In this episode, Barbara and Sarah discuss:

  • Freeing up time without it costing a fortune in operating expenses.
  • Cleaning up your emails and social media accounts and repurposing created material.
  • Having a social media platform as a medical professional. 
  • Staying connected and investing in yourself.


Key Takeaways:

  • Match your marketing to your ideal client (pediatricians will have a different marketing strategy than an orthopedic surgeon). 
  • Ask people for help. Ask for what your patients want to know more about and things that matter to you and to them.
  • When you communicate with patients from your heart, it is going to show.
  • Measure by metrics, don’t measure by emotions. 



“Your practice your business can have that same big brand feel when you get really, really clear and really dialed in to what you want it to look like.” —  Sarah Tugender


Dr. Barbara Hales:      Welcome to another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Today, we have with us Sarah Tugender. Welcome to the show, Sarah.

Sarah Tugender:          Thanks for having me.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Sarah has used her passion for health with her drive to free up space in practitioners’ schedules for 15 years. She creates processes and systems for healthcare practices to free up space in their schedule. The benefit is that they don’t have to burn the candle at both ends, avoiding the burnout that is prevalent in the industry. She travels up to a dozen times a year to speak on stages across the country. Sarah’s messages include living according to your priorities, incorporating business strategies that work for your network, and leveraging the power of social media. It’s a pleasure to have you here today, Sarah.

Sarah Tugender:          I am so thrilled to be here. I’ve been bingeing on your podcast, taking notes, and this is such a cool place to be right now in helping practitioners grow their businesses. I think this is a nice time for people to not just work in their businesses, but actually work on their businesses.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Absolutely, and you have such an interesting niche yourself that our listeners are going to want to hear about. How can practitioners free up time without it costing a fortune in operating expenses?

Sarah Tugender:          Yeah, that’s a really great question. I find that what ends up happening is… and I can only really speak from experiences, what I’ve seen not just from my clients, but what I’ve seen firsthand. I like to say that I grew up in medicine. I was born the same year that my dad started medical school, Barbara. I think you can appreciate just how absolutely crazy that must have been, right? So, he went to go take his first exam, and went up to the blackboard and wrote, “Sarah. Born October 16th. Seven pounds, six ounces,” right before he sat down at Tufts University right outside of Boston.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Well, that’s remarkable because I can tell you the stress for medical students is really off the charts. I would say that about 95% of the medical students that were married at the time we entered school were divorced at the end of medical school graduation. So, kudos to your parents for keeping it all together.

Sarah Tugender:          They did go on to have five more children after me too. So not only did they keep it together, but… and then that was… So they had a…

Dr. Barbara Hales:      But they kept it together.

Sarah Tugender:          They kept it together. Yes, they did, and I remember my dad. So, my dad had a private practice for over 25 years, and I watched mom and dad. Then, they actually opened up a separate lifestyle medicine practice. At the time, I was studying marketing, and communications, and social media or what it was at that time at Boston University. They’d often ask me what I thought about things and what I was learning in school. They always then went, and they would buy the most expensive, flashiest marketing package that came their way. So a five-figure website, or the person that said that they were going to get them PR, and really all they did was 30 posts on Facebook that honestly any college intern could do.

I find that when you can take your marketing and you can bring it in-house, it’s going to be a lot less money than outsourcing it. The other thing is that you’re also going to be able to have a lot more control over it. So my best advice to practitioners is if you are going to go ahead and invest in someone outside of your own business, outside of your own entity that works and consults for you, make sure that at the end of that, they give you something that you can then have forever. How many providers that I say, “This is a really great YouTube channel you have. So if we were going to make more videos for you, how do we access this?” and they don’t even have the passwords? They have to go and email people they worked with almost a decade ago just to get access.

I think being able to free up the time, it’s a little bit more about having control. I mean, part of this, I don’t know about you, Barbara, but we’ve been spending a lot more time at home. I mean, I just looked around, and I said to my husband the other day like, “I think we need a new light fixture, right?” Now, all of a sudden, we’re looking at things in our house, and we’re saying, “I think this is different.” I have the most organized sock drawer I’ve ever had in my entire life, and I really think people need to think about their businesses in the same way.

