By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
A while ago a doctor came to us with the complaint: “I haven’t been in practice 15 years…I’ve been in practice one year 15 times.” That conversation lead us to help him discover medical practice marketing opportunities that not only enriched his business, they enlivened his professional satisfaction.
There’s more to discovering new healthcare marketing opportunities than waiting for them to knock at your door. In fact, there’s a systematic beginning to how and where you turn over rocks to reveal the gold. (More about that in a moment.)
As with our physician friend and client, everyone has at least one reason to pursue fresh ideas, markets or challenges. Pick your flavor: Healthcare reform. Economic downturn. New practice and/or new partners. More competition. Nearly everyone can relate to this short list of why providers—including individual practices, hospitals and medical groups—need or want to market.
In healthcare delivery, just as in the retail world, the prospect of success is strongest at the point where “what you do” intersects with “what they want.” The classic mistake is to believe that “what you do” is the driving part of the equation. It’s not.
The element that’s critical to success is to first identify the need (or needs) of the prospective customer, and shaping and delivering services to satisfy those needs in a way that’s superior to the competition.
One or more of these four fundamental marketing approaches are needed to reach new business opportunity in healthcare. The specifics for each situation require careful evaluation, and what’s right for one practice marketing plan will be unique. Nevertheless, there are only four areas to consider when evaluating new healthcare business opportunities.
- [PRESENT SERVICES] + [PRESENT MARKETS] Capture a larger share of the pie.
The essence of this strategy is to increase your share of the existing market by selling more of the existing services. (Market Share is the percentage of total sales for a particular product or service in a marketplace purchased by your current customers.)
- [PRESENT SERVICES] + [NEW MARKETS] Develop new markets or market segments.
There is opportunity for new/additional business when it is possible to expand the number of buyers. Can you identify where and how current services answer a need for a new group of prospective buyers? Does the market have new problems that are suitably answered by existing products or services?
- [NEW SERVICES] + [EXISTING MARKETS] Develop new products or services.
The core idea is to bring new, different or better products to current customers. Product development is based on a clear understanding of the needs and interests of the customer base and being able to offer a new solution that is responsive to those needs.
- [NEW SERVICES] + [NEW MARKETS] Develop new services and new markets.
This marketing technique is more challenging (and more speculative) than the other three. It requires the creation of both a new product or service and a new marketplace of buyers. Various industries call this a form of diversification. In some instances, it may be the only opportunity to find new business, although it generally isn’t the best place for an established practice to begin.
This initial evaluation opens the door to building a new or stronger marketing plan. What’s more, this exercise opens the door to an even closer, SWOT analysis. Strengths and Weaknesses are the internal evaluation components, and Opportunities and Threats comprise the external evaluation.
Continuing to do what you are already doing can only produce the same results. A more aggressive marketing stance is needed to reach and attract patients in greater numbers (and away from the competition).
By definition, a marketing plan is a strategic document that is designed to facilitate the achievement of specific business goals and objectives over a specific time period. Begin with a detailed one-year plan…and make it a year that’s different and better than your previous year.
There’s more about building a healthcare marketing plan in this Healthcare Success Library article.