Podiatrists can be remarkably resistant to the idea of marketing. Doctors want to do what they do best, which is help patients, and not have to worry about “selling” their services. Many doctors aren’t convinced they need to do much with their marketing, anyway. After all, word of mouth, a basic website, and ads in the yellow pages used to work just fine—so why change now?
The truth is that marketing a podiatry practice effectively is one of the single most important things you can do to grow your practice. However, for podiatry marketing to be effective, you have to bust some popular myths you might believe.
Myth #1: “I don’t need marketing because I get patients by referral from other doctors.”
Referrals from other doctors are an excellent way to get new patients. However, doctor referrals are not the only way to find new patients. If you rely on it alone, you are passing up significant opportunities to meet people in other ways who could benefit from your services—like on the internet and in your community—who might not otherwise find you.
A growing, thriving practice draws patients from the four places you can possibly meet them: the internet, through referrals, through internal marketing techniques, and through outreach in your communities. We call these the Four Pillars of Marketing. To only use one pillar and neglect the other four is to give up potential profits and growth automatically.
Myth #2: “Marketing is all about me and my practice.”
Here’s the hard truth: your patients don’t actually care about you. What they care about is what you can do for them. Their focus is on their own problems and their own families. This isn’t selfish of them. They simply live very busy lives and really only have the time and energy to pay attention to the things that impact or affect their own concerns. People are also bombarded with advertising every single day, so your patients and potential patients are tuning out everything that doesn’t apply to them and their own problems.
All of your marketing should be about your patients, and what you can do to solve their concerns. Everything should be outward-focused, not just a list of your skills and how qualified you are.
Myth #3: “My patients don’t use social media, so I don’t need it.”
Even if your patient population is largely middle aged or senior citizens, YES, they really are on social media. Nearly everyone is on something social like Facebook or Twitter, and smart phones mean people take those social platforms with them wherever they go. Even if your older patients do not use the internet or social media themselves, their children and grandchildren who help care for them and are interested in their health certainly do.
An active presence on social media helps you engage and build a community with your patients or their care providers. It gets your name out there and can help direct those people back to your website.
Myth #4: “The website I had made five years ago is good enough as is.”
Speaking of websites, they are NOT static, stand-alone things that you slap together and then let sit. The internet changes, design evolves, and people look more and more for websites that are both easy to use and nice to look at. Just as importantly, Google and other search engines regularly index and evaluate all websites. If nothing has been added to your site—no content or new changes—in a while, you lose relevance and no longer rank well in search results. Google highly values regular updates to sites, and without them, you’ll simply vanish to page two (or further back!) where no one will find you.
Myth #5: “If I have a nice website, people will find it and use it.”
There’s an idea that “If you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, just having a nice website and useful information on it is not enough to show up well in search results. You have to make an effort for people to find you. This means investing in your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well as sharing content widely and keeping your Local Search listings up to date. The more people interact with your website because you actively make it available, the better your website will be ranked—and the more people will find it in the future.
Myth #6: “If it doesn’t work right away, it doesn’t work.”
Nearly all marketing efforts take time to show results. Content on your website, social media, and database marketing campaigns are long-term investments. Building internet traffic, social media engagement, and relationships through your database takes time, and the results aren’t immediately obvious. Your efforts and the results have to be tracked over time to see if they really do work and are making a difference.
Marketing a podiatry practice effectively requires effort and strategy, but you have to understand the truth about how it works and why you need it first! These six myths and actual strategies to market well are things we discuss regularly at Top Practices in our Mastermind group. If you’d like to learn more about why marketing matters and how to do it well, check out more information on our website or contact us with questions. You can e-mail us at [email protected] or call (717) 725-2679.