This is a great opportunity for you to look at your marketing, for you to look at your social media, for you to look at your email management. The first thing I would do is I would clean it up like you clean up your sock drawer. Make sure your passwords are in order. That’s tip number one, and I know that sounds so, so basic, but I feel for providers that don’t have access to their own material, their own platforms.

Then, tip number two is you just find a brand that you love. I would start with going to… My process includes going and creating a mood board. It’s almost like… I don’t know. Dr. Barbara, have you ever created one of those vision boards where you take all the things from the magazines, and you rip them out, and you put them on a big vision board? I like creating these, and I usually will do like a Pinterest collage, or I’ll screenshot a bunch of pictures. That’s a nice way to start with marketing and to say, “What do you want… When your patients come in, where are they coming from, and where are they going in between your appointments? Who are they? What are they wearing? What do their families look like?”

Now, we’re starting to paint a picture, and we can match the marketing to that because you can agree, pediatric practice. My pediatrician who has bright prints of animals on the walls, that’s not what’s going to be in my orthopedics office, which is not what’s going to be in my oral surgeon’s office necessarily. So we really want this to fit, and that makes it so when you walk in… If I walked into a Starbucks and I didn’t see the sign that said, “Starbucks,” I would know. It’s that dark green color, that rich mahogany, the way the furniture is. I could show you a coffee cup, and you would know it was a Starbucks coffee cup. Your practice, your business can have that same big brand feel when you get really, really clear and really dialed in to what you want it to look like.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Absolutely. Now, we are heading towards a station break for one moment. We’ll be right back.

Hello, everyone. This is Dr. Barbara Hales from I wanted to interrupt this episode just for a moment to bring you a message. Interested in finding out ways to leverage your content and brand to keep your current patients and attract prospective ones? Schedule your free discovery call at That’s Now, back to the program.

Okay. Welcome back. We’re with Sarah Tugender. Tell me, Sarah. What does marketing look like for a provider in this day and age?

Sarah Tugender:          I think today that marketing really needs to be an intimate conversation. I think providers are all done with the cookie-cutter, “Let’s get the volt of this beautiful picture of someone in a white lab coat sitting with someone on the edge of an exam room table, having a dialogue with just this copywriting that’s done that was made from someone else who lives miles, and miles, and miles away.” We really want a behind-the-scenes. We want to know what makes the provider tick. We want to know what’s going on in such an honest way. Sometimes even knowing that the provider doesn’t have all the answers right yet, but it’s slowly unfolding.

Science is moving so quickly. The world is moving so quickly. We don’t know right now what anything is going to look like, and this isn’t new to just as we’re recording this in May of 2020. It’s not even relevant to right now. This was relevant even six months ago, a year ago. It’s still going to be relevant one year from now. I work with a lot of providers who are cutting-edge in what they do, and they’re doing things like nutrigenomics, which is such a growing body of evidence. They’re doing things. I was on the phone the other day with someone who’s doing some novel work in regenerative medicine with STEM cells, PRP. I mean, this is all science that the FDA is moving very quickly on, and I really find that when providers just say, “We’re learning things new, and we want to share what’s new with you,” in such an honest and open way, and take the patients on the journey with them.

The other thing that I think if there’s one takeaway I could have is ask people for help. When you ask people for help with their input to say, “What do you want to hear from me? I have some time. I could jump on and answer some questions on a Facebook Live,” let’s say, or if that’s not even comfortable for you, do a post and say, “I’m going to interact on this post for 30 minutes.” Pick a time during the day when you’re going to be live. You don’t have to show your face if you’re not ready for that yet, but to be able to have an intimate dialogue, and I’m not talking about practicing medicine. It can be something just as simple as asking, “Listen. I bought some berries at the grocery store. Is this an okay food today to be able to eat, or am I at risk of contamination?”

Whatever it is, have an open discussion with your patients about things that matter to you and that… They want to know that you’re human too and not just this person that they only see once a year, once every six months. Let’s break down those barriers once and for all, and partner with your patients and do that, I think, and social media is the best way to do that. That’s where people are looking to communicate with you.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Absolutely, and a great example of that was when a doctor from the Midwest posted a YouTube video on how to clean your groceries when you buy them for protection went so viral, he was a household name instantly overnight.

