How often does your practice reach out to local schools, school districts and universities? The answer should be regularly. School and college campuses are a great place to help your practice develop a relationship with the community.
But outreach to an educational institution is far different than marketing to prospective patients. Perhaps you’ve sent direct mailers or had online ads that promote your practice and even sell a particular service. On a campus, marketing and advertising are generally considered unethical but outreach is a way to still connect with this community.
Difference Between Marketing and Outreach
Marketing and outreach share fundamentals such as asking the audience to complete an action or building brand recognition with an audience. Where the primary goal in marketing and advertising is a sale, the goal of outreach is often to educate an audience and to engage with them.
Some reasons why you would want to reach out to the students in your community are:
- Educate the community on health conditions supported by your specialty.
- Build expertise of knowledge in your specialty within your community.
- Develop relationships that can lead to future staff recruiting efforts.
How to Reach Out
With education and engagement in mind, reaching out to campuses should follow a specific path. First, make contact with a campus official. If you are trying to educate the community on the addition of audiology services to your practice, try to develop a relationship with someone at the school district office who can help you navigate their school system.
Second, have a plan for how you will meet your goal. If you want to educate the community on your audiology services, you could offer to provide free hearing screenings for one grade level, provide hearing loss posters for classroom, and provide information about the signs of hearing loss in children.
Finally, use your relationship to develop further opportunities. If you have provided educational opportunities to the campuses, take it further. Speak with the school district about the services you can provide for children who fail their hearing screenings.
Some people say there is no difference between marketing and outreach, but there is. Instead of striving to make a sale, outreach can help you create a positive image for your practice in the community as well as put your practice in the prime position to be a resource for schools and universities. It can also help you gauge the need for specific services through engagement with the community.