By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
If your schedule permits a quiet moment, look at the competitive landscape. Group practice marketing is constantly challenged to keep up with mergers, rollups and acquisitions. Know it or not, business conditions in your service area have changed in the past few months. It could be that the territory has shifted. And, like it or not, the only predictable factor is continued change.
We’ve worked with dozens of business models across America. And it turns out that the dynamics and the economics of healthcare frequently create new (or significantly reconstituted) group medical practices.
The size of the group—from two to 100 providers—is one variable. And exactly how group practices do their marketing also varies greatly. Developing new business is challenging, even if there was only one practitioner. But in the hands of multiple decision-makers, the conflicting interests of many voices often stretch marketing objectives. Unfortunately, sound marketing decisions are often shredded by an internal tug-of-war where:
- An attempt to please everyone actually pleases no one
- A well-intended consensus effort dilutes or misdirects
- Doctors are devoted to their medical/clinical work, not marketing
- Opinions, perspectives, and objectives differ or conflict
Group Practice Marketing case examples…
Real-world example one – consider the medical group of 10 providers where:
- 2 doctors are pro-marketing
- 2 doctors are strongly opposed to marketing
- 6 doctors are somewhere in the middle (and swayable)
In this scenario, key decisions are likely to be championed or resisted. Unfortunately, an attempt to reach a consensus tends to kill courage—and ideas die. Disconnected or watered-down ideas may please the participants, but they are usually ineffective strategies or tactics.
A better approach is to delegate authority and responsibility, affording one person the necessary budget, resources and performance accountability to achieve specific and quantified goals.
Real-world example two – the large group practice.
When a group practice becomes larger, partner doctors are often less and less involved in business development. They turn marketing over to an administrator or CEO for leadership. Or, in some instances, the group employs a “marketing person.” It’s common to find that the admin/CEO person has the authority, but they have limited marketing experience. The marketing person, on the other hand, has the knowledge and experience, but it is extremely rare that they have strong authority.
To make matters worse, in some big practices, a large number of doctors are completely disinterested in developing new business resources. And because of that, the marketing effort is often a failure.
A better approach: Even with very large groups of 100 or more, doctors need to be involved. The practical solution is to create a marketing committee. In our experience, this is an effective approach when the committee is a good representation of the physician cadre and includes respected leaders in the practice.
Getting traction for group practice marketing…
By way of either approach—an empowered marketing leader or a strong marketing committee—the marketing success for a group practice will still encounter pitfalls and challenges. Navigating “politics” in a group accepts and balances a range of opinions, sensitivities and interests.
Recommendation 1: Create a comprehensive marketing plan. Thoughtfully consider goals, objectives, target audiences, positioning, competitors, budget, and our six proven ways to market a healthcare organization. Reach out to us if you have questions or want more particulars.
Recommendation 2: While constructive ideas from the group are welcome, the first step does not include spending resources on pet projects or “spaghetti” (let’s-see-what-sticks) marketing ideas. Unfortunately, this is a common first mistake that quite effectively wastes precious resources. Please refer to #1 and #3.
Recommendation 3: If there were a time and place for outsourcing, this is it. Most practices do not have the practical marketing experience, capability or resources under their roof. Serious practice growth and business success require the direction and specialized support of an experienced, professional advertising agency.
At the risk of sounding self-serving, your decision should be to outsource group practice marketing—to our firm, or someone else. But at this stage of maturity, business development is no longer a D-I-Y proposition.
The best approach is to retain and trust a knowledgeable, experienced agency resource. We’re ready to help. If you are ready to discuss moving to the next level and beyond, and you would welcome the talent to produce measurable results, let’s talk. Give us a call today at 800-656-0907.