by Natasha Mohr
We last left you with the assignment to begin the journey of differentiating your practice, by identifying your areas of expertise and articulating your vision, purpose and guiding principles. These core concepts are foundational in helping you build a solid brand that clearly communicates your unique value to those outside your organization.
Once you have refined these ideas, you are ready to take the next steps toward building trust through brand consistency.
“Remember: your expertise, experience and manner belong solely to you.”
Research Others Within the Field
You should never imitate exactly what others are doing. But you should be aware of what they do well (or where they fail). Learn from both their successes and their mistakes.
Highlight the Key Qualities and Benefits You and Your Team Have to Offer
The goal is to differentiate yourself from your colleagues and from other industry competition so you can provide potential patients with clear evidence that will build confidence in their selection of you as their provider.
This is your opportunity to keep them from going to the pharmacy to have their neurotoxins and fillers injected by an untrained individual at a discount price. Educate your patients as to the benefits of both their treatment and experience, which they will only get by seeing you – a board-certified physician. Highlight your training and background, as well as your ongoing education, in the areas that matter most. Set yourself apart by your qualifications. Remember: your expertise, experience and manner belong solely to you.
“Patients aren’t looking for another cookie-cutter or assembly-line experience.”
Create a Great Logo and Tagline
The most basic (and arguably the most important piece) of brand building is the creation of your company logo and tagline.
This graphic will appear on everything that relates to your practice. It will become your calling card and the visual recognition of your promise to your patients. You’ll be putting the logo on everything to reinforce visual identity of your brand. So make it professional. Be willing to invest the time and money to create something exceptional. Hire a graphic designer to create your logo, business cards and website so that you have a consistent look.
Depending on your goals, you may wish to hire a marketing consultant or even an in-house marketing person to help you develop an effective marketing strategy and to execute the plan successfully.
Remember: patients aren’t looking for another cookie-cutter or assembly-line experience. They are looking for an experience tailored to their needs backed by genuine personal interaction.
When Strategizing Your Marketing Plan, Think Like a Patient.
Remember that effective marketing starts with why, not what. It is important that you connect with your patients on a deeper level than just their practical self. We humans often make decisions because they feel right, not always because they make the most sense.
When you select a physician or undergo a treatment, what influences your decision? What makes you choose a particular product? Why did you elect to enlist the services of a particular physician, hair stylist, fitness guru or investment consultant? See if you can use your answer to help you figure out how your own brand will come across to others.
Think about how your patients are longing to feel and make your brand help them feel that way. Perhaps you might even ask them what they enjoy about their experiences or what they wish they felt more. Do they want to feel safe? Confident? Unique? Educated? Pampered? Heard? Your brand needs to evoke this feeling with all of its copy, marketing and design. Cue these feelings not only with language, but with colors and spatial design as well. From your website to the art on the walls, you should control the message delivered to your patients.
“Effective marketing starts with why, not what.”
Build Trust Through Consistency
Whatever your goals or area of expertise, the way to keep patients and build your practice is by establishing and nurturing confidence and trust. Don’t dress up your marketing or your brand pretending to be something you are not. Unmet expectations – whether explicitly stated or insinuated – amount to broken promises and a disappointing patient experience. Create trust with honest branding. Find your niche, deliver, repeat.
One way to help underscore expectations and to establish trust, is to offer consistent communication and experience across all of your marketing channels.
· Environment (all spaces from the waiting room and restrooms to your personal office)
The physical aspects of your practice – the colors, textures, flow, light, artwork – are all a part of your brand. Once you’ve built a strong brand message, it should be the backbone of everything about your practice.
· Website & online advertising
Again, this needs to be professional! Think about your own online experiences. Nothing screams “move along” louder than an outdated, unprofessional site that looks like it was made in in the 90s and left to languish. For those that have the time and the technical inclination, there are some wonderful site-building services out there that don’t cost any money to use, but can help you build a beautiful site.
For those of us without the time or the know-how, there are awesome agencies that will build and manage your website for you.
· Social media & content marketing, including newsletters
Social media for brand building is a conversation unto itself! We strongly recommend you take the time to flesh out the details of your social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and make sure they’re consistent with your personal brand standards. Post updates regularly (at least once a day for Facebook and LinkedIn, and a few times a day for Twitter), and (if it’s good) don’t be afraid to repost your older content for your new followers. We previously posted a two-part series on building your social media presence, which you might find to be helpful (LINK HERE), and here’s another take from Forbes: (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/08/11/the-top-10-benefits-of-social-media-marketing/#1b4dde9d1f80).
· Print, radio & television ads
Print, radio and television ads are tools which when done well can certainly boost your brand awareness. They can, however, be expensive and may not produce the return on investment you would like to see. We recommend these be considered only as a part of a larger marketing strategy.
· Schedulers to accounting staff
Once you have built a brand that works for your practice, you (and your employees) are the best advocates to market your brand. When hiring new staff, ensure they are a culture fit – aligning with the mission, vision and values of your brand.
Bonus tip: Give your loyal patients a voice. Encourage them to post reviews or share your content. Nothing is more powerful than a great referral!
Lastly, we encourage you to determine whether you need to build your own personal brand to stand alongside the work you’ve done for your practice.
Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to your patients. We caution you that this isn’t about self-promotion. Managing your personal brand requires that you be a great role model, mentor and/or a voice that others can depend upon. Like a personal trademark.
For more on managing your personal brand, you’ll have to check out our post next week!