I am on a mission to share lessons on online marketing with as many clinicians as I can. After leaving a successful academic group practice, I started a solo private practice in a town over 75 miles away. At that time, I had no clue where to start when it came to establishing myself online, running a Google Ad campaign or managing social media marketing. It can be so daunting that many physicians and dentists I talked to looked at me with wide eyes when I told them I was doing it myself. They asked me in hushed tones how I did it, where I got the courage to do all the “marketing stuff.” You would think we were discussing something dirty because it was all so… secret.
That’s because while we learn in medical school how to be the doctor, rarely does the curriculum expose us to the finer points of marketing our clinical practice. I learned the hard way by testing different tactics and finding what worked best. Now, honestly, what used to be something I dreaded has come to be something I enjoy. I love teaching, and this is no different. I want to share what I have learned. I am tired of seeing my colleagues, fellow moms and clinicians, experience burnout or stay in jobs that they hate because they are too afraid to ask, “What if?” What if I left this group and took charge of my life, my schedule, and my clinical practice? What if I practiced medicine on my terms?
If you are wondering where to start in answering those questions, read below. Also, if you already have a practice and are looking for some ways to make your marketing machine run more efficiently – this is for you. Here are some key things to think about to set yourself up for success in your new practice.
Tip #1 Reviews
When you go shopping, apart from getting tips from your favorite social groups, where do you go to for information? Online reviews of course! You and 94% of online shoppers are more likely to trust a retailer if it has at least 4 out of 5 stars. That social credibility is key – and I lost all of mine when I left my employed group practice and walked away from more than 100 positive reviews.
After that experience, I now strongly recommend to new grads, and really anyone practicing medicine and dentistry, to ask for reviews regularly in their clinical practice. Ask for reviews on independent sites like Health Grades, Vitals, and other sites linked to your professional name, in addition to Google. This is especially critical for those of you in employed practices with an institutional website but no personal web presence.
Who can review you? It doesn’t have to be only patients! Especially when first starting out, ask other clinicians who can speak to your professionalism and clinical competence to review you. Encourage your staff and entire team to consistently request reviews from your patients. And don’t ever stop. Your audience wants to see regular, positive reviews of your team. Time after time, new patients cite positive reviews for Tannan Plastic Surgery as the most important reason for why they came to see me. Don’t underestimate the power of online reviews.
Tip #2 Inspiration for Fresh Content
Content marketing is the practice of creating fresh and relevant content for your audience. This marketing approach enables you to engage patients in a more intimate way while also sending positive signals to Google for ranking your website in search results. A popular way to do content marketing is through a blog on your website.
You might be wondering, “What on Earth should I write about on my blog?” Instead of scratching your head or sitting in front of your computer for hours like I did in the beginning, remember why you got into the practice of medicine or dentistry – to educate your patients! Think about a great question your patient asked you in the office recently, or a common misconception. For example, patients often ask me for recommendations on what kind of bra to wear after plastic surgery. My recent blog post on post-surgery bras is a top performer because it addresses that incredibly common question.
I find that when I sit down and reflect on my conversations with patients throughout the day, I have a list of no less than 10 great topics to write about. Then out of those, I make sure to mix it up, so I am not writing about only one type of surgery. Variety in your content shows your audience that there is variety in your practice and mastery of your field. Since I love breadth of plastic surgery, from Mommy Makeovers to Facelifts, I make sure that my posts include this wide scope of practice. Content marketing can be an incredibly effective approach to growing your practice.
Tip #3 Google Ads
When first starting out with advertising for your practice, you probably will not have a huge ad budget. That’s okay! Rather than squandering a large part of your startup funds on a mega ad campaign, I recommend you focus all your initial efforts on Google Ads, specifically search-based text ads. For those of you who have been advertising for years and aren’t sure how your ads are performing, then you too might want to re-think your advertising strategy by focusing on Google Ads.
I am not one to put all my eggs in one basket, not ever. However, Google Ads is such a powerful platform that delivers incredible results when run properly. It offers the ability to write specific ads that not only bid on key Google search phrases like “female primary care doctor” or “female dentist who does Invisalign”, but also enables targeting of specific age groups, geographic locations and other audience characteristics. Most importantly, you can analyze the data to ensure an optimal return on investment for your practice.
Your money will be well spent if you invest the time to organize your ad groups on the front end. This is a highly technical process that we explore in great detail in my book, Pillars of Practice written with my co-author, Karen Horton MD, an accomplished female plastic surgeon and thought leader in digital marketing. We cover a range of important topics including those touched on this post – online reviews, content marketing, online ads and more.
I hope these insights help you. Whether you are reading them at 2 am while breastfeeding your little one or at 10pm after wrapping up your charting in the evening – stop wondering. Being a clinical expert no longer guarantees a thriving business. Arm yourself with these pillars of practice and set yourself up for success!
Dr. Shruti Tannan is Board Certified in Plastic Surgery with additional Subspecialty Certification in Hand Surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Tannan has a unique perspective on the business of medicine with experience both in the academic and private sectors. She began her career as faculty at a major academic medical center, followed by the successful launch of her private practice, Tannan Plastic Surgery, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Years of advising colleagues in medicine, dentistry, and allied health sciences inspired Dr. Tannan to share her evidence-based approach in her new book, Pillars of Practice, which is available on Amazon, iTunes, and other major bookstores. Learn more about Dr. Tannan and her book at http://bit.ly/mdpillars She can be followed on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @tannanmd and YouTube.