Advice for Practical Practitioners Who Want to Make the Most of Their Marketing Dollars and Sense (Pt.1)

by Ricardo Casas

Most of you have experienced the tireless push of marketers claiming to have the winning formula for your success. Often strategies include Yellow Page-type listings, print ads, TV, radio, websites, and a variety of other products. Some of these lock you into expensive contracts that do not allow you to nimbly adjust your strategy midstream.

Even websites are not an adequate tool on their own without proper implementation. On an ROI basis, internet marketing is by far the most effective and successful at identifying, targeting, capturing, and converting prospective patients.

Medical professionals are typically too busy to develop and manage their own marketing program and often lack the dedicated marketing budget required to retain a quality marketing agency. These constraints may make the one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter marketing packages seem like an attractive option but they are not money well spent. While the Internet has created incredible marketing opportunities, it has also created the perfect breeding ground for scams that are hard to recognize if you are not well-informed about the intricacies of internet marketing.

The good news is that there are small, high-quality marketing agencies, specifically serving the small business community, that offer all the same products, services, and capabilities offered at large marketing firms. That means you, as a small business owner, have access to the most advanced marketing tools available.

A Case Study in Marketing a Phlebologist

In August of 2010, Dr. Steven Zimmet, a phlebologist and dermatologist practicing in Austin, Texas, decided that it was time to take the marketing of his practice to the next level. After many years of successful practice, Dr. Zimmet became a trusted figure with a reputation for outstanding care. The challenge was to identify how to best capitalize on this success to further increase his practice business.

Resourceful as he is, Dr. Zimmet was able to attain remarkable rankings with various search engines and to generate highly relevant traffic to his website. Quickly, however, it became clear that a click is not a client. Increasing traffic to your site alone is not enough. Once on your site, visitors have to be successfully engaged and converted into a paying client.

Recognizing that there was a missing piece of the strategy, Dr. Zimmet then teamed up with Fahrenheit Marketing, also based in Austin, who created a marketing model to specifically address the marketing needs of businesses like Zimmet Dermatology. In providing a custom strategy, a marketing plan was refined through ongoing granular measurement and analysis of the visitor’s experience on the website. The insights gained facilitated the creation of a high value experience for the visitor which, in turn, has created numerous new patients for Dr. Zimmet.

The custom strategy focused on deliverables and the variables that are specific and relevant to Zimmet Dermatology includes:
• Custom design and development of a website that relates to the target demographic
• A well-crafted message that reflects the culture and quality of Zimmet Dermatology's service
• Content organization and navigational flow to further the ease of use
• An aggressive search engine optimization campaign to increase website traffic
• The measurement of user experience through electronic tracking
• The measurement and optimization of the user’s experience Using this strategy as a guide, let’s take a look at what you should consider when building or changing your own website.

Your website is the first contact for vein patients

Design is an extremely important element in your success. A website developed using a generic template doesn’t allow you to fully realize the benefits that a well-designed custom site offers. With custom design, various aspects of usability, graphics, presentation, navigation, and message are considered when the design of your website is conceived. It is important to recognize the value of these aspects as they will save you money in the long term, build your brand and reputation, and improve your opportunity for new business.

The message is a critical component of any successful marketing strategy. Clearly and quickly conveying that message is paramount for the success of your marketing campaign. Is it readily clear what products and/or services your company offers? Are the values and culture of your company properly conveyed? Does your message “speak” to your targeted demographic? Our brains process information much faster than we realize.

A visitor to your website will decide within the first three seconds whether or not they consider you a viable candidate. This highlights the importance of viewing your prospective client’s experience from a global perspective and fully leveraging the all the marketing tools available to you. You have a very small window of opportunity in which to capture and convert your visitor.

Content is king, especially for phlebologists

An attractive website that is easily navigated instills the first impression of credibility. Just as important, however, is your website content. If the content is not thoughtfully conceived and appropriately organized for the user, they will likely go elsewhere for what they are seeking. Knowing what your potential clients are looking for facilitates the creation of a logical hierarchy of content on your website enabling users to access the information they are looking for quickly. This increases the likelihood they will become a client.

The layout, headlines, and calls to action work in concert to facilitate conversion. Having a team of trained specialists monitoring how your users interact with your website allows for the constant optimization and improvement of that experience. The ability to nimbly adjust and refine your marketing strategy, in real time, as needed, is what makes internet marketing so incredibly effective: if it isn’t working, change it until it does.

Due diligence when searching for a marketer

When choosing a marketing firm, look for a firm that approaches marketing your practice in a dynamic, proactively evolving, and comprehensive manner. Seasoned marketing professionals offer invaluable insight when spending your marketing dollars.

Outsourcing your marketing to an offshore company brings various risks that are often times miscalculated such as different cultural standards, lack of accountability due to the fact that they are not liable for their actions under our laws, and ineffective communication due to language barriers, time zone differences, and cultural differences.

In short, if you are ready to engage in internet marketing, consider hiring an established, U.S.-based agency with the proper credentials and expertise to provide you with high quality services specifically tailored to your business. The added benefits of going this route are accountability and an ongoing relationship that facilitates continuity in the building of your brand and strategy.

We built it, now what?

If you have taken the steps to develop a custom website that is best tailored to your services, the next step is to apply Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to drive relevant traffic to your website and start converting visitors into patients. In Part II of this article in the Spring issue of VEIN Magazine, we will cover SEO strategy, measuring the performance of your website, understanding the analytics of your website, and potential pitfalls to avoid in when performing or hiring someone to perform SEO for your facility.