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How to build a patient base before opening your practice

Medical tools  - stethoscope
Medical tools - stethoscope

It's no secret that a large percentage of businesses fail, particularly during the first year of operation. The medical sector is no different. One thing medical practices have in their favor is that people will always need their services. During hard times people may forgo fast food, movies, and new cars, but a toothache is a toothache and a broken arm is a broken arm.

But the fact is that profitability depends on acquiring and keeping a stable patient base. It stands to reason that the more potential patients you can round up before opening your medical practice, the better chance you have to hit the ground running and keep paying those start-up and day-to-day operational costs. Here are a few ideas to do just that.

Set Up a High-Quality Website

Before implementing your ad campaign, go the extra mile and set up your website. All your advertising efforts should point to your landing page. The tone should be professional but friendly. If you are to offer new patient promotions be sure to showcase them. Include staff bios where possible and the procedures offered should be explained. It's a good idea to include a form for signing up to your email newsletter. Send newsletters out about once a week with a progress report and health tips. Hire an expert to help you create a quality medical website. A company such as the Medical Website Academy will provide the expertise you need to attract visitors and turn them into patients.

Target Fitness-Oriented People in the Running Community

In almost all municipalities you can find a 5K or 10K race happening on any given Saturday. As a rule of thumb, an activity known as "packet stuffing" precedes the race by a week or so. Packets are goodie bags that contain each race participant's bib number, t-shirt, and various promotional items. This is the perfect opportunity to touch base with your target audience, people with a disposable income that are actively motivated to improve their performance and safeguard their health. What promotional items work well? Flyers are good but refrigerator magnets are better. Water bottles with your logo and name serve a double purpose. Your prospective patient sees it, but so do others when it is carried around on a training run. Coupons for a "grand opening discount" can also be very effective. Finally, if you become a race sponsor (for a small fee) you can usually get your logo printed on the back of the t-shirts. To take advantage of this kind of advertising opportunity, contact the race director at least a month and a half before race day.

It's Never too Soon to Start Networking.

Networking within one's industry is nothing new; in fact, it is one of the basic building blocks of doing business. This is especially important with small scale or beginning businesses. Try to focus on other professionals that specialize in your niche. Forming an alliance can help form an initial patient base. Other specialists may be retiring and have a need to refer their customers elsewhere. They may have too big of a workload. They may not be accepting new patients. As for future work, when the employees at small practices go on vacation they will need someone to handle any overflow or emergency cases.

Purchase Radio Time and Newspaper Space

One of the advantages of advertising on radio, particularly an AM station, is that you can broadcast your message locally, thus easing the strain on your budget. It is also particularly effective when presented to the proper demographics. The research firm Nielsen Catalina discovered that, on the average, radio commercials produced a $6.00 sales boost for each $1.00 invested in the media. Likewise, when placing coming-soon ads in newspapers, focus on the most local publications.

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