Marketing a podiatry practice may seem daunting, and it should- competition in cities with established podiatrists is fierce, and podiatrists are some of the front runners for adopting new marketing techniques and advertising standards. Podiatrist employment is increasing faster than average according to the US Dept of Labor report on podiatry’s job outlook due to the demands of an aging population and prevalence of chronic conditions like diabetes- however, attitudes toward foot health and awareness of the importance of podiatric care are still low. According to the 2010 APMA Public Opinion Research on Foot Health and Care survey, close to 3-in-10 adults chose to dismiss foot problems or treat them at home, and when they seek care visits to primary care doctors rank slightly higher than podiatrists.
Stop and think about the factors stacked against marketing a podiatry practice with any level of success, and then pair that with an ever changing landscape in online visibility and policies surrounding in-network referrals. Daunting doesn’t even begin to describe it.
It’s essential to create and initiate a strategic podiatry marketing plan if you want to maintain your patient levels or grow. By focusing on the fundamentals outlined below, you’ll develop a strong framework of marketing priorities for your podiatry practice:
- Develop your brand: What makes you the best? How are you different from your competition? Do you want to specialize in treating sports injuries… or would you rather promote your holistic approach to and understanding of foot health? Most importantly- be realistic. We all want to be known as the best in EVERYTHING, but the ‘Renaissance man’ approach is faulty when defining your expertise. Keep in mind your target demographics as well- if you’re focused on treating bunions through minimal incision surgeries, cater your brochures, articles, and social channels to women.
- Increase your online visibility: You likely know that you already need a website, but you may not know how much work needs to be put in to make your site visible when someone searches for the matters that will bring them into your office. It’s crucial to develop a podiatry content marketing plan, complete with a linking strategy for the keywords and phrases that potential patients search on. Develop an audience on social channels like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter- they play a key role in how search engines like Google rank your site due to the focus on “semantic search“, and the cues taken from social sites greatly impact the search engine optimization/ SEO for your podiatry website. There are simple steps your podiatry practice can take to manage your online visibility, but great care needs to be taken to ensure that you use best practices in line with Google’s algorithm updates. Increasing your online visibility is an ongoing task, ideally through efforts on a weekly basis- if you don’t make time for it, your site’s rank will drop.
- Budget for advertisements: Don’t be quick to dismiss conventional advertising, and never discount new and novel ways of advertising. Google Adwords can be an extremely powerful tool for acquiring new patients, but often requires a larger budget; text message marketing can be amazingly inexpensive, but may not be readily implemented in your area. Moreover, keep in mind options that do ‘double duty’, such as Facebook marketing to increase your SEO while converting individuals to new patients.
- Develop referral relationships: Growing a referral network should be a top priority for your podiatric practice. You should be reaching out to primary care physicians, urgent care centers, internists, endocrinologists, high school athletic directors, and more. You need to gain credibility, visibility, and rapport. Even after started receiving referrals, you’re not done- you should constantly nurture the referral relationship, to stay top-of-mind and to maintain your ‘share’ of referrals from the practice. Most podiatrists find that they either don’t have the time or the aptitude for this; in that case, a physician liaison to represent your podiatry practice is a smart choice. Additionally, special attention should be paid to your current patients as potential referral sources. Every time a patient interacts with your office, you have the opportunity to create word-of-mouth marketing for your practice.
- Encourage patient reviews: Sites like Google+ Local and Yelp should be one the forefront of your mind. These review sites rank highly in search results, and cellphone map applications for the iPhone and Android rely heavily on their listings. Additionally, seeing a large number of reviews for a practice is a boost to its credibility, and patients are increasingly turning to online reputation sites to read and leave reviews. Bottom line: you need to encourage positive reviews of your practice because people are influenced by both positive AND negative reviews. Always be mindful of your reputation, and keep your eyes peeled for new review sites tied to insurance providers.
Marketing a podiatry practice can be as simple or complex as you want it to be- but as long as you focus on the marketing priorities above, you’ll gain the visibility and patient base you need. For those podiatrists who want to get back to the business of treating patients, a full-service podiatry marketing company can handle the implementation and management the priorities listed, plus much more.
Healthcare Marketing Agency- Physician Referral Marketing (PRM) provides the tools and the know-how to grow physician practices & increase visibility both online and off. PRM specializes in strategic marketing campaigns & referral development through a uniquely direct relationship establishment with demographically relevant doctors and hospitals.To stay on top of the latest healthcare marketing trends, contact PRM today at 888-336-1344 or visit www.physicianreferralmarketing.com. Also be sure to visit our Facebook, Twitter, or G+ page for the latest news in healthcare marketing. Nationwide service, with headquarters in Michigan and a regional office in Arizona.