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"I want you to help me get online."

This is typically what I hear when I meet practitioners who mainly rely on offline marketing channels to grow their business.

I always respond by asking them why they feel that they need to be online. The answers vary but here's what I often hear:-

  • "My competitors are successfully marketing themselves online."
  • "My prospective clients and patients can't find me online and I am missing opportunities."
  • "My website doesn't get any traffic."

All of these are perfectly valid reasons for wanting to explore how a practice, or any business for that matter, can adopt online or digital marketing.

My job is to help my clients dig a little deeper and establish some clearly defined goals around which we can build a strategy and plan of action.

What follows are the four basic steps that I take every one of my clients through to help them get started with digital marketing to effectively grow their practice.

By adopting them, you will be ahead of the game and have a solid foundation upon which to build your strategy. A strategy that attracts the right patients and one that let's you build a loyal customer base.

#1 Align Your Goals

Your marketing goals need to align with your overall business goals. This is important. So if you haven't yet set goals for the "bigger picture", then I suggest making that your starting point. If you are in practice with partners or you work for a partnership I recommend you workshop this first with your colleagues and team members.

Once you have a clear idea of what they are, your marketing goals can flow nicely from them so they support your overall business objectives. In the next section I give you an idea of what those goals might look like. But before I do so, I want to give you a quick tip.

Businesses usually have a revenue goal. Marketing is often (but not always) a support function of sales. Therefore to set meaningful marketing goals it does make sense to consider your revenue goal.

Take that number and think about it terms of:

  • number of customers/patients
  • number of individual appointments
  • your historical revenue vs your future revenue projection

The reason I ask you to think in those terms is to help you visualise what that revenue looks like in terms of customer numbers, transactions etc. This can then help us quantify our marketing goals in the next step.

#2 - Decide Where to Focus

As I described in the previous section marketing typically plays a supporting role to sales by way of driving demand. However there are a raft of other areas that marketers can focus on.

For example:

  • Building your brand awareness
  • Increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Building trust
  • Positioning you and/or your practice as thought leaders and trusted advisors
  • Reducing cost of patient acquisition


#3 - Measure

In the words of famous management consultant Peter Drucker "You can't manage what you don't measure" and in today's age of digital marketing we can measure and analyse to our hearts' content. This has been one of the biggest shifts in the marketing profession, marketers can now be effectively held accountable for achieving goals.

Being able to measure the effectiveness of your marketing initiatives is hugely helpful. Most practitioners I work with do not have endless marketing budgets. They want to see a return on their investment.

Keeping an eye on your metrics will help you analyse what is working and, just as important, what is not working. That way you can finetune campaigns or stop them all together if they are not delivering the desired outcomes.

Decide early what key performance indicators (KPI) are relevant to your marketing activities and also how you will measure them. There are a raft of marketing platforms that have built-in analytics and online advertising platforms like Facebook, Google and LinkedIn also offer their own analytics so you can keep a finger on the pulse and take corrective action where needed.

If this is all new to you and you have Google Analytics installed on your website then begin by looking at your site's current and historical data. It will tell you how much traffic it is attracting, where they are based and which pages are the most visited etc. This will also help you to craft some goals for your strategy.

Here are some metrics that may be relevant depending on your goals:-

  • Number of website visitors and visits
  • Source tracking: tells how people reach your site
  • Visitor to lead conversion
  • Landing Page Conversion Rate: which pages convert most visitors to leads
  • Social Media Engagement

Please let me re-iterate here that it is important to look beyond the "vanity metrics". Sure your site may be attracting a lot of traffic, but that's meaningless if that traffic isn't interested in or never buys your services. So remain objective in what you measure.

#4 - Know your customer (the importance of personas)

HubSpot describes them as a "semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers".

I think of the process of creating buyer personas as a deep dive into the psychographics of your ideal customer to find out "what makes them tick".

The idea behind personas is a simple but brilliant one. If you understand your prospects challenges, frustrations, pain points, behaviours, goals and motivations, you will be much better positioned to help them in a way they value and appreciate.

Personas are for your internal reference. Done properly, they will guide your writing, tone and content direction. You should refer to them frequently and update them where necessary. Regulatory changes for example might affect your personas pain points. Be sure to keep your personas up to date.

To get started I recommend you spend some time getting this right. Personas are critical to your strategy and digital marketing plan. Your current customer base is an excellent starting point. You could interview them and get a better insight into what your service specifically solves from their standpoint. Really tune in to the words and phrases they use. You want your content to reflect the terminology that they are most likely to use themselves.


Before you delve into the world of digital marketing complete the 4 basic steps that I have described here. Doing this will prove invaluable and will possibly prevent you from wasting precious marketing budget on ill-considered "spray and pray" tactics.

Will this take time? Absolutely! However think of  it as a frontloading or preparation exercise. Spend the time now and you won't need to spend time further down the road after you've wasted your time and money targeting people who aren't interested in your products and not being able to identify the weaknesses in your "strategy".


Wendy Coombes

Written by Wendy Coombes

I help small business and independent professionals get started with digital marketing and marketing automation, so they can attract and close more of their ideal customers.