Posted on March 21, 2018
By: Mike Milligan, President
"If you build it, they will come."
Take a quick trip down memory lane with me and view this brief iconic
premonition. While it served well as nostalgia on the big
screen in The Field of Dreams, when it comes to your
urology practice, it's the worst business advice ever given.
Rather than dreams, you need a focused marketing plan built on
attracting patients and nurturing your relationship with referring
One relationship at a time
The first doctrine in referral marketing is to treat every
referral source as a customer. What is their experience with
you and your staff? Are you accessible? Do you
collaborate? Do you properly communicate results of their
Then it comes down to dynamic marketing, combining traditional
methods with modern digital techniques:
- Foster referral relationships with
face-to-face visits. Come prepared with introductory marketing
materials, educational pieces, and communication methods to reach
- Implement outreach programs to co-market, such
as a kidney stone program with an urgent care clinic. Also keep in
mind health observances throughout the year, such as Prostate
Health Month in September or Infertility and Sexually Transmitted
Diseases Awareness in April. These are additional opportunities to
co-market with primary care referring partners.
- Develop and distribute clinically focused
annual reports, such as
this one produced by OhioHealth.
- Create email campaigns, such as
this one we produced for our client, Urology Associates. This
was an extremely effective way to stay visible with referring
physicians, while communicating updated PSA screening
- Publish blog posts, eBooks, radio podcasts or
videos in tandem with referral sources.
- Build a database of referring providers, and
segment and communicate to them based on their current referral
patterns and engagement with your practice.
- Connect with referral sources across social
media channels and engage in their published content. This will
ensure you stay top-of-mind and will encourage reciprocation, so
your provider partners can be apprised on the latest news from your
clinic and become more acquainted with your providers too.
Interested in learning more? We'd love to hear
from you. Please contact me anytime for an informal
conversation of what your challenges may be, and to pick my brain
on ways you can grow your business exponentially.
Let us share some case studies of how other physician practices
have combined traditional and digital marketing, along with an
aggressive referral strategy, to attract more patients and develop
a recurring revenue model with current and prospective
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll
set up a time.
7 guidelines to turn your healthcare board members into
your strongest marketing advocates.
Posted on February 27, 2018
By: Mike Milligan, President
As a rural healthcare leader, you fully realize the importance
of engaging and involving your board of directors. The role
of your board is to provide the appropriate level of strategic
oversight and not cross the line into operations. They must
understand the vision and the direction, and then help break down
any barriers that may be impeding your hospital's success.
Being involved with rural healthcare organizations around the
country has given me the opportunity to work with many types of
boards. Sometimes it's leading a strategic planning session
on growth, or presenting their organization's marketing plan.
Overall, these are honest, hard-working people who are donating
their time. They come from all kinds of backgrounds: farmers,
ranchers, bankers, nursing, non-profit, home makers, lawyers,
government. One thing they have in common is their commitment
to your hospital and community. Many grew up in your town,
and generations of their family have received care at your
Board engagement and education
Even though they hold a genuine passion for your organization,
I've found that they sometimes lack the knowledge of what's
required to survive the tumultuous world of rural health. Board
members may not fully appreciate the nuances of healthcare,
especially when it comes to marketing. They may have a limited view
that successful marketing is defined by having a pretty ad in the
local paper once a week.
My point here is that they don't need to be marketing
experts. In fact, as board members, you really don't want
them in the details. What you do need is their support and
understanding of the need for effective marketing in a competitive
world. This starts with board engagement and education.
Every situation is different. This includes the composition of
your board, their level of experience, and whether you have a
healthy agreement between governance and operations. Having
said that, I offer the following guidelines for turning your board
members into the strongest marketing advocates in your
- Involve them in the marketing planning process - including your
work and thoughts on service line prioritization. Review
recommendations on priorities based on defined criteria such as
revenue, reimbursement, downstream revenue, community goodwill,
competitive advantage and contribution margin. Receive their
feedback on your direction, but don't present specific marketing
techniques or ask for their approval on messaging.
