors and the team and to position them as an authority and experts in their field. No stock shots were used.
The design utilised eye-catching home page banners, icons to create interest, interactive features to keep the visitor engaged, key messages, downloadable resources and calls to action.
Copywriting of all the marketing pages is included in all websites. For this website, clinical content written by a professional clinical copywriter was also provided as the specialists did not have the time to write fresh content and the existing content could not be reused as it was plagiarised.
Development of Practice Profile for GPs
This is utilised regularly whenever a GP activity is in place.
Social Media Platforms
Set up of Google My Business and a refresh of the practice Facebook page.
Implementing the Plan – Active Outreach
Active outreach – Digital (GPs and Patients)
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) to enable the new website to rank well organically for targeted keywords.
Active outreach – GP specific
An active outreach to GPs was initiated. This has been followed for 2 years from the initial 12 month timeline and continues with:
- Fax outs to GP practices providing relevant updates.
- Outreach to under-serviced outlying areas.
- Education events and webinars.
- Annual “relationship building” event.
- GP practice lunch visits.
Active outreach – Patient Specific
The marketing strategy demonstrated that there was a greater opportunity for paediatric ENT. A social media outreach program utilising Facebook ads and boosting to targeted groups was implemented.
Tracking and ROI
Implementation of marketing is just the beginning. Ongoing checks and reviews are needed to ensure that your marketing is achieving the desired results, and giving a return on investment.
The practice showed an initial growth of 20% in the first year of the new marketing strategy. Unfortunately, 2020 and 2021 have shown impact from COVID-19 (as with all practices) however ongoing review of Genie data demonstrates referrers have stabilised without the previous worrying leakage.
The new website has also been an important tool for the better management of Telehealth services and COVID messages, freeing up reception from repeating important updates and instructions to patients.
They have also seen a higher number of paediatric patient referrals and their Google reviews have improved dramatically (from regular 1-star reviews to regular 5-star reviews).
The ongoing marketing efforts keep the practice front of mind and maintain a positive and active market presence – all ready for when we return to a more normal environment.
Marketing needs to be based around your individual practice to get results
CJU are medical marketing specialists and have worked with medical specialists from a wide variety of disciplines. If your specialist practice has had negative impact through competition, COVID or both, or if you are starting out and want to make sure you give your practice a good start – please contact us on 1300 941 250 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are always available to take time to speak to medical specialists and discuss their needs.