Once you have set up a general strategy for your business, you
need to decide how to market (or promote) your practice and to
attract the patient base you want. Consider five Ps - people,
product, price, place and promotion.
Keep in mind that marketing for your practice is not a 'hard
sell', but a way of letting potential patients know that you are
established, and to inform them of the services you provide. Once
they have this information, they can decide whether or not to use
Awareness of your practice will grow over time, and as you
develop a reputation, usually some marketing occurs by 'word of
Creating your practice image
Consider carefully the kind of reputation you wish to build.
Make sure that all your marketing 'collateral' or branding matches
(it can be useful to sample it with people who know you both
professionally and personally). Remember: once you establish a
visual image which attaches to your practice, it is difficult to
Consider how your office stationery (e.g. invoices, business
cards, brochures and letterhead) can help strengthen your market
presence. Consider how you want patients to think of you. You may
wish to portray a small family-oriented general practice or an
in-demand city specialist practice or anything in between. The
colours, logo, font and even the type of paper (glossy or matt) can
have an impact on how you are perceived.
The presentation of your staff and practice will directly
influence impressions of your professionalism and indirectly, your
credibility and competence. Try to view the practice objectively
and look at it as if you are a patient visiting for the first time.
What would you notice?
Implemented wisely, your marketing plan can to some extent
influence the type of patients your surgery will attract.
Defining your market
Define clearly what services you are offering. Distinguish
between core services and additional, or value-added services. Core
services include those you are best equipped to supply and which
are financially viable. Value-added services are those you would
like to be made available, or which you know are not in high demand
but you know by offering them it will assist in differentiating
your own practice from others. They may or may not be financially
Establish a demographic or target group of potential patients
for each individual service, or break them into segments according
to their likely age, gender, geographical location, occupation and
socio-economic status. For specialists, marketing focused on
potential patients needs to target both direct and indirect
referral sources such as general practitioners, other specialists
and allied health professionals.
Improving your practice
Any practice receives great benefit from a business plan with a
strong marketing strategy embracing the five Ps (people, product,
price, place, promotion). Apart from letting prospective patients
know you exist, your marketing strategy can help to develop and
strengthen lasting professional relationships with your
If your marketing profile represents your practice and services
well and accurately, and you deliver on the promises you make, the
marketing will reinforce your professionalism so that patients
- be loyal
- become your strongest point of referral
- pay their accounts on time
- be less likely to complain.