8 budget-friendly ways to market your practice during COVID-19
Topic: 8 budget-friendly ways to market your practice during COVID-19
Today’s physicians have a lot on their plates, and marketing the practice may not be at the top of their priority list. However, experts say this is the ideal time to connect with new and existing patients, serve as a resource and explain how to access care.
Why is marketing the practice important, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic? It’s absolutely essential for patient retention, says Stewart Gandolf, MBA, CEO of Healthcare Success, a full-service health care marketing and advertising agency in Irvine, California. “Doctors by and large overestimate the loyalty of their patients,” says Gandolf. “Competition is accelerating with leaps and bounds.”
Independent practices compete with hospital-owned practices, urgent care centers, virtual care providers and pharmacy-based walk-in clinics — all of which have large marketing budgets, notes Gandolf. During COVID-19, patients may be more willing to switch providers if they perceive that those other entities provide safer, more efficient care, he adds.
Marketing also can also help physicians attract new patients, says David Zetter, CHBC, founder and president of Zetter HealthCare, LLC, a full-service practice management consulting firm in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. However, before investing in marketing efforts, physicians need to ask this important question: Are there enough providers and medical assistants to handle an increase in patient volume? “I wouldn’t be marketing if you don’t have your act together,” he adds.
To attract and retain patients, consider the following eight budget-friendly ways to market your practice.
Search advertising (e.g., a Google ad) is a text-based ad that appears at the top of search engine results when a user searches for relevant terms (i.e., internist near me). The service uses a pay-per-click model, and physicians can expect to pay approximately $3 per click for a Google ad, says Rachael Sauceman, head of strategic initiatives and internet marketing at Full Media, a health care digital marketing company. Cost per click is determined largely by the keywords used in the ad, she explains. The more competitive the keywords, the more expensive the ad.
“In our experience, searching advertising is the best lead-generation tool,” says Sauceman. “We don’t recommend other types of advertising unless they have done this first.”
Unlike expensive newspaper, radio or TV ads, Google ads are cost effective and agile, enabling physicians to easily update their message, says Sauceman. For example, did the practice adjust its hours to accommodate patients who are symptomatic for COVID-19? Has the practice taken additional precautions to keep patients safe? Physicians can update a Google ad in seconds to include this new information.
Search advertising is also all about timing. “If you get in front of patients on social media or the newspaper, you might get in front of a lot of people, but they’re not looking for a provider necessarily right at that time,” Sauceman says. “With Google, they are. If you get in front of them at that critical decision-making time, then you have the ability to influence that decision.”
Topic Discussed: 8 budget-friendly ways to market your practice during COVID-19
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