The Marketing Crystal Ball Tells All
Just a few years ago, the best marketing for your practice included brochures, flyers, magazine ads, newspapers, and if you had the budget, maybe a radio or television spot. Then along came the internet and everything changed.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a time machine or a crystal ball to see what the future of marketing looks like? Well, we can’t offer anything quite so magical as those, but we can look at trends, and based on an understanding of how people adapt to new things, we can make some predictions about where marking might go in the future. Here are five key issues that will impact and shape how you market your practice that you want to be aware of now.
1 - Clear vs. Clever
We are a culture of brevity. We don’t like waiting for commercials to be over, so we have technology designed to skip over them. In the past, the way to get your message seen was to employ a clever tactic: a funny image, cool animation, a great sound track, or whatever. But in today’s fast-paced world, clever doesn’t have the same pull. As the time span for grabbing attention continues to grow shorter, it’s more important than ever that your message be clear. Don’t make your audience work for understanding, keep your message simple and direct. Clean up the clutter on your website and social media pages. Limit the number of buttons, videos, moving graphics, and other possible distractions and opt for those that are easy to read, easy to find, and easy to use. Make sure the pictures on your site are less than six months old (which means regularly updating the images), and make sure that your links all work. There is nothing more frustrating to a potential patient than clicking on a “schedule now” button and getting a 402 Error message.
2 - Patient Relationship Management
Today’s patients see themselves more as “healthcare consumers” and less as patients in the traditional sense; lacking control or input into their own health care. Patient relationship management is the key to a successful practice in the future. A service offered by a growing number of practices is the online patient portal, which provides access to communication, test results, records, scheduled appointment, billing, and information from their provider delivered securely to them through the portal. It’s not surprising that the more comfortable a patient feels, the more loyal they are to the practice, and the more likely they are to provide referrals to other friends and family members. Of particular concern are those of the baby boomer generation. Long believed to be tech-phobic, this generation has adopted smartphones and tablets and sees them as an important tool in their healthcare plans both immediate and long-term.
3 - Easily Accessible
Convenience is the key word for today’s patient, and that will only become more important in the future. Your website should provide easy and convenient means of contacting your office, preferably 24/7. Not only should your physical address and phone number be visible, but your email address and after-hours emergency contact information should be as well. Many healthcare providers are also part of a “telehealth” program and make that information available, too. Easy accessibility and a quick response to phone calls or email is critical to making a good impression on current or potential clients, so be certain your staff are aware of your expectations about returning messages. If you go to the work of making your information readily available, you should invest the same energy into making your staff readily available also.
4 - Transparency
Your potential patients are shopping for the best practice for themselves and their families. They can search the internet and research their options from the comfort of their sofa at home, or the convenience of their smartphone. They are looking for reviews from other patients, pricing information that is easy to understand, insurance plans accepted by your office, and areas in which you specialize. When you don’t share this information openly, potential patients become frustrated and move on to the next website until they find what they’re looking for. The more you reveal and the more open you are, the more your potential clients will be likely to investigate your office further.
5 - Going Digital
Technology will only continue to play a growing role in the healthcare marketing field. Digital patient engagement is going to be a part of everyday healthcare practice in the very near future. Embracing that idea and remaining open to the expanding options it presents will help you to remain in the forefront of your field as others shy away from anything they see as different or unusual (meaning, their comfort level is pretty low). Patients and prospective patients will continue to demand access to the latest digital options because it will simplify their complicated lives.
Whether it’s HIPAA compliant apps for sharing information, or automated test result text-messages, chances are good they’ll know about it before you. Stay alert to trends and developments so you can step into the future of your marketing with confidence and knowledge. Offer these benefits to your patients before they ask for them from you. When the future becomes today, you’ll be ready, waiting, and excited for what comes next.
For more information on marketing your practice, click here!