DIGITAL MARKETING – A MUCH NEEDED LEARNING CURVE FOR HOMOEOPATHS
Keyur H. Vakharia MD (Hom),
Consulting Homoeopath & Digital Marketer, Mumbai
Address for correspondence: Dr. Keyur Vakharia
How to cite this article:
Vakharia KH. Digital marketing – a much needed learning curve for homoeopaths. of Integrated Standardized Homoeopathy (JISH) 2019; 02(01)
Evolving modes of expression and communication demand evolution of strategies to be used by Homoeopaths to portray their services to their prospective patients. Digital media is one of the platforms, which when used independently or in conjunction with other marketing activities, helps improve individual and brand awareness. This article highlights the need to learn and apply the basics of digital marketing to the Homoeopathic profession. A few examples of doctors/ brands/ clinics have been used in this article to illustrate the same.
After a grueling five-and-a-half years of Homeopathic education (eight-and-a-half if you have done your MD), we Homoeopaths need to use our knowledge and experience efficiently and effectively to serve society. The fundamentals of Homoeopathy have remained the same, but its study and analysis have witnessed changes. In the good old days, we manually searched symptoms in the Materia Medica. The advent of the repertory has made the task of searching many remedies under one symptom relatively easy. However, what aced the evolutionary process was the advent of software-based models of short-listing remedies – the computer repertory!
Changes impacting the practice of Homoeopathy:
What has drastically changed in the past few decades is the mode of expression and communication. The classic dialer telephone set has been replaced by a smart phone. In fact, the smart phone has taken over the functions of digital diaries (that stored phone numbers), cameras, music systems, and memory storage; soon enough, artificial intelligence will be used in these gadgets!
Homoeopaths have to adapt to these changing times and technologies.
If a Homoeopath shouts in a room full of people, the people in that room will be able to hear, though the ones closest will hear him most clearly. When the Homoeopath uses a mike, the people farthest from her / him will be able to hear what it being said, but if a loudspeaker is used, perhaps the people in the neighborhood will be able to hear! Digital media is one such loudspeaker, which when used in the right manner, will amplify the Homoeopath’s reach way beyond the limitations of Geography.
What is Digital Media?
The phrase digital media that is used in this article is a combination of two words: namely, digital and media.
The word digital in this, refers to the following.
Digital: Electronic digital devices/technology also: characterized by electronic and especially computerized technology
The word media, refers to: a medium of cultivation, conveyance, or expression
Thus digital media is a medium of expression by using technology
What is Digital marketing?
Let us first understand what is marketing. A Definition of marketing –
1a: the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market
b: the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
2: an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer
Thus, digital marketing is promoting, selling, and distribution of one’s goods and / or services (in this case Homoeopathic consultation, services, and knowledge) using digital media.
People spend tens of hours every week surfing the internet using one or the other form of digital media. They use it for everything from finding information to buying products and services. One can safely say that these platforms are rich grounds for showcasing your goods and services, for example telling your patients all about Homoeopathy.
We need to identify and then learn to operate any digital media platform so as to use it to its best potential.
Let’s explore some of the best digital marketing platforms for Homoeopaths.
- Website: A website is a Homoeopath’s or his / her company’s digital identity. It is the basic platform on which a Homoeopath can talk about their work and market their services. A website is given top priority in search results of the relevant search categories. The website is an effective tool to portray your mission, vision, showcase your professional achievements, results of your cases, knowledge-based articles and contact details. It can also act as a point of engagement and communication between you and your patient especially if you write about useful and interesting topics on your website and facilitate communication using a comment box and inquiry form.
For example, www.sattvaclinics.com is the official website of Dr. Shashwat Joshi and Dr. Priyanka Joshi, Consulting Homoeopaths from Surat. Their website portrays all that a patient must know about a Homoeopathic clinic. It has all the essentials like details of the treating doctors and the appointment process as well as an appointment booking system and testimonials of successfully treated patients. There is a section on Homoeopathy that is useful for people who are using Homoeopathy for the first time.
Thus, a website serves as a wonderful interactive medium to provide information and also enhance the digital print of the professional services of any Homoeopathic Physician.
