What I learned in healthcare marketing and…


why it’s a poor strategy for any business to imitate.

I first started working with dental healthcare practices in the mid-eighties. The main reason – too many competing healthcare practices. What do you do if you need to sell more?  Advertise!

Most healthcare practices, who decided to stick their big toe in the wave of advertising, turned to traditional advertising campaigns. There was no social media, email or Al Gore’s invention, the internet.

68The first thing the healthcare managers learned form advertising sales people is they needed to be first, always one step ahead of the competition. Some practices placed larger ads or helped ad reps create new classifications. Do you remember the yellow pages directory?

The next action was anticipated. Numerous display ads began to appear in the local newspapers. It was amazing how many teeth variations were designed into logos hoping these unique designs gained some recognition and even patients.

Even today, traditional advertising is not a money maker (except for the advertising sales people:).

Traditional advertising is truly not a place for a business hoping that this type of marketing works. Traditional advertising relies on a reactive form of marketing. You know, the “I must absolutely have that,” crowd.

Reactive marketing is seen on TV, found in newspapers, and what we hear on the radio. “See or hear my ad and please react with many purchases,” is what healthcare managers wanted from their advertising.  The cost of ad placements and the 15Calendarproduction of the ad are extraordinarily expensive. They can reach a lot of people, but for many reasons, not your customers.

Turn the calendar ahead to 2015.

What I described above exists today to some degree. What I learned in the early 90’s was that the average health care practice wanted marketing but all they knew was advertising. They wanted more patients or past patients to return to their practice, but they did not know how to directly reach them. Any other type of small business would agree with that assumption as well.

Last week I had a discussion with a dermatologist. She was probably in her late thirties or early forties. She left a very larger practice (seven locations) to join a smaller practice with one other doctor.

She left the larger practice because the more experienced doctors with ownership in the practice, were having a tough time with the latest health care regulations. The practice she left did not understand what their patients wanted, did not care about their needs, but only cared when they would pay for their services. Obviously, not a customer-centric marketing strategy in action.

This is beginning to sound similar to the earlier times of health care marketing.

The marketing was left to an office manager. If there was any marketing placed by the manager, it was scattered and poorly done. After all, there were other important patient issues to address.

The obvious result? The practice had a poor image with patients. Payments were needed up front if the patient did not have a good insurance carrier. Miss a payment, get a threatening letter.

Marketing is a process of many business functions.

GrowthThe health care practice of today must be patient centric. A practice needs a brand image that is in line with patient expectations. Any communication with patients must reflect on the wellness of the patient, medical knowledge, and leadership in medical procedures supporting the image.

The marketing strategy must be as professional as the doctors are with their patients. Marketing is too important for a practice or an office manager to handle in their spare time, if any is left. This can be said for any type of small business that wants good and happy customers in 2015. As in a healthcare practice this type of change is good for the practice and the patients (customers).

Marketing is only successful when the marketing process is followed.

Thanks for reading and please share with others – except your competition! It is truly appreciated.

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About MarketingDoc 396 Articles
30+ years in marketing. 30+ years as a small business owner. Love music, photography, gardening and just about anything outdoors!

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