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  • Marketing Overview

    Practice promotion

    Some typical ways to market your new practice are through:

    • website or other presence on the internet
    • listings in telephone books
    • letters of introduction to potential referring doctors
    • listings of professional practices in your town or suburb
    • press releases in local papers
    • involvement in community activities
    • involvement in leisure and semi-professional activities
    • sponsorships
    • radio
    • brochures
    • business cards
    • newsletters
    • advertisements in trade magazines and journals
    • advertisements in other relevant magazines and journals

    The latter three points must comply with the Medical Board Act, AHPRA and advertising regulations applicable to your state of practice.

    Medical boards and AHPRA in each state provide information regarding appropriate and ethical advertising. Please contact your state medical board. The Australian Medical Council (AMC) website listed in this section's links has addresses for all state medical boards.
    Important tip: word of mouth can be one of the most successful ways to increase your patient base. Try to do the following on a regular basis:
    • Find out how patients found out about you.
    • Find out why they chose to come to you.
    • Encourage them to tell their friends, family, acquaintances and work colleagues about those aspects of your service they most enjoy.
    • Make sure your staff know the strengths of your practice and are able to highlight these in appropriate situations.

    Knowing your patients/clients is essential for successful business. How can we get to know the qualities and characteristics of our patients?
    • Patient surveys: periodically survey patients about different aspects of the practice. Be careful to only ask questions that are useful and that you can actively do something about.
    • Focus groups: meet with small groups of representative patients to discuss how services can be improved and presented to patients.

    Promotion of your services

    In the materials and other media you make available to existing and potential patients, refer to the services you offer, particularly those that may be different from other practices in your area. Though you know your services intimately, you cannot assume the same will apply to your patients. It is important that you clearly state your areas of greatest skill and expertise, and to inform them of any particular areas of interest you pursue.

    Consider how and where you will promote your service. The type of practice that you have will determine a large proportion of the marketing. General practices market directly to the public, specialists market predominately to potential referrers, as well as to the public.

    Your main market will determine the how and where of your marketing program. If direct to the public, conventional means such as Yellow Pages and White Pages are a good starting point, although diminishing in effectiveness. Online marketing is now crucial and should include, as a minimum, publicity in Yellow Pages online and a practice website. A profile can be set up on main social media sites - in particular Facebook, using safe social media principles. Letterbox drops can be surprisingly effective as well as traditional marketing material such as a practice information sheet/booklet, business cards, signage, magnets and newsletter. Emailed newsletters are very useful, although you must obtain patient consent first to use their email address in this manner, and ensure that an 'unsubscribe' option is available.

    If marketing directly to referrers, printed material, emails, phone calls, letters of introduction, and introduction type lunches can be very effective. The most effective technique is to make initial introduction, and to ensure that the first few contacts/services are efficient, friendly and leave a positive impression. This is likely to lead to repeat referrals via the referrer and word of mouth from the patient.

    Another aspect of marketing that must be considered is any public image of the practice. This is most relevant externally from the building, sponsorship of community events/groups, and when advertising a position/room vacancy for administrative or clinical staff. As many of the public will view these forms of advertising, it is crucial that it provides a good representation of the practice.

    Networking

    When you set up your new practice, other health professionals need to know about YOU! Advise other health professionals of your areas of interest so they may be more likely to refer appropriate patients to you.

    Here are some suggestions about how to introduce yourself to other professionals:

    General practitioners

    • Visit other general practices in the area.
    • Join the local division of general practice.
    • Go to educational meetings.
    • Your practice manager may attend network groups, and this could introduce your name locally.
    • Make yourself known to local pharmacies and local community health centre/s.
    • Send a letter of introduction to specialists and allied health professionals you may be working with (e.g. surgeons, psychiatrists, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians).

    Specialist practitioners

    • Visit other specialists in the area.
    • Visit general practitioners in the area.
    • Offer to speak at education sessions for general practitioners.
    • Send a letter of introduction to general practitioners in the area.
    • Send a letter of introduction to allied health professionals you may be working with (e.g. physiotherapists if you are a surgeon).

    Improving your practice

    Whether you are a general practitioner or a specialist:

    1. Get to know all other practitioners in the local area you are servicing.
    2. Attend local clinical meetings.
    3. Ask your practice manager to regularly attend practice manager networking meetings.
    4. Encourage employed nurses to regularly attend nurses' networking meetings.