7 Steps to Change Doctors from Digital Salespeople to Marketers

Quick summary: Remember to help your patients as you blog. If you do it right, they’ll never feel like you’re a needy healthcare broker.



How often are you “Dr. Kendall”?



Scene 1:


“Dr. Kendall, it’s the sales guy from PowerPatient. What do you want me to tell him?”


Deep breath. Look at watch. Think about if we have enough manpower to cover the next 30 minutes.


“What exactly does he want?”


“Probably to talk your ear off.”


Scratch head. Probably need to do something different with web marketing. Well… that’s what the sales guy would like me to think, anyways. 


“Have him send his stuff to the office email. I’ll look at it later.”



Cut to Scene 2:


The next day, the practice posts a photo on their Facebook page:


“Springville voted us #1 Practice in town!

Come visit us to see why.”



It gets 4 likes… yet the page has 645 followers. 


1 week later, Dr. Kendall’s practice posts again:


“Check out this article from the CDC for tips on

how to stay hydrated during the summer heat.”


2 likes. 0 shares. One click. Crickets. 


1. Marketing doesn’t work if it’s work 


Did you catch it? Both scenes are the same story. 


Mr. Salesman from PowerPatient and Dr. Kendall both have the same problem. They’re giving their target audience work.


Let’s pick on Mr. Salesman for a second. I’m allowed to do this, so don’t worry. I was a door-to-door salesman as a pre-med student, so I get a carte blanche for slamming sales guys.


Does Mr. PowerPatient get the sale? Beside the point. 



The point is that Dr. Kendall has 4 patients in the next hour, 1 employee out sick, 143 emails in his inbox, and skipped lunch today.


And no… the leftover, half-dried doughnut with pink frosting doesn’t count as lunch. 


The problem also isn’t that Dr. Kendall doesn’t have the budget for a marketing team like PowerPatient. 


I say that because Dr. Kendall paid $31,000 for an expansion just 2 months ago so things would be less cramped at the sports medicine clinic. 


He can get the money. What he doesn’t have is time. 


Yet, that’s what Mr. PowerPatient is asking for. Time. Time to talk.


So, instead of creating a first impression of trust, helpfulness, and camaraderie, Dr. Kendall now feels like the salesman is an inconvenience. 


2. Market, don’t sell


Selling can be a great short-term business strategy, but marketing is the slow, steady burn. 


Test yourself on the chart below to see what camp you fall into:


If you’re marketing instead of selling, it’s pretty natural for people to want to come to you. 


So, do patients scroll to your posts and find content they like? Or is it content that you’re asking them to “like”?


As another test, here are some things that cross patients’ minds less than 1% of the time:


“I’d really like to see if Dr. Taylor got new radiography equipment. Maybe he’ll post some pictures.”


“I really hope that Durango Sun Dental posts an update soon if they won best in state for implant quality.”


“I hope that Power Pose Chiropractic posts a great new meme today.”


People don’t want to see what you’re excited about per se, so focus your marketing on serving their interests. 


Every reaction requires activation energy. Do you remember the graph from Chem 101?


When you provide the activation energy itself, the reaction takes care of itself. A match doesn’t light itself, so serve your patients to help ignite their loyalty towards you.


3. Make your content real: The Furrow


Content marketing means that you create useful, engaging material for the benefit of your patients. 


Since 1895, John Deere has been publishing The Furrow, an educational magazine for their target market. 


The Furrow helped a lot of farmers solve problems. It entertained them. It informed them. Many farmers felt it was so unbiased in its articles that they weren’t sure if John Deere was trying to sell them more tractors or not. 


And that’s exactly how the best marketing should feel. Not like a cold call from PowerPatient. 


A well-placed Google or Facebook ad never hurt anyone. But it gets expensive quickly if paid advertising is the entire base of your growth strategy.



“Dr. Kendall, it’s the sales guy from PowerPatient. What do you want me to tell him?” Your patients think about you for less than 1% of their lives. #medtwitter #MEDed Click To Tweet




4. Start with a blog


As much as 47% of internet users are using ad blockers (including me). That means your ads may never so much as illuminate 1 of every 2 screens. 


So then, what’s a private practitioner to do?  That’s the beauty of content marketing – it’s content that people seek. Unlike classic paid advertising, you’re creating material that interests people before they’re ready to buy.


Currently, blogs are the holy grail of content marketing. About 86% of content marketing orbits around them. 


Blogging for doctors is becoming more popular partly due to how easy it is to use social media to advertise and share blog articles.


If you’re committed to digital marketing, start there.


5. Strategize your blog


Your blog can pull your practice from internet obscurity to the forefront of online searches. 


If you follow the tried and true steps, you’ll see Google Search ranking improvements for your practice within a few months. Your SEO (search engine optimization) depends highly on the quality of your content.


Across the board, the bigger, better, and more numerous your blog postings are, the more search engines will drool over your site.


You really want Google to drool over your site (nothing against Bing or Yahoo). 


63% of people are looking for health care providers by online means only, so don’t forget that better SEO means more traffic to your site. Your #blog can pull your practice from internet obscurity to the forefront of online searches. #privatepractice #entrepreneur #medtwitter Click To Tweet

6. Create thoughtful content


As you build your online content, don’t forget what the whole idea was in the first place: helping and serving your target audience. 


If your content is built to be valued by computer algorithms, it will get valued by computer algorithms.


But make sure it’s valuable to real humans, too. When your content resonates with your prospective patients, they’ll interact with it. 


Ideally, they’ll like it, share it, or even subscribe to your emailing list. All of these things can feed right back into your organic growth online.


7. Use your expertise as an edge


As a doctor, you’re keenly aware of all of some of the biggest pain points of people’s lives. 


You know they’re unhappy about their joint stiffness. They’re suffering because of poor sleep and diet. They’re worried about their child coping with early-onset diabetes. 


That gives you a lot of ammunition as you build your practice’s blog. 


I know a Utah dentist who is concerned about over-prescribing opioids. He wrote an article about opioids vs. over-the-counter drugs as painkillers after dental surgery. 


It was simple and effective. His source was an academic journal, yet his article touched on real fears of drug dependence that many people have.


Remember to help your patients as you blog. If you do it right, they’ll never feel like you’re a needy healthcare broker.

In summary:

  • Content marketing is a powerful tool for growth
  • Blogging is the most commonly used method of content marketing
  • Paid ads can be part of a good strategy if you’re also prioritizing content marketing
  • Content marketing can powerfully improve your SEO (search engine optimization)
  • Better SEO means more traffic, more leads



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