The days where patients would just walk into the closest doctor’s office without considering patient reviews are long gone; however, many health and wellness professionals still believe that they can rely only on their skills in their craft to draw in new patients. According to Maddie Shepard, approximately 64% of small businesses in general do not have a website or any online presence. Although being a master of your craft is of the utmost importance, health and wellness professionals must stay up to date on new methods to attract new patients for their practice to survive. With the world thriving in the digital age, it is absolutely necessary for professionals to have an online presence and complete brand identity.
While technology will forever advance, a solidified and cohesive brand will stand the test of time. Your brand identity should not only be an extension of your practice, but it should be an extension of yourself. And with the steady decrease in private practice due to the domination of employment through groups and hospitals, standing out as an independent professional becomes increasingly more difficult. These are 5 of the reasons why establishing a brand is crucial for health and wellness professionals.
1. Establishes personalized professional rapport with old and new patients
It is an unfortunate truth that most people judge on first impressions. With the wealth of information that is easily available online, many people’s first step when looking for a doctor, therapist, personal trainer, etc. is to Google them and read their website and social media pages. When a practitioner has an established online presence, it makes the practice much more professional and inviting to the new patient or client. For example, when a practice does not have an aesthetically pleasing website (or a DIY website/no website whatsoever), it displays a lack of attention or care to their own personal practice; therefore, the health professional may be seen as distracted or lacking dedication. The patient or client may consider the following: how can this practitioner care about my health if they don’t even care about their practice?
The good news is that this thought can be completely avoided by developing a beautiful website, an attractive logo (whether animated or static), regular social media posts, and professional business cards. According to Srividhya, approximately 80% of first-time transactions between customers and businesses occur online (because at the end of the day healthcare is considered a business), and having an established online presence can increase the likelihood of attracting new clients by upwards of the same percentage.
2. Allows for more efficient communication and relationship building
Communication is something that occurs throughout the day, whether we are on social media, email, text, a phone call, or even by non-verbal cues while walking down the road to your local coffee shop. Your brand is an extension of yourself, and its quality and professionalism will communicate to your target audience your personal identity as a whole. By creating and establishing a complete brand and online presence, it is possible to establish relationships with potential patients or clients before they ever step foot into your office.
In addition, once you have successfully begun working with a new client, having an efficient web and social media presence can allow you to easily share information that may impact their care. For instance, changing your hours or closing for a holiday needs to be communicated in advance, especially if you normally take walk-in clients. By posting an announcement on your website and social media accounts, you can alert your clients to the change so that they don’t get confused if they try to visit and find your office inexplicably closed. In a similar way, you can share news about new services you offer, a change in location, discounts or sales if you incorporate those into your business plan, and of course, alerts regarding COVID-19 and any effect the pandemic may have had on your availability or services.
This regular communication will help cement your relationship with existing clients as one that is open and efficient, so as not to waste any of their time or yours.
3. Conveys your ideal patients/clients effectively
Imagine owning a practice as an acupuncturist, and you want to communicate that acupuncture is your main (or only) specialty. How would a potential patient realize that you offer the services they need and how it would benefit them without searching you online?
Your brand and online presence show the world who would most benefit from your services. Without a strong online presence, clients that may not be the best fit will take up time within your practice, which can be a negative experience for both the client and the practitioner. Since the majority of initial interactions occur online before anything else, it's absolutely vital to establish who would be the best fit for your services.
Not only can you explicitly state who you work with (such as a pediatrician’s office or women’s health practice), but you can tailor your branding to specifically resonate with that market. For instance, a pediatrician may want to employ the use of bold colors and an animated style to convey a fun personality and ease interacting with children.
4. Provides value to the target market
C. Whan Park believes that brands provide value for their prospective clientele in three ways:
Enablement allows the potential client to determine whether or not you are a provider that can solve their problems. This empowers them to make the decision to get help. Enticement appeals to the senses of the patient or client (ex. visually when seeing an aesthetically pleasing logo) to show that you are there for their needs above all. This engages the client and keeps them invested in your brand and your services. Enrichment shows the prospective patient that you understand and empathize with their needs, and when it comes to health and wellness, understanding a patient’s needs is vital to provide them with proper care. It connects you to their system of beliefs or values and validates their feelings to help them connect with you as a service provider.
5. Sets you apart from your competition
In the healthcare world, there are thousands of people that offer similar services to patients, and for the patient, it is increasingly difficult for them to determine which professional would best fit their needs. Usually, the professional who is unique and offers special services will attract the prospective patient. The question to ask yourself is: what will set me apart?
According to Victor Lorin Purcarea, the most important information about practices and services comes from two sources. The first source is through referrals or expert opinions, while the second source is through commercial media. All sources of commercial media, whether a website, social media post, or email outreach, are where a prospective client will become informed about your practice and your services. Digital marketing and branding will help your practice stand out among all the other health and wellness professionals in your region.
The branding of your health and wellness business can make or break your ability to survive in the ever-changing market. The digital age is continuously evolving, and with new innovations in technology, health and wellness professionals must stay on top of their game to attract new patients and clients. Although it may be simpler and cheaper to create your brand without professional help, it may produce benefits in the short term (i.e. having something on the web), but this results in an incohesive and cluttered brand identity lacking all of the elements in this article.
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