5 Fatal Healthcare Marketing Mistakes That Guarantee Failure

Healthcare-Marketing-FailureWhen I conduct an initial consultation with a healthcare marketing client, I’m consistently told “I market here and there, but most of it doesn’t work.”

Immediately I ask, “How do you know that your marketing doesn’t work?”  This usually results in a long moment of silence. It doesn’t take long before I can identify three or four glaring marketing mistakes these frustrated practice mangers and physician-owners are making.

The truth is healthcare marketing works. It works wonders for private medical practices, small hospitals, large clinics, and urgent care centers alike. Marketing is an integral part of your medical organization’s success. The trouble is you have to do healthcare marketing the right way.

If you are going to reap the benefits of marketing your healthcare organization, then you must commit to marketing correctly. Otherwise, you are wasting precious time, energy, and money. Start by taking a look at the following 5 fatal mistakes that most healthcare organization make. Then, make sure you are not making any of them.

No. 1: Failing to Treat Your Medical Practice like a Business

I know it is hard to see providing health care as a business. Elective procedure physicians have a less difficult time seeing this connection than do general practice physicians, but the bottom line is that health care is a business.

Whether you like it or not, you are in the business of health care because you provide products and services for a fee (and ideally for a profit). This means you run a business, and most of the time you even help people!

So instead of fighting the entrepreneurial mindset, embrace it. If you do this, you will have more control over your medical practice, your income, and your lifestyle. Otherwise, get in the pissed and poor provider line and stop complaining.

No. 2: Failing to Implement the Basics of Successful Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketing is not rocket science but it does require a certain level of skill, expertise, and unyielding commitment to implement with any degree of success.  Most healthcare marketing firms like to make you think you cannot do your marketing yourself. They are wrong. If you want to do your own marketing, and you have the time to do your own marketing, you can do your own marketing if you understand the following basic healthcare marketing principles.

Identify Your Target Audience

Identifying your target audience, target market, or target demographic (marketing jargon for “the kind of patients you want to pay for your products and services”) is not as clear cut as it seems. You may think that you simply need to attract 175 patients per week from your surrounding geographic location to stay profitable; therefore, patients within a certain mile radius are your target market.

Sorry, that is not so.

What if by obsessively defining your target market you could reduce the number of patients you need to be profitable to 100 patients per week? Working less, yet earning the same. Now, that is a nice concept.

So, how do you do this?

Get out your pen or laptop. Now, start describing your ideal patient in detail. Be really picky. Dare I say, discriminate a little (but just for the sake of this exercise).

Ask, in what locations do they live? What specific neighborhoods do they live in? What do they do for a living? How much money do they earn? Do they have children? How many? How do they feel about their personal and professional lives? How do they view health care? Are they new college grads? Do they have a specific type of healthcare insurance? Are they self-paying patients? Are they married or divorced? Are they mostly over 65? What kind of lifestyles do they lead? What keeps them up at night?

Once you’ve identified your ideal patient and all there is to know about them, then you can properly determine what they want and need. And when you know what they want and what they need, you will know how to speak to them about how your expertise can benefit them so that they will be more inclined to buy your health care products and services.

This is your first step to successful healthcare marketing. If you don’t take it, you can bet your bottom dollar that your practice will be on life support.

Develop a USP

In marketing lingo, your USP stands for your Unique Selling Proposition.

Gasp! Selling?!? Health care?!?

If that was your reaction, go back to mistake number one and read it again.

Call it what you like, having a crystal clear USP will make or break your healthcare marketing efforts.  Your USP tells your ideal patient why they should select your medical practice over another.

So, how do you create a USP?

Figure out what makes you unique!

Most doctors, practicing legally anyway, have obtained the medical education required to practice medicine so touting your expertise and educational credentials will only get you so far with your ideal patients. Truthfully, most patients prefer a physician that they can relate to and like over one that went to Harvard vs. a State school.

This means you need to figure out what you do differently, why it’s better than the way your competitor does things, and why your ideal patient would want what you offer. Once you can coherently answer those questions, you’ve got your USP.  Then, you have to scream it from the roof tops.

Don’t Copy Your Competitors!

Remember the kid in the third grade who loved to sit next to you and copy your paper. Remember how that made you steaming mad. Remember when you missed a few questions and so did the copycat (ha ha), but now the copycat was steaming mad. Don’t be that kid.

