To most physicians, marketing comprises an ad in a magazine or the newspaper, a booth at the local healthcare and a glossy brochure.
It’s no wonder they tell me that marketing is expensive!
The really good news is that the costs of creating awareness about your practice or business are almost negligible with the advent of the Internet and the gazillion fun tools that are now available to experiment with.
Which makes it possible to continue marketing even in an economic downturn.
The principle I want to remind you of is that you do not have to sell to market effectively.
If you are like me, the thought of pushing a program or product onto a reluctant buyer makes me squirm. It’s just not natural for physicians to act as aggressive salespeople.
However, we are excellent educators and this is where we have an innate advantage.
What if you were to throw out the idea of selling, and replace it instead with a concerted effort to position yourself as a helpful and resourceful Authority?
Let me remind you too that you are all authorities in your fields. Agreed? In which case, the next step is to decide how to convey your authority and expertise.
Here are 10 ways to do that, and I recommend you select those that match your interests and talents.
- Speaking presentations.
Public speaking is a very effective activity for getting in front of your target market and communicating your marketing message. The trick is to avoid being pompous or pedantic, and instead enliven your presentations with stories and anecdotes.
- Written articles.
Whether this is an article for a peer-reviewed publication, a throwaway journal or magazine or an online e-zine directory such as e-zinearticles.com, getting published is a great way to build your credibility. Remember to include a byline with your name and website address or phone number at the end of the article for readers to contact you.
If you have a list of subscribers or clients, reach out and communicate with them on a regular basis. Share your knowledge – let them experience your expertise. The almost no-cost way to do this is electronically via e-mail, so be sure to collect e-mail addresses, along with permission to communicate.
A blog has to be one of the most extraordinary inventions in the last 10 years as, not only does it permit you to communicate your expertise, but it also helps you to be found in the search engines. For the latter, you need to include the words and phrases that your target market would use to seek out services like yours. Obviously it helps if you enjoy writing, although you don’t have to be an up-and-coming novelist to succeed. You could simply find articles and items of interest to your target market and link to them in one or two short paragraphs. Highly recommended!
- Adding your comments to other people’s blogs.
If you’re not inclined to write your own blog but have an authoritative and helpful opinion, it’s smart to share your thoughts and resources with others by commenting on blog posts, especially on the popular blog sites that you know your target market is reading. Each time you comment, make sure you enter your website URL in the appropriate field as this will encourage others to check you out. Do this often enough and you can build substantial goodwill, and traffic to your website. I’m always thrilled when someone takes the time to comment on my blog posts!
LinkedIn has become a remarkably powerful tool for networking and establishing expertise. It takes nothing more than thoughtfulness and a willingness to spend a little time being a resource to others in the LinkedIn Answers section. Here’s a blog post that I hope you find useful for making the most of LinkedIn (it saves me having to repeat myself): How entrepreneurial physicians get answers to burning questions
Facebook is no longer the hangout for bored adolescents! It is becoming a dominant social networking platform for professionals by allowing you to build a profile of you and your business (you may even think of this as a free way to build a website!). I recommend staying away from posting your bachelor party or bikini bathing photos and keep your site looking both professional and personable. Your Facebook page may be your prospective client’s first impression of you!
This micro-blogging platform is skyrocketing as a business tool – good for networking, sharing resources, building relationships and making requests. To add value to the conversation, stay away from sharing what you are making for dinner and instead offer thoughts, ideas, intelligent questions, and links to resources to your followers. Twitter is becoming an extraordinary platform for sharing expertise, without having to be a pushy salesperson (in fact the latter are quickly “unfollowed”).
- Public Relations.
Hiring a publicist can be a very costly and often unguaranteed experience. However, with platforms like Twitter where you can “follow” the numerous journalists who are busy tweeting, or LinkedIn where many have chosen to hang a shingle, it is easy to become your own PR person. It’s said that most journalists turn to the blogosphere first when seeking experts to quote in their articles. I have been contacted by three journalists in the last week for interviews for their various publications, so there must be something to this!
- Create your own social network.
One of the neatest tools I recently discovered was Ning at www.ning.com. At Ning you can build your own private social network (like a mini Facebook) dedicated to your “tribe” (Seth Godin’s great term for you and your target market). This platform permits you and your members to add people as friends, post upcoming events (such as your diabetes group class on foot care, or your teleclass on natural birthing!) and add blog posts. Check us out at www.entrepreneurialmd.ning.com and imagine the possibilities for your business.