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How to Grow Your Practice, 10+ Bariatric Marketing Ideas

Marketing a medical practice can have it’s challenges, especially if you are in a speciality like bariatrics.

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #1
Tell stories in the before and after galleries on your website

In bariatrics we understand that while weight loss is one of the most obvious benefits of weight loss sugery, it is not the only or even most important reason that patients are looking to have a procedure.  More and more evidence seems to come out each year of the many diseases that are affected, resolved and even cured after a gastric sleeve or gastric bypass.  Often these health issues are the catalyst for that prospect, who has been researching surgery for years, to finally schedule their consultation or move forward with surgery. 

In depth stories, both written and on video will showcase the whole story of each weight loss journey.  Make sure that you are picking a diverse demographic from your patient base and highlight as many different patients as possible.  Your male demographic won’t grow if the only patients they see from you are women.  The Gen Z patients won’t share their stories and tag you on social media if they don’t see you working with other younger patients.  Make sure that you are also highlighting patients that with different health related stories.  PCOS, Diabetes and Sleep Apnea affect so many of your prospects, but they need to hear that in addition to weight loss, they can also have some resolution to their health problems. 

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #2
Highlight successful patients across all marketing channels

It is a chore to keep up with multiple different social media platforms.  Many have different rules about numbers of characters, size of images, number of images, video vs. photos… We could go on and on about the differences in posting on the different platforms, but I would rather focus on the difference in demographics.  If you want to hit patients of all ages, you have to be on most (if not all) of the major social platforms.  

Those platforms also vary in the types of content that will get you engagement.  We aren’t saying that you have to do the latest dance, or go live everyday, but you need a strategy that is customized to each platform and work to create posts/videos that will resonate with the gender/age demographics, as well as the typical content posted on each site.  Then, after you have written consent and have asked to share any specific content, share and share away. 

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #3
Tag patients on social media

This goes along well with tip #2.  Be sure to tag your patients on social media.  It’s not just enough to post a patient’s success story.  Find out their profile name(s) on each platform and tag them, so that (depending on their privacy settings) their friends, family and even fans can see who is responsible for helping them with their weight loss success.  This is a great way to expand your reach with every social media post. 

We have updated patient consent forms to ask specifically for the profile names on the different platforms for this particular part of our marketing strategy.  You can also have consent boxes and let them opt out if there are profiles that they would rather you not tag.  It’s not 2010 anymore!  Most of today’s patients are very willing to share and showcase how they lost the weight. 

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #4
Branded "after" shirts for patients at goal

This can be a fun promotion.  Patients love to be celebrated!  Why not create specific “after” shirts that commemorate different stages along their weight loss? 50 lbs of weight loss, 100 lbs of weight loss, goal weight.. etc, all branded with your name, logo and other details.  You now have walking billboards who are proudly showing off that they had weight loss surgery with you and that you are helping to celebrate their success.  

Want to get patients involved in the process?  Create more than 1 design and let them vote on the final t-shirt design.  You could even ask them to suggest other goals to celebrate.  This can tie into #5 below.

Bariatric Marketing Ideas #5
Utilize promotional items to increase social media engagement

Ask your patients to comment, like or share your posts.  Depending on the cost of the promotional item, you can offer a prize to the top 5, 10 or even everyone who posts.  Whatever makes the most sense in your budget. You can also ask them to tag you when they post success stories and offer a promo item for this engagement as well.  Now, depending on their privacy settings, you may or may not be able to see or know when they post.  So, clear rules or understanding on how patients will be rewarded, is always important.  You will be suprised how many people will post just to get a mousepad, or even a frisbee. 

You can also use this idea to garner more reviews.  However, you should not tie a reward to only “positive” or “5 star reviews”.  The reward platforms do not appreciate trying to get around their system.  Also, you can’t utilize a computer in your office for patients to submit their reviews.  Repeated use of on IP address for reviews can get you flagged.  Besides, you want patients to feel comfortable about their experience and cornering a patient is not the best way to get a great review. 

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #6
Utilize patient ambassadors

Patient ambassadors can do so many things for your practice.  They make sucess come to life and help others realize that their dream is attainable. This tip is probably best as a lot of bullet points. 

  • Start or encourage discussions at support groups
  • Engage with other patients on social media
  • Be available for questions at weight loss surgery seminars
  • Create content to be used in patient education
  • Be an advocate for your practice in private online support groups

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #7
Video, video, video

While before and after pictures of weight loss surgery patients are amazing tools to showcase success.  Pictures can easily be photoshopped and many high profile “influencers” have been caught in photoshop fails.  Let’s face it, we all know it’s really easy to make changes to images, not so much for video.  We aren’t saying it can’t be done, but video is more trusted. Plus, we all love a good story! 

