Every contact or interaction customers have with companies or providers of goods and services, are viewed through our marketing lens. The four ‘P’s’ of marketing shape our perceptions. Attention getting [promotion] efforts must be followed with relevance [product], value [price] and accessibility [place] marketing efforts.
Perception versus Reality
Promotional efforts that are consistent and impactful convey the message that a higher caliber of good or service is available. Inconsistent, bland and lack of promotion conveys a message that the good or service is not available or of poor quality. The caliber of a good or service is held in the eye of the beholder, not in the intentions of the provider.
As patients we use the same marketing lens to evaluate our healthcare providers. Each individual within a practice serves as an ambassador, marketing the care a patient can expect to receive. All interactions a patient has with the practice staff will influence their perspective on the physician’s business, much the same way the physician is influenced through interactions with product suppliers.
Implementing good practice marketing processes will go a long way towards raising the perceived caliber of the practice and patient care. A review on practice marketing considerations can be found in Debbie’s post ‘Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Science’.
However, practice marketing processes can only be appreciated by the patient once we go to the practice. First the patient must know to go.
Which brings us to the question – are your customers marketing to their customers?
Intentional effort must be focused on getting the word out that the practice is interested and ready to serve specific patients. A bare minimum of key messages to communicate include:
- ‘We are here and ready to serve’
- ‘We offer the services that meet your needs’
- ‘We stay current in specialty training’
- ‘We are uniquely able to serve patients in our specialty’
These are likely messages that are conveyed to patients in the absence of marketing the practice:
- ‘We are not interested in new patients’
- ‘We do not offer new services’
- ‘We are not current in new techniques’
- ‘We are indistinguishable from all other practices’
Gracious and respectful interactions, good follow through and high caliber patient care constitute powerful marketing. Patients will reward physicians for this service through provider loyalty, positive reviews and recommendations, and new patient referrals. But first, the patient must be inclined to seek the physician, and that requires making some noise.
For another perspective on the same subject read Stewart Gandolph’s post found here:http://bit.ly/d0OxNw
Next up – what role can industry play in physician practice marketing?
(c) 2010 pH Consulting