Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
As doctors, we spend years in school and specialized training in our chosen field. We may go to work in hospitals. We might join established medical practices. We could choose to start our own practice, becoming entrepreneurs as well as doctors.
It’s important to know how to grow a practice, so we can stay in business. Here are seven tips to help attract and keep new patients:
1. Determine your local demographics
People want to see a doctor who’s close to home, so it’s crucial that you know the demographics of the area you’re setting up your practice. If you’re in an area where the majority of the population is young families, you need to put a pediatrician or two on your staff.
If your location is surrounded by Latinxs or Arab-Americans, you should have all your material, including office posters, brochures and your website, translated into Spanish or Arabic. Doing so shows respect for their unique cultures and makes them more likely to choose your practice over another.
Related: Manage a Healthcare Business? Why Patient Experience Should Always Be Your First Priority
2. Build relationships with other doctors
Solid relationships with other physicians are critical to your practice’s success, especially if you’re in a specialized field. At my practice, I receive referrals from doctors all over the world. I’ve built my practice around relationships and wouldn’t have achieved the success I have without them.
Without referrals from other physicians, you’re completely on your own when it comes to marketing your business. Build up trust with other doctors; refer patients to them for their specialty’s work, and they’re more likely to refer back to you.
3. Build a website and online presence
When patients are searching for a new doctor, they want to see a website and social media pages, so they can get to know you before they decide to put their lives in your hands. You must have a solid website and active social media channels.
Don’t settle for a bare-bones website — you should have bios of everyone working at your practice, so patients feel like they know you before they come in. You also need a regularly-updated blog with pertinent information. You should also add an online scheduling option for patient convenience.
Your social media pages have to be active and engaging. Don’t just post dry medical facts; show off your personality to show off your bedside manner.
Related: Challenges Faced By Marketers in the Healthcare Sector
4. Publish useful, educational content
On both your website and your social media channels, you need to educate your patients. It’s helpful if you entertain them at the same time, to keep them captivated and get them to stay with you for more than a few seconds.
Blog posts: SEO-optimized blog posts let you rank on Google whenever patients search for the keywords you’re aiming for. For example, if you’re a cardiologist, you may want to rank for the keyword “heart attack symptoms in women.” You can write SEO-optimized blog posts around that keyword and other similar phrases, such as “heart attack symptoms women,” “women heart attack symptoms,” and “women heart attack.”
Google My Business: Claim your Google My Business profile, so you show up when people search for “family doctor near me.” You can upload pictures, link to your website, share updates and respond to reviews. Your practice’s location shows up on Google Maps. Best of all: It’s completely free. You should create a listing for your practice and each doctor who works there.
Lead magnets: Lead magnets are downloadable content in exchange for someone’s name and email address. You can then send newsletters with practice updates to those people. For example, if you’re a podiatrist, you could write, “7 Ways to Keep Your Feet Healthy” and send it to everyone who signs up to receive it.
Video content on your website, Facebook page and YouTube channel: Video content is becoming more popular, as it is “sticky,” keeping potential patients on your website, social media pages and YouTube channel longer. Videos don’t have to be long to be effective; a one-minute video about prostate health could turn a casual viewer into a patient.
5. Buy advertising on Google, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram
Without the Yellow Pages, you must find other avenues to advertise your practice. Ads on Google and social media are relatively low-priced and could be seen by hundreds of people in your geographic area.
Related: How to Improve Your Practice Management and Deliver a Better Patient Experience
6. List your practice in local directories
Google+ Local Pages, Bing Places and Yelp are all listing services you can use to advertise your practice. You never know which platform people are using to search for a doctor, so it’s best to list yourself in as many places as you can.
To go offline, consider joining the local Chamber of Commerce or service organizations such as the Elks, the Moose, the Junior League or the Kiwanis. These organizations have member directories where you can be listed. As an added bonus, the opportunity to network is invaluable.
7. Broaden your range of services
If you’re a solo practitioner, you may benefit from bringing in another doctor with a different specialty from yours. For example, a general practitioner could invite a gynecologist to join the practice to broaden the range of services provided. A pulmonologist could ask a cardiologist to team up to expand their patient base.
You can also expand your services to include telemedicine. Giving your patients the option to visit you from the comfort of their own homes makes you more desirable as a doctor since you’re saving them from driving, sitting in a room with other sick people and waiting endlessly in a room for you to appear.
You don’t have to employ all seven tips at once. Pick one to start with, then add others along the way. Your practice will expand, allowing you to make a difference in more patients’ lives.