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Traditional Meets Digital: Don’t Twitter Away Your Medical Practice Marketing Budget

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

joining handsWe applaud the podiatrists—and other professionals—that have embraced social media to market their practices. Many are so eager to hop on the digital bandwagon that some folks are beginning to ask, “Is it time to scrap traditional media advertising?”

Our answer is an emphatic “No!” Used to their best advantage, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media vehicles are great for targeting and engaging specific audience segments. Tweeting or e-mail blasting about diabetic foot screenings could help book additional appointments—something you couldn’t easily achieve as quickly with slower-acting radio spots or print advertising.

But things like direct mail and advertising still reach a broader audience and are great tools to layer and repeat what you’re broadcasting digitally. Patients want to be reached through various channels, and there’s no evidence that they’ve turned their backs on traditional marketing. Consumers are dividing their time among multiple media, and your marketing should do the same.

The same is true for small business marketing. “The majority of small businesses, 76 percent, agree their ideal marketing mix includes a combination of physical (traditional) and digital (online) communications,” according to a survey from Pitney Bowes Inc.

Marketing planners will use “layering.” That means repeating the same message in a variety of places. When you layer an e-mail newsletter with direct mail, the repetition strengthens your message and boosts the response rate. Savvy healthcare providers will send a brief but compelling message via e-mail and then take advantage of direct mail for lengthier content, like additional reports and supporting details.

Social media is an easy and inexpensive way to build a community with patients and potential patients. That community allows a two-way conversation that doesn’t exist in traditional marketing.

Clearly, reports of traditional media’s death are exaggerated. “Traditional” advertising isn’t going anywhere, and social media isn’t going to replace it. In actuality, as an increasingly tech-enabled population continues to embrace the new tools, what we now call “traditional” media will continue to absorb social media tools as part of the arsenal.

Rather than choosing the tools first, smart marketers will build a sound marketing plan focused on goals. Select the strategies and tactics best suited to achieve those goals rather than getting sidetracked by the “safety” of traditional channels or the excitement of social media. A strategic plan is the only way to achieve maximum success. And the marketing mix that’s right for you will not be the same for the next medical practice marketing plan.

For additional information about marketing mix, check out Healthcare Success’ article, There Are Six, and Only Six, Ways to Market Any Healthcare Organization.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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