A young doctor asked me the other day how new patients, excluding patients who were referred by other doctors or previous patients, find their way to my practice. We were hanging out in a crowded party in a loud room so I couldn’t elaborate too much, but I managed to belt out one word that would sum it up: Marijana. That is actually the name of the Director of Marketing, Advertising, and Web Presence in my plastic surgery practice – Discreet Plastic Surgery. If you ask her, she’d probably tell you that she NEVER expected to be working for a plastic surgeon. But if you ask me, she’s an integral part of our practice, and should be so for all doctors, especially those in private practice.
As I finished up my training in plastic surgery and went into private practice, I soon realized that free market forces are constantly working to edge me out of the market. Competition is fierce, and people in large markets have many choices in obtaining plastic surgery, as they do in other professional services. A few print ads and radio talk shows later, I further realized that in today’s world, the majority of marketing dollars in a doctor’s practice must be geared towards their internet presence. Even your print ads eventually all end up as PDF files in the “media” section of your website – funny that people still put so much weight on how many times their doctor shows up in “People” magazine. I guess a comment about whether or not Kim Kardashian had a Brazilian butt lift really makes you an expert…
So where do I get started? …you ask. Easy. Just like most questions asked in life these days, the simple answer is: “Google it!” I have no financial disclaimer here so “Bing it” or “Yahoo it” works just as well, and is in fact, recommended as well. Seeing what internet content is out there associated with your name, an old article that you published, a hospital website listing you as a physician, a yellow pages or rate-a-doc style website, or any other peculiar locations, is of paramount paramount. In our office, we started doing our search engine optimization (SEO) by calling each of these websites and online listings and getting all the details right, including linking to our own website. From there, you will soon see how rapidly you’ll be approached from different directions regarding potential help. There’s a huge market for this work, and it rarely goes unnoticed.
As in any rapidly progressing internet-based enterprise, getting someone on your side who knows the tricks of the trade is the key to success. Sure, you can outsource all of these services away, and many do. But, when you add in all the costs of internal office marketing, advertising in a wide gamut of different media, and other costs of brand development, you have a full-time job on your hands. Please beware doctors, stick to doing what you do best. Get an expert on your side. Get yourself a Marijana!
Dr. Daniel Kaufman
Discreet Plastic Surgery