Strategic Marketing: Can It Take Your Practice To The Next Level?

By John V. Guiliana, DPM, MS

The medical industry has changed tremendously in recent years. You can no longer sit back and wait for patients to come to you. Patients are demanding quality care, timely service and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. In planning for the future of your practice, you must be proactive, not reactive. The question becomes: “To build … or not to build?”    There are many reasons for punching up the marketing plan for your practice. Some of the reasons may include gaining market share, increasing revenue, building patient volume, changing the patient mix and/or adding a new office location.    There is a major misconception within the medical industry today that marketing is advertising. However, there are subtle, tactful ways to employ good marketing techniques within your practice in order to market yourself and your services.    Advertising is very expensive, whether it is print (i.e. newspaper, magazine), TV, radio or via billboards. Advertising is a quick, impersonal means of reaching a large demographic audience with a certain message and/or product. You will reach people you may or may not consider as “good patients.” Some people, especially the medical community, may frown upon advertising and consider it flashy and unprofessional. This is not to say you should not implement advertising mediums within your marketing effort. However, there is an approach, a time, a place and a reason for doing this.    In creating “good marketing,” there are several things you need to accomplish. To be effective, a marketing endeavor needs to have a strategic marketing plan. A strategic marketing plan is composed of specific goals. Accordingly, you will define certain objectives and action plans to meet those goals. The marketing plan will challenge you to look inside your practice and evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You will need to analyze your competitors and research the demographic areas you service.    The plan should focus on tracking results. Results will be the key indicators in defining what is working for your practice and what you should change. Keep in mind, though, that marketing requires a long-term commitment and you will not see results overnight.

Performing An Internal Analysis Of Your Practice

How do you get started on a strategic marketing plan? Once you have decided to market your services, you need to evaluate your practice inside and out. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you begin to market your practice.    Consider the following questions for internal analysis.    •    Do you have enough physicians, staff members and physical space to handle a projected increase in patient volume?    •    What kind of patients would you like to see more of? (Blue Cross, workers’ compensation, surgical, etc.)    •    What sets your practice apart from the competition in your area? Is it your level of service, training and/or a commitment to the community over the years? There are several factors that set you apart from your competition. Determine what they are and capitalize on them.    •    Who are your patients and where are they coming from?    •    What are your practice’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)? Perform an objective SWOT analysis.

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