On average, you will lose between 15% to 20% of patients year on year, so it is a critical part of your marketing strategy to attract new patients to your practice. However, while most practitioners focus on getting new patients into their practice, very few know how to effectively attract the right kind of patients. You’ve identified your ideal patient; now’s the time to bring them in with the right kind of external marketing.

Some medical professionals shy away from external marketing due to the expense. They see it as a big financial risk. However, most marketing savvy (and highly successful) practices understand that the external marketing budget is an investment in the practice.
You can have an explosive ROI when it’s managed well.

Addressing frequency versus search

A critical principle when looking at your external marketing is the concept of frequency versus reach.

Reach and frequency are terms generally used when planning advertising campaigns. However, the principle applies to any promotional activity you undertake: direct mail, online advertising, even networking.

At the heart of the concept is a question: Is it more effective to touch a hundred potential patients once, or twenty-five potential patients four times?


The number of people you touch with your marketing message who work or live close enough to your practice to respond and make an appointment. For most medical practitioners in suburban/metro settings, this area is rarely larger than a five-to-eight kilometre radius around your practice.


The number of times you “touch” each person with your marketing message.

In a world of unlimited resources, you would obviously maximise both reach and frequency. However, as most practices have a limited budget, you will often make decisions to sacrifice reach for frequency or vice versa.

In his book Permission Marketing, Seth Godin uses an analogy of seeds and water to demonstrate the importance of assuring adequate frequency in your promotional campaigns.

‘If you were given a hundred seeds with enough water to water each seed once, would you plant all hundred seeds and water each one once, or would you be more successful if you planted twenty- five seeds and used all of the water on those twenty-five seeds?’

One of the biggest wastes of marketing dollars is promotional activity that is implemented without adequate frequency.

When faced with the decision, always opt for less reach and more frequency.

When faced with decisions of reach vs. frequency, remember this

Creating your external marketing message

Your external marketing is directed at prospective new patients who do not know you. You need, therefore, to create a consistent marketing message for use in your external communications that takes this into account.

It starts with knowing the wants, fears, problems, and needs of your target market and ends with crafting a message that speaks to those issues in a compelling and believable way. The result is an irresistible hook that makes your prospect want to know more.

Many practices are confused about their marketing message. Some think it’s their slogan and others think it’s a regurgitation of all their awards and how long they’ve been in business. Still, others think it’s their vision and mission statement. It’s none of the above.

The biggest marketing message mistake that practices make is talking about themselves and not about their patients.Your marketing message is what grabs your ideal patient’s attention, tells them how you can solve their problem, why they should trust you, and why they should choose to come to your practice over and above any and all other choices they might have.

Your marketing message should ‘speak’ to your ideal patient. You need to appeal to your ideal patient’s ‘hot buttons’. Talk about the areas that will trigger an emotional reaction.

The steps to go through to create your message are as follows:

    1. Identify your target market
      The first step starts out by asking, ‘Who is my target market?’ Refer back to your ideal patient profile. Your marketing message needs to be written to this target demographic.
    2. Identify the problems your target market experiences
      Ask yourself, ‘What problem does my target market have and how does it make them feel?’
      You need to understand the experiences of your patients to identify their problems and the pain and suffering they feel as a result of those problems. What does your ideal patient want from a medical professional? What do they care about? What do they worry about? What is stopping them from coming to a medical professional on a regular basis?
      Remember the old saying, ‘People don’t care about you until they know you care’. Making it your mission to identify your market’s concerns tells them that you understand and empathise with them.Examples:
      – They are afraid of medical fees
      – They need medical services that work around their office day.
    3. Present your services to your market’s problem
      Ask yourself, ‘What do I offer that solves the problems of my ideal patient?’
      It is very tempting to talk about your services, e.g. teeth whitening, crowns, etc. But you need to present your practice in terms of solving people’s problems.Examples:
      – They are afraid of medical fees – Say that you are fully transparent with your pricing and they can see pricing on your website.
      – They need medical services that work around their office day – Say that you offer early morning and late-night medical services that work around their office day.
    4. Identify the benefits of your services
      Now, identify all the benefits of your services and how those benefits could impact your ideal patient.Examples:
      – They are afraid of medical fees – There are never any nasty surprises.
      – They need medical services that work around their office day – They don’t have to miss work or schedule their appointments around their busy work commitments.
    5. Explain what makes you different from your competitors
      Ask yourself, ‘How am I different from my competitors?’
      Potential patients are looking for you to communicate your differences. And those differences need to have perceived value to the prospect. They need to be things they care about.
      Do this in such a way as to explain what you stand for and what you can do rather than a direct statement, such as ‘We are better than 123 Medical because…