‘Tis the season for… seasonal marketing. True medical marketers know it’s always a good time for marketing. You just need to find the right angle. That’s where seasonal and timely marketing campaigns come in, bringing a variety of great reasons to connect with current and prospective patients. Flu season, allergy season, back-to-school requirements, year-end health spending, holidays, health observances… the list goes on.
Whether you’re a primary care provider, an OB/GYN, a dermatologist, or other specialist, chances are your business is cyclical and is likely impacted by the change of seasons. Take advantage of these timely opportunities to increase your practice and brand visibility, reconnect with patients, and position your practice as the go-to experts in your specialty area.
Seasonal marketing: A healthcare practice guide to getting started
If you’ve never implemented a seasonal marketing campaign, there’s no time like the present. There’s just about always some reason to market seasonally, or at least to prepare. Get started with some homework. Here are your first two assignments.
- Understand how seasonality has affected your practice in the past. Evaluate patient volumes and trends from previous years to identify opportunities for practice marketing. Run a report of your patients’ chief complaints or DRG codes by month — you may be surprised by the wealth of information you find. Are there more cases of norovirus in the fall, allergy complaints in the spring, dehydration or tick bites in the summer, elective surgeries in December? Each of these revelations represents an opportunity for seasonal marketing. Likewise, determine which weeks or months have historically been slower for your practice. Then, consider timely reasons to reach out and reconnect with your patients to try driving patient appointments during those seasonal lulls in volume.
- Get to know your health observances.
Yes, there’s a holiday for everything these days and the world of healthcare is no exception. In every month of the year, there are numerous health-related observances, giving you a wealth of reasons to share timely health information with current and prospective patients. Whether it’s heart month, breast cancer awareness, childhood obesity or national breastfeeding awareness month, there are dozens of opportunities to engage, inform, educate, and remain relevant all year long. Your patients will appreciate the proactive approach to keeping them healthy, even if they’re not ready to book an appointment.Similarly, there are a multitude of other days and weeks that offer recognition opportunities for your clinical staff. From National Doctors’ Day (coming up March 30 this year) and National Nurses Week (begins May 6) to National Registered Dietitian Day and Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, acknowledging observances like these can help improve employee morale, and give you an opportunity to recognize your credentialed team members for their skills and expertise. Identify the opportunities for recognition that relate to your practice or specialty, and you’ll have a handy roadmap to help you get your campaigning underway.
Timely medical marketing tactics: A healthcare marketer’s to-do list
Now that you’ve done your research, it’s time to dive into your seasonal marketing to-do list. While there are a multitude of tactics you can employ for seasonal marketing, here are top-line strategies to help maximize your visibility and inspire patients — both current and prospective — to book an appointment.
Develop a calendar to keep you on track.
Based on your research, plot out a calendar of timely or seasonal opportunities to engage with your patients. If scheduling a full year feels too overwhelming, try working through one quarter at a time. Since marketing campaigns are easily scalable, start with a cadence you’re comfortable with — whether that’s a few seasonal campaigns a month or per quarter.
What’s most important is to select topical campaigns that best align with your specialty. For example, a dermatology practice may want to market in advance of summer, when people are likely to show more skin. A dental practice may want to focus on the end of the year, when patients have met their deductible or have flexible spending they want to use up. An ENT specialist may want to plan outreach in advance of allergy and/or cold season. Whatever you choose, be sure there’s a clear connection to the type of care you deliver, so the message feels relevant and not forced.
Deploy timely email campaigns to engage current patients.
Email marketing is a powerful way to reach out to patients in between appointments with timely information and education, and any relevant updates about what’s going on at your practice. A few ideas to get you thinking creatively:
- A primary care practice can help patients plan for winter by sharing information on how to tell the difference between a cold, the flu and COVID-19 symptoms. Include a clear call to action encouraging patients to schedule their annual flu vaccine appointment.
- An urgent care practice can provide tips for a healthy summer, including how to avoid dehydration, tick bites and sunburn. Close with a list of your office hours and a link to schedule an appointment when needed.
- A pediatrics office can conduct some proactive outreach before back-to-school time, reminding parents to schedule their kids’ sports physical exams and request any forms or paperwork needed for school activities.
By anticipating your patients’ needs and sharing helpful information on a routine basis, you can keep your practice top-of-mind and strengthen the patient-provider relationship. This will keep patients coming back and can keep them on schedule for follow-up visits.
Widen your communication net to reach prospective patients.
Social media and blogging are two powerful tools that can help you connect with current and future patients using timely marketing messages.
Social media platforms are used by more than 75 percent of Americans, with healthcare use having grown exponentially over the past several years. Social media provides a cost-effective way to reach consumers with valuable content — because it’s an immediate medium, it’s easy to tie your message into the season or time of year, while positioning your practice as local experts. By creatively tapping into Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, you can highlight holidays, health observances, and seasonal topics that will capture your followers’ attention and earn your practice some increased visibility.
Blogging is another way to bring your seasonal topics to a broader audience. Because search engines index each of your blog posts, blogging is a critical tool for boosting your practice website’s search result rankings. In turn, this can help drive web traffic and prospective patients to your site. A Hubspot marketing firm study showed that blogging can bring up to 55 percent more visitors to your site.
End each blog post with a clear and relevant call to action, such as booking an appointment or joining an email list. This can help with what marketers call “conversion”: transitioning a reader or visitor into a patient. Lastly, blogging aligns well with social media since the content from a blog post can easily be repurposed across your social channels (with links back to the original blog posts) for greater reach.
All these timely tactics can be woven seamlessly into your other marketing and practice growth strategies, giving patients more reasons to connect and engage with your practice all year long.