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6 Proven Marketing Strategies For Medical Practices

6 Proven Marketing Strategies For Medical Practices

Gone are the days when world-class doctors, reputation and referrals alone are enough for medical practices to have a steady flow of patients walking through the door.

To attract and retain patients, reduce attrition and drive revenue, medical practices must focus their efforts on elevating the patient experience—both online and in-person.

Here, read on for 6 proven marketing strategies medical practices can use to grow.


1. Create content

 

According to a report by Healthcare Insight, approximately 73 percent of health care marketers use content marketing to attract and retain their target audiences.

Posting timely, relevant and engaging content at least two to three times a week is one of the best ways to market to both new and existing patients.

Blogging is an ideal way to drive traffic to your site and keep readers engaged, but also think about creating free content like an e-book, a cheat sheet or a series of videos as opt-ins to grow your email list.


2. Strategically use social media

 

You might think that Facebook is the best place to share content and advertise, but it might not be the best channel to market your practice.

Before creating a marketing strategy, it’s important to find out where your patients hang out. If you’re trying to market to Medicare patients for example, Facebook is probably the way to go, while Instagram and Snapchat are better for targeting millennials.


3. Show off

 

When patients look for new doctors, they want authenticity, transparency and trust.

Before they make an appointment however, they’re reading reviews and feedback about your practice on social media so encourage or incentivize patients to leave reviews and always respond to negative comments.

Another way to build trust and credibility is to write case studies about your patients. Tell the stories that new patients want to know, such as how your doctors helped a patient find the right diagnosis or overcome a chronic health condition.


4. Host an event

 

When patients have the opportunity to meet their physicians, they’ll feel more comfortable with receiving their care.

In fact, 85 percent of people say it’s important to have a doctor who listens to them and 71 percent say they want a doctor who is caring and compassionate, a study in the Journal of Participatory Medicine found.

Aim to have an event at least once a month at your practice, at the local chamber of commerce office or the local library.

Or host special events and present a timely and relevant topic that your patients want to know. Cater the food and wine, have a raffle and ask everyone to bring a friend to increase your referrals.


5. Send direct mail

 

It might seem like an antiquated marketing strategy, but direct mail can still be an effective way to market your medical practice. In fact, in 2015, direct mail volume was down but data spend saw an increase.

Take advantage of newcomers’ clubs or purchase lists and send a letter and a brochure about your practice. Although you may not see an immediate flood of calls, people keep paper and will call when they need a doctor. Include information about your doctors, their services and what patients can expect.

6. Keep patients engaged

Medical practices need to think like brands and make patient loyalty a priority. Patients want to feel that their physicians actually care so think about special opportunities throughout the year to keep patients engaged.

For example, send cards for birthdays and anniversaries, SMS or direct mail reminders for annual wellness visits, mammograms and prostate screenings or a monthly newsletter with targeted health tips.

 

5 Mistakes Healthcare Marketers Make With White Papers

5 Mistakes Healthcare Marketers Make With White Papers

Healthcare marketers know white papers are one of the most effective tools for lead generation. When done right, white papers educate your potential customers on a pain point and then—only then—offer the solution.

When it comes to planning and writing white papers however, many healthcare marketers miss the mark. They make crucial, obvious mistakes that crush their credibility and send leads looking elsewhere for the answers.

Here, read on for 5 of the most common white paper mistakes healthcare marketers make and what to do instead.

1. Poor white paper planning

As with any type of content you create, you must take the time to plan out your white paper before you can start writing it.It’s vital that you have documented buyer personas so you can understand who your customers are, their pain points and the common objections they have to your product or service.

Before writing your white paper, you need to get everyone on board including your c-suite and marketing and sales teams to ensure the topic of your white paper is something your leads want to learn more about.

2: No creative brief for your white paper

Every piece of content you create should have a creative brief or a synopsis of your goals, ideas that must be covered, studies and/or surveys you want to include and a specific call to action.

If you hire a healthcare content writer, the creative brief helps to ensure they understand your goals and will nail the copy the first time.

