By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
[Series Installment] Among our list of 19 critical medical advertising mistakes that healthcare organizations make every day is: Trying to build your image rather than building a patient base. We’ve labeled it as Number Six, but by any name it is a misguided budget-burner.
Here’s how to recognize that you may be headed for this serious pitfall, and how to devote your advertising budget toward more effective results.
All too often, people believe the singular goal of advertising is to build an image for your practice or hospital. The logic follows that, if you put enough things “out there” with your name and picture, patients will beat a path to your door. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way.
The image idea is deceptively appealing for several reasons:
Egos are involved: Having your name or likeness in the bright spotlight of public advertising has an ego kick to it. The appeal of image ads that “feel good” for the provider or institution is lost on the general public. No doubt your mother would be proud, but prospective patients have a different value system.
There’s political pressure: Closely related to the ego-issue is when image messages are created to answer internal needs or specific issues. The impulse is to get the word out or pump-up the real or perceived reputation with advertising. Somehow it seems to “feel right,” but the actual results are more negligible than meaningful.
The “big guys” do it: Sure you want to build a great image and reputation in your community. But that takes a huge investment over a long and sustained time. Broadly based outfits such as Starbucks, for example, have the requisite deep pockets. But the neighborhood coffee house needs a steady stream of new and regular customers for their humble three community locations.
The cost-effective alternative
There is a time and place for healthcare marketing and advertising that establishes and reinforces your brand and branding message. The first—and usually overriding priority—is attracting and retaining a solid patient/revenue stream. Image advertising alone comes up short.
But, as you build the desired patient base—if you do it right—the image and reputation will also grow. It is important to differentiate your value by way of the services and solutions that specifically answer the needs of the audience.
In short, it’s not so much who you are as it is what you can do for prospective patients. Professionally guided advertising campaigns can extend reputation and recognition while actively growing the patient base and revenue streams.
Our latest special report, Avoiding the 19 Critical Medical Advertising Mistakes Healthcare Organizations Make Every Day, discusses this and other common marketing errors. Click through here to download this free White Paper now.
And for related reading, see these previous posts: The Frightening Undercurrent of Healthcare Competition and Healthcare Branding: That Was Then. This Is Now.