Remember the good old days of carrier pigeons and snail mail? If you’re a busy GP partner or consultant, it probably doesn’t seem all that long ago. In some areas, its still happening (okay, Augustus the carrier pigeon has probably retired now. He’s currently soaking up the rays on a sandy beach in Jamaica).
Communications with patients via text messaging, letters, direct marketing, even billboard advertising for those of you with private clinics; they’re all great methods to use if you’re still seeing results. Many GPs and consultants admit though that these aren’t doing as well as they once did. Reason? You’ve guessed it; the internet.
When you consider that ‘online’ has overtaken ‘watching TV’, the penny drops. Traditional advertising spend has plummeted because advertisers now realise that everyone is online. Think about what you do when you’re not working. Maybe spend a little time on Twitter or LinkedIn, buy that book from Amazon?
So why aren’t more healthcare professionals, GP practices and health centres online?
“We have a website and information in our waiting room, Kara. What more do people want?”
I hear this often. A website is a great start but do people actually know to search for your website?
Have they heard your name before? Do they use specific words to search for places like yours?
When they find you on Google, do they click to visit your site? When they land there, do they stay and look around? If not, what made them click away?
Perhaps they went to a social media network to see if you were there as well? Did they go back to Google to look for competitors? Or heaven forbid, did they search for you and add ‘review’ or ‘complaints’ in their search query?
I think you see where I’m going with this.
So these are just some of the things that people searching for your service might consider. How about you though?
Are you spending regular time online to:
- Listen for what people are saying about you, your services or industry on social media?
- Update your information across the many websites you and your service appear on?
- Search and keep abreast of what your competitors are upto?
- Use this searching and listening to focus your future marketing and communications activities?
Who has time to do all that?
If you are not finding time to commit to all of this, you are simply missing out.
You might have more than enough work on right now if you’re a GP but could your practice be working smarter? Helping patients to self care and use other services in the practice more appropriately? You need good communications for that.
You might want to bolster your online profile if you’re a consultant but how many websites do you actually appear on now? Are you posting content and useful information regularly to your social media profiles to bring more potential customers to your website? What’s that, you don’t really use social media?
Lots of professionals are still reluctant to do more online and via social media
It’s a potential minefield where ‘everyone turns into keyboard warriors’ and ‘it doesn’t add much value so why waste the time’ are two common things I hear.
But this is where the majority of people, your customers, your patients, the people that can influence others to use your service are everyday, numerous times a day and if you’re not there….
Okay online marketing is for me – now what?
Once you’ve taken a quick audit of all the places you appear online, it’s time to put yourself in the shoes of your patient or client to communicate with them in the very best ways possible. So it’s time to consider:
- What sort of information are my patients/clients looking for about me?
- What sort of search terms or keywords do they use?
- What sort of language and format do they understand?
- Does my website, social media networks and other online spots provide all of this?
- Do the words I use online talk about me more than about them?
- What do my patients/clients REALLY want and what’s in it for them when they connect with me?
The point to all this? Managing a busy general practice and consulting AND doing your own marketing and communications is incredibly difficult unless you’re researching the latest in clone technology perhaps.
The longer you put it to the bottom of your to-do list, the sooner your competitors are going to be snapping up those opportunities. The more frustrated your patients are going to be because they can’t find and act upon the right information, hindering your service in the process.
Never has there been a better opportunitiy to reach out directly to the people that matter most to your business.
If all of this is resonating with you, It’s time to call in an experienced healthcare marketing professional. One that can take care of all this for you, on a regular basis leaving you to concentrate on the work you do best. Transforming lives and making a difference.