3: Skipping the white paper outline

You might think having an outline will stifle your creativity, but it’s a crucial first step for writing a white paper because it will make the writing process much easier and faster.

The outline ensures you know what the story is and how it will flow and it allows your team to provide feedback and make revisions along the way.

4: Heavily plugging your business in your white paper

The primary goal of a white paper is to educate your leads about a potential problem or challenge they’re facing, not to promote your business.

Leads that download a white paper are in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey so they’re looking for information, unique insights and data. You can still make a sales pitch, but leave it for the end of your white paper.

5. A lack of quotes in your white paper

Relevant studies, surveys and data are a good start but they’re not enough to back up what you want to say. Besides, it makes for a boring read.

Think of your white paper like a news story and be sure to interview c-level executives, your sales team and key stakeholders to get compelling quotes that build your credibility and make the white paper a piece of content your leads will want to read.

 

3 Ways To Boost Millennial Health Care Engagement

3 Ways To Boost Millennial Health Care Engagement

One of the biggest challenges facing health care today is how to target and engage millennials.

Numbered at 71 million, millennials are the fastest growing population in the U.S., exceed Generation X and baby boomers alike, according to a report by the Pew Research Center.

While retail brands successfully engage millennials with personalized, multi-channel marketing, health care continues to struggle to reach this unique demographic.

Unlike older generations, millennial consumers want their health care to be convenient, cost-efficient and consumer-focused.

They want to read online reviews of doctors, make their appointments online and find out what their health plan covers—all with one swipe on their mobile devices.

Millennials also lack loyalty and will switch providers without a second thought.

While understanding consumer behavior and buying decisions are important first steps, health care must find ways to engage millennials in order to lower attrition and create loyal health care consumers. Here are 3 ideas.

1. Create short, snackable content

 

With so much content vying for their attention, finding a way to cut through the noise with clear, engaging content that they can quickly digest is key.

Although images, infographics and blogs can all be effective, video is vital.

According to a 2018 survey by ClearVoice, when video is available and the information in the video is the same as an accompanying article or blog post, four times as many millennials said they prefer to watch the video.

When creating your content marketing strategy and editorial calendar, consider creating video welcome messages, educational videos about health conditions, patient stories and testimonials or physician profiles. The key is to keep it short—between 30 and 60 seconds, the same survey found.

2. Incentivize millennials for taking control of their health

 

According to 2015 study by ZocDoc, 9 in 10 millennials admit they delay or forego preventative care, which could lead to costly hospital admissions and claims.

Offering rewards such as gift cards, cash or premium discounts can be an effective way to get them into the doctor and keep them engaged in their health care.

When UnitedHealth Group implemented Rewards for Health, a plan which gives employees the opportunity to reduce their insurance premiums by up to $1,200 per family per year for having health screenings or achieving certain health goals, the result was improved employee health and $107 million in savings over 3 years.

3. Target millennials with the right channels

 

To improve millennial health care engagement, it’s necessary to use the channels they prefer and are more likely to engage in like email, social media, SMS and apps.

In fact, according to a 2016 joint survey by Salesforce and Harris Poll, 70 percent of millennials would choose a primary care physician who offers a mobile app to book appointments, view health data and pay bills, over one that doesn’t.

 

 

How does your health care organization market to millennials? What has proved effective for you?

3 Easy Ways Doctors Can Get Media Coverage

3 Easy Ways Doctors Can Get Media Coverage

Over the course of my career as a health journalist, I’ve interviewed dozens of doctors who want to drum up media coverage for their medical practices, their health care companies or their new books.

When physicians land interviews and get publicity, it helps them build trust, credibility, and brand awareness.

Publicists know that getting the media’s attention is never easy, but with some simple strategies, it is possible to land more interviews and it doesn’t have to take a ton of time. Here are 3 ways.

1. Be Helpful

 

When I was working on a story for FIRST for Women magazine, the second best-selling women’s consumer magazine in the U.S., I contacted the publicist for a well-known doctor about a story.

I needed to interview a “real woman” source, so I asked if she could refer one of her clients and we would plug the doctor in the story. There was also a chance for her to be interviewed as well.

