ENT Marketing: 7 Questions Every Specialty Provider Should Ask Themselves in Q4
Doing a quick review of marketing is a best practice for physicians. Check out our blog for some questions every ENT provider should ask the
As a leading physician and ENT practice owner, it can be a challenge to balance world-class medical care and the operational side of the business. Working with specialty practice physicians over the last decade, we’ve come to realize that most physicians desire to grow their practice, but are not as intentional as they should be regarding patient growth.
Just for fun, let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute: Will your practice grow if you just provide good quality care and those patients refer their friends?
Sure. But it could result in an influx of patients that may or may not fit your ideal patient profile – including ones that end up costing you money instead of adding growth to your bottom line.
Start with the end in mind - but rethink it a bit
To be intentional with your practice means identifying the type of patients you enjoy treating – the ones who achieve great outcomes, and preferably the ones with problems that you can solve. These patients also have good reimbursement or financial incentives to make it worth your time.
While it may considered taboo to talk about the financial side of practicing medicine, at the end of the day a medical practice is also a business. As a result, each dollar of marketing invested has to provide a return in order for the business to achieve profitable growth.
And yes, it IS possible to achieve growth without sacrificing quality care – it just requires intentionality.
As we head into the end of the year, this is an excellent time to put in your review cap and spend some time reflecting on the effectiveness of the marketing for your ENT practice.
Question #1: Am I attracting my ideal patient?
While most providers we talk to believe they’re uniquely set apart in their patient care and services, the truth is, from the patient’s perspective a lot of ENT practices end up sounding and feeling the same from the outside.
It’s up to you to determine what type of patients you want to work with – based on the technologies, procedures and successes you know you can achieve – and build a plan to attract those patients. And likely, those patients will be the one that will be best to fulfill your financial model and practice growth plan. While this may be difficult to explain, it may help to hear it from an ENT provider prospective:
As an example, one of the providers we worked with discovered many patients were having fantastic outcomes with balloon sinuplastys, and he enjoyed treating those types of patients. His ENT marketing was purely focused on this procedure and by doing so, his practice created predictable patient flow and positive outcomes from the marketing campaigns.
Question #2: When was the last time I updated my website?
This doesn’t mean a complete website redesign. Nor does it mean simply changing the hours for the summer. Your website is like your virtual office. It’s the digital destination as people travel down the digital superhighway.
You wouldn’t dream of having a physical office that’s decades behind in its design, laden with trash and things people left behind, would you? This needs to be the same way you think about your virtual destination as well.
Fresh content means things like success stories of recent patient experiences, highlighting patient outcomes, hosting educational webinars, etc. The last reminder here is that patients tend to make up their own stories in their mind when they don’t find what they expect.
If they expect an up-to-date website and see a copyright sign at the bottom of the page that says 2017, they may wonder if you’re planning on staying in business, or if you’re on your way to retirement (we’ve actually heard this before!).
Question #3: Does my ENT practice website work well on mobile?
This one often stops providers in their tracks. We spend so much time shopping on our mobile phones, listening to music, browsing the web and so on, we’ve come to expect websites to act consistently when we access them on our mobile devices.
Too many health providers are still expecting patients to zoom in to see text, try to fill out forms using tiny little boxes, or display broken videos that simply don’t work on mobile.
In this scenario, it’s not so much about what patients will say, it’s what they’ll do – they'll bounce off the site, going in search of a different provider whose site is easier to use.
It’s time to get critical with your website review and access it on mobile.
What is the experience like? What’s hard to see? What’s difficult to click? Is it easy to find the phone number or contact info?Identify your issues and then reach out to a developer (or our team) to see what you can do to get those resolved before the next quarter.
Question #4: How many patient reviews am I generating?
Patient reviews are critical to ENT marketing success and accelerating patient demand. In today’s marketplace, more and more patients look to online reviews before they ever pick up a phone. That makes having a solid patient review system for your ENT practice vital. Even though some patient reviews may be unfair, they do exist and need to be prioritized. Other things to think about in this area include:
· What is my average rating?
· Do you notice any patterns in the feedback?
· Who is responsible for responding? How fast are we responding?
It may be time to consider a review platform like Birdeye that can help you with this process, aggregate the feedback, and make it easier for you to manage and digest. Feel free to check out our review of Birdeye and why we recommend it as a top review management platform for ENT providers.
Question #5: How much news coverage did we get? (or not)
News coverage, or “earned media” as it’s now called, is any promotional material shared about your ENT practice that you didn’t pay for or create yourself. Traditionally, earned media has been a free feature in the local news, radio show, or newspaper. It has changed over the years though, to include channels like social media and influencer marketing. Patients visit physicians they trust, and patients trust physicians who are recommended by people they know and like.
By reviewing how much or how little coverage you’ve had in the last year, this helps you identify the opportunities to either nail down coverage again for the coming year, or better plan for and seize opportunities.
Additionally, going back to question #1, it may require you to better nail down your ideal patient. News coverage becomes easier when reporters know exactly the ailments you solve and why you’re the best person to talk to about those symptoms and disease states.
An example of this may be a spot highlighting why your practice is the first to offer XYZ technology, which leads to outcome ABC for patients. Media outlets love good quality of life stories!
Question #6: What was the return on our advertising spend?
Truth be told, many business owners can’t give you this number. However, digital ads – targeted toward a specific patient population for a specific disease state – do have the propensity to pay off, and pay off well. If you’ve spent any money in this last year on digital advertising, whether that’s Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, analyze the return you’ve achieved from that spend.
Question #7: Am I being intentional in establishing myself as the go-to expert on (insert ailment here)?
The world is becoming more and more cluttered with digital marketing – and the healthcare community is seeing this more than we ever have.
Patients have the choice of who they go to, and many are exercising this choice. But at the end of the day, it can be hard to break through the noise and stand out in a sea of ENT providers. Intentionality comes down to creating consistent content about a topic, and then promoting that content on an ongoing basis through a variety of channels.
For some ENT providers who are a bit more digitally savvy, this comes natural as they have their own Instagram account or YouTubeChannel. For others, they may need to hire a team or agency to help them create that content. It’s not that they don’t what they’re talking about – they simply need helping recording it, presenting it well on a digital stage, and then getting it in front of the right people.
Here’s an example of how an ENT provider in MurfreesboroSinus Center is implementing this tactic by interviewing patients:
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that people want to connect with people – which is why establishing yourself as the go-to expert with a face and a name can be one of the best ways to reinforce the outcomes you can drive for patients.
Implementing these insights at your ENT practice
Take this a step further and see how a new ENT practice generated 275 patient appointments in 90 days, following many of the recommendations from this article.