In today’s episode of Digital AF, we chat about marketing fundamentals for the Medical and Allied Health Industry that every practice manager and business owner should know about. Learn how to improve your patient acquisition, retention, communication, and team recruitment by applying our proven marketing strategies. So, let’s dive in.
In today’s episode of Digital AF, we chat about marketing fundamentals for the Medical and Allied Health Industry that every practice manager and business owner should know about. Learn how to improve your patient acquisition, retention, communication, and team recruitment by applying our proven marketing strategies. So, let’s dive in.
Digital AF, the digital marketing podcast that features real conversations from those who live and breathe the digital agency life, April Ford Digital Agency shares their tips, tricks and exposes the truth about what works and what doesn't. Welcome to Digital AF. Let's get into it.
Welcome to Digital AF. This week I'm chatting to Brendan. Welcome, Brendan.
Today we will be chatting about marketing fundamentals for the medical and allied health industry. It's something that every practice manager and business owner should know about. Over the past two years, our health professionals have dealt with the worst of COVID, longer hours, harder work, constant chaos, and even abuse from patients. All for no extra pay and without complaint, you've kept us safe throughout the pandemic. So from everyone at April Ford, we'd like to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Each week, we get calls from practice managers and business owners needing advice on marketing their practice. To make life easier, we've compiled the fundamentals that you can apply to your business. So let's dive in. So, first of all, Brendan, who should listen to this podcast?
Everyone in medical and allied health but more specifically practice managers, owners of practices or partners in practices or clinics, and marketing managers, if they have one. Even BDMs, if they have one as well.
Yep. And when you say medical and allied health, first of all, let's talk medical, what do you actually mean?
Medical is normally classified as things like GPs, specialists, surgeons, dentists, and orthodontics. Whereas allied health is more like physio, podiatry, osteo, chiro’s, dietetics, and things like that.
Cool. What about the world of injectables and cosmetic surgery and stuff like that?
Yeah. Obviously, that’s a huge industry right now that's growing, growing. There are a lot of people who would take a lot away from what we're going to talk about, particularly in relation to some of the points we'll cover later on, but ultimately, they probably fall more into the beauty side of things, but at the same time, if you're doing injectables and it's kind of-
Do you have some dermatologists that do injectables?
Yeah. There's a crossover there. So they almost fall into like the specialist side of things as well.
And so, what are the marketing fundamentals they should be considering?
Yeah. There are three fundamentals, positioning, presentation, and price.
Okay. And so they're all connected. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah. So the reason why we've got those three fundamentals, the same things I talk about with clients all the time or prospective clients, is a lot of people are shifting towards a private fee for service model, whether they're in a GP clinic or I mean obviously injectable straight up because no one's claiming on Medicare unless they scam the system.
But typically, a lot of practices are having bigger gap payments, or they're going straight up private fee for service because obviously, there hasn't been an increase in the Medicare rebate for GPS, for yonks. So price is becoming an important part of that. And obviously, that's linked to presentation and positioning. And so that's why we always talk about those three things. Just so it's really digestible.
What about things like NDIS, DBA? How do those three things relate back to those types of businesses?
So you have got to think about... often you've got a customer or a referrer, and then you've got an end-user. So an example of that might be, let's take a specialist who does orthopedic surgery. Now the end-user, the person going under the knife, is the patient. However, the referrer would be the GP who's referring that patient to the specialist.
So when you're positioning and presenting the business, a lot of those things are done depending on whom you're actually trying to communicate to generate the lead. So that's in the case of like a referral, obviously. So it's almost an indirect patient acquisition versus like an injectables clinic. They just need to look amazing and show social proof of amazing work because they're actually marketing directly to the patient.
Dentistry and orthodontics are kind of similar where a lot of the time, you don't need to get a referral to go to the dentist. So essentially, it depends on the model that you're actually running, whether it's referral or direct to patient.
And so often, when a client calls us, they usually have a problem. What sort of problems are we talking about?
They sort of fall into one or four categories. So it's either patient acquisition, patient retention, communication, or recruitment.
Okay. So let's talk about patient acquisition first. Obviously, it's fairly obvious what that is, but can we talk about that a little bit more?
Yeah, sure. So patient acquisition depends a little bit on the growth phase of the business. Like let's say it's a startup. Obviously, they need patients or clients depending on the type of business they are. But if you're a startup, then you're trying to fill your books. So obviously, patient acquisition is paramount.
