Marketing a professional practice can be difficult. Product marketers deal with tangibles, but you cannot see or touch a professional service. In fact, it’s often difficult for customers to judge services since most don’t even exist until they have been delivered. As a result a great many professional practices be they medical, legal or financial rely principally on referrals and networking to grow their business, this in conjunction with a traditional yellow pages advert.
The world has changed however and now patients are researching their issues and the possible solutions available to them online. In response to this, some practices have embraced the digital revolution and produced effective websites which answer their client’s enquiries while providing them with a basis to engage the customer commercially. Many though still lag behind, with very simple brochure websites which do little more than state the nature of the services on offer. This offers very little opportunity to engage with visitors and as a result, they may lose customers or more often the case, fail to win them.
There are some simple and effective ways to introduce more valuable content to a website that would make it stickier to browsers and help convert more visits into bookings.
Blogs are an opportunity to informally impart information which would be of use to the customer, without risking giving specific advice outside of the professional environment. A person researching a health complaint could benefit from a blog post which discussed generally their condition and some likely remedies. Interacting with customers in this informal way, could be the first step towards winning the client’s trust and confidence, before even meeting them.
Social media, is not just for kids, the over 55s are the fastest growing membership area in Facebook! Think of social media as a network, it is a great way to get referrals. People are happy to refer their friends to a company that gave them excellent service/care. Why not give them a resource to do this. Depending on your business, a presence on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn could be a great way to let your customers promote you.
Make sure people can find you on search engines (Google). If your practice relies on a local customer base, make sure that you have had it indexed with Google Webmaster Tools and Google Places. This is an excellent place to start. Make sure that your website page titles all describe the content on the page accurately, this is what will be displayed in search results and it is what people read before choosing what links to click. A local SEO campaign can quite quickly start to bring good results in search and may deliver quick ROI.
It is easy to overlook the human factor in a professional practice. It is easy to assume that everyone will expect the professionals, partners and associates alike to be well qualified and experienced. That is a fair statement to make but it is not enough to build trust in the mind of the modern sceptical web user. Humans are predisposed to trusting other human faces. It is of huge benefit to have profile pages or introductions to key individuals in the organisation. Enabling potential clients to learn more about the professionals they will be working with and to read their blog posts etc. will allow them to form a relationship of trust through the website.
I hope these few tips provide food for thought to the professional services marketer. Fast Fwd has a great record of working with professional services providers, helping them develop an online presence that grows their business. If you would like to look at the digital marketing opportunities open to your practice, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.