In today’s world of healthcare, doctors and medical practices are constantly battling market pressures and competition to keep their doors open. It’s a competitive industry, though few outsiders understand the full extent. Aside from providing excellent healthcare, saving lives, and improving the wellbeing of patients, practices depend on marketing to share their positives to bring in new patients. However, there are numerous pitfalls and ways to fail at medical marketing.
A castaway campaign is when a business doesn’t have an anchor to hold itself down. One common element of these failures is when a company (or medical practice) is out there to “get more clients/patients.” Great goal, but is that really all you’re trying to do? Successful marketing requires direction, an overarching goal that is an aggregate of other goals. This, for example, could be loyalty, awareness, and referrals for a medical practice.
With these ideas as an anchor, practices then have to find out how to support these goals. Social media, for example, is often used to boost awareness. Does it do a lot for generating referrals from specialists and hospitals? Probably not, but online profiles can definitely increase your practice’s exposure on the Internet. This is a measurable process because of online analytics. You can track social mentions, followers, friends, page views, conversations, and traffic. These are only numbers, though, and you often have to adjust your campaign to get it back on the right track.
Anchoring down awareness is easy. Loyalty, however, requires assertive in-practice effort. You need to create a positive environment that features patient-centered care supported by every employee in an office. Loyalty boosts recommendations, reviews, repeat visits, positive gossip — you work on helping people for a living, and it shouldn’t be hard to find a way to tie down loyalty strategies.
One of the best ways to fail at medical marketing is by publishing shoddy information. Unprofessional, unintelligible, and indecipherable blogs, social media posts, tweets, press releases, and pamphlets actively damage a practice’s reputation. Content is a very positive way to increase exposure (especially for referrals), but it takes more work than typing out a few paragraphs on hepatitis or health insurance policies.
You shouldn’t spend so much time looking for ways to promote your content; instead, your content is what promotes you. To do this, you need to write meaningful, insightful pieces that are relevant to patients both current and potential. Publishing them on websites, blogs, and social media is the easy part.
It’s easy for doctors to talk right over patients’ heads. When writing content, you need to make sure to take out or fully explain any medical jargon and ask yourself a few questions about the piece:
- Is there a core takeaway idea here that patients will remember?
- Does this piece only address a concern or does it actually provide utility to the readers?
- Is the piece branded enough? If so, is it different than competitors?
- Will the information last more than a week? A month? A year?
To “harangue” is to aggressively lecture someone or force an idea. This term comes into play with marketing more than you think, and is one of the biggest ways to fail at medical marketing. You’re a doctor with training and certifications and you manage a staff of likeminded health professionals. You need to make this clear to your patients (and future patients) without overdoing it with heavy promotional marketing. Step away from the windshield brochures (this goes for all businesses) and launch campaigns that teach and educate patients.
Once you have your campaign strategy anchored down and you know which platforms to use, you need to develop a voice and delivery system that is consistent, congenial, and beneficial for your practice/brand. A medical practice is a place people want to go and feel safe and looked after. Play into this with facts, figures, and real accounts of why your practice is better than the ma and pa quacks around the corner. Find the ways to fail at medical marketing and then avoid them.
Photo by: Susie Kelley