If you're a large business and you are trying to grow because you're bringing on new GPs, for example, in a GP clinic, then obviously, patient acquisition is still important. So it just depends on where they are in their growth cycle as a business.
I also think patient acquisition is just important in general because even as an established business, clients move, all that type of stuff. So, you've still always got to be focusing on it, you've nearly got to do like patient acquisition and just like long term marketing to keep them engaged with the brand as well.
Yeah. And that kind of falls into some of the other categories, but I mean, take an example of an occupational therapy business, if it does a lot of DVA and they've got predominantly older patients who are literally at end of life.
Yeah. Like palliative.
Yeah. Specialising palliative care or something like that, then ultimately, you literally have a dying market. So you need to be constantly acquiring new clients or patients.
Yeah. Let's talk about patient retention a little bit more. How do your three P's, positioning, presentation, and price apply to that?
So patient retention depends on the type of business that it is. Or the type of service they're offering. But let's say it's a GP clinic. Going to the doctor is not front of mind for a lot of people. And so if you don't develop a really strong relationship or a strong loyalty from a customer, client, or a patient, then the next time someone goes, "Oh, I need to go to the doctor," because I only go once a year or once every five years, if they're aged bloke who doesn't think that much about the health, then they might not necessarily think to go straight back to you if you haven't been in front of mind for them. So actually retaining that patient is actually really, really, really important. So you constantly have to be talking to them.
So patient retention is a big part. And I guess that kind of those things about positioning a presentation and price are relevant to that. Because if you're overpriced, they're not going to want to come back. If you look like "shit" no one's going to want to come and visit you. There's nothing worse going to a waiting room of a medical specialist and it looking like something out of the 1930s and smelling like cigars.
And those places do exist still, unfortunately.
Oh yeah. Well, I mean, you got a lot of specialists have been doing it for 30 or 40 years, and they don't really want to change well, like 50 years in some cases. So, the presentation of the brand of the clinic is really, really important. And then obviously positioning as well. I mean, sometimes patients don't think you do something when you actually do, purely because you're positioned a certain way. So, like all those three P's can really impact patient retention as well.
Yeah. And it's important that even though someone has been seeing you for a while, like say you are a GP, and you've been seeing someone for a few years, they don't necessarily know all the things that you do. So even things like flu vaccination clinics, all that type of stuff, they might not even know that you run that as a service.
Oh, it happens constantly. Like I'll talk to a prospective client that would be really, really frustrated because their patients go elsewhere for other things because they didn't know that you offered it, and it's like, "Well, did you tell them that you offer it?", they were like "Oh no." And it's like, "Well, how are they meant to know then."
And I mean, that falls into the communication piece as well. So make sure you are communicating with them over and above the relationship or just like patients showing up and you having that appointment as well.
Yeah. I mean, communication's a really interesting one. Prior to COVID, communication was like practice managers, and business owners, and so forth were not sure how to communicate with their patients or their clients. And they were missing out on services a lot of the time, or a patient or client was coming to them for the wrong thing because they weren't educated. So there's an education piece, but there's also an awareness of services piece. And then, as COVID came in, it became like crisis management. Like, "Don't come, don't walk into the clinic if you've got COVID."
Yeah. Rules rather than service-based.
Yeah. Procedural service like.
Yeah. They got really good at communicating the role.
Yeah. All of a sudden, it's like, "We need to be very clear about how you are, how you will be treated as a patient here, do not get out of your car. Do not come within 100 meters of the clinic." So I guess with COVID coming in, communication became the most important thing for any medical or allied sales-related business on how to do business with them. Or how to be treated with them, because obviously the protocols were just next level, and they still are, and it was important. It was great for a lot of clinics and practices to get really active or get really proactive about communication. Because if they didn't, they were just going to have this hoard of people coughing and spluttering at the front door. While the poor nurses and GPs are like up to the eyeballs trying to deal with it all. So there's that crisis management piece.
But typically speaking, outside of pandemics, communication is used to constantly let your patients and clients know what you actually offer. We refer to the GP practice, but let's say it was a specialist and they're dermatologists, but they also offer other cosmetics-related services. Like if I was to get injectables, not that I do, but I'd look forward to it later.
I do. That's fine.
What? But later in life, if I want to get these crow’s feet fixed up. I'd rather a dermatologist do it than someone who's just operating out of a little serviced office somewhere. Who's not-
Not your dermatologist.
Who's not my dermatologist fully. So communicating what you do is a big, big part. And then also communicating on how to do business or how to be treated or how to engage with that business is also really, really important.
