marketing efforts and initiatives of an O&P practice will
ultimately determine the financial successes of the company. Positioning your
business for optimal market value and exposure requires the time, money and
effort from the practice and business owners, according to Jenni Grisso,
director of product development for Therafirm.
“There are five initiatives business can examine to gain more
exposure,” Grisso told O&P Business News. “Small
business owners in this environment, faced with being in competition with the
bigger boys, can try these initiatives in order to get their messages out and
in front of their customers.”
Grisso laid out her initiatives to the audience at the Essentially
Women’s Focus on the Future Meeting in Glendale, Ariz. Her marketing
- Defining the customer and positioning the business toward that
- Creating the business plan;
- Evaluating the business and asking, “is this the message the
customer wants to hear?”
- Executing and staying the course; and
- Using various social media tools that are available including
Spread your message
In the current business environment, where customers are referred from
doctors and other medical professionals, social media tools help small
businesses spread their message to their clientele – doctors and their
patients – according to Grisso. Business owners must strike a balance
between talking directly to the medical professionals and marketing to their
customers. Up to date marketing allows your business to stay on the pulse of
“With all the networking tools available, patients can access the
web and ask their friends for recommendations or how they like this particular
practitioner,” she said. “It used to be that whoever the doctor
referred you to, there you went. In our changing environment, with so many
educational tools at our fingertips, people are taking that one more step
before following the doctors’ orders.”
According to Grisso, the small business owner understands the methods
and tools available to the doctors and potential patients. The problem is
practitioners and business owners are often working out of their comfort zone.
Because they are working outside of their area of expertise, practitioners are
often hesitant to take that first step toward the social media.
“The bottom line is they are still in a business and even though
they provide fabulous service for their patients and customers, they also have
to be savvy business owners,” Grisso said. “The feedback I received
from several attendees at the conference was that the business owners are
beginning to realize that they can do it on their own. They can do a little bit
What if a practitioner decides to make his or her own website? The
practitioner can be the greatest clinician in the world, but if he or she
created an unattractive website, it will be a turn-off to potential patients
and those patients will look elsewhere for service, she said.
Professional web designers are available and affordable, according to
Grisso. Consistency of the message is another part of the presentation. This
includes a consistent logo, website, business card and design.
“You can have a website designed and created for under $500,”
she said. “It is an investment in your business. Anytime you have a
business you want to invest in the right areas. For those clinicians who do not
have that technological background, finding a website designer is possibly the
way to go because they can help you understand how your website can connect to
Twitter or Facebook. They all interact with one another.”
Optimus Prosthetics recently created a Facebook page after conducting a
survey for their patients. The survey indicated that the majority of their
patients were already on Facebook. The Facebook page is just another avenue for
Optimus Prosthetics to reach current and potential patients.
“We decided to hire a professional to revamp our website,”
Scott Schall, MSE, BSME, told O&P Business News. “The
marketing group we were working with redesigned our website and trained our
staff on how to keep the site updated and fresh. They also created a Facebook
page for us. We considered doing other forms of social media like blogging and
Twitter, but it was suggested that we start with Facebook because we can follow
up with people within a week or so, as opposed to Twitter when you would need
an immediate response.”
According to Grisso, inconsistent color schemes, logos and designs, will
confuse the customer and the business is likely to suffer the consequences.
“The customer must walk into an office or visit a website that
delivers some type of visual feel that is unique to your business, so people
feel confident that they are in the right place,” Grisso said.
Having a website that contains contact information is a basic step that
anyone can take, she said, adding that the website can simply contain three
pages — About, Services and Contacts tabs. These pages are crucial for
individuals searching for practitioners.
For those business owners who do not feel comfortable working in social
media, a simple email blast would suffice. Email blasts invite large amounts of
individuals to explore your company further, in an easy and effective way.
“Those who embrace this idea and talk to potential customers or
patients, will have the ability to give and use their expertise which makes a
difference in the patient’s life and at the same time, brings in more
business to the company,” Grisso said. — by Anthony
Social networking does not eliminate the basic premise of the American
dream — hard work. Your specialty field will not run your business, nor
will it be successful overnight. Reputation takes time and consistency is
critical. Good service often means that you need to do more and “go the
extra mile.” This does not need to be expensive.
Most people these days are networking savvy and can be hired for fair
prices. Websites are easy to maintain and need to be kept current. Key phrases
and words for search engines along with what makes your business special are
easy and effective tools to use in order to market yourself. Social networking
does not always have to be virtual. A huge impact can be obtained by being
seen, such as volunteering at community events. Put your face and effort out
there — the benefits will follow.
— Sylvia Malgedy-Forgrave, BSc, (Honours Kin),
Business manager, Mike Forgrave & Associates