Marketing that saves you time is particularly crucial for allied health practitioners because we are usually wearing many hats. It's common for health professionals to have several roles, including full-time practitioner, receptionist, accountant, cleaner, and marketer. Effective marketing can help you claw back, not just time, but energy and money. It’s also a way to help you get new patients through the door and communicate with existing patients, even when your diary is full.
Don't get caught in a catch-22. If you have to put hours into your marketing to get busy, you'll lose the time needed to maintain your marketing plan once you are busy. This results in a “boom and bust” cycle. Therefore, it's better to spend your resources in the short term to make your marketing run smoothly and automatically for the long term.
Before you start
Before you start to set up your marketing, you need to create a plan. There are three factors to consider to make this effective:
- 1.What you're going to say
- 2.Who you're going to share your message with
- 3.How you're going to deliver that message
By establishing this, you will communicate your message clearly and consistently across all your marketing platforms. Branding can guide you through those three factors.
Branding is more than a name, logo, and a set of colours. It's your entire reputation. Branding helps healthcare professionals figure out their message and audience by considering the types of people they treat and pairing that with their values, resulting in an original marketing message. I will go through the options of how to deliver those messages later, but as you'll see, there are many choices. When you understand your brand, you'll understand which options to implement first and which are the most helpful ones for you.
Focus on making these key marketing areas as efficient as possible
Email is a fantastic way to build relationships with your existing patients outside of your treatment room. You can use emails to check in with patients after their appointments, provide follow-up care, answer their questions, and remind them of helpful tips you may have mentioned.
But, another way to utilise email marketing is to share your knowledge and personality with those not yet on your patient list. Most mailing service platforms will allow you to send emails automatically to current and potential patients, which is an excellent way for them to get to know, value, and trust you with their health.
If you're wondering what to send to your email list, remember that you're a bank of knowledge. What you know about health, well-being, and lifestyle may seem normal to you, but it's extraordinary and helpful to the general public.
You can even weave your knowledge and expertise into emails that are automated, like transactional emails, appointment reminders, and feedback emails. Sharing your personality via emails like these can add a more personal touch, so they don't feel automated even when they are.
For example, rather than keeping the appointment reminder message as:
“Dear [NAME], you have an appointment at [TIME AND DATE]. Reply YES to confirm.”
Instead, you could make it your own by changing it to:
“Hi, [NAME], we're looking forward to seeing you for your appointment at [TIME AND DATE]. Please let us know you're coming by replying YES to this message. However, if you'd like to rearrange, you can always call us on [NUMBER]. See you soon! [PRACTITIONER NAME].”
Online booking should be an integral part of your marketing. Marketing is not only how you show people what you do, it’s also how they experience your clinic from the moment they discover you, all the way through to after their appointment.
Having the ability to take bookings at any hour makes online booking a must-have for all allied health practices. It’s very convenient for your clients (finding time to call you during standard business hours isn’t easy for everyone) and it removes the need for you or a receptionist to be ready to answer the phone to take those bookings.
Pro tip: Once you embed your online booking system on your website you can link it to Google Business Profile (Google Maps). Copy your online booking URL, log in to your GMB account, tap “info”, scroll down and paste your URL into the “Appointment Links” field. Now patients who find your business on Google Maps can book directly from there!
Appointment reminders are one great example of where marketing and providing excellent patient care meet. Appointment reminders are an exceptional way to prompt your patients to remember their upcoming appointment, which is beneficial for them to avoid missing it, and useful for you as it reduces no-shows. Cliniko has some helpful tools to automate your reminders and free up your time to focus on your patients.
Many healthcare practitioners see marketing as a way of bringing new patients into the clinic, but it's equally important to retain your existing patient base. Reconnecting with patients who've not visited in a while is an ethical way to provide excellent patient care while maintaining your network.
Have you considered using an automated text system to send important information to your patients? According to Forbes, 95% of text messages are read within three minutes of being sent. This suggests a text is almost guaranteed to be read by your patient! This is a staggering statistic, compared to the 21.48% average email open rate in the healthcare and fitness industry.
Setting up automatic text messaging with your practice management software is an efficient, modern, and considerate way to reach out to patients while keeping you at the forefront of their minds. Cliniq Apps and Text Magic are popular options for sending texts to your patients quickly, easily, and for minimal cost.
5Google Business Profile
Google Business Profile (GBP) is the best free tool allied health professionals can use to get patients because it's easy to get started and boosts your chances of being seen for geographical-based search terms like “osteopath near me”. Once it’s set up and depending on your ranking, your GBP profile automatically shows up in relevant Google search results to potential patients.
I recommend updating your GBP with pictures once a month or posts every week, but both are optional. Additionally, it's easy to keep track of GBP posts if you install their free app on your smartphone.
Pro tip: Download the GBP app onto your phone and enable notifications for reviews. Non-AHPRA practitioners can use this to reply to any reviews they receive promptly. Responding to reviews is a great way to show your personality to people reading Google reviews of local clinics before deciding who to visit.
If you're a healthcare practitioner who enjoys social media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms are a fantastic way to get your name out there. Although it’s a powerful tool, social media can easily consume a lot of your time. It's therefore essential to have time-saving strategies in place. Let's cover two popular methods that are easy to implement straight away.
- Bulk producing and scheduling content.
Set time aside to produce and schedule social media content in bulk. Canva is the best free tool to create high-quality posts. Alternatively, you can save time by getting your social media content made for you, ready to go, so all you have to do is schedule posts ahead of time.
As for scheduling on Facebook and Instagram, I use Facebook's free native automatic scheduler called Facebook Business Suite.
- Stick to one platform.
I believe it's best to choose one platform because it's better to focus on doing one thing at a time to the best of your ability, rather than running your energy and efforts thin. Furthermore, social media platforms are forever evolving with the release, modification, and removal of features. Get to know your chosen platform inside and out for at least one year so you can figure out what works, what doesn't work, and what features to use etc.
I recommend Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or TikTok as they are fantastic for promoting what we do and are unlikely to decrease in popularity anytime soon.
To get started with your marketing, plan ahead with branding. Then follow the list above and check each aspect off, one step at a time. Once you've set up your marketing, I recommend reserving 20 minutes every month to review each method you use, so you can update any information if needed. It's important to check back to compare the numbers every month to make sure they’re consistent or improving.
Having marketing strategies that are quick and efficient is incredibly important for allied health businesses, as it ultimately saves us energy, time, and money.