By Peter Do
Should You Invest In Healthcare Marketing Expertise?
Our work brings us in daily contact with healthcare professionals around the nation. To a person, these operating executives, healthcare administrators, managers, and doctors are justifiably proud of their professional achievements. But, there are times when their marketing simply isn’t working…when the stakes are high…or when competition seems insurmountable. It seems self-defeating, but there are times when they will question an investment in building, growing and protecting their own healthcare businesses.
The curious thing is that many medical practitioners, for example, have been in business for a decade or so. Yet, they question the need to invest in marketing. The thing is, medicine is a profession, but healthcare is a business.
And, a further challenge in making a proper decision, the business of healthcare delivery is constantly changing. One way or another—for better or otherwise—the world of medical practices, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, addiction treatment centers, and others is a dynamic landscape. [Related article: 15 Healthcare Marketing Strategies.]
Sometimes changes may seem smooth and gradual, but at other times it feels like a sharp and sudden upheaval. To be competitive, it makes sense to partner with experienced Healthcare Marketing talent.
The backstory of this dilemma is quite old. Historically, doctors and healthcare practices have often had a “love-hate” relationship with marketing…and typically, a lot more “hate” than “love.” Marketing in the professions wasn’t legal until 40-plus years ago and changed with the 1977 Supreme Court case.
Testing the marketing waters in the early days could be unfriendly territory among professional practitioners. You may still recall the naysayer themes: “If you’re a good doctor, you don’t need to market.” Or worse, “Only bad doctors do marketing.”
Even after that, it took a long, long time before professional practices embraced marketing. You could easily identify the pioneering early adopters…they were the decision-makers with a lot of arrows in their back (from their peers).
Fortunately, times have changed–largely for the positive. Younger doctors and administrators have arrived on the scene with none of that baggage. For them, marketing is a natural and necessary business activity. And, these hospitals and medical practices tend to be much more aggressive and proactive in their Healthcare Marketing.
And, as a further dynamic, the competition has grown larger and has increased dramatically. The landscape has changed, attitudes have changed and marketing has proven to be an effective business tool…for most, but not all.
Is Marketing Expertise “Worth It?”
In our work with hospitals and medical offices around the nation, we still find smaller businesses that invest a lot and some larger ones invest very little…but neither has found the right formula for success.
A common story from the field is the established medical practice that was business-flat. Management constantly felt the pressure to move beyond the plateau. But the first move—a dangerous one—is to throw spaghetti against the wall and settle for a low-cost, “quick-fix” option.
In today’s environment, there are change agents at work beyond the provider office walls. One is that, increasingly, consumers—patients—are making their own healthcare decisions, especially with specialty healthcare services, doctors and hospitals. A quick example is hernia repair surgery. Some people elect to delay—perhaps indefinitely—this operation. Previously, it was not usually considered “elective care,” but some consumers are making that choice.
This raises the question: If this is the condition of today’s landscape, are you missing out by not addressing this audience with highly effective marketing efforts?
We sometimes meet people who are intrigued by the notion of working with an experienced, proven marketing authority, but then settle the cheapest option instead.
Their business isn’t growing, but competition is. But instead of an in-depth, effective marketing partnership, they end up paying for someone to learn healthcare marketing “on their dime.”
So, the big idea here for decision-makers is to find the answer to the question: “To keep pace with change, are you willing to invest in truly effective marketing?”
From our perspective, the answer is an easy YES; marketing is a sound business tool and it is nearly impossible to get true expertise on the cheap. What’s more, healthcare marketing is a highly specialized business environment, and optimal results require considerable experience.
Most importantly, remember that this is your reputation we are talking about. We strongly recommend you choose people who know how to represent your business in an ethical, compelling manner.