- YouTube: YouTube is a video streaming platform where a Homoeopath can upload videos and make them available for their patients. Unlike a website, it is not a direct medium for communication. However, it is a powerful medium to increase awareness about Homoeopathy with the help of the audio-visual mode of communication.
For example, using his YouTube channel, Dr Aadil Chimthanawala (a consulting homoeopathic physician from Nagpur, Maharashtra) has created health and Homoeopathic awareness using short disease-oriented video clips. Shorter clips are not only effective but help to cater to the audience’s short attention span. The short clips are easy to upload and watch.
The YouTube channel helps in two ways – firstly, it helps to share the information in an audio-visual mode, thereby enhancing its impact and also reach. Secondly, over a period of time it can be an additional revenue-generating source for Homoeopaths. As the videos become popular and the number of views increases, advertisements can be placed, which generate revenue. This is another powerful medium to connect with the clients.
- Facebook: Facebook is like a mini website. Here, a Homoeopath can briefly discuss and propagate their clinical services. Using Facebook, a Homoeopath can talk about Homoeopathy using website links, text, photos, videos and / or a combination of all the three. Facebook also helps establish direct communication with your clients with its messaging and commenting feature. Though there are definite limitations when you compare it with a website, it is cost-effective as there are no costs involved in creating a webpage on Facebook and it can be easily done.
One such example is the Sattva Clinic’s Facebook page- where, along with educational posts, it also displays before and after results in cases treated with Homeopathy using images.
How to measure the results of our efforts?
Every digital media platform has metrics embedded within itself. This helps track the number of people who have engaged with you on this platform. It varies from someone only seeing it, to inquiring about it, to someone actually seeking your service in the form of a Homoeopathic consultation.
The conversion metrics and processes differ from one digital media platform to another. For e.g., one of the measurement metrics of a website is the number of hits it has received during a said period of time. An increasing number of website visits indicates improving audience engagement in the form of website visits only. However, website visits alone may not help; therefore, having an inquiry form becomes essential to compare the inquiry : visitor ratio. Again, is that the bench mark? Well, yes, partially. The next best thing would be a patient booking a consultation by paying online.
Alternatively, one may ask patients for feedback i.e., from where did they come to know about you or your clinic? This data alone and / or in combination with each other will help measure the realization : effort ratio.
How to make a start?
All Homoeopaths can use the internet to boost their digital footprint. The following points can be kept in mind:
- Know your product / services well (know yourself well)
- Begin simple and set goals. As a novice practitioner, one may not have enough funds to build a website or hire someone to make high-end graphics. However, a novice practitioner does have a lot of incubation time. Use this time to read and develop your knowledge of clinical medicine and Homoeopathy (because that is who you are; a physician and a Homoeopath) as well as to build up your brand presence.
- Start with registering for free digital media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
- Then, start your own basic website, over a period of time one can create a website with high-end graphics and even a secure, encrypted payments platform.
If one cannot manage or start such initiatives, the services of a digital marketer can be sought and professional help can be taken.
Who is a digital marketer?
A ‘digital marketer’ is an individual who is trained for and develops expertise in operating and using various digital media platforms for the purpose of marketing products and / or services of an individual (including self) or a company (including one’s own company). They are usually certified through various courses that provide basic skills and training in the field. However there is a lot to learn on the job and in the author’s experience, the job is the best teacher.
In today’s digital age, it is the need of the hour for the Homoeopathic Physicians to enhance their digital footprint, so that they improve the quality and reach of their services.
Conflict of Interest:
The author doesn’t personally endorse any of the brands / doctors / services mentioned in this article; nor have his professional services been sought by the above-mentioned ventures.
The author has taken permission from the brands/doctors/services mentioned in the article to use their ventures and talk about them for educational purposes only. The author would like to thank Dr. Shashwat Joshi and Dr. Priyanka Joshi from Sattva Clinics and Dr. Aadil Chimthanawala, for allowing to quote their respective digital media platforms in this article. I also thank my family and my spouse Dr. Latika Agrawal for being a constant source of encouragement to me and my work. I also thank my alma mater, Dr. M. L. Dhawale Memorial Homoeopathic Institute, Palghar. I owe the learning curve of my life to my institute.