Digital Marketing for Entrepreneurial Doctors

A.I. Prompt: Pixel art of a Digital Marketing Doctor

Learning digital marketing is something I recommend for all entrepreneurial doctors.

Too many start ups overspend on marketing, or simply get their marketing plan wrong.


Digital marketing for healthcare can appear too complex to learn quickly.

But I urge you to learn the basics, and save 1000s in return – whether you’re doing your own marketing or not.

Healthcare Digital Marketing: Start with DIY

Ignore the basics of digital marketing at your own peril.

It’s a bit like not bothering to learn car basics and mechanics.

Know nothing, and every time there’s a problem with your car you have to spend money to fix it. You can also be charged ‘extra’ without knowing if you really need to pay it or not.

Knowing a little therefore goes a long way. You’re less likely to get scammed by bad actors, and more able to get the fundamentals sorted out in your own time.

So whether you want to bootstrap your initial marketing efforts to kickstart your revenue generation, or want to know what you’re paying for – this marketing guide is for you.

How to get started

Digital Markeitng for Doctors Getting Started
Digital Marketing 101

Digital marketing is a big, ever changing landscape.

Put simply, there are two main ways for doctors to use it to gain new customers, clients or patients.

  1. Adverts & Outreach
  2. Presence

Adverts naturally have to be paid for, and ‘presence’ can either be bought or built.

These two methods are more commonly referred to as:

  1. Outbound (traditional) marketing
  2. Inbound marketing

The Medical MBA teaches Outbound Marketing for your initial

Outbound Marketing: Risky and Capital Intensive

Mona Lisa: 2023 Edition

Running ads is a lot more than having an eye catching visual with a quirky tagline.

I wish more startups knew this straight away.

Outbound marketing is the advertising you’re familiar with – think the famous ‘Mad Men’ of Madison Avenue in the 1960s.

Print, radio and TV ads are all outbound marketing.

Modern equivalents include Google, Facebook and Youtube ads as well as email and SMS marketing.

For doctors, and any other time poor professional, you want to achieve the best results while at the same time lowering your exposure to risk.

Creating an advert seems deceptively easy, but there is a reason advertising agencies are paid millions to do their job.

Understanding visual design, copywriting and behavioural psychology isn’t something you can pick up overnight.

All of that work will only bring results if your underlying business hypothesis and market research is strong.

If you’re just getting started – avoid outbound marketing.

There are some exceptions (like getting started – see below – and utilising cold calling which is still surprisingly effective), but in the main it should engaged with when you hire an expert and have the investment or revenue to be able to afford them.

Doctor Entrepreneur? Leverage Direct Relationships

Healthcare Startups thrive on direct relationships

Outbound marketing is actually key at the embryonic stages.

At The Medical MBA, we teach outbound marketing as key to taking your fledgling business from 0 to Stage 1.

Your first 5-20 customers will come from this manual outreach.

This means calling friends, collegues and family to get the word out; finding people on social media who could benefit from what you offer and having 1-on-1 conversations.

This is ‘free’, and the fastest, most cost effective way to launch a business.

The pre-eminent startup accelerator Y Combinator teaches this to all of their students (like those who founded Reddit, Dropbox, AirBnB, Stripe, Codecademy, Coinbase, Zapier and Quora, to name a few).

So digitial marketing within healthcare starts manually, no matter how big you think the business might grow.

So what is Inbound Marketing?

Imagine you want to learn something, or find a service like a medical clinic near you.

What do you do?

You instantly Google it.

While you will be served some paid ads, the rest of the results got there due to a concerted Inbound Marketing plan.

If you want a new hiking bag, and you see someone on Instagram talking about it – which then leads you to an eCommerce site – that’s inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing is essentially becoming visible within your desired niche.

So if you’re starting a Health & Wellness business, that might mean being at the top of Google for ‘Spa near me’, or it might mean creating or engaging with online content about Lifestyle Medicine.

Rather than going out to find customers with paid promotion, you are creating a web of touch points so people can find you online.

This can be through a blog, podcast, social media account or any other source of information online.

What are the benefits of Inbound Marketing for healthcare entrepreneurs?

Inbound Marketing: Prospects come to you

There are two core benefits in contrast with Outbound Marketing.

  1. It’s ‘free’
  2. The results compound over time, rather than disappear when you stop paying

The caveats to the above are

  1. It’s free because you invest your own time and effort, learning and creating
  2. The results compound slowly, over weeks and months
  3. Some highly competitive niches could mean results come in months and years

You can always hire experts to help you when needed, but if you begin on your own your reap the rewards of understanding marketing ‘behind the scenes’

What types of inbound marketing should doctors use?

Bootstrapping? Start with SEO

Not all inbound marketing is the same.

I recommend you start with SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation.

Quite simply, it is the most reliable for long-term results.

Running a social media account, hosting webinars and recording a podcast are all good ways of marketing, but not when you’re first getting started.

‘Going viral’ is not a dependable marketing strategy and requires extensive planning to make it actually happen

These methods are resource and time intensive when compared to SEO, and have poor retention rates.

Some blog articles on the other hand can be published once and read by thousands over weeks and months.

SEO for Doctors and HCPs

Most entrepreneurial doctors bootstrap their first businesses.

Unless your business idea requires outside investment, you should too.

Inbound marketing allows start up businesses to keep costs low and keeps cash flow positive at a time* when 90% of people fail. (*the 1st year of business)

SEO can be very complicated, but there is a forgiving learning curve for beginners, and a little bit of effort can bring about significant and long lasting results.

We are building the complete SEO guide for Doctors in 2023. Make sure you’re signed up to the NeuroFuse newsletter to read it first.