Don’t copy your competitors. Be better than them.  You must engage in competitive sleuthing, but just because your competitors are doing it, doesn’t mean it works! Bounce ideas off your staff, ask your patients for their opinion, ask your no nonsense healthcare marketing consultant, and don’t forget what you know about healthcare marketing basics.

Then, if you find a strategy or tactic that would be a good fit for your practice, customize and implement what you’ve learned. But please, don’t be a copycat. You’re smarter than that!

Talk About the Benefits of Being Your Patient!

You might have a state-of-the-art medical practice. You might have same-day appointments. You might offer skin resurfacing, or spine realignment, or flu shots. You probably put all of these  features of your medical practice on your Website, brochures, and newspaper ads. But guess what?!

NOBODY CARES. How come? Because people only listen to WIFM.

WIFM? Yes, that WIFM stands for “What’s In It For Me?” People want to know what you can do for them, not what you do. If you have a state-of-the-art medical practice, then you probably offer some of the most reliable and trusted medical treatments in your area. If you offer same-day appointments, that means your ideal patients can simply walk-in if they aren’t feeling well and get treated. If you offer skin resurfacing, this means your ideal patient can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines without undergoing any major surgery or missing a day of work. These are the benefits of being your patient.

That is WIFM. That is what people are listening to, and that is what they want to hear. TELL THEM!

No. 3: Failing to Turn Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine

Assuming you have a Website, you are taking up valuable cyberspace with your static and stale web presence if you are not generating leads on your site. And if you don’t have a Website, call us stat because you’re missing an incredible opportunity to grow your medical practice and you need our help. We even have a web makeover special for newsletter subscribers this quarter only! If you missed the details check the newsletter e-mail we sent you and you will find the link you need.

Generating leads on your Website means that you actually have your ideal patients finding you on the web, and providing you with an e-mail address or mailing address to receive information from your practice. Acquiring e-mail addresses or mailing addresses online is the first step towards developing a powerful and automated Internet marketing strategy. If your Website mimics your in-house practice brochure, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Start engaging with your ideal patients online today.

No. 4: Failing to Develop a Written Marketing Plan and Follow It

Would you go on a road trip to a city you’ve never traveled to without a map? No. Then why do you insist on marketing your practice without a written strategy. In the words of Yogi Berra “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

If you don’t know what you want to accomplish with your marketing activities or how you are going to carry out your marketing activities you won’t see results. You can market in fits and spurts, but that won’t generate sustainable growth.

Take the time to figure out who you’re marketing to, why you’re marketing to them, how you’re going to market to them, what you’re going to market to them, how often you’re going to market to them, how much you’re going to invest into your marketing, and whether or not your marketing works.

Do some market research, answer these questions, put the answers on paper, and viola…you have a marketing plan. The bigger problem? Following it.

You can pay for a professional marketing plan or you can scribble one down on a napkin, unless you are actually going to do what it says it’s no good to you. Commit to taking action once you know what you are going to do.

No. 5: Failing to Track Marketing Results

If I were to ask you which of your marketing activities (assuming you consistently conduct some) performs the best, could you tell me? How do you know for sure? Would you be able to give me the dollar amount on your return on investment for the marketing activity? Am I making you nervous?

If you can’t answer those questions regarding your marketing activities, you should be nervous because in all likelihood you are wasting a lot of money. The only way to maximize the effectiveness of your healthcare marketing activities is by tracking the results they produce.

There is no excuse of not accurately tracking your marketing activities. Tracking tools are incredibly inexpensive and provide you with more information than you need. If you don’t know which marketing activities generate the most revenue for you, then you are missing an opportunity to do more of that revenue driving marketing. On the flip side, if you do not know which marketing activities are a bottomless pit to your marketing budget you have no idea which marketing activities to terminate.

Give yourself a chance to succeed…track your marketing activities like a hawk.

Making the Grade in Healthcare Marketing

When you effectively market your healthcare organization, you educate your patients, you empower your patients, and you give them the knowledge they need to live healthier, happier lives. Oh, and there’s also that whole run-a-profitable-and-sustainable-practice-that-you-love thing. That is a plus too.

Get here from a link from a colleague, Facebook, or Twitter? If so, subscribe here to get this quarterly e-newsletter delivered directly to your inbox. Every issue of our newsletter provides actionable and useful information that you can use today. Best of all, our e-newsletter subscribers get access to special discounts and rates not available to the public. Join us. Subscribe now!

Be Sociable, Share!