Two days later after she said she’d look into it, the publicist said they in fact, weren’t interested because it was too time consuming and too much work.

Landing media opportunities can be really challenging—even with a publicist—so I say, when an opportunity presents itself, go for it.

2. Be Flexible

It sounds so obvious, but it’s shocking how many times publicists pitch me their clients and then when I ask to set up an interview, the physicians aren’t available.

For a story I was writing for EverydayHealth.com, I contacted several major hospitals because I needed a source. Most of them said the deadline was too fast while others simply never got back to me.

I found a publicist who was able to set up an interview—and fast. She was so helpful that I interviewed her source for a second story too.

Physicians are extremely busy but if you’re going to pitch the media, your clients need to have some flexibility in their schedules. Besides, most journalists will set up interviews before or after “normal” business hours to get the story and make their deadlines.

3. Lead With The Story

The media are inundated with hundreds of pitches every day so the chances that they’ll be interested in your story or even read your pitches are slim.

Although the media needs sources from top health care systems and credentials definitely matter, they also need timely, relevant, newsworthy stories.

Whether it’s the sneaky medical condition you’ve never heard of or an alarming new diet trend, it’s the stories—not necessarily your book, product or protocol—that will land you media coverage.

10 No-Fail Strategies For Pitching The Health Care Media

10 No-Fail Strategies For Pitching The Health Care Media

If you work in healthcare PR, you know one of the biggest challenges is how to get the media interested in your stories, your products and your campaigns.

You might spend weeks pitching and in the end get one media hit—or none at all.

As a journalist, I’m often asked what reporters look for in a pitch, how they can land interviews and what the secret is to getting the media’s attention.

Truth be told: when it comes to getting publicity, there’s no magic bullet, but there are some strategies that can help. Here are 10.

1. Know your audience

 

You might think you have the most exciting new product or irresistible story idea but if you’re sending the same pitch to every single outlet, you’ll get nowhere fast.

Each outlet you pitch has an audience with their own unique demographics and drivers so the stories they decide to cover must be tailored for them. It also must be different enough that their competition won’t also be interested.

Before you pitch, ask yourself:

  • What does this outlet cover?
  • If it’s a freelancer, what outlets does this person write for?
  • Will they be interested in this story?
  • Has this person already covered this story?
  • What makes my pitch unique?
  • Is it newsworthy or new?
  • Is it timely and relevant?
  • Am I pitching a product when this reporter doesn’t write about products?
  • Am I leading with a product when I know they won’t mention the product?

Do your research first and make sure your pitch is perfectly suited for the media outlet and the journalist you’re pitching.

2. Cut to the chase

 

According to a survey by ISEBOX.com, 52% of journalists write at least 5 articles per week so suffice to say, they have less than a minute to scan your email and decide if it’s a fit.

Don’t take two paragraphs to get to the point and don’t bury the lede. If you can’t get to the hook within the first 2 to 3 sentences, your email will probably end up in the trash.

3. Write a strong subject line

 

With dozens, if not hundreds of emails filling up a reporter’s inbox everyday, it’s easy for your pitch to get lost if it doesn’t grab their attention. You want to make sure that your subject line summarizes the story idea in as few words as possible and is interesting enough for them to open.

Avoid these headlines:

  • Quick question for you
  • Expert available
  • Great story!
  • How to lose weight (or anything generic)
  • Breast cancer awareness month or New Year’s Resolutions
  • Connecting: story idea
  • John, can you chat?
  • What’s in your food? Pesticides (really, no way!)

4. Make it easy

The reporter you pitch doesn’t always have the time to dig further into a story idea and see if it’s worth pitching to their editor or producer.

They might be interested in your story but they need to know: why? why now? and why you or your client?

Make it easy for them and cite new studies, surveys or quotes from experts proving this idea is newsworthy.

