With the rollout of all that is “Affordable Care,” there are dozens of reasons why there’s a new doctor (or doctors) now onboard. Now what? How do you spread the word that one or more physicians are now part of the practice or organization? Chances are that capabilities and services have changed, and/or the schedule has open slots to fill.
The classic marketing faux pas is to create a benign “tombstone” ad with a poor quality doctor photo and meaningless “welcome-to-the-practice” headline. Nothing could be more dull and ineffective.
Regardless of the back-story, having a new physician in the office is a “marketing moment,” and even if the practice is well established, it’s a rare opportunity to be new again in the market and make a lasting impression in the minds of prospective patients and referral sources.
The task here is to effectively communicate the positive “why and how” that Doctor Newdoc benefits your various audiences. For specialists, begin with a meet-and-greet event among doctors that make professional referrals. Initial impressions are important and will be formed for the long term. Have more than one event if necessary, and don’t stop there.
First, there are the standard ways to begin your promotional outreach. Keep uppermost in your mind that all of these need to stress the benefits, skills and experience that the new doctor brings to the practice and to the audience. These steps typically include:
- A media release or a feature story about the new doctor;
- Direct mail to select audiences, key geographic areas,
- Personal letters of introduction to opinion leaders and/or select patients;
- Notices to medical society or associations for their website and/or newsletters;
- Publish (author) meaningful content via website, blog, social media;
- Online and print advertising about added capabilities or new services;
- Update office collateral material, such as posters, brochures, etc.
In addition, here are other useful techniques about how to market your new doctor.
Make a deliberate plan. Identify your various target audiences and create a plan that touches each of them. (Referring physicians, new patients, existing patients, professional colleagues, etc.) Set a schedule and devote the time and budget that get’s the word out.
Act quickly and keep it going. On one hand, “being new” is a springboard for telling the story early and often. But, at the same time, “being new” is relative to the audience and needs to continue for a while. Patients who have not been into your office in several months, for example, will wonder about Doc Newdoc. Even after several months, he/she is new to them.
Create and circulate a CV that’s not a CV. The classic physician curriculum vitae (CV) can be useful among doctors, but they are nearly unreadable for patients. For general circulation, in the office and via public events, create a single page, plain-language introduction (with a professional-quality photo) that talks about the physician and what they can do for the patient or referring physician. You may need more than one version, but it’s a useful piece that works in the reception area and as collateral for most of the steps in your plan.
Update your website with video. As elementary as it seems, a casual and friendly meet-the-doctor video has an engaging appeal. Posted on your website, it’s a way to introduce and break the ice with audiences in advance of a face to face encounter.
Get out and about. Of course doctors meet other doctors “in the hallway,” but that’s a passing moment of low priority. Although it’s tough to do, carve out time to make deliberate, proactive introductions, especially with referring physicians. Make an appointment for Newdoc to meet in-person at the other physician’s office. Virtually every doctor will allow five minutes for another doctor in his reception area, or they may share a sandwich during a quick lunch break. Nope, it’s not easy, but since it’s seldom done (and done right) it’s guaranteed to make a lasting impression.
Out and about, part two. Speaking of unforgettable moments, can you imagine the surprise, delight and lasting impression of having a new doctor who steps into the reception area to greet and welcome a new patient? This idea might upset the office routine, but having the doctor come to the patient for the first hello–however brief–is virtually unheard of in the usual patient experience.
Out and about, part three. Fresh on the scene doctors may have a lighter schedule that permits speaking at a breakfast or mid-day public event. You don’t have to go far to find civic leaders, solid business people or even other doctors gathering at a Rotary meeting, women’s group, professional society or similar function. These are opinion leaders who collectively welcome a good speaker, a timely health topic and a chance to meet and welcome a new professional to their town.
Update all online doctor directories. There are dozens of “find a doctor” resources online that range from physician ratings to digital yellow pages to insurance data banks. The bad news is that most of these doctor directory listings are incomplete, inaccurate or sadly out of date, especially for a physician who has recently changed offices. It’s vital to scour the Internet for every directory with local listings. It’s worth the time to add the new doctor listing, delete or correct old entries, and be confident that what people find online is current and accurate.
Ethical and effective medical marketing for a new doctor (or doctors) tells the story about what the physician brings to the patients they serve. It is rare when a doctor has earned a widely recognized name and reputation. If genuine name-recognition is available, by all means use it where it can be effective. The key, however, is to use this opportunity to be clear about benefits and value to the audience and to make a lasting impression.