Successful small local businesses tend to offer customers good customer service, convenience, a personalized experience ,and a sense of familiarity. Salesforce’s 5th Small and Medium Business Trends report shows that 67% of small business leaders say that community support has been important to their company’s survival during the past year. Three-quarters of them believe shifts they’ve made to their business operations will benefit them in the long term: about 79% plan to offer contactless services permanently, 71% say they survived the pandemic through digitization, 42% accelerated technology investments during the past year, and 72% grew their online presence during the past year.

The same may ring true for local doctors’ offices. Patients are likely to be loyal to a practice if they trust the doctor and can rely on them. “The most effective patient recruitment tools are patient satisfaction, good-old networking, and word of mouth,” says Dr. Wayne Narucki who set up Red Wheelbarrow Pediatrics in Rutherford, NJ 9 years ago. “I started from scratch with no patients, so I was very nervous about building the practice. I experimented with several different forms of marketing—direct mailing, advertising in local newspapers, visiting obstetrician offices, distributing flyers to daycares.” Of those methods, he said, the most worthwhile was visiting obstetrician offices, as it allowed him to build relationships with doctors in the community. “But, I still don’t think it was what helped me build my patient base effectively,” he adds. “I joined Zocdoc for a short period and built up my online presence.  Once I had several reviews on Google and some of the physician review sites, that is when I started to see a higher rate of new patients. Many parents told me that they found my name through their insurance company and decided to join my practice after reading my reviews online.”

If you’re looking to grow your practice, here are a few tips you might consider:

  • Social media is a good way to promote your practice and keep your patients informed. You can post specific information about delayed openings, new hires, and healthy eating tips.
  • You may consider putting up signs around your office to let patients know the various media you use, for instance, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Your front office staff can prompt them to follow you on these platforms.
  • Referral marketing is free, so if a patient is happy with you, they’ll certainly refer you to their friends. A good experience from an existing patient, an “I second him/her” comment, or a thumbs-up review is validation that you’re doing something right and a potential opportunity to secure new patients.
  • According to an article from Moz, local sponsorship remains the most-overlooked and opportunity-rich marketing channel. By sponsoring a local Little League team, for example, you can reinforce that local connection. You can donate merchandise for goodie bags and gift baskets at local school functions. Put your logo on a Field Day t-shirt or other swag, and get your practice mentioned in emailed or printed publicity materials.

Whatever strategy works for you, getting your name out there will only increase your local community engagement.