medical marketing myths

Five healthcare marketing myths debunked

If you have been putting off any strategic effort to build a strong online presence, take a moment to go over these 5 medical marketing myths with me. We might as well call them self-sabotaging beliefs. When you reach the bottom of this page you will understand how detrimental these beliefs can be for your practice growth.
medical marketing myths

Five healthcare marketing myths debunked

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

November 25, 2021

#1 Regulations prevent us from doing any marketing

debunking the AHPRA and HIPAA myths

If you have somehow decided that AHPRA or HIPAA (or for that matter, the regulatory authorities that apply to your niche in your area) prevent you from doing any type of marketing or advertising…think again.

Going over these regulations will often give you a comprehensive list of attitudes, actions and tactics that are misleading the patient. Once you understand the regulations in more detail, you will see the opportunities to make use of medical marketing without any conflicts, reprimands or fines, let alone a loss of license.

It pays off to take additional training on the mechanics of compliant content marketing so you don’t miss out on growth opportunities, leaving business on the table for your competitors. The most stubborn medical marketing myths are those connected to regulations and restrictions. All it takes is a focused approach by a specialised medical marketing agency to create peace of mind for yourself as a doctor and for your practice management team.

#2 Our reputation will just bring in new patients

leadership status as a doctor

Whether you are a group or a solo specialist in private practice, you may believe that word-of-mouth will just keep doing its thing. The good news is: it will.

The bad news is: word-of-mouth has morphed into this whole new concept, now that we don’t just pause in the town square to talk to a neighbour on our way back from the local butcher. We share links in messages, we add comments to a friend’s post, we google for educational content and we forward it to a family member.

Word-of-mouth and reputation management both require digital support to keep up with the flow of information that circulates between people. Between your prospective future patients. In our Grow section, you can find various articles on lead generation and reputation management that bring your practice to the forefront of the conversation, each time patients are doing their research before they commit to choosing one specific specialist doctor.

Medical marketing myths around the historical merits of a doctor’s reputation can be tricky because as times change, your practice might fall behind and your digital reputation might be out-of-sync with your reputation in the local healthcare landscape.

#3 General practice referrals are all that matters

lack of referrals

Some sources will present you with the same data over and over again: GP referrals account for the bulk of private practice income as a specialist doctor or surgeon. This set of data is often presented without having access to the full online behaviour data for specific practices.

Our patient behaviour research program has been running since 2016 and shows spectacular increases in site traffic, conversions and patient numbers, practice growth and turnover, once the additional marketing tactics are activated.

It means adding new referral streams to your practice and downscaling the dependency on referrals from local general practices and physicians.

General practice or physician referrals are essential and we all know of situations where investing in those crucial relationships generates more business.

The two myth-debunking facts about referrals from general practitioners to bear in mind are:

  • Organic online traffic done well generates spectacular amounts of leads. Our ongoing monitoring of online patient behaviour provides data to work with for each paragraph on every page. As a result, our content pages then attract traffic, and convert visitors into new patient leads based on non-intrusive, elaborate and well-presented educational content that builds trust and rapport.
  • Even doctors themselves use Google: General practitioners who do a quick search in their own time, or even during a consultation with a patient, are no exception. The constant use of online content has turned quality content into an essential asset for any specialist doctor who wants to be visible for GPs.

And even if general practice referrals are your essential lifeline for private practice growth, bear in mind that a quality content strategy integrates multiple target audiences.

#4 Healthcare marketing can only be educational

creative marketing ideas for doctors

For elective medical procedures in plastic surgery and dentistry, it is quite common to choose a more commercial angle, when building an online profile. The imagery choice, taglines, general layout and the use of online advertising would generally be executed in a style that can be qualified as advertising. Your HIPAA or AHPRA compliance as well as restrictions and regulations imposed by local jurisdictions or professional colleges will apply.

At the other end of the spectrum, I see a lot of ‘Wikipedia style’ content. If we keep it as scientific, factual, dry and depersonalised as possible, we will be safe, is what many doctors must have thought when commissioning a profile that others define as less interesting. Less inspired perhaps. Less creative, certainly.

Here’s the middle-ground solution. Informing a patient about a condition or a treatment pathway can be the core mission of a content page, yet the personal style, the conversational tone, the layout and the chosen images can make a huge difference.

High-impact content marketing for doctors combines three failproof success components in a creative way:

  • Keyword research to define what patients search for, mapped against your main income avenues for the practice.
  • Factual and educational information that has been organised so the patient can digest it in a palatable format. I call it ‘magazine style’ when I refer to articles that use paragraphs, titles, images and quotations in a format that feels natural to read.
  • Personal story: Story-telling is an overused word in marketing, so let’s call it the simple reality of adding your original voice to the content.

Broadening your understanding of content marketing for doctors is not a waste of your time. Once you have implemented this new approach, you are ready to build a unique private practice and a powerful effective online profile.

We combine factual content with business creativity to create your unique online profile.

medical marketing myths

#5 Online marketing is just too expensive

online marketing for surgeons

If a marketing proposal has shocked you in the past, it could have been because the fees were unreasonable. However, I have learned that when a specialist doctor gains a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind medical content marketing, the conversation changes.

Market research, editorial work, business advice, brand positioning, graphic design, web design, web development, search engine optimisation, setting up Google Business, setting up monitoring for your live software (your website is a live piece of software that keeps running 24/7 on a dedicated computer server), not to mention imagery sourcing and photo manipulation, videography and the setup of social media profiles…Can you see that just going over these ever-expanding subspecialties within medical online marketing changes the perspective?

The opportunity to outsource digital work to low salary countries is not a new trend. This is where a cheap service is actually the expensive one.

Ask yourself:

  • What is the cost of another year without growth?
  • What is the impact of another year in business without a clear online growth plan?
  • The lost opportunity of doubling your practice turnover, taking on new staff, working in a second hospital setup?
  • The lost momentum to turn your practice into a sellable asset over time?
  • What is the cost of cutting corners and entrusting your most valuable asset (your reputation) to inexperienced junior professionals?

Online marketing is in-depth work and if it lacks the depth, the bitterness of poor patient numbers remains long after the sweetness of a low-price website is forgotten.

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medical marketing myths

We love sharing small nuggets of the rich experience we keep building on a daily basis, working with hospital teams, groups and individual private practices and clinics. That is why we have created the concept of a free strategy session to get to know each other. You can book one now and start a conversation about medical marketing truths that will propel your business toward a pathway of continuous growth.

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