By Kathy Roy Gaughran
Senior Marketing Strategist
This week, we want to address some of the myths about healthcare marketing we hear every single day.
Some of these get in the way of your marketing in general. Some just make it hard to see any ROI. Either way, these beliefs about healthcare marketing are a form of self-sabotage.
Related: Our Healthcare Marketing Agency
1. “I don’t need marketing. I have enough patients.”
So you have a good number of patients right now. You’ve had a steady flow of patients for a couple of years, in fact. But can you guarantee you’ll have the same amount of patients next year? Or even next week?
Patients switch doctors for many reasons. They could switch insurance providers or move out of town. Even if you’re largely physician referred—that doctor could go out of business unexpectedly. There are too many ways to lose patients, and you don’t want to wait until your database is nearly empty to do something about it.
2. “Healthcare marketing is unethical.”
Many people mistakenly believe that healthcare marketing or doctor advertising is often or mostly unethical. Of course, there are ways to approach it unethically. You cannot make promises you can’t keep, claim to be the best at something without proof, etc. Otherwise, healthcare is a business just like any other. And in business, advertising keeps you in the game.
And look at it this way. Assuming you deliver great care, advertising is just another way to help people get the care they need. In some ways, it’s your duty to market your organization so people can find you when they need you.
3. “People in the community already know about us.”
This may or may not be so. We do find, however, that practices and hospitals often overestimate their influence in the community. You live and breathe your organization. The people you interact with every day are your patients and are very aware of your presence, but they’re not representative of your entire community.
Besides, community awareness does not automatically mean people choose you for care. We see this a lot with hospitals. People may go there in an emergency, but they don’t take advantage of the ambulatory services (services they often didn’t realize the hospital provided). You have to advertise tif you want people to know about your services, and give them a reason to choose you over someone else.
4. “Advertising is too expensive.”
So you’re trying to save money? Cutting out your advertising budget is not the way to do it. Marketing is a revenue center, not a cost center. Invest enough money, and you can expect anywhere from a 3:1 to 5:1 return.
5. “I wouldn’t respond to that advertisement; we shouldn’t do it.”
Of course, you have input on what goes into your brand and your advertising. However, you are not your target audience. That’s something all marketers have to keep in mind. Just because you wouldn’t call a number on a screen or respond to a direct mailer, that doesn’t reflect all of your prospective patients.
In advertising, we try to base our decisions on data whenever we can. We might run two versions of an ad to figure out what gets results. We pay attention to changing data and marketing trends. When we have a recommendation for marketing, it’s based on an understanding of what works and what doesn’t work for a specific target demographic.
6. “People don’t click on paid advertisements for doctors.
On a similar note, we hear a lot of skepticism about paid search. you might think a paid advertisement just won’t work. You might not be someone who clicks on paid advertisements. But plenty of people do. We have the data to prove it. And it’s the quickest way to get new patients.
7. “My website should educate the public.”
Of course it’s important to educate people about their illness or pain. But your website may not be the right place to do it. Most people are scanning your website for information about which services you offer. While they’re on the site, the copy and imagery should convince them to choose you over competitors.
That said, a certain level of education is great, and can even help to boost your search engine optimization, but we recommend keeping that information on your blog. Just be sure to explain any complex terms and use clear headers and bullet points to make it accessible to anyone.
8. “I need to advertise my new equipment.”
You’ve just gotten in a new piece of technology, and you’re excited about it—but will your patients be? What patients care about is how you can help them. They don’t want to read all about the technology behind the procedure. Use phrasing that will offer benefit to the patient—about the fast recovery times or minimal pain they can expect in your care.
9. “We already advertise online with our social media posts.”
Digital advertising is about more than social media posts—much more. Chances are that you’re not going to build a huge audience around your Facebook posts. If you do manage to build a large audience, posting organically on social media probably won’t lead to new patient conversions.
Paid advertisements on social media, however, get proven results. That’s because you can target people who aren’t just your followers. This technique, and a healthy mix of organic posts, SEO, paid search, and traditional advertising, gets patients.
10. “If I don’t notice more calls, the marketing isn’t working.”
This one certainly has some merit. Obviously, the goal of marketing is to see more patients. However, if you don’t think you’re getting more calls from your marketing, that doesn’t make it true. Before jumping to conclusions, be sure to check the data. Call recording can help to determine where calls are coming from, as can the simple question, “May I ask how you heard about us?” You should also keep in mind the long-term value of some of your marketing efforts in terms of branding.
The worst thing you can do is give up marketing altogether because you don’t think it’s working. Try something new, and base that decision on data, but don’t cut out your advertising budget completely. And if you need help, give us a call.