Nurse Practitioners know they need to market to build their practice!
While there are exceptions to the rule, i.e., long-standing and well-established practices, most must rely on on-going marketing for growth.
But unfortunately, some NPs find it challenging to get started. Here are some of the questions that stop them from moving forward:
- What marketing strategies should I implement?
- What activities will give me the best results?
- And where in the world should I start?
All valid questions, no doubt…
However, there is a fundamental piece of the puzzle that’s missing. And that’s identifying the criteria that are foundational to all your marketing efforts.
- Who are your customers?
- What problems do you solve for them?
- Where will you find them so you can talk to them?
- What’s will you say to them?
These are the basic questions you must answer before implementing anything in your marketing.
Now, none of it is set in stone. Some will morph and evolve over time. However, once you’ve identified your baseline criteria, you have a jump-off point to start your marketing.
Of course, there are those who don’t bother with any of it. They just jump in and start marketing: social media, blogging, search, paid advertising, email, along with any number of offline methods.
It’s the “good old spaghetti approach…” let’s throw enough on the wall and see what sticks! Sometimes it works, but more often than not, it flops.
If you want consistent results, take the time to identify your customers and their problems, the solutions you provide, and your core marketing message. Do that, and chances are it will pay off for you in the long run.
Ask Yourself This…
#1 – Who are my customers?
Why is it important to identify your customers?
Think about your last plane ride.
How many people listen to any of the announcements? Few! Because people are busy…
They are preoccupied with reading, watching a movie, sleeping. They won’t interrupt what they’re doing to listen to generic messages blasted out to everyone on the plane. The thinking is, “it doesn’t’ apply to me; it can’t be important.”
But then again, if the voice over the speaker says: “Passenger sitting in 7A…,” you’d be sitting up, paying attention.
The fact is we tend to ignore generic messages but listen up when we feel the message is for us!
That’s why you need to know your customers! So you can tailor your marketing message to them. So they listen up long enough and say, “this message is for me!” Essentially, it allows customers to self-select.
Now, depending on the type of practice, knowing who your customer is maybe or may not be a simple answer.
- If you operate a travel clinic, your customers will be those who travel for work, leisure, occasionally, frequently, etc.
- If your focus is pediatrics, your customers are not the children but the parents of the kids. While the kids are your patients, it’s the parents who make decisions on their behalf
- And if you operate a primary care practice, you may need to identify more than one group of clients. For example, you could target women’s health or specific health conditions you tend to see frequently in the clinic.
#2 – What problems do I solve for them?
It all boils down to the services and products you offer to your customers to help them solve their problems.
Let me give you some examples of a “problem”…
- Children need to get their shots and physicals to meet school requirements. Of course, it’s the responsibility of the parents to make sure they have all the necessary vaccinations. To solve this problem for the parents, you offer school physicals and immunizations.
- Truck drivers must obtain medical certificates to continue to drive a truck. To solve this problem, you offer DOT physicals in your office.
That’s what I mean by “what problems do you solve.”
Sit down and make a list of all the products and services you currently offer or could offer to your customers or patients.
#3 – Where will I find them so I can talk to them?
If you don’t know where your customers are, how can you talk to them?
In the past, people used the Yellow Pages or checked the newspaper to find a service provider. Today, however, most search the web and utilize social media to find what they’re looking for.
If you know who your customers are, you can find them on social media or talk to them when they search the web. On social media, you may look for groups of interest to your customers, or you can look for people based on your location.
And if you want to talk to people that search the web for a particular service or product, you can do it by targeting keywords. You may accomplish it by placing ads, through your website, and by publishing articles.
Keywords have been around forever! Back in the Yellow Page days, people searched the book using keywords. And today, we type in a keyword or a key phrase into our favorite search engine.
The difference… search today is specific and far more targeted than it used to be.
#4 – What’s the message I have for my customers?
What are you communicating with your marketing today?
Do you have a clear and cohesive marketing message across all your marketing materials? Or, does your message vary with the channel?
When someone reads your marketing message:
- Do they understand what problems you can solve for them (your products and services)?
- Can they identify the benefits of working with you over someone else?
- Is it clear how to contact you for further information or to get started?
- Or are customers confused, left with a long list of questions?
Naturally, you don’t want to leave potential customers confused. Because usually, a confused mind says “No”… and walks away.
You want potential customers to be absolutely clear about your offerings, and the benefits of working with you.
And don’t take up too space talking about your education or accomplishments. While people want to know, it’s far less important to them than one might think.
Far too many businesses talk too much about themselves… about their history, experience, education, etc. Yes, eventually, people want to know these things, but not right away.
Initially, we all want to know how the thing we’re interested in can help us. That’s why it’s best to focus your marketing message on the customer, on them! Tell people what you can do for them and what they’ll gain from working with you.
Lastly, be sure to create consistent messaging across your marketing. And that doesn’t mean you have to use the same words in every piece of your marketing materials. However, it does mean the core message delivered in your marketing materials is the same because anything else will lead to confusion.
All too often, businesses engage in marketing before clearly identifying their customers and the problems they can solve for them. Frequently they also don’t know where to find customers or what to say to them.
Unfortunately, the lack of clarity leads to muddled or inconsistent marketing messages, leaving potential customers in the dark. While customers may consume your marketing message, they are left with unanswered questions.
For your marketing to be effective, identify the fundamental pieces of the puzzle before marketing your practice.
Come join the conversation and tell us what you think… leave your comment or question below!
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, LAc; regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog.