Note: TPA is the acronym for Third Party Administrator
I’m guessing that some or more doctors may ask to be taken out from a TPA which refers patients to their clinics… So as not to risk getting into trouble by somehow infringing on the SMC’s guidelines H3(7) on payment of fees to third parties.
This has also come into force on 1st July 2017.
I think TPAs can help clinics and doctors quite a bit by bringing them patients… Which seems to be an alternative to (paying for) advertising and competing for space in Google Adwords and search engine ranking. Or paying for print ads. After all, the medical advertising guidelines are also pretty strict and limit what you can do.
So what are 5 free or low-cost things you can do right now to improve your clinic’s marketing and get more patients visiting you?
How to improve your clinic’s marketing without paying a cent (or not too much more)
The first one’s probably easy…
1. Listen to the patient and make her feel like you’re really listening and that you care.
It can get easy to forget doing this when you’ve a packed schedule or feel the pressure of patients waiting outside your door. Especially if you’re short on time.
But doing a quick check on Google will reveal to you why some patients choose docs over another. One complaint I’ve seen was that the doc was brusque, rough and/or “didn’t listen”.
2. Start collecting emails addresses with permission.
This was something we did when I was working in a bike retail store. We’d ask customers if they would like to give us their email addresses for us to send them a newsletter… With useful info or news on our next sale period. It’s very important to ask them for permission, as you do not want to send them unsolicited emails.
Why this is useful is because you can then send your list emails with:
- Useful info
- Updates on your clinic
- Ask them how they’ve been etc
- Sharing your thoughts on stuff… Which could be a link to a blog post that’s on your website
Sending them emails every now and then (preferably more than once a month) also helps to keep them reminded of your existence. Useful info that helps to better their lives also shows that you care enough about them.
But, I’m guessing you also have to be careful with the info you’re sharing, since I’m sure there are guidelines on that, too.
For free services to send email blasts (say you wanna send to 100 pax or more), you can try Mailchimp. Other popular providers are Aweber, Infusionsoft etc. But you’ll probably have to pay for those, and if you don’t need the advanced paid features, you can still stick with free Mailchimp.
Oh, and also make it easy for them to unsubscribe from your emails, should they want to.
3. Get to know your patients better.
Probably another thing most don’t seem to do… Unless they’re friends of each other. It can be as simple as knowing when their birthdays are, when their anniversaries are, whether they’ve just become parents or grandparents etc… Which is what you can do next:
4. Send them greeting cards.
Birthday, anniversary, congratulations, festive greetings etc. It can be a simple note saying “Dear xxx, wish you and family a merry Christmas!”
If you think about it, how many people outside of your circle of friends and family send you cards these days? That’ll make a difference when it comes to you.
5. Build your database.
You can use Microsoft Excel for this one… Don’t need to spend lots of money on a CRM solution, unless you really want to. You can also either manually write down dates on your (or your staff’s) table calendar and have cards sent close to the dates.
While you may not have time to do this yourself, you can probably ask your admin colleague, an intern or someone else to help you.
6. A bonus point for you, since you’ve come so far.
Recognise that your entire “sales” staff consists of not only you, but everyone in your clinic. Have you ever been made to stand and wait at a counter while the two staff were talking to themselves and… Made you continue standing and waiting for 2 minutes too long, before one of them deigned to turn their head to acknowledge your presence?
And I don’t think I’ll be recommending anyone to that place anytime soon. Providing good service is also something I talk about here.
With the above points, you should be able to reach out to more patients, keep you on their minds, and if they feel you and your staff are sincere with your message and the way you treat them (very important!), they’ll also recommend you to their family and friends.
Remember, you don’t gain or lose one potential patient, but a whopping 250 of them. This is something from Joe Girard, the world’s number one car salesman. To see the logic behind the number of “250”, just think how many people from your side whom you invited to your wedding.
Chances are, it’s 250. 🙂
So, if you make 4 people happy or unhappy, it translates to 1,000 people you gain or lose… Because people will talk and share about their experience with you.
Some notes from the SMC Advertising Guidelines in the same document mentioned earlier:
G3 Platforms for advertising:
“(2) The content of your advertising is more important than the medium you choose. However, methods may be unacceptable if they detract from the dignity of the profession or are intrusive or aggressive. These include unsolicited visits, active distribution of advertising materials to the public, such as unsolicited emails, individually addressed messages, by viral distribution of advertising information through social media, faxed advertising or telemarketing and public canvassing for patients by yourself or your proxies.”
To see what you can and cannot do for advertising, read SMC’s document from page 55 here.
I hope this little article helps you to somewhat improve your clinic’s marketing! 🙂 Did I leave anything out? Or if you feel I’ve made a mistake somewhere, do leave me a comment or send me a note with the contact form below. Thanks!