How Visible Is Your Practice?

Visibility is key to getting new patients or clients.  However, when most people think of “visibility” they just envision a big sign on a busy road, which is only a tiny part of it.

So what is visibility?  Let’s look at it this way:

As you read this article, there are people in your immediate community (maybe less than a mile from you) who need services that you deliver and who are actively looking for a practice like yours.  Will they find you?  Will they find someone else?  Will they forget that they were looking?  This what we mean by “visibility.”

However, there’s a lot more to the subject than first meets the eye.

Let’s look at the big picture.  Every practice needs new patients.  Vast sums of money are spent by practice owners trying to solve this.  Newsletters are sent out, advertising is paid for and postcards are mailed.  This is marketing, which is fine.  However, many practices spend enormous amounts of time and money on marketing, when they aren’t even visible to the people in their neighborhood who are looking for them.  

This last part is key.  You have to understand that people are looking for you right now.  You provide a valuable service and people need it.  Regardless of whether or not you spend a dollar on marketing or not, all on their own they are going to be looking for you.  The trick is just: can they find you?

It isn’t about whether or not you can convince anyone to do anything.  It’s just about letting the people who are looking for you know that you’re there.  All too often this is completely missed by practice owners.  THEY know that they are there.  After all, they pay the mortgage and work there every day, so it seems completely foreign to them that people around the corner wouldn’t know they’re there.  In fact, they disbelieve it when you tell them.

So here is the trick of visibility: just make yourself present at every point where a person would look when trying to find your services. At this stage of the game, you don’t have to convince them you’re good or anything else.  You just have to be strikingly, obviously, glaringly…VISIBLE.

Patient Viewpoint

In order to do this you need to pretend to be a patient.  Actually be an actor and play a prospective patient or client who would be looking for a general dentist or a vet or an optometrist in your city.  Actually try to find a practice to get treatment for yourself and see what you end up finding.  Where do you look?  Google?  Yellow Pages?  Signs by the road?  Billboards?  Search online and see what comes up.  Which practices can you even find?

Each point YOU checked is also a place a potential patient or client would check.  The trick of visibility is just to make sure that you’re there.

Often it isn’t possible to find a practice when you’re looking for them!  In fact, the only way you can find 90% of practices would be if you knew their address and drove there, knew the doctor’s name and specifically looked him up, or happened to be driving down a certain road and looked at the right angle at the right time to catch the small sign above the door.

Checklist

Here is a basic checklist of things you can look for with regard to visibility:

1.  Building Sign

Get in your car and drive down the road in front of your practice, pretending to be someone passing by.  Is your sign clearly visible from the street coming from multiple directions?  Is it obvious how to get into your parking lot and then get to your practice?  Is your sign so obvious that it is unmistakable what you do?  What you’re looking for in a building sign isn’t something flashy or gaudy.  We just want something that a passerby can see even when they’re not looking for it, regardless of which way they’re driving from, and which will clearly and unmistakably state to them: THIS IS A DENTAL OFFICE.  So many offices lose business on this one point: their signs are bad.

2.  Internet

Go online and type words into Google as though you’re searching for a practice like yours.  Include the name of your city or community and what you do.  Try specific services such as “emergency dentistry Buffalo NY” and also general terms like “Springfield veterinarian” and see how you rank.  If you don’t have a website, you need one.  Most people will go to the internet no matter what they’re looking for.  You need to hire a company to make sure that your website is optimized to show up when people search for your services in your local area.

3.  Google Places

When people search for a specific business in Google, a map shows up with little pins indicating all of the nearby businesses.  Try it yourself.  Type in “coffee shops Hopkinsville” or any other business type in your city.  You’ll see a ton of results show up.  Google has it set up to rank these very highly in searches and it’s a really easy way to be visible.  Make sure your listing represents you well.  Make sure that it links to your website.  Make sure that it has the correct contact information.  Make sure that you have decent reviews on there.  If you don’t know how to do this, there are many people out there who can help.

4.  Phone Book

This is the old standby.  Although it is getting used less and less, many people still use the phonebook instead of the internet.  You don’t have to take out a full-page ad.  We’re not talking massive advertising.  We’re just talking about being visible.  Check it out for yourself.  Flip through the yellow pages and see how easy it is to find you.  Are you a tiny entry that someone would have to specifically search for, or do you at least stick out enough that a person will see you when they’re scanning the page?

5.  Local Word of Mouth

Do your neighbors know you?  Do you know your neighbors?  Do the other businesses one block over know who you are?  When asked to recommend a practice, would they remember you well enough to send someone your way?  Word of mouth is the best form of public relations there is.  Give this a boost by making sure your neighbors remember who you are.

6.  Clearly Understood Contact Information

This last one is important.  People may find you, but not be able to quickly locate your phone number or address.  This applies to your website, to Google Places, to your sign outside, etc.  You will lose more business than you would believe, just because the person wasn’t easily able to call you on their cell phone as they were driving by, or because it took too long to find the practice address on your website.  The last step here is to review every place where people find you and ensure that your address and phone number are SUPER obvious, so that it takes no effort to find them.

Questions?

There are many other examples like this, but they all come down to ensuring that you are at least VISIBLE to people who are actively searching for your services.  If you do this well, you’ll be surprised by the new patients you’ll generate.  The first step of any marketing effort should always be just making your practice VISIBLE.

As always, stay in touch.  If you have any questions about any of these points above, shoot us an email and we’ll try to help you out as best we can.

 

Have a question about your practice?  Try our free “Ask a Consultant” service.  Just send us your question in the form below.  We’ll email you back as soon as we can and may even post our answer to your question (but not your name) for others to see in the future.

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