Building your Customer Base as a First Time Business Owner in Healthcare Sector

The key to building a successful business in any sector is to thoroughly understand the desires and needs of the particular market. In the final analysis, it is individuals that make up that market. By communicating the benefits to consumers and connecting to those who require the services and products on offer, a business will grow its customer base.

Health and wellness center
photo credit: Edson Hong

Changes in the health sector drive business

An influx of technology into the healthcare sector in recent years, a new generation of doctors familiar with technology, the spread of high-speed Internet and mobile devices has seen investors take an interest in this sector and has opened up new opportunities for enterprise.

Like businesses in any other sector those based in healthcare have as many ways to lose money as to make it, and there are several peculiarities to take on board for those intending to start a company in this area.

Characteristics of health-related products

Products need to be “have-to-have” rather than “nice-to-have”, for instance. Also, many ideas and companies in this sector only apply to a particular subset of healthcare, such as heartburn, arthritis or breast cancer, and therefore much reworking is usually needed when moving between disease areas. This in turn will have an impact on revenue streams when starting out.

Physiotherapist and his patient

Concentrate on marketing

One of the most effective means of quickly growing a customer base within a short time frame is to concentrate on promotion and to develop an effective, focused marketing plan to promote the business. Here are some tested suggestions for quickly building a customer base:

1. Create direct mail for a target market

A direct mail campaign can be very effective when the target group has been clearly identified, in this case a subset of healthcare, such as arthritis. Direct mail will reach such people who are already effectively primed to receive a range of particular products and services.

2. Referral programs

A referral program will reward customers in some way when they bring others into the base. This could be in the form of gifts, discounts or invites to special events, such as lectures and seminars, with expert guest speakers on the condition in question.

3. Use newspaper, TV and radio advertising

One way of growing a customer base practically overnight is to get the word out through traditional media. Many businesses, not only in the health sector, devalue this type of self-promotion because they either don’t appreciate how it can assist them or else are not willing to pay for the placements. Local media outlets usually understand the finer points of demographic advertising and are well worth consulting.

Eyechart vision
photo credit:
4. Internet marketing

Internet marketing fine-tunes the business’s relationship with its customers by aligning with the way they make decisions regarding purchasing. The Internet is used increasingly to make preliminary purchase decisions and product research. Internet marketing is the perfect tool for carrying on low-cost communication that can be highly personalized, as opposed to old-fashioned mass marketing of an untargeted nature. Specialist online marketing companies tend to see the bigger picture and can help a startup business to design and implement a pinpointed tailored campaign. This is as true of traditional media as of the new media, where experts in SEO, PPC and web development can set up targeted campaigns across multiple platforms.

5. Train up employees

Valued employees develop a sense of ownership and responsibility when the business owner invests in their skills and careers, and this can have a quite dramatic effect on boosting a customer base. This is especially true of the health sector, where employees need specialist knowledge and meet customers every day, both in the workplace and beyond. Potential customers may abound, but converting them into real, paying customers may well take a minimum level of professional skill.

6. Improve lead and contact conversion rates

Leads and contacts have to be converted into valuable customers at the first opportunity, as keeping tabs on them through mailing lists and other campaigns can prove financially draining. A list of names that simply soaks up labor is not an asset you need. The potential customer has to be known and fully understood, and for conversion it is crucial to know how they can benefit by contributing financially to the enterprise by buying goods or services.


By implementing just these few strategies, any business, whether in the healthcare sector or elsewhere, can expect to see a dramatic expansion of its customer base. This in turn will have a positive feedback on morale, and a disheartened and stagnant enterprise can miraculously transform into a visionary one that thinks big and is full of renewed confidence and momentum.