“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today.
Teach a man to fish; you have fed him for a lifetime.
Teach a man to sell fish and he eats steak.” Author unknown
In a previous post I suggested that industry could play a role in physician practice marketing. To do so successfully defining a common purpose and identifying the intersection of that purpose is primary.
Physicians and healthcare product companies have related interests, and very different roles and responsibilities. Because a patient exists, physicians and healthcare suppliers have purpose. The patient is at the very nexus of these interests, roles and responsibilities.
If physicians desire greater demand for their special services and skills, saying so out loud, as discussed in prior posts Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Surgery and Make Some Noise, is essential. Physicians are accustomed to communicating with patients through a one-on-one interaction. While this is an effective means of communicating, it will take a bloody long time before this approach is impactful. A broader approach is needed and industry can provide effective lessons in marketing to a larger target audience.
To effectively implement practice marketing programs a company must be committed to the following three fundamentals:
- Focus on the patient as the primary reason for communications programs
- Grounding of all marketing activities around the needs of the physician/practice
- Establishment of professional marketing expertise before designing third party services
Once these three fundamentals are well established, the tenets below will be useful in creating practice marketing programs for the physician.
Be a role model
- Develop, implement, measure, analyze, fail and refine all programs and processes first, before you ask your customers to do it. If you haven’t tried it, why should your customer?
Identify common goals
- Clearly define the marketing goals and gain commitment by all participants of a practice marketing program in advance of implementation. Hint: The goal should be eerily similar to Fundamental #1 above…
Start where they are
- Keep in mind that physicians’ expertise is in patient care, professional marketers excel in marketing. Effective practice marketing starts the beginner at the beginning and advances them as tolerated.
- At all times the doctor-patient relationship is a two person ‘only’ relationship. Professional marketers can provide guidance, examples, recommendations, support and encouragement, but never patient care.
Differentiate and collaborate
- The same methods and measurement models may be used in commercial and physician marketing programs; however, the objectives of the programs will differ based on the audience. Both parties will benefit by learning from each other.
Teach and release
- When teaching and training the physician and staff on marketing practices take the opportunity to develop program champions and practice trainers. Success from doing/failing/learning/redoing will more likely encourage the practice to be self sustaining in their marketing efforts.
Applaud and move backstage
- Support the physician with information, analysis, recommendations and additional opportunities and then let the physician and practice staff take center stage with the program and the patients.
Learn and adapt
- Each practice will experience their program differently than the next. Take notes, ask questions, and adapt the master program to incorporate the best and most innovative elements gleaned from the individual experiences.
Healthcare companies can play a role in practice marketing by teaching the practice personnel new skills. Teaching physicians to cast their net for a larger target audience will result in greater demand.
Note: There are defined regulations and restrictions that companies must adhere to with regard to practice marketing programs; the specifics of these are not covered in this post. Y68BQHEBG7DJ
(c) 2010 pH Consulting