And I think gone are the days where people are combing through websites as well to find out what someone does. So I know personally I use social media to actually search now. So it's a big part of my searching process. When I'm looking for a new service, I'll search for things on social media. It's nearly like, I reckon it's probably a replacement for half of my Google searches, to be honest.
I think it depends on the urgency or the gravity of what you're doing or what you require. So as a consumer, let's say you've had a sporting injury on the weekend, you're a 22-year-old guy, you got crash tackled at football, and you've blown your ACL. At that point in time, you're like, "Who is the first surgeon that I can get in to see to sort this knee out, so research is out the window." However, if it's like, "Well, I'm going to get breast augmentation," that's not a... You don't wake up one morning and go, "Oh, I want to look different," you spend time researching, and you do a deep dive into websites, and you look for referrals. So the research becomes a lot higher. We're a lot more involved. So I think it depends on the gravity of what you're, dealing-
The problem people are trying to find solutions for.
Very much. Where someone's doing something out of say self-interest, and I don't mean that in a selfish way or whatever. So I just mean that as in, “I'm going to get some Botox or something”, and I'm not saying that's a selfish thing. That's an enjoyable thing. You're doing that because you want to feel better, look younger, whatever.
Whereas “I've got a rash that I need to be dealt with”, whilst it's not that big a deal, depending on the size of the rash, but let's suggest it's not that big a deal. You just want to get in to see someone and get the ointment and get it fixed. So you don't intend to research as much. So I think the level of research changes depending on the situation that the consumer is in.
And so what about recruitment? Because that is a big-
Oh, it's huge.
... topic that a lot of, not only this industry, but every industry is facing at the moment.
Yeah. Apparently, every employee on the planet disappeared in the last 24 months. Recruitment's huge. So you've got recruitment, particularly a lot of the conversations I have are with GP practices or specialists, they're trying to recruit doctors or specialists in their field, whatever it may. It might be gynecologists and obstetricians, or it might be GPs or whatever. Even physios and chiros, allied health, even occupational therapists.
Occupational therapist. Yep.
So everyone's trying to recruit. Now the reality is today, especially in a tight labor market like we’ve got, you need to look amazing, and you need to look like a place that people want to come to work. People don't want to go to work in a seedy old office that smells bad, with a bad culture, and an old daggy brand, and all those sorts of things. So often one of the problems that-
Because people will judge a book by its cover?
100%, they do. If you're, say, a mid to late 30s GP who has got some runs under their belt and is looking to grow a book of patients in a certain area, they're going to want to go to a place that they feel comfortable practicing in so that they can practice medicine how they want to practice, not be in a sausage factory where it's just 100 patients a day for five minutes, and they're always running two hours late.
So recruitment is usually one of the biggest problems that people face. And so we sit down and work out recruitment processes to make the business more attractive, to pull in talent. It's not necessarily saying we're running job ads. Although we do that from time to time to try and find new people, but it's typically around making a business look more attractive to then pull talent into.
Yeah. And it's like a supporting part of recruitment.
Yeah. And it also applies to trying to find an industry staff and-
... type of stuff.
It's not just the physicians or the specialists.
It's all the supporting team members and whatnot as well.
It's everyone. Yeah.
So if they’re the problems that people are facing, those four things we talked about, patient acquisition, patient retention, communication, and recruitment, what are the solutions to these things?
The solutions kind of form the fundamentals that are minimum requirements to deal with these things. So the things we'll go through now are essentially what differentiates an average business from a great one. So let's start with the website.
There are some great medical and allied health-based businesses out there with some incredible websites. However, there's a lot, and when I say a lot, I would say probably 85 to 90% are very, very, very average. And that's because when they first started as a practice, they didn't have to look that good to get the work.
I also think as well. We have seen technology and software evolve and change substantially in the last couple of years. And I think gone are the days when people buy a website and they have it for 10 years. It nearly needs to be refreshed. I mean, we do our own every year, but we're an agency, but doing it every two years or three years, isn't a silly thing to think about because you do need to be reflective of what's going on in the world.
Oh, definitely. Also, the consumer has changed, where they used to literally pick up the yellow pages and go to doctors and then call directly from there... they dialled a number out of the yellow pages. Whereas websites became a big deal in the last few years. And a lot of people haven't caught up with that.
So, the website is usually the first place we start and go. On a website, not only is it your first impression to the market, so how do you look and sound and act, but what's the information on there? Can people book online? You can't afford to be in medicine or allied health and not have an online booking function that the patient can use to book directly. Obviously, if it's referral-based, it's a little bit different.
