Why is Marketing Important for a DPC Practice?
As Marketing Director at Freedom Healthworks, I spend a lot of time talking to physicians about marketing strategies and how to grow a direct primary care practice.
It starts with establishing a high-level of care and service, and then you can tap into the power of marketing to attract more patients. Here’s my take on why marketing is important, whether you’re an established DPC practice or a physician thinking about starting one, and what marketing channels you should consider.
So, what exactly is marketing?
It’s anything you do to promote your practice. It could be attending a local farmer’s market to meet people in the community, traditional advertising, or it could just mean posting on social media.
The importance of marketing your DPC practice really comes down to your goals, which I speak to physicians about early on in the process. How do you want to fill your day? How many patients can you enroll during any given month? If you aren’t meeting your patient enrollment goals or growing as fast as you’d like, it’s a good time to explore different marketing avenues that can help increase patient numbers.
At Freedom Healthworks, we start the marketing process by creating a content strategy for each direct primary care practice. Our team works with the physician to create original, ongoing videos and blogs as well as content for a new website, making sure it accurately reflects both the physician’s personality and care philosophy. We then distribute that content online, through social media and directly to patients to help people better understand what services the physician provides and how direct primary care works. They can then share those messages with friends and others who might be interested.
Why not just pay for advertising?
Many physicians I speak with use advertising as their only means of marketing. I always try and take a step back from paid advertising and think about what else we can do to spread the word about a new practice.
There are many things to consider. Are you servicing and delighting your customers on a regular basis? Referrals are the most powerful form of marketing. Are your patients (your customers) telling other people about your practice? Are you doing everything you can to leverage what’s out there for free?
Get your arms around those online conversations and energize them. Oftentimes, social media provides a platform for you to help existing patients talk sensibly about your products. Once those two things are in place, I think advertising is a great way to supercharge those efforts. If you look at how social media and advertising work in today’s digital age, it’s all about creating more reach based on what’s already in place. So, if you’re delighting your customers, if your brand’s getting traction in the market, putting advertising dollars on top of that will help you get a broader reach.
Educate the public about direct primary care
Consider doing something more traditional like a radio or newspaper ad. Unfortunately, when we’re talking about direct primary care, the public is not yet educated on what we do and the services you provide. Joining a membership practice in a cash-based environment isn’t what patients are used to, and they’re not used to engaging with physicians in that way.
If you just go out there and blast the news, “I’m a DPC practice. I’m looking for business.” It doesn’t really work that way. We’ve worked with many physicians who were surprised to find they didn’t have a ton of people walking through the door right away. It’s because there’s an education gap in the market, so you have to make sure you’re providing them with some type of education. You need to regularly talk about direct primary care, why it’s important to establish a personal relationship with your physician, and how that can possibly improve their health, then you’ll start to see people coming into your business to join a membership-based practice.
The key to running a successful DPC practice
When it comes to successful DPC practices we’ve worked with to market direct primary care, how you run your practice and treat patients is what’s really important. Focus on the needs of your patients, and make sure you’re following up with them. It’s not hard to differentiate yourself from traditional doctors when you provide a great level of service and care. In a traditional healthcare environment, patients only see a physician for five minutes. They’d never receive a follow-up call from the physician to check in on how they’re feeling after prescribing a new drug or seeing the patient for a health concern.
These are simple ways, and services you probably provide already, to delight your patients. That’s the foundation you build from, and it’s worth reminding your target audience of the value you provide patients. Some physicians are hesitant at first to boast about their practice and the excellent care they provide, but it all starts with your product.
It doesn’t matter how good your marketing is, if they hear bad things about your business from people in the community, if you don’t generate some excitement or differentiate yourself, you’re going to struggle to drum up much interest, even if you put advertising dollars behind it. Once you’ve established a good reputation based on great service and you’ve started to create some buzz, that’s going to be reflected in your marketing.
What types of DPC practices does Freedom Healthworks serve?
We work with all kinds of direct primary care practices. If you’re a physician considering making the switch to the direct primary care model, marketing may be the last piece you need to figure out. Maybe you have no idea how to launch your own independent DPC practice, but you know direct primary care is the direction you want to go. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help sort through all of the details.
We also work with already established DPC practices where the physician took the leap and did it on their own. Freedom Healthworks provides physicians with a community of others who’ve started a DPC practice, and I think that’s really beneficial. We can help connect you with employers who could benefit from your services or with other direct primary care physicians who’ve gone through similar experiences. It gives you someone to bounce business and clinical ideas off of and talk marketing strategies. If you have an existing primary care practice and you’re interested in marketing your practice, we’d love to speak with you as well.
I encourage interested physicians to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll schedule some time to chat about how marketing can help your DPC practice thrive.