Compared to other forms of marketing when trying to promote your healthcare clinic, community marketing doesn’t get a lot of attention or even respect. Community marketing seeks to engage with and attract prospective new patients on a very local level, through their neighbourhoods.
The most common way of doing this that I have seen done by healthcare clinics is to leverage community events. Every year you’ll sponsor some local sports teams or kid’s little athletics.
You don’t have to do it all, but you do have to be present in more than one way. It’s common for many practice owners to brush off community marketing as simple community events or sponsorships, which it is, but it can be so much more.
Community marketing for your clinic has some key benefits over other tactics:
Grows loyalty – Patients want a sense of belonging. Creating a sense of community for your patients helps foster a lasting relationship with them. It takes more than just one or two community events, however, to build brand loyalty.
Maintains Authenticity – Reaching out to the community truly shows you, as a practitioner and practice, care. One caveat is that it’s important to be authentic, or your efforts may seem intrusive or insincere.
Affordability – While there are some costs involved, it’s almost guaranteed to fit your overall marketing plan.
Focus on the community…
This seems like a no-brainer. Most healthcare practitioners understand that their community has its own unique characteristics that should be included in marketing efforts.
What most healthcare practitioners miss is that capturing a sense of community comes down to branding. For example, advertising needs to match the language of the region. Patients in Darwin are different from patients in Melbourne, which are different from patients in the Noosa, which are different from patients in regional outback towns. Those differences should be reflected in the way the promotion is written.
So, how do you make community marketing work?
Passive sponsorship vs. Engaged sponsorship
Community events are the bread and butter of community marketing. Like any other marketing tool, these events require thoughtful planning and a clear strategy. You wouldn’t publish an ad in a local paper or run a television commercial without first doing your research. The same applies here.
There needs to be intentionality, it’s easy to write a check for the junior footy team and put your name on the back of their jersey. But efforts like that are passive. The real results come when your marketing is more engaged. Junior footy teams need to warm up before every game, why not actually show up and lead the warm up!
Community events need to make a lasting impression. You’re guaranteed to grab parents’ attention when you go the extra mile for their kids.
Being an engaged sponsor certainly doesn’t happen on accident, it takes intentionality and planning. It also takes a certain willingness on the part of the practitioner and staff to help the event succeed. The more engaged you are, the better, it’s supposed to be fun…it’s not about selling services, it’s about connecting with the community.
Please don’t set up a table and just sit behind it. I suggests that practitioners and staff stand in front of the table, hand out flyers, and actively talk to passers-by. Find a topic that’s local to the community. Talk about the local sports team. This sounds cliché, I know. Just make sure you’re discussing a sport that’s “in season,” so the conversation is relevant.
Ask a question. You never know what someone’s healthcare needs are; so, don’t be afraid to ask. Do you have a local GP? When was the last time you went to a particular type of clinic?