Yeah. I mean, if it makes sense, I know I flat out use HotDoc to book my appointments where I can because it's so convenient for me. I can see availabilities. I can compare it with my calendar. I love it.
But even if it's not HotDoc and you're in, say, a cosmetic-based business where it's injectable, you're not using HotDoc, but you might be using Calendly or Timely or something else similar to that. But ultimately, does your website look amazing, work amazing, function amazingly, have online booking. Is it full of information too? Because it's a good place to educate your patients. It's a great place to house resources as well. Like if you're a surgeon and you've got all these different surgeries that you offer, you perform, that fix all these different conditions, then you should have a lot of information there because everyone's been sitting in a GP when they've gone "Okay. You've got a case of X. You really need to go and see X, Y, Z at BVA clinic. Here's a referral for it." And then they print off or jump on Google and the GP prints off like a little worksheet or info sheet and hands it to you.
Realistically, they should be saying, "Look, jump on X, Y, Z's website, all of the information about your surgery is on there so much better." But then also profiling your team members, going back to like presentation and positioning earlier, a website needs to be profiling. Who the doctors are or who the physios are.
Yeah. And I think more and more people are doing research on the person that they are engaging with. I know even on our website, Our Team or our About Page is the most looked at page on our website. Because I think people are just trying to feel comfortable with making the inquiry as well. So I think that goes for every business where you do have a team, and you are promoting that you have a team, showcasing that.
Yeah, exactly. So the website is the first place we start with because it is one of the fundamental things. You can't run an amazing business today if you don't have a great website.
And it doesn't mean it has to be super, super traditional, or whatnot, but today we're creating some really beautiful, hugely user-centric websites that can change the look and feel of a business overnight.
Then the second thing we talk about is social media because irrespective of what your condition or problem might be as a patient or a client, you're still going to use social to research a lot of the time like you were talking about before, you are starting to use social research stuff, particularly when it's direct to consumer.
But if it's quite a big like a surgery and let's say it's a cosmetic surgery, we’re going back to the example of the plastic surgeon doing breast augmentation, they're going to research-
They are going to research everything on social. And they're going to literally read every review, look at every photo. They're going to look at everything that the practice or the clinic offers. So socials become really, really important.
The thing to think about social, and when I say social media, I'm talking about Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google My Business, even TikTok. A lot of those in the medical fraternity and allied health routine might be cringing when I'm saying TikTok. But the reality is there is a whole market there under 25 years of age. That is their platform of choice. So you need to go, "Well, hang on. Do I want to take patients under that age or not?"
If you do want to take patients under that age, then you're going to have to be active on TikTok. Now that's not saying you will be doing stupid videos that devalue your brand. It's just determining how you use that platform to engage and to position yourself appropriately.
And it can also help with recruitment too. So if you are recruiting from that age bracket, you may have support staff or anything like that, or even people who are finishing university. So you might have graduate programs, et cetera. That is a great place to reach those people as well.
There's actually some really cool psychologists, a lot of operators in mental health doing some amazing content on TikTok and Instagram Reels that are breaking down, I guess the barriers and the stigmatism around mental health in a lot of different situations. I've actually seen a bucket load that have been fantastic. I think they're great.
But just on social media, I think the thing to think about is obviously those platforms, what I was talking about before, but you've got two parts of social media. So you've got social media content, which is what you create and post on your profile or page. And then you've got social media advertising which is when you create an advertisement. You serve it to people. And that does fall a little bit into the next thing, which we'll talk about, which is digital advertising. But it's important to understand that there are two parts to social media. There's that content that you post on your page.
That everyone can see.
That everyone can see and then-
If they're searching you, or they follow you or something along those lines. Yep?
That's right. But then you've got your advertising as well.
Which is targeted.
Which is targeted. Yeah. It's putting your content or your message in front of the right target audience, keeping those couple of different parts of social media in mind. But then we normally then start talking about, "Okay, what's the digital advertising strategy?"
That's typically where a patient acquisition comes into account because with advertising, obviously, any advertising you do has got to be compliant to any legislative code or government mandate or whatnot, things I can't talk about like reviews or endorsements from professionals around products because of TGA legislation and so forth.
So the first thing is obviously any digital advertising for any medical and even allied health needs to be compliant to legislation. However, it is used for patient acquisition because, ultimately, there's nothing stopping you putting your brand under the right target market's nose. And because you can target in such a detailed manner where it's like age, sex, location, and interest, there are even problems that you can target on in different types of advertising platforms.
