The foundation of the 7R Marketing Strategy is Reputation. And that's why we put it at the base of our pyramid. A good reputation leads to the pinnacle of marketing, which is referral, or word of mouth (See Referral). Unfortunately, it is a very underserved focus for most practices today.
In this day and age of social media, a good reputation doesn't just happen automagically if you're a good doctor - it takes work. Conversely, A bad reputation is usually the result of not actively cultivating a good reputation (or just being a crappy doctor, I suppose).
We believe that reputation and reviews are similar but not equal strategies. For the purpose of our discussion, reputation is strictly focused on the reputation of the practice itself, the entity, and separate from the reputations of your individual physicians, which are discussed in the next chapter.
Make Sure You Have a Consistent Digital Footprint
The first thing that’s important about practice reputation is what’s called your digital footprint. This is where all of the online information about your practice lives: listings, or citations, in online directories (often offering reviews) that point to your website. Your practice probably has listings on YP.com, Yelp, or Foursquare as well as in local directories such as Chamber of Commerce or “Best Lists.” It is critical that this information is consistent across every directory and listing site you appear in.
The reason is that if you have even a minor difference in information from one location to the next, the robots on the internet (which perform much of the search engine and directory propagation) may not realize that those slightly different listings of practice locations are all you.
Your name, address, and phone number must be absolutely consistent. Focus on and do forensics on variance in your digital footprint. Is the name exactly the same from place to place? Is it followed by PA or LLC or is it just the practice name by itself? Is the word ‘suite’ spelled out, or is it abbreviated as ‘ste.’?
Doctor Reviews Are Distinct From Practice Reviews
Both your practice and your physicians will have reviews that influence whether a prospective patient decides to pursue an inquiry with you. Your practice needs to have a local footprint that is distinct from that of your physicians. It needs to have links from other businesses or other directories to the practice home page.
After You’ve Standardized Your Reputation, Nurture It:
- Build your practice reputation. This requires you to focus on how you get great reviews on sites where your practice is listed. More on that later.
- Manage your practice reputation. Once you’ve begun building your practice reputation, you can’t stop there. You need to monitor and manage it. In order to do that, you need to have a way of knowing when practice reviews appear. If you have reviews that are say, three stars or less, you need to manage a response to these comments or have some way of counteracting the negative impression that an unhappy patient or experience might elicit. Monitoring and managing is ongoing oversight once you’ve begun building a steady stream of patient reviews.
- Market your practice reputation. Now that you’re building and managing your reputation, you need to put it to work for you. You need to market this great rep in as many marketing communications channels as possible. You need to be able to announce, for example, “Another satisfied patient just finished LASIK” or “We just had our 300th premium cataract patient last week, and they gave us five stars for their experience at our practice.” You need to let your patients (and their family and friends, if possible) know how highly others hold you in their regard. Marketing your reputation means publishing notices in emails, on your social media pages (on your Twitter feeds and Facebook pages), and in other marketing assets such as your newsletter or a display ad or even as point-of-care posters, banners, or digital ads on waiting room videos.
In summary, implementing a reputation program requires four key actions:
- Ensure that your local digital directory footprint is bullet-proof in terms of its consistency.
- Build a reputation with great practice reviews using a simple process.
- Manage the reviews that you’re getting and address issues and concerns.
- Market your five-star reputation to the people who are reading and consuming marketing materials from your practice.
Perform a Reputation Audit
The foundation of a great reputation is best built through Scientific Marketing. Begin by doing a practice reputation audit. Research as many of your listings as you can find. A good audit typically identifies issues and inconsistencies and any corrections needed. The most cost-effective way to do this would be to task someone in your office or hire a part-time or gig worker.
Encourage Positive Reviews, Promptly Address Negative Ones
Next, build, monitor, and manage your reputation using some sort of technology-enabled approach for capturing positive reviews and addressing ones that are less positive (three stars or less). This is a strategy that very few people really understand. They often just start blindly asking their patients to give reviews, not knowing whether they’re going to get a good one or a bad one.
Many website-building companies will even recommend placing a widget on your website for patients to conveniently post their reviews. Without a method for overseeing this process, you may be deprived of the ability to resolve issues before patients vent online. No process can prevent 100% of low reviews, but a smart process can give you a way to address a lot of them. A popular rule of thumb is that a happy consumer tells 3 friends; an unhappy patient tells 11 friends.
One simple way of marketing practice reviews is to take screenshots of the great reviews that you have and turn them into a video. Just build a PowerPoint presentation, maybe hire talent to read the reviews and sync the audio to it, and publish it as a video. You can hire someone to produce the video or do it yourself with video-editing software.
Once you have a video it can be published on your YouTube channel and embedded directly on your website. Next you can send out an email announcing the new video and publicly thanking the reviewers.
- Reputation is the foundation of the 7R strategy
- Make sure your practice has a standardized and consistent digital footprint
- Encourage happy patients to post their reviews
- Don't put a review widget on your website that allows unfettered access without oversight
- Build, monitor, and then market your reputation