Remarkable Article: Physician’s 2002 Marketing Advice to Fellow Doctors Still Excellent

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

doc to docJust recently we were reading an online article, authored by a doctor, titled: “You Should See My Doctor”: Cost-Effective Marketing Ideas for Your Practice. There were several remarkable things about the content.

First, this was advice about healthcare marketing from a doctor to other doctors. Medical schools provide scant training in business, marketing or advertising, so this was the voice of an experienced family physician talking to his peers.

Further, the writer’s “tone of voice” was frank and straight from the shoulder. There was no dancing around the tough issues. In fact, the subtitle of his article was: Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or unethical. To begin, simply treat your current patients right. With credit to the author, James M. Giovino, MD, his first paragraph is just as direct as the headline and the article to follow. Dr. Giovino wrote:

“Marketing is something of a dirty word among many physicians. Mention it, and they immediately picture that used-car salesman peddling his lemons on late-night television. True, that’s a form of marketing, but it’s marketing gone wrong. Done right, marketing is not synonymous with trickery. Instead, it is nothing more than influencing choice by demonstrating the real value of a particular product or service – in this case, health care.”

Woof! We couldn’t have said it better. This is right in line with the guidance we (as the marketing experts) typically deliver TO physicians in seminars, speeches and in working with our clients nationwide. Hearing these words (in this case, reading them) is refreshing, spot-on, solid counsel—from a doctor to his professional colleagues. The comments were directed to family physicians, but they apply to virtually all professions, specialties and healthcare providers.

Near the end of the article, we realized yet another remarkable thing about the article. It was published in Family Practice Management nine years ago, in January 2002.

Nine years ago the cost of a gallon of gasoline was $1.61; the Euro became the official currency of the EU, President George W. Bush created the Department of Homeland Security, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Salt Lake City and healthcare reform was a distant memory from the Clinton administration.

You’ll want to read the full article, but Dr. Giovino’s advice to peers presents these key points:

– Marketing isn’t necessarily a dirty word; it’s simply influencing choice by demonstrating the value of your services.

– The best way to begin your marketing efforts is by providing excellent care and service to your current patients.

– In competitive markets, physicians need to embrace the marketing methods of other industries and shouldn’t be afraid to do so.

Although more than a decade has past, this physician’s observations and advice to fellow practitioners is still an excellent foundation for doctor/physician marketing. And for more about ethical, effective marketing for healthcare practices and organizations, click-through to the Healthcare Success website here.

REF: James M. Giovino, MD Fam Pract Manag. 2002 Jan;9(1):33-36.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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