Yeah. Or topics.
Or topics. Yeah. Like it could be mental health, it could be bowel disease, it could be skin, whatever it might be. You can put the right message or the right offering or the right solution under your exact target market's nose. So it becomes a very strong patient acquisition method. And you've then got a couple of different types of advertising. You've got immediate response advertising, which is where someone's got an immediate intent, and that's things like Google Ads, Like if someone's searching in Google and they're obstetrician. Because they've just-
Or doctor near me.
Yeah. So they've got an immediate intent. Google Search is typically where they go. And so that's the immediate based response. And then you've got proactive marketing where a brand is putting their name, their message or their service, or their solution under someone else's nose. And that's things like Facebook and Instagram, where you can proactively serve someone an ad. You don't have to wait for them to come to you. You can-
That might be interesting.
Yeah. Correct. It's not guaranteed that this person's going to click on an ad, but ultimately.
Or it's not like, yes this person definitely needs this service, so that ad pops up. It's more just a general targeting of people in an area, in an age bracket potentially where you can go, "Hey guys, we're here if you need us."
Yeah. And obviously, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, that platform is changing massively at the moment. So it used to be super, super, super targeted with what you could do. That's changing now, where it is becoming a lot broader in general, which is going to really impact a lot of different businesses on how they've been advertising. Not a lot of agencies are talking about that yet. Like no one sort of seems to be having the conversation around how you need to future proof your advertising strategy because what you did last year won't work next year. And if you've built a business purely on serving ads for diet courses to people who are categorized as being interested in diet plans and you can't do that anymore, then you need to know what your plan B is.
Yeah. And you've got to be really careful with even the copy that you use in advertising. So both Google and Facebook and Instagram and all that type of stuff, they heavily regulate the type of messaging that you put out as well. So you can have disapproved ads and whatnot that come through, if the person writing the copy and managing the ad accounts are not across the advertising standards for that platform.
It's actually digital advertising in medical and allied health. If you want to do it properly, legally, and ethically, then the compliance both on this side of the advertisement itself being legislatively compliant, but then also the agency being compliant. So the terms and conditions of the platform such as Facebook, Google-
... is so high that it's not the kind of thing. There's a reason why a lot of operators just can't get cut through with digital advertising for medicine or for allied health. It's because they don't understand it because it is a really... Like our head of advertising spends a bucket load of time knowing the legislations of the codes back to front and the policy's back to front so that we can deliver the right outcomes. Whereas a lot of people don't really understand that it's that detailed. And then you’ve got things like digital TV, that's another area, which is huge and not talked about a lot, but it's awesome. Half TV consumed today is obviously, you're using prerecorded apps.
It's a great brand awareness exercise. It can be targeted down to postcode.
And it's no more expensive than Google Ads.
So it's like digital TV is quickly replacing traditional TV. And it's the kind of thing, particularly in, if you want to niche down whom you are trying to target, it's actually really targeted as well. It's kind of like the hybrid between traditional TV that has the credibility of being on the black box and the targeting of social media where it's not just a region or a postcode.
It's very cool what we can do. So let's talk about email marketing and EDMs.
EDM, Email marketing is huge. So when we think about email marketing, think of it in two ways for a practice or a clinic. You've got communication and education to patients. So often, email marketing is usually for patient retention. That's one side to it where you're letting them know about the things that you offer and also sending them in reminders as well. Like annual skin checks or immunizations, things like that, where you're reminding patients via email that, "Hey, you're actually due for your annual skin check." Or in the case of like dentists, a lot of dentists do a really, really, really good job smashing that six-monthly.
Oh, yeah. But from a patient perspective, I love that text message. Because-
Oh yeah. I think it's awesome.
So every time I get that text message, I book an appointment.
But it's funny. So because I get some-
And it's like preventative.
But you know what? So many text messages you get for that sort of reminder, which is fine, but no one ever sends an email about it. And the problem is that, like from text, whilst the open rate is high, the action rate is lower, whereas an email is a lower open rate but a higher action rate. So I actually think email marketing is probably a more effective way to rebook those six-monthly checks up or annual checkups or immunizations or whatever it might be, follow-up appointments, et cetera.
So think of that as patient retention, particularly if you are a service where you need to see a patient every 3, 6, 12 months. So your patient retention strategy needs to be on point and well mapped down; otherwise, you're going to be forever trying to find new patients. I don't know how you'd run a practice.
The second part of email marketing is things like when someone's inquiring, and then you're sending them an automated email flow or sequence of, say, two or three or five emails. It's educating them and trying to sell them into the service or product that you're actually offering.