- Hold a separate strategic planning session dedicated only to
the growth initiative of your goals. Present potential ways
to grow existing and to introduce new service lines, and receive
their feedback and input. Together, establish specific and
measurable goals in terms of volumes and market share.
- Introduce them to successful techniques used by others, which
may include unique alliances or partnerships. Even if your
organization plans to remain independent, there are often creative
ways to explore market share growth with other organizations such
as joint ventures or other partnerships.
- Provide periodic updates on the progress toward assigned goals
and strategy. This should be more in the forms of specific results
and feedback. Be transparent in terms of what went well, and
what efforts fell short of your expectations.
- Identify barriers and let them know what you're doing to solve
them. Receive their input or suggestions on how to overcome
these barriers. Examples could be insurance or provider
- Take opportunities to educate board members on successful
trends in marketing. Share key articles on industry trends and
successful efforts of similar organizations.
- Invite and encourage them to attend conferences, especially
around topics that cover marketing or governance.
An engaged, informed and educated board member is your advocate
and cheerleader. Provide board members with the tools and
knowledge to support you in your efforts, and you'll even further
strengthen trust and rapport essential for effective
leadership. Please feel free to reach out to me anytime for
specific examples on these tips, and how you could apply them to
your organization, at email@example.com, or
How your rural health organization can benefit and tips to get
Posted on February 7, 2018
By: Mike Milligan, President - Legato Healthcare
Internal before external. It's a caveat to effective
marketing, and it's particularly relevant in rural health.
No dollars spent on advertising will change your brand without
considering your most valuable asset: your employees.
They are, after all, the ears and eyes of your rural health
organization. They represent you at virtually every place in
your community. The Friday football game, at church, on the
soccer field, or at the grocery store. They influence the
perceptions of their co-workers, family and friends.
As a rural health leader, consider engaging with this important
audience through the development of an Employee Ambassador program.
In short, the initiative is about identifying 10-15 employees who
positively influence others in your organization. Title is
irrelevant, and in fact, I'd encourage representatives from
clinical and administrative backgrounds, and also who may live in
various regions of your service area. These employees,
or ambassadors, are responsible for sharing messages in their
social environments, as well as gathering feedback from the
community and back to hospital leadership.
As we've helped establish these programs for others, we've
learned that employees are honored to be considered. They
appreciate the recognition, and immediately share their enthusiasm
Gain Insights to Internal Culture
The format and purpose of the program can vary to your
needs. Some organizations use the program to roll out new
marketing initiatives, and to receive employee buy-in before
launching a new campaign. Other rural health leaders benefit
most from the program by gaining some valuable insights to the
culture of their organization.
Setup includes identifying the participants and training the new
ambassadors. These include discussing responsibilities and
expectations, and listening to the ideas of your new advocates.
Then, based on this input, it's time to put that plan into
place. Here are a few other suggestions to increase the
likelihood of success for your program:
- Implement a nomination process for selection of
ambassadors. Criteria should include demonstration of
leadership, community involvement, what made them interested in
being an ambassador, and a supervisor recommendation
- Provide public recognition for ambassadors.
- Conduct detailed ambassador training including duties, key
messages and expectations.
- Have regular follow-up meetings with ambassadors to share new
information, and to learn what they're experiencing.
- Respond to all new ideas and take immediate action on the ideas
you plan to adopt.
As you grow this program, it should naturally progress to all
employees serving as ambassadors to your message. You'll see
stakeholder support throughout your organization, mobilize
employees around common goals through the leveraging of diverse
experiences. It all starts with leadership and setting the course
for your future. For more information on setting up an
Employee Ambassador Program for your rural health organization,
fill out this form and
we'll set up a time to help you get started.