Sarah Tugender:          Awesome.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      So, things like that. Patients really just want to see and hear from. Sidebar tip. Do not wash your berries with soap and water.

Sarah Tugender:          No, never.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      What is the best social media platform for a healthcare professional do you think?

Sarah Tugender:          Yeah. I love this question because the question isn’t… It’s going to go back to that mood board, that vision board that you’re making. Okay? So let’s talk about that, Barbara, because I think that if you’re, let’s say, in pediatrics, mom groups are so huge. If you’re not in your little local community Facebook groups, then you’re not in the right place. But yet, if you are someone who is maybe a functional medicine doctor and you’re working with high CEO level types, your best place is going to probably be like a Twitter or even a LinkedIn. So, there is no best place.

I work with providers that are absolutely tearing it up and getting a following on TikTok, which… I don’t even know if everyone on your podcast knows what TikTok is, but it’s those kids dancing around doing those viral videos. I have watched providers do a really great job on that social media platform. I think let’s just gauge first with whichever one you’re the most comfortable with first because let’s not go and try to reinvent the wheel. If you’re on a platform, that’s the one. Then, let’s think about your target patient base and if you know where they are.

Again, I’m going to go back to what I said earlier, which is ask for help. Ask them. Let’s do a survey. The next 10, 20 patients you talk to, just at the end, just say, “I’m just taking a brief survey. If you don’t mind helping me out?” “Helping me out.” Add that in there. “What’s your favorite place to talk to people online, and why? Is it Facebook? Is it Twitter? Is it Instagram?” Then, invest your time there. You really only need one, maybe two.

I even think you really only need one because the way that I work with my providers is to teach them how to repurpose and reuse everything where we can have a conversation like this here today. You could go ahead and split this up, and put it onto little videos for your Facebook. You could upload it to a YouTube. You could break it up into Twitter posts. Turn it into a blog post. That blog post could easily be repurposed into a LinkedIn. It could be broken up into little mini tweets. If we did a dance, maybe we could do even a TikTok.

I don’t think that you should do this yourself. I think that, really, you should have someone who is 1099-contracted. There’s plenty of people who virtually can work with you and your team that can do this for you. So, you can show up in your brilliance. If you’re a stronger speaker, if you’re a stronger writer, start there. Start with whatever is the easiest place for you to begin. I have one provider, she loves journaling, and she’s been turning her journal posts into patient newsletters, which is going out to Facebook posts. We’re working on even maybe adding in one more platform pretty soon for her. It just is something that she does every day anyways, and we’re not taking any extra time to be able to do that. This should be effortless. It should be something that you love. When you communicate with patients from your heart, it’s going to show.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Absolutely. From that answer there, we have two key takeaways. The first takeaway is that you should just ask your patients where they are online so that you don’t have to guess. A lot of doctors may say, “Hmm, is it Facebook? Is it Instagram? Is it Pinterest?” You don’t have to guess. Just ask, and you’ll find out. I think that that is one of the biggest takeaways that you should just be more attuned to your patients.

Then, the second is, how can I curate and reuse material and content that I already have out? Because it is so much easier and time-saving to just take one bit of information, and you taking a bunch of what you already have in your blogs, and making a newsletter, or making an e-book even, or publishing an article, or even taking the material and making a little video. So, there are so many ways that you can help your patients with content that you already have. You don’t have to keep thinking of new content, unless, of course, it’s like breaking news, which other than what we’re going through right now is sporadic at best. So how do you evaluate if you are ready to work with a marketing company?

Sarah Tugender:          That’s a great question, and I think it comes down to that, the budget. Let’s think about if you want to work with a marketing company that’s going to do it for you. When you’re thinking about this, you can invest a lot of money so you don’t have to spend a lot of time into it, or with a little bit more time upfront, it’s going to save you thousands, and thousands, and thousands in the long run. I’m going to go back to my sock drawer, Barbara, because I really think I’ve learned so many lessons from being at home and learning a little bit more about efficiency.