So typically particularly say surgeries, and again, I think because it's something we've worked with recently where the breast augmentation, for example, where the person is inquiring, and they're still needing to be educated on the process and imagine if they inquired to book a consult, but then they got a three-part email series before they had the consult, which is probably going to be in six months time anyway because they're always booked out, but say that the person inquires, they book a consult, and then they get this awesome email sequence of educational things explaining how many CCs are in different cup sizes. And what the post process is and, amazing social proof, examples of-
All that sort of stuff just dealing with all the pain points, all the hurdles to make a decision around it. Imagine how much better that consult is going to go when they finally sit down with the prospective patient and that patient is already educated, not by the broader internet, which is dangerous but specifically by that clinical practice. So email marketing can actually be a great sales tool to educate and resell or sell the perspective-
Just nurturing the client.
So they're not asking you basic questions in consults. They're already like I recently had. I was going to do surgery on my foot because I broke my foot. I saw my surgeon and was about to book in, but then I had to wait like two months, and I completely forgot what the recovery process was. And that was a really big part of my decision purely because of what was going on. And so I had to call up, speak to his assistant, then she had to go speak to the surgeon to find out what the recovery process was and come back to me.
Yeah. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't as-
Whereas, if I had that in an email, I could have answered that question myself without having to talk to anyone.
Yeah. And I look, I think it's great that it's quite interesting how even with young clinicians or, it doesn't matter whether physio or GP, it doesn't matter their age. For some reason, the idea of writing things on a pad or printing out black and white random sheets is still the preferred method.
Think of how actually the appointment card is the most hilarious thing. I think that exists in today's allied health and medical world, where you want me to write that on an appointment card. Now I love the care and consideration that's gone into that, but saying that to a 22-year-old is the most hilarious. Even me being 37, I'm like, "No, it's cool." I've already put it on my phone before they've even given me the card.
Yeah. It might be applicable for my mom, who's like 70 something or whatever. And she'll probably then pull out her physical diary and write it in there. But the appointment cards can be done with just before we move on from email marketing. It's important to understand that, obviously, a lot of the people we're talking to today they're going to have a practice management system in place, and some of those practice management systems has amazing automated follow-up sequences that you can actually program. If you are not doing that, then you should. It might even be simple as... With practice management systems, we normally won't get terribly involved in operating your practice management system, but we can give you the sequence or the workflow and the content that you can put into them.
Yeah. Like we could write it for you.
Yeah. Correct. So we can make your life super, super easy. You've just got to go in and pre-program it. So if your practice management system does offer that, then that's a really, really cool thing. If it doesn't, then you might actually need to use an email marketing system like Klaviyo, for example, which is something we do a lot of, which is probably the best system out there I can see today where we can create those sequences and flows of client communication.
So the only downside to using a practice management system, is often they're not the prettiest because they're designed for practice management. They're not designed for marketing. Whereas something like Klaviyo is designed for marketing, so you can produce beautifully designed communication, and the better it looks, the more engagement you'll get from the person you're sending it to.
So sometimes it is better to buy the bullets, spend the extra money, and we're not talking like 10 to thousands of bucks, it's chump change really to use the system like that, and the benefit or the return on that is so high. It's ridiculous. So depending on whether you've got a PMs that works or you need to put a different system in place, we can help the client through that.
Yeah. So now we've talked about email marketing. What about brand identity? What is that?
Brand identity. So a lot of people we talk about branding, they instantly think of their logo. And that's a part of it. So it's your colors and your fonts and your tone of voice, but it's the things that go around it. So when we talk about brand identity with a client, we go, "Okay, so practically, obviously, start with a logo. And then you add in the colors and the fonts and then the brand mark and the supporting elements that go around it." And it's actually painting a picture that creates your overall brand identity with a whole bunch of small things that go into it. It also then has a big impact on the positioning of the brand as well. So how do you want to be perceived to the market? Do you want to look like a budget service, or do you want to look like a premium service?
If you're trying to do private fee for service, you need to look premium because no one who's expecting everything to be bulk billed is going to probably engage with a brand that looks super, super high end. And at the same token, if you want to service everyone and do a HEPA bulk building, then you probably don't want to position yourself too high because otherwise, people will never come to you.
