Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

In the beginning… July 14, 2010

PSB Church

During a recent discussion about when to hire marketing personnel, my client responded with ‘we’re not really ready for marketing’. This comment struck me odd, as I had been working with them on market development and marketing strategy. So I probed the thinking behind the comment. The client replied ‘we are not ready to roll out the product yet, so we don’t need advertising’.

In discussion with colleagues I’ve found that this thinking is not uncommon, and that many companies associate the term marketing with advertising and little else. It seems that what marketing is – is bewildering to some; sales and marketing are often used interchangeably when discussing customer interaction.

Peter Drucker is credited with the following quote; “Because its purpose is to create a customer, the business has two – and only two – functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation create value, all the rest are costs.”

That quote perfectly defines my belief about business and marketing. I have long worked in marketing, the world of art and science blended to connect with and serve a customer.  I love that marketing consists of a wide breadth of functions and is core to a business.

The very definition of marketing through the four P’s defines the necessity of marketing early on and throughout the course of the product life.

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

While promotion is very important to the mix, it is the last in the list to master – and so much more successful if the other three are well attended to with hard core professional marketing.

Marketing happens in the earliest stages of a company.  An idea, a product concept or a service is presented to investors for early stage financing support, this is concept marketing.  Demographics, profiles and current practices provide a backdrop against which a new product or service is contrast; this is market definition.  Investigation into customer needs, behaviors, and loyalties is market research.

Marketing continues throughout the development phase of products and services, with a product requirements document, this is product marketing. Branding, product naming, product promotion, product training and service are all marketing functions.  All customer support and engagement are marketing. Public relations, education and training, pricing and promotion and market development are all marketing functions.  Even the discontinuation of a product or service is a marketing function.

Eric Brody, author of the blog Healthy Conversations, recapped the July Fast Company story about 10 lessons from Apple.  Among these key lessons is that ‘Everything is marketing’.  The recap and post can be read here.

It is true that my client is not yet ready to do advertising and should thoughtfully consider which marketing talent to hire. The best hire is someone who can do the marketing that is essential to the business at this point.  However, they have begun marketing, and if they are to be successful they must continue to do so.  Marketing starts in the beginning.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

Advertisements
 

Yes, Doctor, This IS a Business April 27, 2010

“Thank you for calling. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  We’re closed from noon to 2 p.m. for lunch. If you have reached this recording during normal business hours, please leave a message. We will get back to you by the next business day.”

That’s the message I keep getting when I try to schedule an appointment with one particular physician.  And I have left several messages with no response.

Under normal circumstances, I would have zero tolerance for this total lack of responsiveness and would simply have called another doctor. But in this case, I have already seen the physician for a particular injury, went through the trouble of getting an MRI and would really like to get the results.

Where’s the Disconnect?

Given the practice’s troubling habit of not responding, I should not have been surprised when I called again this morning only to learn that the phone number had been disconnected.

When will physicians really grasp that they are in business and that to stay in business, they need to start treating patients as their customers?  Ok, I understand that doctors went to medical school, not business school.  Still, somewhere in between anatomy and pharmaceuticals 101, were they not taught that private practice requires more than office space and a listing in the phone book?

Running a successful physician’s practice takes the skills and talents of multiple staff members, from the front desk person who answer the phones to the physicians and nurses who provide the clinical expertise.  The one thing each of these people has in common is their interaction with customers—the practice’s patients.

Basic Customer Service

There is much a physician can learn from studying the successful marketing and customer service standards of other businesses:

  • Return phone calls and emails promptly, and always within 24 hours
  • Provide continual staff training on customer service excellence and how to handle difficult customers in a professional and effective way
  • Provide multiple ways for customers to contact you including phone, email and website

These are a few of the simple fundamentals that physician practices must take seriously, especially in today’s tough economic climate where consumers are judicious in how they spend their money. Mastering the basics is also a prerequisite before a practice can effectively implement a marketing or public relations campaign.

For more information on practice marketing, refer to Lisa’s most recent post and Debbie’s post on ‘Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Science’.

 

 
%d bloggers like this: