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How to find the best healthcare marketing solution for your medical practice

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Independent healthcare providers have long worried about attracting patients to their practice, but with the healthcare landscape rapidly changing, competition is more fierce than ever. Not only do patients have more options for their care — from urgent care and retail walk-in clinics to on-demand virtual visits — they’re also demanding more from their current healthcare providers. Some 80 percent of patients said they would switch their providers for convenience factors alone.1

No longer just a tool to bring patients in the door, healthcare marketing has become a consumer expectation. Research has shown that about three out of four patients look online to find information about a doctor, a dentist, or medical care.2 Patients expect their providers to have a professional website, and they expect to be able to easily find them on search engines like Google.

Patients also expect their providers to have a strong online reputation. About 70 percent of people consider a positive reputation to be very or extremely important when choosing a healthcare provider.3 An effective healthcare marketing strategy has, thus, become critical in both retaining and attracting patients.

Healthcare marketing options for practices

Just as there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to providing a good healthcare experience, there’s not a single approach to healthcare marketing. Your practice might require a unique set of healthcare marketing services.

Your options for marketing your practice include: DIY healthcare marketing, hiring a marketing professional, contracting a healthcare marketing agency, and purchasing healthcare marketing software. To help you make the right decision for your practice, we explain the benefits and shortcomings of each one in this whitepaper.

DIY healthcare marketing

A provider’s first option is DIY (do-it-yourself) healthcare marketing, which is to market your practice’s services without any outside help. With a DIY approach, you’re the one handling the marketing for your practice or you’ve delegated the task to someone on your current staff.

This approach may be ideal for a practice without a large marketing budget or for a self-starter who prefers to be hands-on about acquiring new patients.

Pros of DIY healthcare marketing

It’s the least expensive option

Although taking on healthcare marketing yourself means more work for you, you can save money by not having to hire medical marketing consultants or contract healthcare marketing agencies. This way, any marketing costs incurred are on marketing techniques that can help bring in patients — such as advertisements — rather than paying a salary or contracted rate.

You know your practice best

As a practice owner, you know who your patients are and which patients you’d like to attract. Perhaps most importantly, you intimately know what you have to offer your patients and what distinguishes your practice from others.

You can set your marketing priorities

Because you’re making the marketing decisions, you can decide where it makes the most sense for you to invest your time and money, whether it be on social media, search engine advertisements, or print advertisements in your local newspaper.

Cons of DIY healthcare marketing

It’s a huge time commitment

The majority of physicians spend between 36 and 40 hours a week seeing patients. In addition, 74 percent of physicians say they spend at least 10 hours a week on paperwork and administrative tasks.4 With physicians at a higher risk of burnout than other professionals5, it may be wise to seek other healthcare marketing solutions.

You’re not a marketing expert

Not only can healthcare marketing be time-consuming, it can also be inefficient … if you’re not focusing on the right marketing tactics for your practice.

Although you’re an expert in medicine, you probably didn’t study marketing as an undergraduate or in medical school. It can be difficult to know where to focus your time, energy, and dollars. Plus, it’s possible you’re simply not passionate about marketing and would rather be focusing your time on delivering quality patient care.

Hire an internal marketing professional

Your second option is to hire a professional who is entirely responsible for your practice’s healthcare marketing.

Having a dedicated marketing professional on staff can help reduce the administrative workload on you and the rest of your staff so you can focus solely on the patient experience.

Plus, hiring someone to work for you means they can dedicate themselves to understanding the inner workings of your practice.

Pros of internal marketing professionals

You’re hiring a professional

Delegating the task to someone who has expertise in marketing can give you reassurance that your practice’s marketing efforts align with your business goals. They should be able to counsel you on what is right for your practice.

They’ll develop a deep understanding of your practice

The benefit of having a marketing professional on your team is that they can understand the inner workings of your practice. It’s likely they’ll develop a deep sense of the message you’re aiming to share with prospective patients.

You’re reducing your workload

Hiring a marketing professional will help take some tasks off of your plate, and you won’t have to be as invested in marketing your practice.

Cons of internal marketing professionals

Hiring a new employee can be a significant cost

Whether you’re hiring someone full-time or part-time, adding a person to your staff can add a significant operational cost. In addition to their wages, you’ll also be responsible for costs associated with healthcare — not to mention the marketing tactics they employ.

