It can sometimes seem like health systems and even some urgent care operators have endless marketing dollars to spend. Whether you’re looking online, on billboards, in print, on TV or on the radio, their ads are everywhere, waiting to reach out to potential patients. If you want to break through the noise, increase patient acquisition and improve your market share, we have a few tips for you.
Evaluate Your Current Marketing Spend
Before changing your strategy, first review your current one. Create a list of all the paid advertising and marketing you’re currently doing. Make sure you know where your money is going, especially if you have a reputation management vendor or advertising expert handling your paid marketing and ads.
If you are doing a pay-per-click (PPC) online advertising campaign, for example, ask your ads manager to show you where your monthly budget is going. You may find you are paying entirely too much for keywords like “urgent care,” “immediate care,” “walk-in clinic,” etc. These words can be difficult to win because they’re incredibly popular and larger entities are likely bidding up the cost. It might be better to focus on some smaller, less-used search terms that your larger competitors aren’t using.
You’ll also want to use something like psychographic segmentation to increase your click-through rates (CTRs), improve your ad performance and attract new patients by creating messaging that resonates with their healthcare views.
To make sure you’re using your ad spend in the most effective way, add a “How did you hear about us?” question on your intake forms. This way you can see how exactly your new patients are finding you. This information can help you analyze and evaluate your current spending habits.
If you think you need to expand your advertising, look for local, long-standing publications or websites that are popular in your community. Smaller publications typically have a much more targeted delivery area and can be remarkably cost effective when compared to the larger media outlets.
Be Involved & Visible in Your Community
If it’s not already, your goal is to be seen as the local option. Chances are larger systems are unable to actually make personal appearances at community events, so this is a great way to get yourself in front of the community and get to know your potential customers individually.
If you’re looking for ways to get involved, join your local chamber of commerce and go to their events. These events are ideal networking opportunities and can help you stand out from your bigger competitors, thereby improving your market share.
Distribute Company Information — Personally
Visit local specialists or physician groups in your service area by personally distributing flyers with information about your urgent care (i.e., location, hours, services, x-ray, branded giveaways) along with a gift basket. Then, give your goodies to the front office staff. After all, they will probably be the ones that actually refer patients to your center if there are no available appointments or if it’s after hours.
Also try to meet with a member of the operations group or ownership. Your goal here is to make personal connections with specialists near you. These can be primary care practices, pediatricians, or anyone else who might refer patients to you. If you offer primary care services, make sure you tell any primary care practices that you don’t poach patients!
Repeat this for all of the CVS, Walgreens and other retail stores that have clinics. There are a lot of procedures or services that these types of clinics do not offer that can be done at a traditional urgent care facility. Make sure staff at these locations know your services and what you offer. They can be a very good referral source, especially if your center is in close proximity.
Get Involved with Schools
See how you can make an impact with the parent associations for your local schools — especially elementary schools. Sponsor any events that you can, if it’s reasonable. For instance, you could supply water bottles for a fun run if they let you have a table at the event. The same goes for fundraising fairs the school might have to raise money for needs not covered by the district.
Look for youth sports teams in the area you could sponsor, too. Many sports teams look for health centers, facilities or systems for sponsorship, especially if they offer any kind of sports medicine, so make sure you try this.
Also investigate your local street fairs and festivals. Depending on the price, this might be a great place to exhibit a table, especially if it’s family or neighborhood themed so you can meet parents and children. Be sure to have some kid-friendly giveaways along with information about your clinic.
Optimize Your Storefront
Have you taken a look at your storefront recently? Make sure your sign can be clearly seen. If you’re on a major street or intersection, you might want to think about adding window mesh to your front windows. The mesh is colorful, lets light in and can display your services to the captive audience of people waiting at a stoplight in traffic. If you’re allowed, A-frame signs are also a good idea to try.
If flu season is slower than usual, consider offering a “free flu shot day.” You can use that excess inventory to get new patients in the door. While they’re in your center, make sure you market your additional services through easy-to-read signs as well as provider-patient interactions.
Connect With Local Businesses
Offer on-site flu shots to local companies with the desired headcount you want to target. Even if occupational medicine is a very small part of your business, these workers are often times located in your area. It gives you an opportunity to market your services, increase brand recognition and potentially get a future urgent care patient. Also, manufacturers sometimes like to offer tetanus shots to employees on site. Stop in and drop off some information for the HR personnel or general manager. They have a vested interest to keep the flu away from their employees!
You can also ask to be included on the company intranet. Many times, companies will have a section where employees can browse local services and specials offered by neighborhood retailers or service providers. It’s good to be on that list!
It can be difficult to compete against larger urgent care center groups and health systems, but these ideas are a good starting place to help improve your patient acquisition rates as well as market share.
For more patient acquisition insights, download our case study.