Promoting Your Balance Testing Center
Balance and dizziness problems are among the most common complaints physicians hear from their patients. Up to 40% of all adults experience episodes of such intensity or frequency that they seek medical help. As our population ages, the number of people experiencing dizziness and imbalance will only increase, representing an opportunity for practice growth.
Promoting your balance testing capabilities within your community is essential to expanding your patient base and growing your practice. This action plan is designed to provide you with some effective and easy-to-execute tactics to increase the visibility of your practice.
As part of GN Otometrics' Bsure program, we have developed a variety of fill-in-the-blank promotional materials that you can use to market your practice, including:
We also provide you with advice on building databases. And, we give you some tips on how to become more active in your community through health fairs and speaking engagements. Learn how to "Increase Your Visibility"
You may execute these tactics individually or in combination. Or, you can do them all. When it comes to marketing communication, more is generally better. Common wisdom dictates that you need to communicate to your target audience - in this case potential patients and referral sources - through multiple channels in order for them to get your message.
Following are simple instructions for completing the materials and putting them into action. Have fun and good luck!
Direct mail is an effective, simple means of communicating with your target audiences, namely potential patients and referring physicians. By reaching out to these two audiences, you have the opportunity to expand your practice by making them aware of your practice and its capabilities.
Following are basic steps for executing a direct mail campaign:
1. Complete the fill-in-the-blank introductory letters
a. Insert information specific to your practice as instructed throughout the letters
b. Print the letters on formal stationery
c. If possible and practical, sign each letter by hand. It's a personal touch that goes a long way in getting attention.
2. Create mailing list databases
a. Referring physicians -- Using a phone book, or other appropriate local reference text, create a database of physicians who are likely to refer patients for balance testing, such as general and family practitioners and internists
i. Entering the information into an executable database will allow you to mail merge your letters, for ease of printing.
ii. Maintain the database to make it easier to execute future direct mail programs
b. Current Patients - Reaching out to your current patient database is a frequently overlooked marketing approach. They may have visited your office for a reason other than balance testing, so this is an opportunity to let them know about your capabilities.
c. Potential Patients - Start by contacting your local "Welcome Wagon" chapter, or similar organization geared toward identifying and communicating with new neighbors.
i. Work with them to either buy their mailing list or become part of their "welcome" package.
ii. Research other direct mail organizations in your area to discuss the most cost-effective means of acquiring their mailing lists.
3. Send your letters
a. Be sure they look neat and professional, as they may be the first impression a referring physician or potential patient has of your practice.
A "by-lined" article refers simply to the author's name. In this case, the articles provided as part of Bsure are written by the well-respected researcher and author Charles W. Stockwell, Ph.D.,but when you submit them to your local newspaper, the "by-line" will be your name. Having an article published under your by-line both increases your visibility and heightens your credibility as a professional in the community.
Many newspapers will accept by-lined articles, particularly in smaller media markets. Frequently, the editorial staff at smaller newspapers and other local publications are lean, so well-written materials from outside sources are welcomed. Additionally, health-oriented by-lined articles are perennial favorites of editors.
Following are some basic steps for submitting a by-lined article to a local publication.
1. Add your by-line to the articles Bsure provides
a. "Dizziness: A Common Problem"
b. "Understanding BPPV"
2. Research local media
a. Start by making a list of local daily and weekly newspapers and other community publications
b. Using the phone book, directory assistance and the Internet, contact the media outlets to find out if they accept by-lined articles
i. Take thorough notes on any specifications they may have with regard to submitting by-lined articles
c. Collect this information in a database so that it can be used for future article submissions.
3. Decide where to submit the article
a. Generally speaking, you probably want to submit your article to the publication that has the largest circulation. You can get that information by talking to someone in the publication's advertising department or by consulting their Web site.
b. Sometimes, you may choose a publication with smaller circulation if it is more targeted to your adult audience
4. Submit to one publication at a time
a. Unlike a press release, which you send to all media outlets, by-lined articles require a level of exclusivity. Once it has been submitted to and accepted by a publication, chances are other publications in that area will not want to run it.
5. Order reprints
a. After your article has been published, contact the publication about reprints.
i. Frequently, they'll provide a small number of complementary reprints, particularly if you order and pay for additional reprints
b. Use the reprints for another direct mail campaign to potential patients
Fill-in-the-blank Press Release
Working with your local media can be easier, and more effective, than you may think. Stories about health are among the most frequently covered in newspapers, on the radio and on the television news. By providing information to the media, you work toward becoming a resource. Using our fill-in-the-blank press release as a jumping off point, you may be able to generate some interest in dizziness, balance disorders and your balance testing center.
Following are basic steps for sending a press release to the media and following up with them to see if you can help them develop a story about your practice.
1. Complete the fill-in-the-blank press release
1. Insert information specific to your practice as instructed throughout the press release
2. Print the press release on formal practice stationery or, if you are going to send the release via e-mail, be sure to create electronic stationery
2. Create a media list
1. Start by making a list of all the local media outlets you can think of. Remember to include daily and weekly newspapers, local network affiliates (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX), cable news programs, and local radio programs, both AM and FM
2. Using the phone book, directory assistance and the Internet, contact the media outlets
i. Ask for the name of the person who covers health stories
ii. Find out the best way to send them information - mail, e-mail or fax
iii. Be sure to get a direct phone number and e-mail address, if possible
iv. Create a media database to capture all this information so that it can be used for ongoing public relations efforts
3. Send out the press release
1. Honor the preferences of the media and send the press release as they requested - via mail, e-mail or fax. In this electronic age, you will probably find the majority of media prefer e-mail.
2. Be sure that the dateline on the press release is the current day's date!
4. "The pitch" - Invite reporters to go through the battery of balance tests
1. Just sending the press release isn't enough. You need to tell the media why they should cover your story. You need to make it interesting for them.
2. Include a note with each press release you e-mail, fax or mail, inviting the reporter to visit your balance testing center to learn more about dizziness and to go through the testing process
i. This could be especially compelling for television, as the tests are visually interesting
3. Call, e-mail or fax to follow up with reporters to extend the invitation again and to determine if they are interested in doing the story.
5. Meeting with the media
1. If you are successful in scheduling an interview with a reporter or in having a reporter visit your balance testing center, keep a few things in mind:
i. Talk to the reporter as you would to a patient - lay terms, no jargon.
ii. Be sure the waiting area, testing room and your office are neat and tidy.
iii. Dress professionally and simply. Patterned clothing and excessive jewelry can be distracting.
iv. Be positive. Avoid negative language of any kind.
v. Relax. Smile. Have fun.
"Increase Your Visibility" Check list:
1. Become an active member in your community
a. Join local organizations to build your professional network, increase your visibility and identify opportunities to participate in events that expose you to the public
i. Lions Club
ii. Junior League
iii. Business and Professional Women's Foundation
iv. Rotary Club
2. Participate in health fairs
a. Contact the local organizations listed above, plus:
i. local hospitals
ii. senior centers
iii. assisted living facility
iv. health clubs
b. Volunteer to participate in upcoming health fairs
c. Bring brochures and business cards to distribute to attendees
d. Create a sign-up sheet to collect information for your potential patient database
3. Become a public speaker and give presentations
a. Contact the local organizations listed in #1 and #2 to let them know you are available to speak at their meeting on dizziness and balance issues
b. Develop a short, informative Powerpoint, overhead or slide presentation to support your talk
c. Bring brochures and business cards to distribute to attendees d. Create a sign-up sheet to collect information for your potential patient database
4. Provide an in-service to other physicians and healthcare providers
a. Coordinate through your local hospital and professional network