No one person is an expert in all aspects of marketing

You might hire someone with expertise in brand messaging but who knows very little about search engine marketing. A great healthcare marketing strategy is well-rounded, but it’s near impossible to find a single person who is an expert in all marketing disciplines.

Work with an external marketing agency

The third healthcare marketing option is contracting a marketing agency. This approach works best for a practice with a substantial marketing budget. 

By hiring an agency, you have access to a dedicated group of marketing professionals responsible for promoting your practice.

Pros of marketing agencies

You can rely on people with marketing expertise

When you contract an agency, you’re engaging with experienced marketing professionals. Good agencies stay current on the latest marketing trends and can help their clients set a long-term marketing plan based on the specific goals they’ve set for their practice.

You’ll have access to a team

Unlike with a medical marketing consultant or single internal marketer, you’ll have access to a group of people with expertise in various marketing specialties, helping you to implement a comprehensive healthcare marketing plan.

Agencies help reduce administrative burden

You won’t have to worry as much about whether you’re marketing your practice efficiently if you’ve delegated the task to an outside agency. A good agency should also be adept at reporting and be able to show you the return on your investment (ROI).

Cons of marketing agencies

You’re not the agency’s only client

Any agency worth its salt is working with multiple businesses, so you’re not their sole focus. And, unless they’re a healthcare marketing agency, they might not know some important rules and regulations associated with the medical industry. Because they don’t intimately know your practice, you have to dedicate your time in finding the right fit and onboarding them to working with you.

It’s cost-prohibitive

Having a specialized and dedicated marketing team can cost a significant amount of money and, depending on the size of your practice, it may not be worth pursuing.

Purchase healthcare marketing software

The most comprehensive way to promote your practice is with the help of healthcare marketing software. Healthcare marketing software can help you optimize your web presence, update your web profiles, and even help manage your online reputation — depending on the software you choose. 

For many practices, healthcare marketing software — and the service they receive from the software company — can be a one-stop-shop for all of their marketing needs.

Pros of healthcare marketing software

Software allows for a hands-off approach to healthcare marketing

A healthcare marketing software will use automation to help boost your search engine optimization, improve the patient experience, and enhance your online reputation. Automation allows for a more hands-off approach so you can be less involved in day-to-day actions.

Get a dedicated support team

A good software company will have a committed customer service model with a team that can offer strategic assistance and answer any questions. They can help you use the software so that it aligns with your specific goals.

Software can be constantly improved

Software technology is always evolving, and users can use new features as soon as they go live. Good healthcare marketing software companies listen to their users’ feedback and implement worthwhile changes or additions, so the value of the software increases with time.

Cons of healthcare marketing software

One software solution may not suit all of your needs

Similar to how most marketing professionals specialize in a particular subset of marketing, there are few all-in-one healthcare marketing software solutions. Instead, most healthcare marketing software is specialized, focusing on one or two marketing disciplines. This means you might need to purchase several marketing software solutions to fulfill all of your promotional needs.

Software sometimes limits customization

Software systems are built to be efficient and scalable, which sometimes means that features are templatized to make them easier to use. Templates can mean that certain options or features can’t be customized exactly how you might prefer.

Choosing the best healthcare marketing solution

When deciding between healthcare marketing options, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what your goals are for your practice and how much you want to be personally involved. You should also have an idea of how much you’re willing to spend on healthcare marketing.

Many providers first opt to market their practices on their own but become frustrated when they see minimal return despite a massive time commitment. That’s when they’ll begin to consider the other three healthcare marketing solutions.

When vetting internal marketing candidates, external marketing agencies, and healthcare marketing solutions, ask:

  • Do they have experience in the healthcare industry?
  • Do they understand my specialty and services?
  • Can they grasp my practice’s brand?
  • What marketing strategy do they suggest will be the most effective for my practice?
  • What tactics does their marketing strategy include?
  • Can they easily report on important performance metrics?
  • Will they be available to answer my questions?

You should also ask for case studies of practices similar to yours that the candidate, agency, or software solution has helped in the past.

Successfully market your healthcare practice with PatientPop

PatientPop is a healthcare marketing software solution dedicated to helping practices thrive. Only serving healthcare practices, PatientPop offers physicians, dentists, and other care providers a complete, HIPAA-compliant marketing solution.

Visit patientpop.com to get more details on how PatientPop can effectively market your practice.

Download the free whitepaper

How to find the best healthcare marketing solution for your medical practice

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