Your online presence matters.
According to a 2014 study conducted by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, Americans do not think that information about the quality of health care providers is easy to come by, and they lack trust in information sources that produce such indicators1. The study showed that most Americans focus on the doctor-patient relationship and interactions in the doctor’s office, with fewer thinking about the effectiveness of treatments or their own health outcomes. Furthermore, individuals reported valuing provider quality over cost and that they were willing to pay more for higher-quality doctors.
In the United States, patients are already spending at least two and a half times more on health care than most other developed countries1. It is clear that there are thousands—perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands—of people who are fed up with the current model of ineffective, insurance-directed care. They are ready to pay out of pocket for the quality of care that Integrative, Anti-Aging and Functional Medicine practitioners offer.
How will they find you?
The Internet. While Washington attempts to recreate our floundering healthcare system, your online presence is more valuable than ever before. According to a 2013 study2, 81% of consumers visit websites before ever picking up the phone!
Word-of-mouth referrals are a timeless method for attracting more patients, but some of the people who need you may be new to integrative care. They may not know anyone using the integrative model and thus, may lack opportunities to get high-quality referrals to practitioners like you. With all that said, content marketing—think website, blogs, videos, and social media posts—is the most compelling and affordable method for casting a wider net within your community.
3 Reasons Why Content Marketing is an Excellent Strategy for IM and FM Practices…
1) Targeted website copy will help new patients find you by snagging search engines.
Start with a super-simple website, such as a WordPress template, and optimize the copy with keywords that your patients are using when they search for providers. That way, the big search engines such as Google, Bing, Safari, Firefox, etc., can pick up your website at the top of the list.
Effective keywords include:
- Integrative Doctor, Integrative Healthcare, Integrative Approach
- Functional Medicine
- Anti-Aging Doctor or Healthcare
- Holistic Healthcare
- Hormone Therapy or BHRT
While it may be tempting to put your credentials and career accomplishments front and center on the home page, save those (presumably lengthy) details for your “About” page. Instead, focus on the needs of your prospective patients, specifically how a partnership with you can effectively resolve their health concerns.
Furthermore, as you write your web, blog and social media copy, know that attention span is a scarce commodity. Although highly debated, 2016 data3 from Statistic Brain claimed that the average human attention span decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8.25 seconds in 2015—.75 seconds less than a goldfish. The lesson? Say as much as possible in as few words as possible. Consider a short-term contract relationship with a professional copywriter if you need help with that.
2) Online content inspires confidence and engages both current and new patients.
Compatibility matters. More than half of Americans focus on personality and relationship when choosing a physician, according to the aforementioned 2014 survey1 from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
The time you spend on content is worth it! Take half an hour to voice transcribe or write a blog, newsletter or record a quick video. No special equipment is needed. Your mobile phone or tablet should do the trick!
Think that you don’t have time to write blogs? Try this!
Pick a topic that you are passionate about and spend 15-20 minutes free-writing about it; write with your stream of consciousness and do not stop to re-read, overthink or correct grammar, etc. When you’re done, take another 15-20 minutes to edit what you’ve written, or ask someone in your office (who enjoys writing) to edit the blog for you. Voila!
Start a monthly or quarterly newsletter and send it to current patients. These regular updates cost next to nothing while effectively demonstrating your thought leadership. Trust us, your patients WANT TO hear from you! Keep your name at the front of their minds. You never know when a patient will inspired to offer a referral.
Providing free education outreach to the public in the areas of prevention, lifestyle tips and new evidence-based wellness findings is a great way to show patients that you care and position your practice as a leader in the community.
3) Social Media WORKS.
Whether you love or hate social media, channels like Facebook and Instagram offer highly effective and affordable content marketing opportunities for Integrative practices. A couple of posts per week should be enough—aim for one personal and one health-related post.
- Personal posts, such as brief updates on your practice, blogs (even if they’re old), and introductions to staff members help foster a sense of community and help your patients get to know you as a person. You want them to feel like they’re part of your “family.”
- Health posts, such healthy living memes or new science that you’re jazzed-up about are all fantastic ways to engage with patients and gain referrals. Here, we want to inspire altruism—the practice of selfless concern for others. Posting brief health-related content and will lead to your followers sharing the posts with their networks. This is an easy accomplishment on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest. By sharing your knowledge freely with others, your patients and fans will be inspired to “pay it forward!”
Tip: Take pictures and post short video blogs! This is one of the most effective things you can do, and it’s free! A report by TrackMaven, which analyzed 5,804 Facebook pages spanning a total of 1,578,006 combined posts, determined that posts with photos are 37% more effective than those with just text.
Also, remember to provide a phone number or link back to your website! Ask for readers to pick up the phone and call, or show them—precisely—how to get a hold of you.
Any way you slice it, posting relevant content is a great way to attract new patients and remain at the top of current patients’ awareness.
>>> Time spent on content marketing is worth it! Patients are looking for you… help them out.
>>> Don’t be afraid to give your knowledge away. Doing so will build trust and relationships, grow your community of wellness enthusiasts, encourage more word-of-mouth referrals, and help new patients find you on the web.
>>> People LOVE social media. Use it to your advantage.