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Market Your Practice without Advertising

October 7, 2008 |

Competition is fierce.  The savvy public is willing to price shop.  Now, more than ever, doctors need to gain exposure and market themselves to gain their fair share of the market.  But how do you do that?  How do you turn your practice into a high-quality operation that patients, staff and colleagues trust, respect and recommend to their own family, friends and patients? 

You could advertise.  Although the medical community has frowned on advertising, it is now more widely accepted but still may not be the best use of your time and resources.  An ad in the newspaper may get you some exposure, but it is expensive and can attract a target market you neither expected nor wanted for your practice.  You may also not have the infrastructure to handle the endless, time-wasting inquiries an ad can generate or the budget to mail out costly informational packets to folks who are just shopping around.  Your current patients may suffer since your staff is overworked, stressed and disorganized.   Also, think about how many ads you see per day.  How many of these businesses are on your list?  I’ll bet the most heavily advertised local businesses are among the businesses you never plan to patronize – no matter how many specials you are offered.

How do you personally find a top-quality business when you need something?  Don’t you ask for a recommendation from someone you consider knowledgeable and trustworthy?  What counts is not what a practice says about itself, but rather what others say about that practice.  The bottom line is this:  The best way to grow your practice is to run such a wonderful operation that your loyal and satisfied patients will brag about you far and wide.  Rather than waste any more small fortunes on advertising, why not spend that same money improving your practice and caring for your patients?

A physician with a strong and growing practice understands the power of “word of mouth”.  He/she, as well as their staff, has learned to:
•    Encourage patients to spread the word about their practice
•    Turn dissatisfied patients into loyal supporters
•    Plan marketing events that will keep their patients involved
•    Help the media to comment positively on their practice

You want to define who exactly your target market/demographics are and then focus on communicating directly to that specific market.  You want to offer them excellent patient care and then nurture those relationships so they will sing your praises to everybody close to them.

It costs five times more to sell to new patients than to sell additional services to your current patients who already know you and your staff.  Your current database is your best asset.  Grass roots marketing efforts can dramatically help in utilizing that database to help you market your practice, and very cost-effectively.  Here are some ideas:

–    Rather than run a series of ads in your local newspaper that can run $5,000-$10,000 per month, prepare a well written communication to your current database and include a special offer to be redeemed on their next visit.  This can be executed for a fraction of the cost for advertising.

–    Thank and offer incentives to patients who refer their family or friends to keep those referrals coming and keep your patients active in your practice.

–    Sponsor community events that are attended by your specific target market.  Again, check with your patients who are involved in the local Chamber of Commerce or women’s groups.

–    Offer educational seminars to your patients and encourage them to invite their friends and family to learn about the latest procedures.  These can be done in your own office or you can partner with a neighboring salon.

However, before you do another thing, take a very objective look around your practice or have an impartial party do a walk through as a patient and let them report back to you their findings and suggestions.  Is the telephone answered by the second ring?  Is every single staff member friendly and professional at all times?  Is your reception area comfortable and informative?  Are wait times minimal?  Are inquiries responded to quickly?  Do the patients feel cared for and important?  Until you can answer yes to these questions, do not waste another dime promoting your practice.

There are many simple, fun and cost-effective ways to promote your practice without advertising.  You just need to offer excellent patient care, be creative and keep in touch with your patients.

For more free tips, strategies and resources to grow your medical spa or aesthetic practice, visit Catherine Maley online at or call her at (877) 339-8833.

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