I am wondering if those with successfully marketed practices would mind sharing their favorite (ideally low cost) marketing strategy for gaining new patients? Thanks!
Lauren…I have found medical blogging and active use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter helps educate the public about direct care in a cost effective fashion. An online presence improves your standing in the search engines, increasing practice visibility and inquiries…RRS
We’re finding the best way to grow our DPC practice is by turning existing patients into evangelists. Initially we had a financial incentive to motivate them to do this but then discovered it was unnecessary–and perhaps even worked against us (turning an intrinsic motivation into an extrinsic one often decreases the power of the motivation). Providing patients with a dramatically different experience from fee-for-service medicine gets them genuinely excited to share the great “find” we represent. We always make a point to ask new patients–after the first appointment–if they’d feel comfortable recommending our model to others. Most enthusiastically say yes. We also ask point-blank for online reviews. Most don’t, but those that do definitely help as the second pipeline of patients comes to us via the web. We’ve found investing in Google AdWords to be useful (as long as you use someone who knows what they’re doing to set it up correctly). What hasn’t worked for us: radio advertising, post card mailings, booths at health fairs.
Ditto…videos seem to attract more attention than “text” only FB postings
Amen to that…I initially spent too much $$$ on radio and TV only to find out that I never needed it!
Patients are the best marketing tool
I’ve started asking for on-line reviews as well
I agree with the above. While I don’t have a DPC practice yet, I do operate an urgent care. Our number one referral source are existing patients and mailers, newspaper inserts have been a waste of money
I agree with all of the above. Creating a core group of patient evangelists not only helps to grow the practice through word of mouth, it also will establish loyal patients that will continue to support the practice through any economic storms that we will always cycle through.
This might just be a geographic thing, but we get a lot of people reach out to us and join our practice after reading our Yelp reviews.
@jamesgaor Curious about yelp - had always heard it was a bit phony and prioritizes advertising, etc. But did you set up a free profile and just ask patients to review you there?
I set up a free profile and listed my business, but have not found Yelp to be a great resource. I do list that has a place for patients to place reviews, but count on other media outlets such as Facebook and Google
I think Yelp can help but it totally depends on geopgraphy. It didn’t help me much. Back when I opened I paid for search engine optimization to make sure that our clinic came up first in Google when someone searched Primary care or DPC etc. Facebook is great for marketing. I find that posting personal pictures of you, your staff and your office are always well-liked. Paying $5 or $10 to boost a post here or there is also a great bang-for-your-buck. I do $15 sports physicals at the high schools near me and that has brought a surprising number of families our way.
Emilie Scott had great Yelp ratings from her prior “pre-DPC” HMO practice. She kept the Yelp page and changed the business info to our DPC practice. I’d have to say 85% of people who find us outside of personal referrals are from Googling “Primary Care Doctor Irvine” and the link to her Yelp ratings seem to land near the top. There’s still very little mindshare regarding “Direct Primary Care” here in SoCal, but I’m sure that will change in the near future…especially if we can help market it properly.
We haven’t paid anything to Yelp and I’ve heard some pretty bad stories from people paying for ads through Yelp.
Facebook – absolutely! the only “print” advertising worth investing in. It is now responsible for about a third of our new patients. It’s like a perpetual business card that people keep passing on to their friends. Also, consider your facebook page as a service to DPC as a whole … your patients pass it on to family members and friends all over the country…and they start looking for local DPC’s that way. I got 2 patients that way last month
At the end of our first year, we designed nice looking T-shirts for our early adopter “ambassadors” and gave them away at our first gratitude gathering. Behold the toddler sporting his shirt while rocking his mom’s red sequinned pumps. posted with the parents permission, of course. I see our T-shirts all over town now.
Become a member of a small business owner’s group. I found the local Chamber of Commerce way too expensive for a start up, so I joined Women’s Power Networking. Nothing sells like being a small business owner in a room of small business owners and solo-preneurs. They ( we) are never cut a break with healthcare either for ourselves or our employees. So I recently prepared and presented a talk on “Do-It-Yourself Health Care for Entrepreneurs” Even though DPC figured heavily in a smart plan for self care, I also talked about negotiating cash prices at regular offices and facilities, how to save money on drugs, how to keep your own health records, etc…I don’t like to be “sold” to and neither do other business owners, but if you can create a talk that is actually usable that happens to include your DPC practice, then what you are doing is service, not selling, and that really sells because it feels better to you and to them.
We invested in nice business cards from Moo.com that are sturdier than the average card and with rounded corners that don’t bend easily with rough treatment. we have our logo and typical name/contact info on one side and a bullet description of the stuff that is cool about us on the other. We also put both my name and my patient care coordinators name on the same card…saves money on more expensive cards but also cements in peoples minds that they are hiring a team to back them up. We use these as presentation/new business cards, and have much less expensive office appointment cards…but they have all the “secret, just for members” info on them…pager, etc.