Posted on January 19, 2018
By: Chelsea Rank, Marketing Manager
Your organization can't provide healthcare to patients without
physicians! However, a
physician shortage is predicted in the coming years, so it's
important to begin conceptualizing your physician recruitment
strategy now so you can be prepared for the changing
patient/provider landscape. So, what's the key to being found by
new providers searching for a position right out of medical school?
And how do you reach established providers looking for a change,
and convince them that your organization is the place to be?
It all starts with a unified marketing strategy, and the good
news is you don't need a large budget. Consider the website
optimization Legato has done with digestive health physician
Associates, located in Wausau, WI. The goal was to attract more
physicians, and Legato began with the website's career opportunity
landing page. Using the five best practices below, Legato was able
to improve the website's
user experience (UX) and came one step closer to becoming
visible to physicians seeking an open position:
- Understand your audience's values. Leveraging
your organization's Unique Selling Proposition (USP) will set the
foundation for your headline, supporting headline, body content,
and closing argument. In GI Associates' case, emphasizing the
clinic's impact on patients in north and central Wisconsin, as well
as its longstanding history, and location benefits were vital
elements to include on this webpage.
- Capture attention visually. Including dynamic
graphic elements such as photos of your building, photos taken in
the community, and photos of your providers will guide the eye
throughout the page and make it easy to keep reading. Following GI
Associates' brand standards, we upheld certain colors, fonts, and
icon elements for the landing page to ensure there was consistency
with the other pages on the website.
- Make content easy to digest. A list summary of
benefits conveys important information, without bogging the page
down with too many details. Your audience has an average attention
span of about 8 seconds. Make an impression and avoid graphical
clutter by using bite-sized phrases and sentences. Also, be sure to
do your research for the most commonly searched keywords in your
geographic area. Making your landing page search engine optimized
will allow you to rank higher in online searches.
- Include trust indicators. Using provider
testimonials can drive home your point. After all, no one is better
at explaining why they love working at your organization than your
own employees. You can take it another step further by
incorporating video testimonials, to really capture the
individuality of each provider's story.
- Set up an easy conversion goal. Here's the
most important element of the entire landing page: You need to
include a Call-To-Action (CTA). This can be done with or without a
form. Make sure your CTA is clear and eye-catching, and make it as
streamlined as possible, so users don't need to click multiple
times to arrive at the end goal.
Fortunately, Legato complemented the efforts of a selected
recruiting agency and was able to share in GI Associates' success,
as growth in this area was achieved. Of course, a digital strategy
is only one component of an overall recruitment plan. To maximize
your efforts, a unified, comprehensive strategy is most effective.
For more tips on physician recruitment, or best practices for your
website, consider using a Legato mentor as part of your team.
Contact us here.
Posted on January 18, 2018
Fad diets don't work.
After all, we all know that living a healthy lifestyle is based
on changing long-term behavior. Think, and act, in a whole
new way. This year, take that same philosophy in how you
market and grow your rural healthcare organization.
In our next National Rural Health Association (NRHA) webinar:
"New Year, New Habits: Positive marketing changes
in 2018 to grow your rural hospital," you'll learn
helpful tips to change your marketing mindset. Despite the
challenges of rural health, you can, as many others do, increase
volumes and revenue, and substantially reduce out-migration.
We'll cover these 10 guidelines in detail:
1. Learn from the past year
2. Form specific, measurable and achievable goals
3. Develop a plan that drives your strategy
4. Stay disciplined to your plan
5. Engage employees, providers, and board in the solution
6. Examine problems and solutions from new and different
7. Engage with the community and patients in a meaningful
8. Understand how patients search for you online and cater to
9. Demonstrate the patient experience through memorable and
10. Communicate with providers and set expectations that
marketing is a two-way street
Attend Our Upcoming Webinar
Register for our
upcoming webinar, January 31 at 2:00 CDT "New Year, New
Habits: Positive marketing changes in 2018 to grow your rural
hospital," presented by Mike Milligan, President of Legato
Posted on January 11, 2018
How search engine optimization can help your rehab center
attract more clients
Unless you're knee deep into digital marketing, SEO or search
engine optimization, might seem like a mysterious, confusing
concept. In reality, it's more of a science than an art form. As an
addiction and behavioral health treatment provider, you monitor
your patients closely, watching for trends and behavioral triggers.
