It may seem counterintuitive that a physician’s office should have to market themselves to secure patients. After all, patients need your services to receive better healthcare. In today’s market, you do need to distinguish your practice and demonstrate your expertise to attract and retain patients.

To understand your audience, you need to consider: How do new patients find your office? Do you provide specialized services? Do you cater to a particular population? How do you communicate with patients when they are not in the office? What unique patient and caregiver needs do you fulfill?

Unless you take the time to communicate, patients will not know what your practice can provide.

Become a Credible Resource

To become a resource for the media and community organizations, you need to educate them on how your expertise benefits their audience. Start by revising your CV into a professional bio that showcases your clinical expertise, trade involvement and community activities. Next, identify organizations that reach your target audience and request speaking engagements. Also, look for opportunities to develop media relationships and determine how you can help them, as a source for tips on general health or trends in your field.

Maximize Your Community Impact

There are two types of organizations that every office should become involved in. A non-profit organization related to your expertise where you can become engaged on boards and committees. There are many avenues to promote your involvement to both members and your patients, since this cause matters to them too!

The other is a non-disease focused networking group whose members are your target patient audience. Become a regular at events and as you become more involved, ask to be a speaker or featured in their publication. In spite of health plan restrictions, when looking for a physician, people often ask friends for referrals. If you network correctly, you will become the physician of choice for many of your new contacts.

Find an Excuse to Reach Out to Your Patients

Show your patients that you are thinking of them throughout the year. Develop an e-newsletter that highlights common health problem and relevant community events or a brochure that educates patients about different ailments with tips to maximize quality of life.

Borrow from dentists who use a reminder postcard as a call-to-action to get patients back for their next appointment. For example, dermatologists can send birthday cards reminding patients that with a yearly skin check they won’t show their age. Get creative to keep in touch with patients.

Fulfill Your Patients Needs

One way to stand out is to fulfill your patients’ needs in a distinctive manner. Some offices have hours to accommodate executives, provide transportation or child care. Review what you can offer to patients and you will find that simple changes will make your office more appealing than your fellow physicians.

Your Web site is Your Calling Card

“A picture is worth a 1,000 words” and a poorly designed, hard-to-understand Web site can be barrier. Your Web site needs to concisely explain what you do and why you are qualified to do it. Compare your Web site to other practices and then determine how you can communicate more effectively. Many businesses rely on outside help to develop new ideas or revise content they currently have on their Web site.

Make an Impact

An effective marketing plan creates touch points in a 12-to-18 month cycle, yet is fluid enough to seize opportunities such as new statistics, trends or news stories to draw attention to your office. Medical practices are busy, but making sure that you are communicating with current and potential patients should be a top priority. If you cannot dedicate the time, then work with a practitioner who can. Just as you are an expert in your field, marketing agencies are experts in how develop a medical field and community presence for your practice.