Insights on Healthcare Marketing

A Confidence Booster: Healthcare Away From Home

I am spending the holidays at my farm in Wisconsin.  The second day here, I broke out in an itchy rash unrelieved by Benadryl.  Fortunately, I was able to make an appointment as a new patient with a primary care practice in our little town.  Yes, I had to fill out the paperwork of 2010.  Yes, everything was done on computer rather than a paper chart. Happily, it was a wonderful appointment with caring, interest, discussion and engagement.  All in all, a great doctor's visit that helped me while traveling and also boosted my confidence that healthcare delivery is NOT going down the tubes.

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The Season of Giving

Tis the season of giving.  I would argue, however, that “giving” is always in season. To me, it is simply a part of living in and building community. Giving is easy to do, and the gift doesn’t always have to be large to make a big impact.  Support your local food bank, invest in a school health program, deliver refreshments to a nursing home, contribute to your local cancer center, donate to an arts organization you believe in. You WILL brighten someone’s day (and yours as well, I bet.).   Some of the causes near and dear to my heart:

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Everybody’s Doing It

So many people and businesses jump into social media because it is the latest craze.    However, like most things, that is NOT a reason to do it.  There are however, many valid reasons: 

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Social Media: Commit, Invite, Engage

Ready to incorporate social media into your marketing?  A few tips: 

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Social Media: Think Before You Leap

Seems everywhere you turn today, you read or hear about social media.  For healthcare organizations, social media can be a great tactic to help build and strengthen your base.  However, like any tactic, it is not the “end all be all.”  It comes with its own set of unique challenges. And if not done properly, it can turn into wasted resources or even backfire on you.  Like any new marketing vehicle, we recommend that you think through how social media will fit into your overall marketing plan (meaning it should be just one tactic of many) before you dive in. And remember … the power of social media is in its ability to engage in conversation and build interest and loyalty at a grassroots level.

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Give Back

I am a big believer in giving – whether it be your time, talents or financial resources.  To me, it is a responsibility … a part of community.  So when our clients turn to us to find out how they can better reach the communities they serve, we always recommend giving back to one or two local non-profits, often focused on healthcare, always with missions that inspire them.  However, just giving isn’t enough … you need to make it personal.  Write a thoughtful note or letter to accompany your contribution. Send a photo.  Drop it off personally. Create a memory for the receiving charity, and they, in turn, will remember you.

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Hitting the Mark

Those who are new to marketing (and even some who aren’t) often want to jump in with a pie-in-the-sky approach.  They want an ad in the major local newspaper, a billboard, a drive-time radio blitz, a seminar series or a television commercial.  While these mediums all have a place and purpose in the world of marketing, they also come with high price tags and often are not the best approach for a small business or medical office, especially one with a limited budget just starting out.  You want results. Or as one of my favorite marketing leaders, Seth Godin, emphasizes, you need to build your “tribe.”  Some of the best ways to do that?

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Making the Rounds

So you are new to your community or perhaps you have recently brought on an associate or partner who is.  How do you get the word out and expand your network?  Letters and announcement cards are always great, but almost everybody does them.  Yet, very few new physicians take the time (which they often have in the beginning) to truly reach out.  Visit your neighbors and top referring physicians.  Stop by the hospital and visit the administrative offices, the ER, the Nursing Director.  Let them know who you are, what you hope to achieve and how you are excited to be a part of their community.  Be sure to make it a two-way conversation.

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What is Your Story?

We’re all familiar with the traditional physician bio – medical school, internship, residency and fellowship.  Some are written in prose, some the usual CV format. Either way, the problem is that even with stellar credentials and training, they all start to look the same.  It used to be completing a fellowship made you stand out.  Now it is the standard.  Your potential patients and referring physicians really want to know who you are and what makes you different.  So tell them.  Share your story.  Why did you go into medicine?  Why did you choose your specialty?  What do you enjoy most about it?  What inspires you?  What do you do outside of work that is interesting? How do you give back to the community?

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A Picture Says a Thousand Words

What do your practice pictures and head shots say about you?  Current and cutting-edge  or outdated and old fashioned?  Amateur or professional?  Take the time to update your photos every few years, and hire a professional photographer to do so.  Once again, this may seem like a low priority item or unnecessary expense given all of the pressing needs on your current “to-do” list, but like your office décor, your photos are a part of your brand and convey a message.  Make sure yours communicate the right message. And once you have new photos, be sure to use them.  Update your Web site and any printed marketing materials.  In many cases, these photos are your “first impression” with patients or referral sources.  Make it a good one.

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