You also likely use outcomes as the basis for your treatment
SEO works much in the same way. But, before diving in, it's
important to separate SEO from Pay-Per-Click, or PPC, which is when
popular search engines like Google allow businesses and individuals
to buy ad listings on their search results. The business or
individual bids on specific and relevant keywords they want to
target. When their target audience searches for a keyword, their ad
listings appear above or below organic search results. The business
or individual only pays the search engine when an ad is clicked
Recently, Google made headlines by limiting PPC search terms for
addiction treatment to protect those seeking treatment from
misleading advertising. These limitations are good for patient
safety and also increase the importance of a solid inbound
Modern age of patient acquisition
SEO is different from PPC; it's the practice of improving your
website so that it attracts more visitors from search engines. It
helps put your content in front of a relevant target audience at
times when they are searching for solutions that you offer. SEO
turns strangers from search engines into new visitors on your
When thinking about your SEO, it's essential to understand that
62% of people use smartphones to search for health-related
information. Compared to desktop computer users, people searching
on a mobile device are more likely to actually contact the
facility. This tells us that your future patients want access to
information quickly and while on the go. It also reveals that if
they can find what they are looking for, they are willing to 'pull
the trigger' and visit your website, submit a form, or make the
Like you, your competitors are online and fighting for
shelf-space. That's why good SEO is so important. By choosing the
right keywords, you will increase your visibility, draw valuable
visitors to your website, and be competitive in local searches.
And, when you increase your visibility, you also build trust and
increase your credibility.
To learn more about digital marketing strategy for your
behavioral health organization, contact us.
Posted on December 28, 2017
Trends are not always easy to predict, nor do they always have
the influence we think they might have (Bitcoin, anyone?). But how
we prepare for them or react to them can make all the difference.
We've examined some healthcare marketing data and put together a
list of what we might expect in 2018. Some of this list will look
familiar and some will be new. Regardless, it's important to start
thinking of these things now so you can plan for success.
More sophisticated searches, content that means something, and
mobile mobile mobile. Here's what to look for in digital:
- Video Rules: Content continues to be king, and
video rules them all. Consumers are looking for high quality
content from their providers or other trusted resources to educate
them on health issues. The takeaway here: keep the blogs but add
- Content Counts: You can't get anything past
the ever-learning Google! If you want your healthcare facility to
make the top of searches, you'll need comprehensive, developed
content, not just good keywords.
- Mobility: Google rankings will also depend on
the strength of your website. Make sure it's optimized for all
platforms, especially mobile.
Physicians as Freelancers
Increasing numbers of physicians are opting for a different
model of employment. They are choosing to become either independent
contractors, making rounds at many different facilities, or part of
a physicians group serving a larger area. Fewer and fewer are
employed solely by one facility. This is often a more economical
solution for both providers and facilities, but it presents
marketing challenges that need to be handled with care.
Impatience with Patient Portals
For healthcare facilities, electronic health records and online
patient processing can be a godsend. For patients, however, the
system must be intuitive and easy. Spare patients the frustration
of online registration and messaging by making sure your patient
portal software works for your facility and your
Patients can tell when a facility is well run and has a staff
that enjoys their employment. In 2018 more than ever, patient
satisfaction will be predicted by employee satisfaction. Healthcare
CEOs will be challenged with creating positive culture or growing
the culture that is in place.
Want to stay on top of the latest search trends? Get insight and
news from our search experts. Contact us here.