5. Pitch health care stories, not topics

Here are some examples of ineffective pitches I recently received. The reason they don’t work is because they are topics, not stories:

  • October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month
  • Story: Children’s Health During Back to School
  • Flu myths…
  • Staying Sane During The Holidays
  • Toddlers and Fussy Eating
  • These are much better:
  • 6 Food Myths That Are Making Kids Fat
  • 6 Worrisome Vaginal Issues
  • New Data: Sleep Problems for New Parents

6. Write health care content

It’s no longer enough to simply be an expert, sources need to be publishers too.

Content marketing and public relations go hand in hand.

Creating content will establish your company or client as a thought leader, build brand awareness and help reporters searching for a source find them.

7. Offer video

If your goal is to be on TV, you need to show the producer you’re pitching that you have the chops to pull off an appearance. If you don’t have links to prior appearances, then create your own video.

Even if you’re simply pitching a story for a print or web article, video can show the outlet that you know how to give a great interview.

8. Make sure your sources are available and reliable

 

If you respond to a HARO or tell the outlet that your expert is available for an interview, do everything in your power to make sure he is ready at any given moment.

Journalists work quickly and have fast deadlines so if your source isn’t available, they’ll find someone right away who is.

9. Offer a unique point of view

 

Reporters always need to write balanced stories and one of the best ways to land an interview is to pitch a strong perspective.

For example, when an executive pitched me “the dirty little secret” of a particular medical sector, I had him on the phone immediately. Another time, a doctor pitched me the downsides of a diagnostic tool and it made for a strong story.

10. Conduct your own interviews

 

One of the best ways to uncover great story ideas is simply to ask. After I interview a source, I always ask, what are you working on? and what trends do you see?

Instead of pitching only the stories your client has on their agenda, take some time to interview them about what they’re currently passionate about and chances are, you’ll come up with plenty of new story ideas to pitch.

How To Sell the Healthcare C-Suite On Content Marketing

How To Sell the Healthcare C-Suite On Content Marketing

It’s one of the biggest challenges my clients face: how to get their c-level executives to buy into the value of content marketing.

Healthcare technology start-ups are more likely to be early adopters but for large hospitals, physician practices and health insurance plans, getting c-suite buy-in is still a challenge for many healthcare marketers.

Without your executives on board, you’ve got your hands tied when it comes to getting the budget approved, recruiting doctors and other key players to contribute and share content, and most importantly, meeting your sales goals.

Although selling your c-suite on content marketing may initially be an obstacle, there are several strategies you can use to get them to sign off in no time.

Pitch the “why”

In your initial meetings, think of yourself as a publicist pitching a story idea to the media. Just like journalists, editors and producers, your executives need to know why in order to say yes.
You must make a compelling business case for content marketing and list of all the reasons they need to start now. They must know why relevant, timely stories are vital for lead generation, acquisition and retention and why one-way marketing and advertising alone is no longer enough.

Use data

Do your own research and pull together surveys, white papers and special reports that point to the value of content marketing and how other businesses like yours get results.

Explain how you’ll do it

Once you have your content marketing strategy and buyer personas in place, share the tactics you plan to use to attract and retain customers. Make sure however, that each type of content you plan to create is connected with your company’s overall objectives to build brand awareness, strengthen credibility and grow revenue, for example.

Show them the competition

Your c-suite knows they must keep up with the ever-changing landscape of healthcare and one of their pain points is being left behind. To make your case even stronger, show them examples of how your competitors are using content marketing to get results.

Prove ROI

Before they make any business decision, your executives must know what their return on investment will be. When it comes to content marketing however, it’s not always so clear-cut. Unlike a one-time marketing campaign or an ad, content marketing is a long-term strategy that takes time to attract, convert and retain buyers.

Keep in mind that your executives also don’t care about page views, click rates or social shares, although they do pay attention to traffic.

According to a report by True North Custom, about 43 percent of healthcare executives said that measuring the effectiveness of their content was one of their most significant challenges and nearly 80 percent use website traffic to measure content marketing success. They also want to know how content marketing will engage their buyers, build brand awareness, forge relationships and foster loyalty.

Although it will probably take time to get a 100 percent buy-in from your executives, when they start to see results from your initial efforts, your business case will be even stronger and they’ll be more engaged than ever.