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    Why blog?

    This effective form of marketing can improve loyalty and increase patient count

    You might wonder why anyone would recommend a busy physician take up writing on a regular basis — for free. Truth be told, blogging is a very well respected and effective form of marketing that resonates with today’s internet-savvy, relationship-based consumers (i.e. patients).

    If you’re unfamiliar with the terminology, a blog is a regularly updated website page —often written in a casual, conversational style with the purpose of bringing valuable information to readers (in this case, potential and existing patients). Blog posts are like short articles added on a regular basis; this can be daily, weekly or even monthly. The desired result would be increased website hits through improved Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and ultimately more patients and improved loyalty among existing patients. By regularly updating your website and increasing content, your website search-ability increases. All of this boils down to a marketing strategy that can strengthen your position in the marketplace.

    Not many specialties, if any, are a better fit for this kind of marketing than dermatology. Aesthetic and medical dermatology patients are likely searching for information online to preserve and improve the health and appearance of their skin. It’s also likely you either sell products or make product recommendations to patients regularly (what kind of sunscreen should I use?). That means a lot of blogging content ideas for your practice or physician blog. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about why, and then we can tackle how.

    Why blog?

    Though practice leaders may already be feeling maxed, successful blogging can provide powerful marketing benefits to your dermatology practice. Below are some of the top benefits:

    • A medical practice blog adds marketing value to your website as content can be found by topic (i.e. a potential patient is searching for MOHS online and your blog post shows in the search results) and regular updates to your site can improve it’s ranking in search results (i.e. patient is searching for dermatology practice for your city).
    • A blog provides an online opportunity to display the credibility of providers in your practice by sharing knowledge on relatable, relevant topics while educating patients.
    • Writing a blog gives a “voice” to your physician(s), practice and/or staff, making the practice more personable. When patients feel they know and trust you, they will turn to you for their medical and aesthetic needs and be less likely to chase a “special price” or “new shiny practice” down the street.

    How to execute

    Without a doubt your first concern is time. There are a few solutions to the time crunch physicians feel when considering starting a practice blog. But first, let me say that many physicians find they really enjoy the regular public/patient connection and mental discipline and exercise of blogging. When this happens, time is not an obstacle. It’s easy to find time for what we enjoy — especially if it’s benefiting your practice and patients!

    It might take several posts before you find your groove, but some physicians have found it so invigorating they have practically built a second career on it (KevinMD.com). Kristi Angevine, M.D., an OBGYN in private practice in Tennessee speaks of the balance and satisfaction that blogging provides her, “Blogging has allowed me to efficiently get information to my community of patients and do something more creative than my usual daily grind”[1].

    With that said, time is still an issue and it’s important to keep in mind that blogging must be done in a way that you can commit. Consistency is a key ingredient for a successful blog. If that means you write once a week or twice a month, so be it.

    One way to keep your blog changing up for patients and full of interesting, relevant advice and information is to have multiple contributors who write from their “desk” and their particular expertise. For instance, an aesthetician can write once a month highlighting the benefits of products and procedures provided through her service in your practice.

    Another way to tackle the time crunch is to write several blogs at once and schedule them to post throughout the month. Some physicians hire a ghostwriter. This can be someone inside or outside the practice. If this method is used, it’s important that they work carefully with physicians they are representing and all work is approved before it’s published.

    A disclaimer should accompany every post, regardless of the author, stating that the post is in no way intended to replace medical advice from a physician.

    If you’re struggling to think of what you might write in a blog, consider the information you find yourself repeating all day with patients — that’s a great guide to what others are searching for online.

    Another way to use your blog to attract ideal patients is to think of the issues your ideal patient is struggling with or searching. By providing credible information and helpful tips, you can gain new patients seeking more of that same good advice and win the loyalty and referrals of your existing patients!

    Cheryl Bisera
    Cheryl Bisera is a marketing consultant, author and speaker with extensive experience in marketing and business promotion. She is ...

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