Regardless of the type of business you are in, you need clients/patients. The biggest challenge of opening a new practice can be getting those new patients. In other words, you may be the best at what you do, but no one will find out if they don’t know you are there.
I’ve heard many suggestions for marketing your practice over the years. Here are just a few:
- Speak to local community organization
- Advertise in the yellow pages
- Get on a radio show
- Send out notices to other practices, providers.
- Notify large employers that you are open
- If you have current patients, and it’s not against whatever contract you may have signed, let your patients know where you will be going.
- Take out newspaper ads
- Join your chamber of commerce
- Word of mouth
Because I started my practice on a shoestring, my marketing budget was not huge. So with the exception of a few marketing techniques, many of these are low cost. Here’s what I did.
First, I had a huge advantage in starting up. I’ve been in this small community for nearly 10 years and enjoy an excellent reputation. I frequently heard from people asking me when I was going to open my own door. Secondly, we had a glaring shortage of providers and a major clinic was going to shut it’s doors the week I was planning to open. One would think with these situations you’d have to do little marketing, but I was not going to bet on this. Here is what we did:
- I sent out letter to all medical providers to let them know we were opening. I also sent personal letters to the hospital discharge planners and to the emergency room.
- Notices were mailed to all the pharmacies, DME companies, oxygen suppliers and assisted living facilities.
- I attended a community meeting regarding the closure of the above clinic. This in turn brought my practice to the attention of the local DSHS office, senior groups (I’m the only board certified GNP working town), and those discharge planners.
- Since I was working in a local office, I started letting patients know I was leaving. Since I did not have a non-compete clause, I did tell a select few how to contact me if they choose to.
- Newspaper Advertising. Our timing was good, as our local daily newspaper was putting out a little booklet entitled “Health on the Harbor” which we could be listed in. We also took out some ads to announce our opening.
- Our timing was good for the phone book as well. On called “The Yellow Book” as superb to work with. We had excellent ad placement and that book came out within a month of us opening. For us, it was an excellent investment. The regular “yellow pages” came out just recently, and it’s been okay, but nothing like the first one.
- Insurance companies. Believe it or not, we get lots of people because of their insurance company, and because we are open to new patients (so they come by default).
- Our slogan is “We Listen – We Care”. More people have told me they came because of that phrase in our ads, on our business cards, and on our webpage.
- Word of Mouth. We all know how powerful social validation is, and this is exactly what word of mouth is. It truly is the single most powerful marketing tool you have. My patients often take extra business cards with them to hand them out. This is where I put most of my energy.
So what has been the result? We opened the first day with 8 patient visits and have been growing steadily since then. New patient visits are being scheduled a week or two out, but we always try to see established patients for acute problems the same day.
What are your experiences?