By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Here’s one of several critical medical advertising mistakes that doctors and hospitals make every day. For any number of reasons, they—meaning you—may be blind to the competition.
Consider this to be a reality check. Do you see yourself anywhere in the following picture?
For one thing, doctors rarely like to think of their professional colleagues as competition. There is a tendency for many physicians and surgeons to see themselves as a band of brothers and sisters in white coats. Each and all are members of the same fraternal league with a higher calling.
Clients and prospective clients—doctors and hospital executives alike—often tell us they don’t have a lot of competition. Certainly, that’s what they believe. But just as often, they have not taken a sophisticated look around. The friendly competitive landscape is actually quite active, aggressive and changing. And it’s not to be ignored or underestimated.
For example, not long ago only the most sophisticated hospitals would hire Physician Liaisons to build doctor referrals. Now, medical groups and even single doctor practices routinely employ these experts to tip the scales in their favor. Oftentimes, groups without referral building systems in place do not realize a competitor is courting a valued referral source until the damage is done.
This has been a period of healthcare consolidations, roll-ups, mergers and hospital hires. In the past year or two many providers, medical groups and hospitals have realigned and/or reinvented themselves. It’s quite likely that the competition has a new identity, agenda and mandate, and new reasons to be marketing more assertively.
What’s more, healthcare and provider competition now advances from completely new corners. In your market area, anyone who offers similar services is your competition. But now, that can include providers that are in a completely different field or specialty. For example, some practitioners are performing procedures that they once referred to specialists. And pharmacies, drug stores, over-the-counter products, clinics in supermarkets and holistic remedies may also be on the competition list.
Then there’s the noise factor. Thousands of marketing messages of all sorts bombard the typical consumer daily. Some of this ever-present clutter is more directly competitive than others, but collectively compete against your message for a share of the consumer’s attention.
What you need to do now.
It’s only realistic to appreciate that you do have competition. Doctors and hospitals alike: Your share of the healthcare marketplace is likely being eroded. What’s needed is a complete and careful competitive audit to reveal exactly how things have changed and to provide guidance for an updated marketing plan. Your competition would be pleased to be overlooked, ignored or underestimated.