Remember the days of walking into a medical professional’s office, signing in, seeing all the people waiting ahead of you and realizing you’d be there for a long time before seeing the doctor?
I can imagine all the thoughts that crossed your mind but I’m sure one wasn’t that the practice needed more patients.
Yet that issue exists for medical professionals today. They need to consistently add new patients onto the practice’s books. This a concern for every type of practice, from physicians to dentists, to chiropractors to veterinarians. The lack of an influx of new patients hampers a practice two-fold: decreased ongoing revenue and increased costs associated with marketing for fresh blood.
It wasn’t always this way. For decades, practices would allocate a majority of their marketing budget to the tried and true standbys: Yellow Pages and newspaper ads. Eventually they expanded into direct mail, postcards and even in-house advertising such as pamphlets explaining their services.
Recently, practices turned to Internet marketing strategies to attract new patients, with many believing that a first page listing on Google and a branded website would keep their phone ringing.
However, a dramatic shift in the online marketplace has created a need for practices to alter those strategies. The reason is the importance of reviews. Google, the search giant, now prominently displays reviews when people look online for a business. In addition, as long as a business has a minimum of 10 reviews, Google will provide a Zagat score ranging from 0-30, further legitimizing the weight of positive reviews on a business’s reputation.
As Bob Dylan famously sang, “The times they are a-changin.” People searching online today for products and services view positive reviews as a major factor influencing their buying decision, second only to personal recommendations. According to Nielsen, a highly respected rating firm, 72% of consumers look up 6-10 reviews before choosing a product or service, meaning they want to see multiple reviews, not just 1 or 2. Also, 70% of those consumers trust a business that has a minimum of 6-10 reviews.
What does this shift mean for medical professionals?
The facts are clear. People searching online look up reviews. A practice with 6-10 positive reviews has a great reputation. Practices with great reputations get their phone ringing. The professionals that don’t have multiple reviews have been shown not to be as credible in buyers minds when they make purchasing decisions.
It is imperative that practices direct their marketing focus towards creating a 5 star reputation online through ongoing positive reviews. Once that star reputation is developed, the practice can market and leverage that reputation to convert more patients.
This two-pronged strategy is analogous to “building a house from the bottom up,” and results in sustained long-term revenue growth that positions that business as the market leader. Practices traditionally have done the opposite. They market their services first, counting on a glossy Yellow Page ad or a flashy website to drive patients to the business. They don’t realize that people trust and value reviews online as a major determining factor in which medical professional they will call.
Medical professionals must stop “building a house from the top down” or risk losing prospective patients to competitors who have embraced this new dynamic shift that has occurred in the online marketplace.