There are many ways that Nurse Practitioners can promote themselves, their profession and their business. At NPBO™ we advocate the use of several strategies and techniques. The following is just a sampling of what we recommend.
Developing a Marketing Plan
Marketing is essential so that people can find and utilize your services. Without clients or patients, you have no cash flow, and thus no business. The amount of marketing that is needed will vary from business to business, but trust me, everyone needs to do some marketing. For marketing to be most effective, you need a marketing plan. A marketing plan should be an achievable plan of action. It will guide your activities for marketing throughout the year. In order to develop your marketing plan, there are some things that you need to determine first.
- Determine your specific goals for marketing. In other words what do you want to accomplish from your marketing. Is it to build your practice? Perhaps you are hosting a special event like a health fair and just want to get the word out. Those goals will require two different approaches.
- Determine the time lines for those goals. This will help you determine when you need to complete various tasks in order to meet your goals.
- It is essential that you select the proper vehicle for your message and for your market. In order to get this correct, you need to know who your ideal client/patient is. For example, if you are marketing your pediatric practice with the goal of bringing in more patients, you are likely going to target areas where parents and their children frequent. So you might want to create a campaign that targets the children’s section of the newspaper or magazine, while avoiding the senior section.
- Develop your marketing budget. Your budget will take into account the financial cost as well as labor cost. Only you can determine what you are willing to spend. This figure is required so you know what vehicles you can utilize. In addition, you need this number to calculate your return on investment (ROI).
- Track marketing campaigns and results. What is working and what isn’t. With this information, and your marketing cost, you will be able to determine your ROI.
- Adjust and fine tune the plan as necessary. All plans will require fine-tuning and adjusting as you are moving forward. Just like the airplane taking off from San Francisco and flying to New York, its’ course is constantly corrected and adjusted. Your marketing plan will be no different.
Too much work? You can absolutely market without a marketing plan, however, you will most likely get the most out of marketing with a plan that offers you guidance, benchmarks and helps keep your on track.
More on Social Networking
In Issue # 27, I talked about Web 2.0 strategies for getting your business and practice noticed on the web.
Several of you have asked what that has to do with building your business or practice. It has lots to do with having people get to know you, trust you and eventually want to do business with you. Here are some additional resources:
Twitter: Here are some resources you may find helpful. Many of you prefer twitter. I use it, but I’m far more of a fan of Facebook.
- Twitter Tools for Community and Communication Professionals
- Using Twitter for Business
- 140 Health Care Uses for Twitter
Facebook: The expert on using Facebook for business building is Mari Smith. This is where you can access her Facebook Tips Report.
Clinician1: a site for PAs and NPs: www.clinician1.com
Advance for Nurses: Colleagues Near and Far: http://is.gd/sc55
There are more and more social networking sites on the web. You don’t have to do them all, nor should you. Pick one and get comfortable at it. Look at the others and use them only if they seem to fit your plan.
Marketing Online, Web 2.0 Style.
These days, more and more patients are search for and finding their providers on the web. This was pointed out to me recently by a Blue Cross rep who was encouraging providers to update their online profiles.
This is great…but what’s even better, is they are also using other online locations to find their providers. For you…it’s a great way to let them learn a bit about you, your practice, your philosophy and just where you are in the world.
Since this is a relatively new “marketing arena”, not many health care providers are participating as of yet. Therefore, it’s a great time for you to get involved and carve out your niche. And it will literally cost you very little if anything, thereby preserving your marketing budget.
NP Directory Sites
There are more and more places you can list your business and practice online. Most, but not all of these sites are geared toward the health care consumer finding you. Here are a few options:
- www.NPClinics.com, a service of NP Central
- www.NPFinder.com, a service of AANP (you must be a member)
- www.NPBusiness.ORG has a page where I’ve listed NP practices as well as NP blogs/websites. If you’d like to be listed, just drop me a line.
- www.NursePractitionerBusinessOwner.com — will be offering a page for members to list their sites. It will be open for public searching and viewing.
- www.google.com/local/add Add your business to your local Google listing. Believe me, patients are looking for you and this is a great way to make sure you stand out. Very few practices are doing this, yet I hear all the time that patients are looking online for their providers. A website is not necessary, but it is helpful.
If you try and keep up with social media today, you’ll likely find yourself suffering from vertigo. It’s amazing how quickly these sites have sprung up. However, there are three I recommend you get involved with.
- www.Facebook.com Facebook can be a bit intimidating at first. However, once you develop your profile, you can link back to your practice, add information about your practice mission, services offered etc. You can change your privacy settings to allow anyone to see it. In addition, you can add business pages as well. Done correctly, this may be a substitute for your practice website.
- www.LinkedIn.com. Linked in is considered a professional networking site. There are a few groups for NPs there, and I’ve certainly made some great contacts myself. However, it’s another place that potential patients are searching for providers.
- www.twitter.com. Twitter is what is known as a micro-blogging platform. You can only “tweet” a total of 140 characters per “tweet” or message. So how on earth can people find you there? Give patients valuable information that leads them back to your site. For example, if you have written something on your website (or your Facebook page), you can tweet about a new post on “Do women really need a pap smear?” and direct them to that post or article.
While all this seems overwhelming, it’s not. Just work on one of these at a time…I’d start with Facebook. You will most likely notice a difference.
And be sure and “follow me” on Twitter, add me as your friend on Facebook, and join my network on LinkedIn. I’ll see you there.