So, you’ve decided to open up your own practice. Good for you! It’s about time you take matters into your own hands. Run things the way you want to.
You gave notice at your job–check
You have an office site picked out–check
Name-in-a-frame for your desk–check
Now, you need a website.
You’re smart; you have an advanced degree for Pete’s sake. How hard could it be–Psh!
You start your search. And that’s when you hit that first marketing term: Search Engine Optimization. Or worse, just its acronym SEO–What the what?
And the terms keep on coming: Content Marketing. WordPress. Domain Name. Analytics. KeywordResearch,webhostingaaaaaaaaaaaah.
It turns out, while you’ve been out there saving lives, we medical marketers have been busy trying to come up with terms that make us look smarter than you…not really, I promise.
In your world, you are an authority, but in this new world of marketing you are a newbie. But, everyone needs to start somewhere, and the truth is, it’s not really that hard.
So, take my hand. I am going to walk you through a few terms you need to learn. And then, I’m going to give you some first steps to take as you delve into this new arena of online marketing.
Medical Marketing Terms
Content marketing is an online marketing approach that uses the consistent output of high quality, factual, and useful information to attract customers. In the healthcare industry, this comes in the form of blogs, articles, condition/procedure pages, newsletters, news reports, practitioner profiles, patient stories, as well as social media content. All of this is meant to bring in new patients because they see how smart and groovy you are.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
A search engine is something like Google or Bing. You type words or phrases into a little box, and it finds relevant web pages. Search Engine Optimization is a way to make your practice website come up on the front page of Google when someone is looking for a service you provide. These tools include the use of content marketing, strategic placement of keywords and phrases, and design of your website.
Your domain name is the string of words that go into your web address or URL. For example, ours here is coffeebreakmedicalmarketing.com. Domain names can end with .com, .org, .edu, and others. Commonly, your domain name will be the name of your business or your name. You can look and see what names are available and purchase one on sites like, NameCheap or GoDaddy. Sometimes you can also get one free when you set up your website.
First Steps into Online Marketing
Learn where this kind of marketing fits in
Marketing, in general, can be expensive. But lucky for you, it does exist on a spectrum. Online marketing is considerably cheaper than more traditional marketing methods such as print ads, glossy brochures, billboards, commercials, and magazines. According to a 2015 report by the Content Marketing Institute, 71% of marketers spend their marketing dollars on these offline forms of advertising, and yet only 46% of them said they were effective. They found search engine marketing to be the most effective.
Look at what the big marketing firms offer
Go to Google and type in “medical marketers” and the companies at the top of the list will be the heavy hitters. They are the ones with the most services to offer. If you have money to burn and no time or interest in learning how to do any of this yourself, this may be your final destination.
If not, you will get a pretty good education about what services you might want to consider for your marketing efforts. And you might get a little more financially motivated to learn how to do some of this stuff yourself.
Figure out how much you want to do yourself
In the world of online marketing, it comes down to time versus money. The more you learn to do yourself the less you will have to pay. Also be realistic, CAN you really do this and WILL you do it?
Decide on a budget
Just because you have the money, doesn’t mean you need to spend it all on marketing. But, you will need to spend some money. At minimum, a website domain name will cost $10 a year. And a bare-bones web hosting service is at least another $5 a month. Whether you choose to do some of the marketing work yourself or to hire it all out, your budget will help you stay on track.
If you want to have fun, start fantasizing about what your domain name might be. Be flexible here, come up with a handful and don’t marry one yet. There is a chance your perfect name will already belong to someone else. If your practice name is Gynecologists-R-Us, however, you probably won’t have any trouble finding a match.
Check out a domain registry sites like NameCheap or GoDaddy and start typing in some possibilities. If you find something you like, it won’t hurt to buy it. Domain registrations last a year and they aren’t too expensive. If you don’t use it, just let it expire.
Looking for domain names can also help if you haven’t settled on a practice name yet. If a name you like, say metrophysicaltherapy.com is taken, chances are there is another practice with that name. Picking your own unique practice name with a domain to match is a great first step to getting found online.