To have a thriving business in today’s world, a functioning website is crucial to the overall business health. For a medical practice in general, and for its physicians specifically, it is one of the first steps for maintaining a practice. But to grow that practice, it is crucial to take the steps beyond just having a website. Growth requires website optimization for search engines, an expanding referral base, and the knowledge to use web tools and social media at your disposal to promote the practice and its physicians. In this roundtable, several marketing experts and web-savvy physicians discuss using available tools to best position and grow a practice.
Choosing a web upgrade
Patrick J. Culligan, MD: Peter, can you start us off by describing your relationship with Heather, and how your practice benefitted from her expertise?
Peter M. Lotze, MD: Sure. I am a urogynecologist in the competitive market of pelvic reconstructive surgery in Houston, Texas. Within that market, my main approach was to reach out to other physicians to refer patients to my practice. It generally would work, but took increasingly greater amounts of time to call these physicians up, write them letters, and maintain relationships. I felt that the large, national practice group that I am in did not have a significant web presence optimized to promote my practice, which makes it difficult for patients seeking your services to find you in their search for a doctor. It is helpful for patients to be able to understand from your website who you are, what you do, and what their experience may be like.
Glaring to me was that a web search specific for me or things that I do, would not produce our company’s results until page 2 or more on Google. This can be devastating for a practice because most people don’t go past the first page, and you can end up with fewer self-referrals, which should be a significant portion of new patients to your practice. I knew I needed guidance; I knew of Heather’s expertise given her exceptional past work building marketing strategies.
Digital go-tos for marketing
Heather Schueppert: Yes, I was pleased to work with Dr. Lotze, and at the time was a marketing consultant for practices such as his. But gone are the days of printed material—brochures, pamphlets, or even billboards—to effectively promote a business, or in this case, a practice. What still withstands the test of time, however, as the number 1 marketing referral source is word of mouth—from your trusted friend, family member, or coworker.
It is now proven that the number 2 most trusted form of advertising, the most persuasive and the most motivating, is online marketing.1 It is the “digital word of mouth”—the review. Patients are actively online, and a strong digital presence is critical to provide that direct value to retain and grow your patient base.
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