Now that I have a place for all of my socks, now that I took my winter socks and I put them somewhere else so they’re not in the way of my athletic socks, and I have special socks just for when I do a bar workout, right? Now, I put them in their own place, and I spend a little bit of time. I spend a little bit of time organizing it. Now, when I go in, it is so quick for me to be able to do it. I have to be honest with you. I sometimes don’t put my own socks away. I’m a busy mom of three. I run a business. I consult for many different providers all around the country. I do travel up to a dozen times a year, and I found that it’s not going to make me a better mom because I put everyone’s socks away personally in the house.

I think of the same thing about your practice. I was in my chiropractor’s office the other day, and as I was getting there, he was taking out his own trash. I am not all about not rolling up my sleeves and doing the work that needs to be done, but at the same time, when you’re saying, “My marketing is struggling. I’m finding I’m not having the time,” where else is that time being spent? Is it that you’re not organized? Or you could just pay someone to do it all for you, but like I said, then six months down the road, are you any better off, or do you have to just keep shelling out thousands of dollars? How are you measuring those results?

Make sure that whatever you’re paying for, you know what the measurables are. If you don’t understand it enough, to know what you’re asking for. So if you’re putting money into Google advertisements, or if you’re putting it into SEO, or you’re putting it into PR, know what your measurables are, and manage by metrics. Don’t manage by emotions. That’s the hardest part too. When you hire your friend’s daughter because she just came out of school, and you love her, and she’s so great, and she does everything that you say, and you’re managing by emotions, you’re not managing by the numbers. You’re not managing by metrics. Check in with your team, and I even… I train this even when we talk about everyone from the medical assistant to the front desk staff to… Everything with staffing has, for me, has to do with metrics. So it’s going to come to, “What did you say you were going to do? What did you actually do? How many of those did you do?”

I mean, it could just be new patient phone calls and how many of them are converting over. It could be follow-ups and how many are getting booked. Something to do with accounts billable and how much is actually getting received. I think your marketing has to have those same kind of metrics. We’re not getting paid today on likes. It’s not. We’re getting paid on conversions. So know what makes a difference, and those are the tough questions you have to ask. If you don’t know, that’s where you and I come in, where… We are the professional organizers of the business, right? We’re the ones that are going to get everything where they need to be, and then we can help you out. That’s going to save you so much money for year over year over year, so you can go ahead and just work in your business and not on your business consistently.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Absolutely. Those are really good tips. So I would like to highlight two tips that we just gleaned here. The first one is delegation. As a doctor, you do what you do best and let other people who are in the office and on your staff be responsible for various other duties and activities. Then, the second one as you so rightly put out is, also, while you are doing what you do best, to have professionals do what you may not be comfortable with and that is marketing your practice and getting your message out.

Sarah Tugender:          Exactly. Good. Good summation there.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Do you have any other tips for us today?

Sarah Tugender:          Today? Just stay connected because things are going to move so quickly. At least know enough to make it dangerous. Right? So when it comes to marketing or… Stick with podcast like Dr. Barbara’s here. I think that’s so smart. Take notes. Invest in yourself, and don’t just become a professional educator of these things. Take this time, and I hope that everyone leaves this conversation today and says, “Where can I be a little bit more organized? Where can I set some things up, or do I need someone to come in and consult with me, have a checklist of what I should be having in my business to be able to make my messages convert into patients and convert into impact?” because you have such a big message. You have such great skills that are worthy of getting out there. Let’s make sure that it’s heard, and let’s make sure that more people take action on it.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      Absolutely. How can our listeners get in touch with you, Sarah?

Sarah Tugender:          Thank you for asking. Yes. So, my website is I hope you put that in the show notes. Sarah with an H. I have lots of fun freebies that are there. I also have my own podcast, The Health of Your Business Podcast, where I take inspirational stories, and marketing tips, and the latest things for you to be able to help you work just more efficiently in your practice and build a bigger, healthier business for yourself.

Dr. Barbara Hales:      That’s great. Well, it’s been a real pleasure having you here today. Thank you very much. This has been Dr. Barbara Hales with another episode of Marketing Tips for Doctors. Until next time.



Connect with Sarah Tugender:  


Show: The Health of Your Business Podcast



Connect with Barbara Hales: 

Twitter:   @DrBarbaraHales



Show website:



YouTube: TheMedicalStrategist