In a specialized field of podiatry, you may be tempted to treat marketing as a secondary concern.
There are only so many foot doctors in any location; if someone has a problem with their toes or ankles, they don't have that many choices. It may seem prudent, then, to let podiatry marketing take a backseat to updating your skills, organizing your office, and other activities.
In fact, no matter how specialized your field is, marketing is always essential. Even if there aren’t other podiatrists in your area, patients may not think to go to a podiatrist in the first place. Marketing allows you to show others how they can benefit from your skills, both by appealing directly to patients and by convincing other physicians to recommend you. It is thus essential for you to invest in podiatry web design, physician networking, social media posts, and other hallmarks of modern marketing. As Rosa’s story shows, this is the only way to guarantee a steady supply of patients.
Results for Rosa: A Podiatrist Learns to Publicize Herself
When Rosa started her business, her hopes were high. After getting her MD, completing her residency, and spending several years working in another podiatrist’s office, she had accumulated extensive experience in her field while paying off her med school loans. Besides honing her medical skills, she had gained a good sense for balancing budgets, communicating with customers, and managing other people. She thus felt that she was in a good position to start her own podiatry practice, and anticipated swift, enduring success.
The first few stages of starting this practice went smoothly. Rosa found an office in a good location, took out loans to cover initial expenses, and began recruiting nurses, office assistants, and other support staff. She also created a website for her new company, which contained a handful of simple but clear pages about the services she offered. The site brought in an early supply of patients, whom she showed great care and attention. Each of her initial patients left feeling fully satisfied with their care, and Rosa was confident that she would be able to serve future patients just as well.
Those future patients, however, never showed up. As satisfied as the first few were, they did not seem to convince their friends and family members to visit, at least not on a large enough scale to do Rosa’s practice much good. Meanwhile, her website received few visits and even those who did visit mostly failed to become patients. This quickly put Rosa in jeopardy. Without patients, she could not earn the revenues necessary to repay her business loans and expand her company. As good as her practice may have been technical, it would not be able to survive without better publicity.
Aid from an Expert
Realizing that marketing was at the root of the problem, Rosa sought out the aid of a local publicity firm. She met directly with one of the firm’s marketing specialists, explained her problem, and asked what she could do to bring in more customers.
The marketing expert asked to look at her website; after examining it for only a few minutes, she already had advice on how to boost publicity.
The main problem with the site, the specialist explained, was that it was stagnant. While Rosa had made some great pages explaining the basic services that she offered, she had stopped with those pages, failing to update the site or add new kinds of content to expand on the old. As a result, potential patients had no reason to return to the site; even if they liked the content the first time they saw it, there was no incentive to come back for a second visit. Thus while she was teaching many people that her practice existed, she left a lasting impression on few. If Rosa wanted enough customers to keep herself in business, she needed to publish engaging, informative content on a regular basis.
The specialist suggested that Rosa adds a blog section to her website, where she would publish a new piece at least twice a week. The blogs would each be between 500 and 700 words long and would cover topics that directly related to podiatry. Through these posts, Rosa could show potential customers the specific ways podiatry can benefit their health. In her first post, she described the ways patients with diabetes can benefit from a podiatrist’s care; in her second, she talked about the risks of leaving ingrown toenails unattended. These blogs put podiatry in perspective, convincing potential patients to consider a form of care they had previously not thought about.
While Rosa had no trouble writing the first few posts for her blog, the specialist pointed out that she may not have time to write in the future, especially once she began to bring in more patients. Rosa did not have the budget to hire a content marketer, so the specialist helped her find a freelance writing service that could provide the kinds of posts she needed. She would alternate between writing her own posts and using freelance services, ensuring that she always had material for her blog.
Social Media Savvy
In addition to convincing viewers to take an active interest in her website, the specialist also suggested ways bring more people to the site in the first place. Chief among these was social media.
Rosa had not so much as created a Facebook page for her business; nor did she have company Twitter or Instagram accounts, and while she had created a LinkedIn page, she rarely updated it.
The specialist explained that social media was essential for reaching consumers. Not only do Facebook and Twitter receive enormous amounts of traffic, but comments and tweets provide a key opportunity to engage with potential patients and answer their questions. Establishing a presence on these sites would thus boost both awareness of and trust in her practice.
Rosa began by creating a company Facebook page. There she posted links to each blog post on her website as it was published, along with photos of herself, her employees, and her daily operations. She then began doing the same on Twitter and LinkedIn, and created an Instagram account to provide a second home for her photos.
As traffic to each of these media increased, Rosa was careful to respond to all the comments she received in detail. In doing so, she began to convince patients that she was a trusted source of information.
Other Means of Marketing
Once Rosa had the hang of online marketing, the marketing expert encouraged her to consider other sources of publicity off the web. In particular, she stressed collaborating with other physicians, who could provide valuable recommendations to their current patients. Almost every type of doctor would value a relationship with a podiatrist. Internists needed someone to address the effects of diabetes and high blood pressure on foot health; OB/GYNs required assistance dealing with the foot swelling that occurs during pregnancy, and cardiologists could work with podiatrists to get patients with severe heart and circulatory conditions walking again. Rosa began identifying and networking with each of these specialists, inviting them to send patients her way and promising to do the same in return.
Besides other doctors, Rosa’s patients themselves represented a valuable marketing resource. Not only were past patients more likely to come back, but they could convince their friends and family to visit her practice. Rosa thus invited her patients to join an email list, through which she sent them coupons, specialized information, and other incentives to return. She also offered discounts on future care to anyone who referred someone else to her business. In this way, Rosa was able to make the most of her existing customers, using them to bring in continuous publicity and revenue.