From time to time, we have practitioners ask for advice on how to find and (most importantly) motivate patients. As a marketing team, we spend lots of time thinking about this, and we're happy to share our pearls of wisdom.
In a series of blogs, we'll outline our favorite ideas for reaching more – and connecting more with – patients.
Pearl #1 – Content Marketing
One of my favorite ideas is content marketing, which is a practice employed by many marketers today.
It’s the notion that providing interesting, compelling information that people actually want to read will draw them back to you. It establishes you as an expert, and positions you to become their go-to source for health education.
In today’s always-on society, people are being bombarded with information. They’re being talked at, instead of being talked to. And they know the difference. People want a friendly face. Someone they can trust. And, with the right kinds of messages and information, that can be you.
So, how do you start? Here are a few ideas:
Content marketing establishes you as an expert, and positions you to become a patient's
Send Monthly Email Tips
If you routinely collect email addresses from your patients, you already have the makings of a monthly email message.
If you don’t collect those, then there are creative ways to go about getting patients to sign up. You can put a sign-up sheet in your waiting room that offers free monthly advice – like nutritional tips around the holidays, sunscreen solutions for summer or relaxation ideas for ensuring a good night’s sleep. After all, who doesn’t want free advice from their favorite health care practitioner?
Once a month, pop them a message about a common health concern. Make sure your message educates, and avoids selling. After several months, you can become their source for making healthy choices all-year-round.
Start a Blog
It might sound intimidating, but it’s really just talking about what you know.
While you’re a health care practitioner, you’re also a consumer. You know what it’s like to make healthy choices for yourself and your family . . . so share those with patients. For instance, comment on the best picks for seasonal fruits and vegetables. Offer suggestions for simple ways to incorporate more exercise into daily life. Give stress-busting ideas for people to keep cool during intense days at work or at school. If you have a specialty practice, like hormone therapy or weight managemnt, tailor your articles to speak to those subjects regularly.
To add variety to your blog, you can also write articles that comment on recent health news. For example, say you find an interesting article offering advice on how to fall asleep quickly. Write a brief recap for your readers and add your own tips for getting to sleep. Make sure to include a link to the original article, so patients can check it out too. Websites like The New York Times and Huffington Post have a treasure trove of health news articles, and so do sites like Health.com and Shape Magazine.
It's also a good idea to write blog articles that answer the types of questions that patients routinely ask you. For example, they may ask you about how much Vitamin D to take on a daily basis or what to do to combat night sweats. Put those answers into a blog post, and whenever possible add links to relevant articles that support your answers.
Once you’ve started a blog, you can advertise the web address in your waiting room. After patients sign up, they’ll receive automatic notices when you post new blog articles.
If you've started the montly email program that we suggest above, you can make a new blog post the feature for your email each month. This is a quick way to build an audience to follow your blog and stay connected with your patients.
Another way to educate and connect with patients is to give them suggestions for reading – which can include books, articles, magazines, blogs, etc.
Develop a hand-out for patients to take with them after an appointment that has list of useful suggestions on it. Include the blog that you just started on this hand-out to help build your readership.
Don’t forget to include links to some of ZRT’s materials – like our patient webinars. You can find a list of those here: ZRT Patient Webinar Library.
Another way to promote good reading is to give patients a book during visits. While getting a stock of books to hand out might take a bit of investment, imagine how well this will be received by your patients. Make sure to include a branded bookmark with your contact information and the address to your blog.
Alternately, you can provide a booklet – like the Menopause & Your Health booklet offered by ZRT. Copies of this booklet can be freely downloaded here: Menopause & Your Health. We can also send copies if you call our customer service department. (If menopause isn’t your topic, we also have an Adrenal Fatigue booklet.)
Keep the Ideas Flowing
These are just a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing. Feel free to add your own twist to any of these ideas, or come up with even more creative ways to connect with patients.
You’re also welcome to chime in on this blog with questions or suggestions. We're happy to share ideas!