Yes this, turning current patients into evangelists. My main marketing strategy has always been to say to my favorite current patients, “btw I’m currently accepting new patients so if any of your friends are looking for a doctor feel free to let them know” and I give them a few of my cards to share. Their friends are usually similar to them so by only doing this with my favorite patients, I end up with more favorites and I currently have one patient I cannot stand and mostly ones I’d enjoy having coffee with.
I have always found that I’m appealing to a specific niche and word of mouth just works best for me. This year I’ve gotten more through the internet because DPC is becoming more known. But initially, it seemed like no one was searching for someone like me.
Yelp is always one of the top listings that comes up on Google, so I think it’s smart to have the free listing and direct people to review there since potential patients will most likely see it. Not sure advertising with them is worth it.
Lauren, you have hit on a topic that is requested more at DPC Summit than any other and has the least solid recommendations. I think it is easier to tell what didn’t work than what was successful. I agree that print ads and TV and radio are not good investments. I got lured into them over and over and still came up dry. The best by far is word of mouth. We tried incentive programs with Amazon gift cards and had no takers. I love the idea of tee shirts or some other type of logo driven ad.
We have targeted businesses that can purchase the membership for the employee. We have found that once you have the handful of employees enrolled, they are more likely to spread the word to fellow employees. Here is example-- I have a retirement community 4 miles from my office. They have elected to subsidize the membership for employees so that the employee is paying about $11.50 a pay period. I am thinking this is going to be a flood of patients. I lectured there and introduced DPC. I had brochures and mailers. Out of 450 employees we had 35 sign up in November. Those 35 have all accessed my DPC. Without prompting, the 35 went back to work and talked about the office. We now have 90 employees and growing. So it is WORD OF MOUTH for sure. The trick is to get that starter group.
I have heard that others are connecting with local businesses with useful services i.e. massage, physical therapy, gyms, nutrition etc. Then the office would invite the business to have a lecture at the DPC office inviting the DPC patients and inviting the businesses clientele. This attracted patients to the location and they could see a thumbnail fo DPC
We are working on a National Film Commercial that we will be able to put on our websites and send out to patients. I think that this will be a helpful tool as well.
The one thing about DPC is that it really isn’t’ marketing, it is education. Once someone gets the concept, they are more likely to join.
And this is it in a nutshell. People will tell their friends and family. I have almost no “lone ranger” patients in my practice. Everyone was either referred by a current patient or brought more patients so there are almost networks of patients within my practice. Most of my patients who join are so excited to come…they’ve heard all about me from their friends and they can’t believe something like this exists. So long as your core group understand how it works and why, you’re golden.
I’m re-vitalizing an ‘older’ post!
Sounds like we’re the outliers here, as radio has actually done well for us. But, we made sure to measure how well it worked and get people to the right place from the radio ads. We found out that radio was working after we decided to stop all of our ads for one particular month. We went from averaging 26 new patients per month to 8 during the month we cancelled. We started back up, and went right back to the 26 new patients!
Take note that we’re in a rural setting (population 92,000, with a valley of around 250,000 people)…
Here’s what we would do (I can offer our scripts to people if you’d like): we would run radio ads that specifically pointed out the pain points people have in the old system. We would then point people to our website (phone numbers on radio don’t work - and they’ll call the radio station if they want your number anyway), and then make sure to host seminars nearly every week (the best seminar times for us were Fridays at noon, surprisingly). The seminars weren’t bait and switch at all - we literally spoke about how the DPC model works and how you could pair other insurances or insurance alternatives with our membership. Sign up rate from those seminars is 90-95%! They are about 1 hour in length.
Our seminars hit on exactly what @drken mentioned - that it’s more about education than marketing. Marketing does the job of getting people in the door to open up opportunities to educate and let them make an informed decision.
Our next goal is to put a series of videos online that would replace (or be another option for) the seminars. I can share those with you all when those are finished.
Thanks for sharing your experiences!
That sounds great! I’d love to see your radio copy. I found that doing seminars for interested people really does work to get them to sign up. Thanks for your input!
Here’s a radio ad that seemed to work well (be aware that they’re radio ad copy, so grammar isn’t always correct!)…
Let’s talk healthcare. When’s the last time you saw your doctor the same day you were sick? When’s the last time you waited less than 10 minutes in your doctor’s waiting room? When’s the last time your doctor spent more time with you than their computer? I’m doctor Richard Edgerly with Assurance Healthcare & Counseling Center here in Yakima. Visit our website at AssuranceHealth.org to see how membership medicine can work for you, your family, or your business. That’s AssuranceHealth.org
Another one we currently have running…
Assurance Healthcare & Counseling Center. The next time you’re waiting for more than 5 minutes at your doctor’s office, think Assurance Healthcare & Counseling Center. The next time you have to go to urgent care or the emergency room because you can’t see your physician, think Assurance Healthcare & Counseling Center. The next time you avoid the doctor’s office because you haven’t met your deductible, think Assurance Healthcare & Counseling Center. Membership medicine that puts members first. Assurance Healthcare & Counseling Center.