So your brand identity is whilst it does include your logo and your brand mark and things like that. There are supporting elements that go around it. Even down to your signage, your office fit-out. Does your office fit out accurately reflects your brand or vice versa? Where I mean, I would be talking to probably a dozen clients at the moment who are either about to do a fit-out or recently done a fit-out. And there's been the discussion of integrating the brand with their fit-out design or vice versa. So that it's all congruent and cohesive, which is awesome because then you just get this really smooth-
Seamless customer experience. Even down to patient forms. Like, are they black and white copies that are hard to read?
Or you just updated some for one of our surgeon clients. And they're the best colonoscopy documentation I have ever seen if I had to be completely honest with you.
Yeah. He's thought about how he applies his brand and how he wants to be perceived, and the experience that he wants his customers to have. And he wants to be presented as professional and the effort that he puts in. He wants that to come across in every part of the interaction with him, which I very much appreciate.
Yeah. And I think that's a fantastic example of your brand identity includes both your online assets as well as your offline assets. So your offline assets might be your fit-out, your signage, and your patient forms.
Your business cards.
Your business cards. Your appointment cards. Whereas, you're online obviously is like your website and your social media and all those sorts of things. So a lot of the time, if you're an existing practice and we're dealing with you, we may look at the brand and go, "Is it reflective of who you are and where you want to go?" And if it's not, then we need to reposition you. And we take you through a really short, simple process that only takes a couple of weeks to do, but the outcomes of that give you a really clear creative direction about where you're going to head.
It's something to get excited about as well. It often happens when our business is either trying to grow or trying to recruit because an established business has got a legacy brand and a good reputation is fantastic. But sometimes you do have to modernize it a bit to keep with the times because patients and staff and talent is changing-
And when we talk about like... So that's like a rebrand rather than a new brand, are they massive changes to the brand?
It depends. We do kind of like two types of rebrands or repositioning. Some are, for example, the clinic has been purchased and it goes through a big change. Other times it's just a subtle change. But subtlety is a really powerful weapon if you use it correctly. So a lot of the time, we'll do rebrands where there's not this polar opposite brand that we come up with. It's just a better-improved version of you.
Like a refined version.
Very much a refined version. If someone's got a favourite wine, they are not going and buying something that tastes completely different unless their thing is being adventurous. But let's face it. If you love Reds, you are buying Reds that all have similar-
Tastings, all that type of stuff. Yeah.
And it's the same with brands. There's no point in creating a brand that doesn't feel natural or reflective, or authentic to them. So we're not the kind of agency that comes in and goes, "Let's change everything." And all of a sudden, you've got directors or business owners or doctors feeling uneasy about the brand that we've come up with. It's usually just a refined version of your brand.
Then you've got startups or new brands where it might be a new practice, and we're starting from scratch, which is super fun. There's nothing wrong with that. And we're seeing more and more and more of that in almost every specialty or niche area of medicine and allied health. And it's usually from two things.
One is, you've obviously got younger qualified practitioners or clinicians or specialists coming through and starting their own, or they're buying into or buying out an existing practice. So there is a bit of generational change that they're seeing at the moment. I'm dealing with a bunch of clients where it's the say medicine, isn't the family and they're actually the son or the daughter has actually now finished their time, done their degree, got their qualifications to come through as a register. And now, as a GP and they're actually buying out the family practice, and they want to modernize it because the waiting room smells like the girls or whatever. So that's happening as well.
You've also got people relocating. Obviously, we're both on the sunny coast, but we do work everywhere. And it's funny, we've got clients who are starting practices on the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane who have moved here from Sydney and Melbourne. But then we're also dealing with clients who have moved from Queensland down to Victoria and doing dental clinics down there. So it kind of goes all over the place. Obviously what we do whilst we live here, we work kind of everywhere.
And we love this industry.
Oh, it's actually really, really fun because you deal with such. The great thing about medicine allied health is that they believe in the person's specialty. They support and back that person's specialty because that's what they do in their own industry. So the interesting thing about working with practice managers and doctors and so forth is they actually come and go as the marketing agency, creative agency, we are coming to you because we trust you to do the best job. And it's the same thing when you go to a doctor where you go to them because you trust them to do the best job-
Or a surgeon or whatever it might be. So the working relationship with medicine and allied health is actually phenomenal.
We have a lot of fun with it. It's just-
You can. It's not actually that. Some things are humorous, and some things are amazing. Some things are just the most interesting thing in the world. So I guess yeah, it's definitely a fun space to work in, but just kind of stepping back and going over those kind of solutions that create this fundamental foundation. You obviously, you've got your website, you've got social media content, you've got your advertising, email marketing, and your brand identity, and that's almost like a typical service package when we sit down and talk to a client.
