An unintentional byproduct of healthcare reform is the increasing number of physician practices that have the wrong branding message. Or worse, they have no branding at all. Consider this example:
Mysteriously, the well-considered branding message and competitive edge of a physician practice was somehow "disconnected." In our consultations, the doctors and staff believed that the day-to-day practice operation was normal. Just another work-a-day world…slightly overflowing with urgencies and…you know…the usual.
But digging deeper, it turns out that the practice brand—which was on-point only a year or so ago—had drifted off-course mainly due to external change factors at work around them. In short, their marketing plan, branding message and advertising thrust was based on old—and now invalid—assumptions.
This medical practice desperately needs to rethink its branding—what makes them distinctly and competitively unique—and to make adjustments that bring them back on course. Think of it as a "back to the future" exercise that examines the marketing environment of yesterday, today and tomorrow in search of your sustainable competitive advantage.
Your edge is a unique value proposition—it what you offer, how you offer it, what makes you special to a specific group of patients. (You might have more than one target audience.) It might be found in your experience, expertise, specialized skill, unique capabilities, unique technology, the way you relate to patients.
The core of a unique selling proposition is found at the intersection of what you do extremely well and what your desired audience values highly. It's not always easy to find those crossroads, and it's even more of a challenge when much of the marketing landscape is shifting.
In fairness, the practice of medicine has always been a dynamic creature. Gradual transformations are a constant factor, and the evolutionary path of the past few hundred years has largely been for the better. But in the past two years the changes in the American healthcare delivery system have been rapid and wide-ranging…and probably unequaled in intensity.
Not to sound overly dramatic, but all that we label as "healthcare reform" has impacted virtually every physician practice, medical group and healthcare provider in the nation. And, with increasing frequency we discover that the branding assumptions of a physician practice have been left behind. Although every practice situation and marketplace has unique characteristics, here are four critical areas that have likely changed recently and need to be reevaluated before you can discover (or reconnect with) your competitive edge.
These five areas—business structure, professional colleagues, patient needs, and internal changes—are not the only things to consider, but they are among the top influence factors that could have pulled your physician practice branding message off-center.
Look at them critically, impartially and in detail. And for more on this subject and how to move to the next steps, see Creating a Powerful, Differentiating Brand for Your Healthcare Business or Practice.