Posted on August 3, 2010
Let's face it: no one wants a marketer holding a scalpel in the
operating suite any more than we want a physician dabbling in our
world. But despite this logic, physicians insist on being marketing
When physicians become directly involved in developing marketing
strategies or tactics, make sure you are ready to demonstrate the
science behind the art of marketing, and to educate them on the
fact that advertising is simply one method to achieve your
For example, almost every time I meet a new physician the first
thing I hear is "You're the guy who's going to do my ad." As
frustrating as it can be, I quickly turn the conversation to
the comprehensive plan that may or may not include advertising -
but absolutely includes physician participation in community
events, speakers' bureau, media relations and other practice
development activities. It doesn't hurt to share with them new
patient referral data that shows what little impact traditional
advertising has on new patient acquisition.
Likewise with service line planning, whenever the discussion
turns to advertising I quickly pull it back into an integrated
strategy that goes beyond deciding how many physician photos we can
fit on a billboard. It's critical to get the physicians' buy-in on
holding community education seminars, sponsoring community events
that tie into their service line or simply spending time in the
physician lounge getting to know their colleagues.
This isn't to say I am against advertising. It should be
part of most communication plans. Just remember that those same
physicians may try to control the message, creative and
placement for whatever advertising you recommend. That
provides another educational opportunity - too bad the docs can't
get CME credits for these one-on-ones isn't it? - to explain
effective advertising, reach and frequency, message development and
It's also important to remind them that you share common goals.
Your focus is to take the most direct and effective course to help
reach those goals.
I don't pretend that these are easy conversations or that you'll
win a physician over the first time you try. Many times all
they're hearing is "No ad = no patients" and they become
defensive. Try and try again. Show examples of how
other tactics were effective. Physicians are smart, and they
can be persuaded with the facts.
Only once did I have to offer to perform their surgery the next
day so they could focus more on being the marketing director.
Posted on August 23, 2010
As a health care marketer, you have undoubtedly heard dozens of
theories about how to grow your business. Every leader or
physician has his or her own viewpoint and it's your job to guide
the organization down the correct path.
So how are you supposed to know what to believe and how can you
dispel common beliefs that simply don't work?
Over the coming months I will uncover many of health care's top
marketing myths and suggest how you can navigate through the
potential land mines.
Coming next week: "The Halo Effect."
To make sure you receive this article and the remainder of the
health care marketing myth series, if you're not already a
subscriber I invite you to join the LegatoBlog at http://legatoblog.com/about/
. Just scroll down in the far right column and enter your e-mail
address. No promotion or sales pitches. Just engaging
dialogue with your fellow health care marketing colleagues.
Check out some of our previous articles, and see if you find
them interesting. You can unsubscribe at any
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I look forward to sharing health care's top marketing myths with
you, and in participating in a discussion with you and other
colleagues from around the country.
Mike Milligan, President
Legato Marketing & Communications, Inc.
Posted on August 30, 2010
One widely accepted belief is that there is a so-called "Halo
Effect" in branding. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the
term, it's based on research that showed if people have a positive
impression of one product or service within a brand, they are more
likely to look favorably on other products or services within the
same brand. Over the years, many brands have benefitted greatly
from the halo effect to the point that new product development
assumes acceptance because of it.
One recent brand that has seen a push from a halo effect is
Apple thanks to the popularity of the iPod. Clearly the launches of
the iPhone and the iPad saw spikes from the iPod halo effect.
But does it work the same in health care? Let me suggest that
there is legitimacy to the halo effect on overall brand perception,
but that you should not get too caught up in it driving individual
service line volumes similar to what happens for retail-based
products. In other words, just because you communicate your
expertise in brain surgery or trauma care doesn't necessarily mean
that consumers who accept that message will flock to your facility
for other services. For one thing, there is more data available
today than ever before. Consumers can look up quality and cost data
and use it to compare you to the competition. Just because they had
a favorable experience when they had their baby at your hospital
does not mean they will come there for a high-priced knee surgery
that ranks low in quality. Another part of that is because people
don't think about health care until they need it. That is why you
need to invest in brand advertising as part of your annual
marketing plans without relying on it to drive new revenue.
Frankly, it's a balancing act that can be difficult to maneuver
when pressured to show cause and effect of your efforts.
My advice is to analyze every service line and make sure you are
addressing the individual marketing needs of each while continuing
to invest in your long-term brand.
Do you agree, or do you see things differently? I would
love to see some various perspectives shared on this one. By the
way, next week's Legato Blog, myth #2, is on the overused doctrine
that women are the health care decision makers. It should be
a good debate.