Urology Associates is a high-profile, cutting-edge clinic with
skilled physicians and plenty of talent. Yet when they came to us,
their volumes were flat and potential patients appeared to be
choosing their competitors. This was a specialty clinic in search
of solutions, and we were happy to help.
In tandem with creating a solid strategy for traditional
marketing efforts, we devoted significant efforts into a digital
strategy for Urology Associates.
Making a splash in a digital world
Digital marketing is, simply, marketing that takes place online.
Digital marketing used to be considered "new" or "non-traditional"
marketing. Now, however, it's one of the most important components
of successfully marketing any specialty clinic. Digital marketing
comes in many forms, often working in tandem with one another:
- Increases visibility of your specialty clinic
- Develops lasting relationships with your audience
- Improves brand awareness and recognition
- Helps you to build authority and credibility
- Positions you as an industry thought leader
- Generates traffic to your site
- Helps your audience move through the buyer's journey more
- Makes your business feel "genuine"
- Gives your practice an opportunity to connect with the audience
on a one-on-one basis and get a feel for their needs and wants
- Creates brand transparency
- Opens conversations
- Increases visibility
- Acts as a customer service tool - your customers can give you
feedback or suggestions as well as raise awareness of an issue; you
can see the problem and directly address it for all to see
- Improves brand exposure
- Builds credibility
- Strengthens relationships
- Helps move target audience through the buyer's journey
- Exposes brand to first page
- Generates measurable results
- Targets traffic
- Drives traffic to your website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Increases traffic
- Provides trackable and quantifiable results
- Offers cost-effective visibility
- Increases site usability
- Heightens brand awareness
Digital marketing efforts for Urology Associates included print
handouts encouraging patients to rate their experiences online, an
organized e-mail strategy for reaching out to patients and
referring physicians, Google Adwords campaigns, developing and
setting up a social media presence, and the creation of a new
The results are encouraging, and there's so much more we can
do! For starters, website traffic has increased 66 percent in
just six months, and overall engagement with visitors has
If you'd like to learn more about Urology Associates' success,
we invite you to download their Case Study
Posted on November 15, 2017
When creating a healthcare marketing strategy, we often are
confronted with the question: "Why should anyone care?" As a
healthcare marketing agency, our challenge is to produce a response
that answers the question in a compelling way.
The point is not to be crass, but rather, focused and
effective. All too often in our work with rural healthcare
leaders, we'll hear the need to let their community know the
benefits of receiving care "close to home." I'm not arguing
that proximity is a valid point, but it begs our perpetual
question: "Why should they care?"
Take the "Close To Home" Message Further
In other words, why should the "close to home" message be
meaningful? Yes, sure we all like to know that healthcare is
minutes away and we don't need to drive an hour or more for
care. But, we would argue, we must take this message much
"Close To Home" as a Supporting Message
"Close to home" can and should be a supporting message in your
healthcare marketing strategy, but not the primary message.
Otherwise, we're simply perpetuating the myth that rural health is,
well, the best option if time doesn't allow you to go elsewhere.
We'd never advocate promoting something that you're not, and
certainly, rural facilities don't always have all the capabilities
as their big-city competitors. But, oftentimes people are
unaware of the breadth - and quality - of services that rural
hospitals have to offer.
Would you rather that a patient selects your general surgery
program because of its reputation for quality and service, or
because it was the shortest drive? And conversely, if you're
deciding on general surgery for you or a loved one, if you don't
have the confidence in the local hospital, are you still going to
go there anyway because it's closer? Of course not.
Again, "close to home" is a strong supporting member of the cast,
but it can't assume the lead role.
Make Your Audience Care That Your Hospital is Close
Maybe there are reasons for your audience to trust the general
surgeon because of how you've promoted outcomes, or how you've
involved the surgeon in the community. Or maybe you've fully
marketed the surgeon to your primary care base and helped build
that rapport and confidence. Or you've promoted specific reasons to
select a surgeon: coping with that hernia issue, or that incessant
heartburn, or whatever reason causes a response or action.
And beyond general surgery, maybe your facility has visiting
specialists such as a urologist, gynecologist or orthopedic surgeon
who does some outpatient procedures at your facility. But,
the key here from a financial perspective is to give patients
reasons to have their procedures performed locally, and not at the
nearby city where the specialty physician may have a
For example, when promoting your urology services, demonstrate
the ability of your organization to help a woman with
incontinence. What does she want when considering your
organization? For starters, she needs to know you've done the
procedure before, you've had positive results, your physicians and
staff are comforting, and you have all the needed equipment and
Consumer research conducted on behalf of our clients repeatedly
tells us that patients want to stay local, but you need to tell
them why. Not just because it's convenient, but because of
the quality care, the personal touch, the real-life patient stories
- and yes, because it's also close to home.
Interested in learning or discussing this further with us? Contact us here
Posted on September 19, 2017
By: Mike Milligan, President
In this blog series, we'll discuss the common myths surrounding
rural healthcare - and give you some myth-busting tools. Here is
Part 2 of our blog series. You
can find Part 1 here.
Myth: Everyone Should Get An Equal-Sized Piece of the
I've found this "squeaky wheel" myth can be particularly tricky
Even in rural hospitals, the competition for shelf space can get
heated. The hard, cold truth is that service lines bring in
different revenues. And while every department wants to be
marketed, the focus should be driven by a set list of criteria and
Myth Busting Tool: Focus on a Few Things and Do Them Right
How do we decide where to place our emphasis in marketing? It
begins with service line prioritization.
- Downstream revenue
- Community goodwill
- Competitive advantage
- Unmet needs
- Capitalizing on competitor weakness
But as healthcare leaders, our job is to best manage the limited
resources of our rural hospital. Decisions should be made based on
agreed-upon criteria and alignment with the goals outlined in your
strategic plan. And as our clients have often heard me say,
"marketing should focus on doing a finite amount of things very
well, rather than trying to do a little bit for everyone."
Myth: We Can't Measure ROI From Marketing
You've probably heard of ROI, but you should really know about
ROMI - Return on Marketing Investment.
To measure ROMI, you first need to define your organizational
goals. Sometimes these are business objectives such
- Increasing volumes of a specific procedure or service line by a
- Growing patient volumes
- Strengthening physician referrals
- Expanding revenue
Or, you could have communication objectives such
- Increasing website visits
- Maximizing community education event attendances
- Escalating social media engagement
Myth Busting Tool: Show Me the ROMI!
Now it's time for the fun part - analyzing the fruits of your
labor. While I enjoy every part of the process with our clients,
from initial planning through execution, my favorite part is when
they get to see the ROMI.
To give you an idea of what success might look like, I'll recap
the results of
recent campaigns at a rural Montana hospital. In
this case, the goals were to:
- Build hospital-employed PCPs and OB services
- Increase volumes for specialty services
- Tell the hospital's story
To accomplish these goals, we launched campaigns that focused on
both the providers and the services. The challenge was to increase
awareness of the primary care providers and increase patient
volumes. The campaign showcased how the providers are relatable to
everyday Montanans. We highlighted providers' interests, hobbies,
and what they love about living in Montana. Additional campaigns
highlighted their full suite of OB and primary care services.
In a six-month period, primary care visits increased by 16
percent and total deliveries increased by a whopping 80 percent -
clearly busting that myth about ROI.
Many more rural healthcare myths exist, but with the right
strategy you can change those perceptions. Take advantage of the
internal resources you currently have available and capitalize on
your strengths as rural healthcare providers.
Want to Learn More?
Join Mike Milligan's presentation, Busting Rural Healthcare
Myths, at the Fall NRHA Conference in Kansas City to learn the
best avenues for building awareness of the quality staff and
services available at your rural hospital. Click here for more details
about this event.