Sometimes they just need Google Ads because they needed to fill a few more bookings. Other times it's a bit bigger than that. So it just depends on the life cycle of the business.
And what they require at the time too.
Yeah, that's right. And because it is getting super, super competitive in the space, there's more like doubling the amount of GP clinics now than what there was five years ago on the Sunshine Coast alone. Same with physios. Same with chiros. There's a huge amount of competition entering the market. And so you have to be relevant. You have to be front of mind. It's not as easy as what it used to be. That's not to say there's not as much opportunity. It just means that you've just got to be a little more proactive about achieving that opportunity.
So whether it's a startup and we're starting from scratch, and we're designing everything, or whether it's rebrand or reposition, it's the kind of thing where we do a bucket load of both, and you can get super strategic about it as well.
A classic example might be a specialist who gets referrals but doesn't get enough referrals, or they get the wrong type of referrals. Like, say this actually is the most infuriating thing ever for anyone who's a specialist in their field is only ever getting the really hard referrals because you're seen as that good.
So if like your position in the market is you are that good, then you only ever get the hardest of hard referrals. It's just like, "Give me a break." Just send me an easy hip replacement, don't send me that, really, really... But the problem is unless you're communicating with your referral base that you do everything, and you don't just do the most difficult, the difficult things. I mean, imagine being someone like Charlie Teo, who just gets like the hardest of hard cases. So that's actually a common example when we are dealing with specialists or referral-based businesses where they don't get the right type of referrals, or they only get the hardest referrals. Or their referral base is changed, and therefore they're not well known. So there are so many layers.
Well, there's a component of them that isn't broadly known. And there's a fine line between bragging about your achievements but also letting people know what your achievements are. Do you know what I mean?
There's got to be the right balance of humility and confidence in medicine and allied health combined with a bit of empathy because the thing you don't want to do is as a patient or a client, you never want to go to someone who's a hot mess. You never want to go to someone who doesn't look confident. You never want to go to someone who's a jerk or an asshole about what they do. You want to be dealing with nice people.
So you want confidence. You want empathy, and you want professionalism, and it's balancing all of that in the positioning of that surgeon or the positioning of that clinic or whatever it might be because ultimately, you do need to be a figure of authority if you're a qualified specialist in a field.
So a lot of that is when going back to those three things we need to speak about, presentation, positioning, and price. We tie everything that we suggest as a solution back into those things because we know that's the most important thing. And it's a difference between being able to only bulk bill because that's all the level of service that you offer or being able to charge a private fee for service in your desired field and being able to achieve the rates that you truly are worth is the positioning and the presentation of that brand or that clinic or that surgeon.
And I suppose it's just working together to find the solution that best fits the problem that they are facing.
Yeah. And obviously, with that, everyone's got different budgets. Some people have spending two grand a month. Some people they've spent 20 grand a month. It depends on their field. But generally speaking, because there is such a shift, like a seismic shift in competition and legislation and all these different things that go into running a practice in medicine or allied health, pulling in and getting advice around your marketing is really, really important. And it's not difficult or complicated or scary.
Typically, when I sit down with a client, we're just talking about business problems half the time. I can't get enough doctors, or our patients don't know we offer immunizations, or no one ever comes back for their six-monthly teeth clean. It's like, "Okay, well, let's figure out a process to solve that." And like you've referred to in a previous podcast where whilst we might be having a business, we've got business problems, but using marketing solutions to solve them.
And I think that's a really, really powerful thing. So I hope this discussion has helped a lot of our practice managers and business owners, and partners in medicine and allied health. And if you ever want to have it just a chat, obviously you can just go on our website and give a buzz. My details are always there. And I'm the person who actually answers for phone for new business inquiries. And if you kind of unsure about what you need or you know you need to do something, but you don't know what that is, then that's fine. That's just a chat. We can work through that. But yeah, jump on the website for anyone who wants to, and we can try and talk through. And there's a bunch of case studies on there as well about medical work.
I think check out the Work page because there are case studies that apply to different medical and allied health practitioners, I suppose, and different problems that they're facing, et cetera. So we've got quite a good range of examples there. And we love working in this industry. It's the best, to be honest.
I think some of the best work we actually do is in this industry.
I would agree. I think some of the best work we do is actually in this industry, and it's enjoyable for us, and we're quite knowledgeable in it as well. So if you've got any questions or you want to have a chat, jump on our website, aprilford.com, or give us a call 1300 004 777. Thanks so much for listening.