Consistent message, top-of-mind awareness are strategies for growth.
This article was reviewed by Dottie Davidson
Building and maintaining a brand begins with a defined mission statement that is a clear and short description of the business and a specific message that can be conveyed to the public, containing key words and phrases, according to Dottie Davidson.
Davidson, the director of Practice Relations/Administrative Director at the Florida Retina Institute in Orlando, Florida, applied this philosophy to her current position and she enumerated her strategies for practitioners and/or administrators building a practice.
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Branding and marketing
Davidson’s tips include defining the practice with key words that convey the goals of the practice with messages such as trust, confidence, compassion and caring, and privilege and pleasure.
She advises a daily emphasis on the goal, maintaining the brand maximally, and creating an ecosystem of value throughout the practice; these elements are what brand marketing and managing a “top practice” are all about.
Branding, she noted, is focused on external and internal efforts, both of which are equally important.
“This begins with the team understanding and fully accepting the brand’s message and having them gain from the mindset of a top practice,” Davidson said. She added that this is accomplished by appropriate training of the teams members and adding new skills along the way pay off in the care of all current and future patients.
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Davidson also said the team should be included in marketing projects. This can include local community and charity events such as walks, runs, and races, that benefit charitable organizations.
This is an opportunity to engage with an audience and distribute promotional brochures, referral pads, pens, highlighters, and hand sanitizers.
Social media platforms are also good opportunities by which to share information about the practice and its involvement in the community and mission trips as is the use of the practice patient database for providing specific announcements about practice events.
Branding consistency and guidelines
Daily, consistent branding of the practice internally and externally results in brand recognition and growth.
Putting a branding identity guideline in place is essential for business development, traditional media, and digital growth, Davidson explained.
The identity brand guideline focuses on all details associated with the practice including the design of the practice logo, use of colors and color schemes, choice of typefaces, and size and design layouts.
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“The consistency of the image and brand is important to achieve continued top-of-mind awareness,” she said. “Sharing the guidelines with vendors, such as the printer, web designer, creative team, or event coordinators, facilitate a consistent, uniform message.”
Clinical trial branding
Clinical trial branding is another avenue for consideration that can boost patient recruitment and retention, Davidson commented.
“Whether the practice’s clinical research program is new or well established, sharing the availability of new trials and studies with the referring physicians network and patients helps to promote top-of-mind practice awareness and recognition in national research communities,” she said.
This can be done by promoting clinical trials on the practice website, promoting clinical trials and research studies on social media sites, and attending clinical trial and research training events.
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This presents another opportunity in which practices can engage by participating in publication of articles; continuing education events; and live, virtual, or podcast speaking engagements.
The pandemic has forced a pivot in marketing efforts that includes clinical practice updates on the practice website and social media, revamping the marketing media plan by holding virtual events, special video messages; and use of telemedicine patient appointments.
Analysis of data can definitely show if the practice’s efforts and branding and marketing are working. Reviews of a marketing plan are especially important before and after launch of a new advertising channel or digital marketing plan.
Analytics also facilitate monitoring of the referring physician network activities.
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Referring physician network
Davidson advised that by developing referring physician liaison strategies to benefit trusted referral networks, the practice can build, maintain, and expand the local and national referring physicians network; grow appropriate peer relationships to facilitate objectives and goals, and cultivate lasting robust patient referral and revenue growth.
Hiring practice liaisons, who are out in the field, meet with referring physicians and can benefit the referral network.
“These individuals can be a key part of the practice by making sure that the physicians are doing a good job,” she said. “Good communication is another product of branding the practice with the referring physician network.”
Physicians can make it easier for referring physicians by adding a “For Physicians” link, which helps them refer and schedule their patients with the practice, for a seamless experience. Top-of-mind brand awareness is the root of marketing.
“Physicians want their practices to be top of mind for all current and future patients, i.e., the first practice they choose when selecting an eye care physician,” Davidson concluded.
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Davidson has no financial interest in this subject matter.