It doesn’t have to be professionally edited, shot on a high end video camera or scripted.  It just needs to be a real patient sharing their experience, a staff member talking about their area of expertise (Nutritionist, Bariatric RN) or a Doctor answering questions so patients can get a feel for their personality.  Video is king.  We all love to be entertained and less and less people are chosing read content.

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #8
Private online support groups

Bariatric patients have a million questions, both before and after surgery.  They want to share their experience and hear other’s experiences.  (Both the good and the bad) A private online support group, like a private facebook group is a great way to not only let them get plugged in with each other, but to also keep in control of some of the information and content being shared. 

There are some easy controls that can be set up so that patients have to be approved to have access to the group. You want to keep this area as a safe space for your patients, but also be available to give tips and ideas on how they can be successful.  This is also a great way to showcase your aftercare.  If you have bariatric recipes on your website, you can highlight them here, as well as other information about life after surgery. 

Speaking of information, you will get a ton of information here.  If you see patients asking the same questions over and over again, you can update your pre-op education to include more information.  There are also areas to leave documents so patients have easy access.  How many phone calls and emails does your staff get about content that was handed out in pre-op or post-op?  Load that info here and they have access day or night. 

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #9
Use drip funnels to stay in front of prospects

If you haven’t mapped it out, some prospects will take years from their initial contact before they get on the surgery schedule. They don’t all take that long, but while they are thinking about surgery and shopping around, you want to be the 1 doctor that stays in front of them.  Drip funnels are automated marketing messages created to work those prospects down the marketing funnel and keep them engaged with your practice while they are deciding about surgery.  Check out our blog on drip funnels for a more in-depth explanation. 

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #10
Track your efforts to know what is working

This one is really important, especially if you have limited resources for promoting your practice. Do you utilizing Google Analytics to track where your traffic is coming from?  Do you have goals set in analytics to see which referrals get you more contact forms?  Do you utilize Bit.ly, custom QR codes or tracking phone numbers to see where leads are coming from?  Digital marketing has come a long way with tools that help you know what is working and what is not working.  You can always have your staff ask “how did you hear about us” however, after decades in advertising and marketing, I can tell you that is not an effective tracking strategy.  

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #11
Hire An Agency With Bariatric Marketing Experience

If you are already feeling overwhelmed with all of these ideas or don’t know where to start, you can always give us a call at MD Integrated Marketing.  In business since 2014, we have delivered thousands of leads.  Before that, Melanie spent 4 years inside a busy bariatric practice meeting patients face to face each day and learning how to tell their stories, not to mention answering hundreds of prospect calls and getting them scheduled as patients. 

Our focus has mainly been healthcare marketing and we understand HIPAA and related issues. The staff is regularly educated on rules, regulations and even sensitivity when working directly with patients. Plus, we love what we do!  Seeing patients have success after weight loss surgery and sharing their stories is our favorite part of the day. 

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #12
Utilize #hashtags appropriately on the different social platforms

Prospects utilize lots of tools when doing their research.  A hashtag is one of their many tools.  Depending on the platform, a hashtag is used to help deliver tagged content from a search.  So if a patient is looking for #gastricsleeve, the content that has been tagged with that hashtag will be pulled into the search. Seems simple enough, however different platforms work better with different numbers of hashtags and some hashtags are better to use than others.   Being clever and creating a different hashtag for each post isn’t going to be the best strategy.

Bariatric Marketing Ideas: #13
Social Media ads

Love them or hate them as a social media user, social ads can deliver very targeted leads for your practice. If you have ever tried to run ads for your bariatric practice, you have probably gotten numerous ad rejections as platforms can be very specific about the imaging and wording that can be used in marketing medical procedures or discussing sensitive topics like weight and body image. 

Lucky for you those medical charts have a ton of information that can be used to help you create an audience for your ads that will help to get more leads.  People willingly give up some much information to use the social media platforms that finding people who are similar to the demographics in  your practice, is fairly simple.  Plus, the ads platforms can push ads to people who are more likely to interact, as well as retarget prospects who started to engage but stopped. 

As you can see, there are many ideas on how to market your Bariatric Practice.  We didn’t even get in to traditional marketing, for those who have bigger marketing budgets, or even all of the digital marketing opportunities that are available.  As always, Give us a call at MD Integrated if you would like to learn about our services.  817-527-6558

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