The Practice Growth Podcast is an educational resource for doctors, dentists, and other healthcare providers about how to market and manage a thriving healthcare practice.
In Episode 14, host Jessica Neyer is joined by PatientPop Digital Marketing Manager Jordan Decker. The pair discuss how healthcare practices can engage patients during the holiday season with marketing tactics such as social media and email marketing. Click below to listen.
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Jessica Neyer: Multiple studies show that emergency rooms are quite busy during the holiday season. Independent practices, however, tend to slow down. One study of 2016 appointment data revealed that November and December are the slowest months across specialties.
Some doctors think now is the perfect time to take a break from the office. Others dig in their heels and ask, “What can I do to get more of my patients through the doors?” If you’re in the latter group, then today’s podcast episode is for you.
Hello and welcome to The Practice Growth Podcast, the doctor’s resource for marketing and managing a thriving healthcare practice. I’m Jessica Neyer.
Today, we’ll be discussing how doctors can market to their patients during the holiday season. Joining me to share expert insight on this topic is PatientPop Digital Marketing Manager Jordan Decker. Jordan has more than seven years of marketing experience. He’s managed countless marketing campaigns such as holiday campaigns.
Jordan, thank you so much for joining me.
Jordan Decker: Thanks for having me.
Neyer: Let me ask you, why are the holidays a good time for doctors to ramp up patient marketing efforts?
Decker: I think you hit the nail on the head in your introduction. It could be a less busy time in your practice, which means more time to focus on marketing.
As a doctor, you usually don’t have time to be seeing patients, dealing with all the charting you have to do, and also think what’s my next marketing campaign. When you have a little more downtime, it’s the perfect time to capitalize that.
It’s also the last chance for revenue for the year, so if you’re trying to close your books and make sure you’re coming out on a level you’re comfortable with for your business, it’s your last big bang before the end of the year.
Really, there’s never not a good time to strengthen the connection between you and your patients.
Neyer: It sounds like these slower holiday times are the best time to actually focus on these marketing campaigns, but what if you’re a smaller practice? I know big companies can execute really pricey holiday campaigns. What are a few ways doctors can connect with patients without breaking the bank necessarily?
Decker: For doctors, a lot of the tools you already have at your disposal for your practice can really accomplish your holiday marketing goals. Social media channels are a great example. Filming a simple holiday video of you and your staff, having photos posted on there, doing great little greetings on your social channels are one great way to attract with your patients and stay top of mind during the holiday season.
Chances are, you also already have some email marketing tool at your disposal. It’s a great way to distribute content and messaging around the holidays to drive more foot traffic to your practice.
One thing you can do is create an offer content that’s relevant to the holiday season that works for you and your practice. For example, if you’re a general practitioner, there’s great content you can do about staying healthy while you’re traveling for the holidays, since so many people are taking off and going to see family across the country or across the globe. If you’re a dermatologist, you can do content around how to keep your skin looking great before the company holiday party.
There’s lots of great ways that are relevant to you and your practice that you can connect with your audience and stay top of mind in the holiday season.
Neyer: That’s great. What about offline? Are there any ways that doctors can market during the holiday season?
Decker: I think there’s a lot of great offline opportunities for doctors to do marketing. Doing something as simple as an in-office event where you’re hosting a little holiday party for some of your favorite patients, doing some charitable donation or volunteering activity as a practice. All these are great things.
The one thing I always recommend is finding a way to connect your offline tactics with your online presence. Even if it’s as simple as, if you’re hosting an event, doing a blog post or doing photos about it on your Facebook page, promoting whatever you’re doing on Instagram or Twitter, or any of the channels that you feel are strong for you. As long as there’s that connection — offline and online — it increases your chance of hitting your patients no matter where they’re interacting with you and your brand.
Look: Increase online search visibility for your healthcare practice through branding
Neyer: Interesting. I have a question for you. I worked with a lot of medspas, for example, that offer different services in their practice and feel that they can use the holiday season as a way to offer discount to their patient base. Do you think discounts are a good thing for doctors to offer for certain services around the holidays? And how do you encourage patients to then visit these practices?
Decker: Absolutely. You definitely can take advantage of the holiday season, whether you’re a medspa, a dentist office. No matter what your specialty, there’s a ways to bring people in. You just want to make sure you’re connecting to the holiday season in a smart way.
Take your med spa example. There’s a lot of different specialty offerings you can do around getting ready for the company holiday party. I know I usually have a bunch of different holiday parties after making appearance at and making sure that I’m looking best for those, interact with everyone, is something that would definitely draw me in.
If you’re a dentist office, for example, teeth whitening services before the holiday season is a great way to get people in. There’s those kind of treatments that can stay top of mind for what people have to do around the holiday season that can really help bring the foot traffic in around that time.
