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Opportunities to Partner-and-Prosper with Area Providers

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Animated 3D stick figure holding a large red wavy arrowHow to link arms with a kindred healthcare practice for a win-win-win marketing success.

Sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of the parts—and so it goes with cost-effective cross promotion. With minimum time and expense, two or more healthcare entities can team-up for a healthy Return-on-Investment.

The concept of cross promotion in healthcare marketing has been around for a while—mainly because it works—producing results for two or more facilities.

We've been teaching it for years; it's neither expensive nor difficult to do, and there are always creative new ways for dentists, doctors, physician groups, and other healthcare organizations to pump up their return on investment.

In marketing-speak, this is where you team-up with a non-competing colleague or business to effectively reach a common target audience. As one example, let's say a dentist and a dermatologist across the hall both provide cosmetic services for image-aware adults. The oldest version of cross promotion is to agree to simply put each other's business cards on your respective front desk.

The low-key business-card-exchange is easy to do, but being passive, it's not always impactful. Two similar-minded offices could inch forward by also exchanging brochures or flyers, but here are some tactics to move things up a notch or two.

  • You're not limited to the guy down the hall. You can duplicate this marketing affiliation with several other providers and/or include non-direct referral sources. For appearance-oriented practices that might be a wedding photographer, beauty salon, medi spa, or others, provided that everyone sees everyone else as non-competitive.
  • Leverage location and proximity. Elective and cosmetic services share appearance-conscious clientele. Good for them, but maybe that's not you. Alternatively, cross promotion partners can be linked by proximity. The public tends to purchase goods and services where it's convenient. You may find good business partners that are geographically close—in the same shopping district or neighborhood for example—regardless of what they are selling.
  • A written recommendation. Each participant can craft a mailing to their respective customers or patients with a specific reference to the other. A letter works better than a newsletter mention, and remember that you cannot share patient lists; each practitioner needs to mail to their own base.
  • E-mailings are faster and cheaper. Many of us are more connected (and increasingly reliant upon) email. If your target audience is email-centric, it may be appropriate to send your cross promotion message electronically. If you have collected opt-in permission email addresses from individuals, it tells you who is digitally connected and who prefers email to the mailbox.
  • Create special web pages. You and the cross promotion partners can each devote a page on your respective websites to feature the services that would interest the visitors. In doing so, create a link exchange between your sites for more information. Link exchanges can also improve page rank results with Google and other search engines. Adding a web page is relatively quick and cheap.
  • Create an "umbrella" website with multiple participants. Several kindred organizations can jointly create an independent website as a cooperative marketing tool that embraces all. For example, a "River City Healthcare Alliance" website...with a page or two for each of you. It is optimized for all the key search words, etc., and there is a link back to each of your respective individual websites.
  • Send in the representatives. Some relationships may be appropriate for an exchange of reps for a day at your respective locations. You'll need to carefully evaluate how this option would work—it's not always a good fit for both partners.Teaming up with cross promo partners at a "neutral location" (such as a health fair or community event or a hospital event for the public) might be a more suitable alternative in some situations.
  • Consider bundled offers and/or cause-marketing. When you share a common purpose with a common audience—such as appearance appeal, location or mutual health interests-consider putting offers together. A "bundled" offer provides the recipient with value from two or more sources. Perhaps: Teeth whitening treatment from a dentist in combination with a facial offer from the medi spa.Alternatively, dissimilar businesses can link arms with the community through a "cause" such as helping prevent cardiovascular disease; good dental health plus proper exercise and nutrition; an allied healthcare event; or in conjunction with a hospital promotion.

There are three winners in good cross promotion. First, your practice or group and the non-competitive practice (or kindred business) that partners with you. Reaching out to a common audience, you both open the door to new patient opportunities. The bonus winner is the patient, someone who enjoys the added value from the cross promotion partners that truly value their business. Win. Win. And Win again.

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