“If you build it, they will come” only works in movies. To grow any business, you have to be smart, work hard, be persistent, and never rest on your laurels. Your urgent care center (or walk-in clinic) is no different. Let’s talk through five ways to build your urgent care clinic through smart marketing. Let’s start with things you can add to your urgent care clinic’s business plan to increase its web presence and community engagement.
1. Build a Good Website
Your patients are finding healthcare providers online. That’s a given. In fact, some statistics indicate that as many as 80% of patients find and qualify healthcare providers online before visiting them. Your website, therefore, will be the first impression that your potential patients have of you.
Notice I didn’t say “great website,” I said “good website.” Don’t feel like you have spend tens of thousands of dollars building a masterpiece when something modern, easy to navigate, and featuring great content will work just fine. Patients need to easily find where you are located, what your hours are, how to contact you, what services you provide, what insurances and payment types you accept and who they will see in terms of care givers. Anything more than that can come after the business has reached sustainable profit margins.
2. Make Sure People Can Find Your Website
You can build the world’s greatest mousetrap, but if you don’t lay out any cheese, no mouse will find it. Same can be said for your website. You have to get yourself ranked in Google if you want people to find you. But don’t worry about getting ranked for every term under the sun, just focus on the simple, intuitive ones that patients will search for (e.g. urgent care in “[city]”, “[city]” walk-in clinic, etc.). Assuming your website was built with search in mind and you follow basic checklist for getting found in local search, you’ll see yourself climb in the rankings. It does take time, tinkering, and persistence across your website, content, social media, and directory sites, but once you start breaking onto the first page and into the clump of local search results, you’ll see new patients start coming through your doors.
3. Use Online Local Directory Sites
Yes, there are dozens of sites like Yelp, YellowPages, and Yahoo! Local out there. There are even a handful that focus solely on helping you find urgent care near you. You may not think you need these sites, but you do. The reason? Your patients use them! There is a simple understanding in marketing: go where your customers live and don’t wait for them to find you. Smartly participating in local directory sites means that all the information they have on you (and, yes, they have information on you) is accurate and represent your practice well. Of course, you can amplify your participation through paid advertising, on-site and off-site promotion, enhanced listings, etc. But cover the basics first, and go from there. You’ll probably even get a heavily valued inbound link to your website!
4. Engage in Public Relations
This is a very broad topic. Public relations used to be press releases. Today it is social media, blogger outreach, influencer relations, community education and awareness, and much more. Simply put, public relations comes into play anytime you are engaging with the public or with people who have access to large numbers of people. Those audiences need to know what makes your urgent care different from a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them that you usually don’t have more than a 15 minute wait, are involved in the community and local health fairs, gave free flu shots to women and children in the domestic shelter, educated the Boy Scout troop on CPR and first aid, and are open for business. This is online, offline, on air, and everywhere in between. And, yes, it is still a good idea to write a press release every month or so.
5. Network With Other Businesses
Urgent care centers are local businesses, and local businesses network together. They do so at chamber events, grand openings, and many other organized and unconventional forums. You need to be active in these. Maybe you have a business development person to handle these, but most often it is going to be the physician entrepreneur that takes on these activities. I also highly recommend going door-to-door to local businesses, as well. Bring brochures, magnets, first aid kits, break-room posters, or any other durable, branded items that articulate who you are, why you exist and how to contact and visit you. With any luck, this networking will result it not only employers directing their patients to you for urgent care, occupational medicine, and workers’ comp, but they may also result in a few on-site flu shot sessions or health screenings with their employees.
These are just a sampling of the highly effective marketing strategies for urgent care centers and walk-in clinics. Next week I will post five ways you can market your clinic through patient experience.
Have your own ideas on marketing urgent care clinics? We are all ears! Leave a comment below with what your thoughts.