Neyer: I like those. If doctors do offer a discount around the holiday season, should they highlight them in any way on their website?
Decker: Absolutely. If you can have some sort of highlight on your homepage, if you can highlight around your social media presences, if you write a blog, if you run a blog on your website and connect that to your homepage, as well, and your social media presence, there’s great ways to interconnect that.
You definitely want to make sure you’re documenting that end game as part of your online footprint. One of the rules of marketing is that if it’s not documented — if it’s not proven that it’s there — then it didn’t happen. Whatever you’re doing, definitely capitalize it on all of your digital presence, especially your website.
Blogging & social media: a 1-2 punch to content marketing success
Neyer: Perfect. We’ve talked about what doctors should be doing around the holiday season. What about the things that they should not be doing… or is there anything bad to do around the holiday season?
Decker: There’s one thing that I feel should go without saying: Remember not all of your patients celebrate the same holidays. It’s really easy to fall into that default Merry Christmas kind of thing, which not all their patients do that.
If you want to, you can easily do stuff on Christmas, on Hanukkah, and acknowledge everything. If you’re doing, for example, an email blast out to your entire patient base, keep those things religious affiliation agnostic, because you don’t want to rub patients the wrong way and have what was a marketing effort to drive more business turn into something that actually alienates you from your patients. We, especially on the holiday, see a lot of major eCommerce brands and consumer products that make some giant mistake with a marketing ploy around the holidays, and they get blown up on Twitter and via websites and everyone talks about it.
The biggest rule of thumb I have is running my ideas behind someone else. I always want to sanity check it, because sometimes what you think is really clever, someone else is going to hear and just tell you that it sounds stupid and you probably shouldn’t do it. You have other people in your practice, you have your office staff, you have family members, you have friends, you have other counterparts in the industry.
Bounce ideas off each other, and make sure it seems smart and relevant and will appeal to your patients. You basically have a focus group of people walking in and out of your practice every day. If you’re coming up with idea, grab one of your loyal patients you’ve known for a while, and ask them what they think before you do it. Just sanity check everything.
My rule as a marketer is nothing leaves my computer unless another set of eyes has seen it, because you never know what someone else is going to spot.
Neyer: That’s smart. I recently heard someone call it a reality check on each thing. It makes a lot of sense. As long as you keep your marketing tactics pretty general, you’ll be okay.
Decker: If you’re going to use any form of pun or humor, definitely do a check, because some things you think are funny are not going to land with someone else. There is trying to make a joke and then there’s being cutesy. Cutesy humor is harder to offend with. Sometimes if you’re doing a pun or clever thing… there’s always those dad joke kind of puns that just make someone groan. You don’t want to stick out for that reason for your marketing.
Neyer: I don’t know; the cutesy humor, it aggravates me more than anything.
Decker: We also live in L.A. and I feel like everything aggravates us. We’re not the barometer for the rest of the world. Maybe folks in New York think a lot alike… and a little bit of San Francisco. I would say if you’re worried about offending, go cutesy, don’t go pun. If that’s your concern.
Neyer: That’s very good advice. I’ll keep the snowman jokes to myself.
Decker: Maybe yes. We’ll see how that goes.
Neyer: All right, well Jordan, thank you so much for being here. This was pretty fantastic. Do you have any other advice that you’d like to tell all the doctors and people listening?
Decker: No matter what you’re doing, just make sure you’re recording it, you’re monitoring it, you’re tracking it. If you don’t have a record of it and you don’t have a success metric around it, it never really happened.
If you’re doing an offer, you want to make sure it’s lifting your bottom line, and you want to make sure it’s improving your business. Understand what your baseline was, if you have the ability, look back at what you did last holiday season and see if your offers have moved the needle at all. Just make sure you’re tracking it.
I’m a big data person. As long as you know what you’re doing and how it’s helping your business, go for it.
Check out: How to tell whether your practice marketing is working
Neyer: You’re absolutely right on that one. Data is very different than an assumption. You need, need, need to track everything.
Decker: You don’t want to be afraid to fail. I have launched so many campaigns in my career, and some of them just don’t go anywhere and completely fail. There’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you feel like you’ve learned something from it and know how to make your next campaign better, you already succeeded. Revenue’s great, but insight is also extremely important to running a business, as long as you’re approaching it smart.
There’s a difference between a campaign not working and a campaign blowing up in your face. I always have plenty of campaigns where it was… I didn’t spend any money. I spent a little bit of time writing an email. I sent it out there and nobody clicked on it. Would have been nice if someone engaged with it, but they didn’t. All I really did is waste my downtime that still would have been downtime anyways. So I learned something from it; I learned what didn’t work. That’s better than watching a campaign that offends someone or blows up in your face.
Neyer: Yes, really good point. Well Jordan, I don’t want to take any more of your time. This was wonderful. Thank you so much for being here.
Decker: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.