Editors note: This article is the second of a two-part series. If you haven't chosen your new practice location yet, we recommend you also read, Medical Office Space: How to Choose a Great Location.
Congratulations! You have signed the contract for your new office space, and your staff is on top of all the administrative details (like movers, phone systems, change of address notices, etc.).
Well, whether you are moving an established practice or starting a brand new one, your new location provides you with a rare window of opportunity to ethically and powerfully market your practice.
- Practice locations only get to be new once, and from a marketing point of view, "new" sells.
- You are going to have to print new practice materials anyway, so why not create materials you feel proud of.
- A move provides you the opportunity for a fresh start to create the practice of your dreams. If you wait until you are "settled in," you are certain to get busy with details. Your lack of momentum will frustrate you, and eventually your best intentions will probably be forgotten.
- Most importantly, you are making a tremendous investment in your new location, and your rent will cost you the same amount each month - whether you are busy or not.
To make the most out of your new location, we recommend you create and follow a well-designed practice marketing plan for your new location. Think of it as an insurance policy that protects your investment.
Some of the strategies and tactics you'll want to incorporate into your marketing plan include:
- If you are a specialist, start wooing neighboring doctors before you move. Referral relationships typically take time to develop, so you'll want to get started right away. Best of all, the fact that you are new to the area gives you a built-in excuse to introduce yourself around, so you never have to worry about looking like a needy salesman.
- Whenever you change locations, you are certain to lose some patients. The only question is, "How many?" The good news is, you can vastly reduce your "defection rate" by promoting your new location to existing patients. Don't send them simple "we are moving" postcards. Instead, talk up the move to patients in the office, and make sure every patient gets a mailer that promotes how they will benefit from your move. One of the most important marketing truisms is that the message should never be about YOU or your new office - it needs to be about what is in it for THEM.
- See if you can tie something special into your move which would make it newsworthy, so that you can get free press coverage. Think creatively. For example, an ophthalmologist moving to a new location on Route 66 could create and promote a contest where 33 lucky winners will receive free LASIK procedures (66 eyes).
- If you decide to do an open house, make it special and make it fun. Pigs-in-a-blankets will draw a big yawn - and no visitors. (With the possible exception of your mom.) These days you have to WOW referring doctors and other VIPs.
- As we alluded to before, since you'll need to print new stationery anyway, why not create fantastic marketing materials while you are at it. This is a tremendous opportunity to finally get around to creating image enhancing marketing stationery, logo, brochures, etc.
- If you decide to advertise your new location, don't even think about announcement or (appropriately named) "tombstone ads." Instead, use the move as an excuse to make special offers to prospective patients. The star of the show needs to be direct patient benefits, not the office itself.