One of the many definitions of marketing for a doctor’s office is: The ongoing process of finding, attracting and retaining patients. That’s simple, short…and more challenging than ever to achieve with success. Amid today’s constantly changing healthcare landscape, successful medical practitioners—the people and practices that stand head and shoulders above the competition—are both skilled clinicians and savvy entrepreneurs. They recognize that, more than ever, medicine is a profession, but healthcare is a business. On the pages of this website, Healthcare Success provides a rich resource of practical advice and how-to instructions about the many strategies and tactics for finding and communicating with prospective patients, existing patients and referral sources. As key examples, this informative direction includes articles about: Strategic Planning Budget Planning SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis Internal Marketing Television Advertising Online Marketing and much more. But having worked with thousands of medical practices throughout the nation over many years, the Healthcare Success list of essential “secrets” in marketing for a doctor’s office is relatively short. There are seven concepts that distinguish the high-achieving leaders. Secret #1: Patients are not outsiders to our business. They are our business. Creating and maintaining a patient-centered practice is not a new concept. Over 90 years ago, the creed of Cleveland Clinic founder Dr. William Lower provided exceptional insight, recognizing that “a patient is the most important person in the institution,” and they “are not dependent on us, we are dependent on them,” and ultimately, “it is our job to satisfy them.” Top-tier practitioners understand that “patient centered” has contemporary marketing interpretations… Having a deep understanding of the needs and wants of the target audience and providing timely appropriate answers to those needs; Recognizing patients as informed consumers who actively participate in their health care; and Understanding that a connected relationship is an integral part of patient experience and satisfaction. Secret #2: A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there. Marketing- and business-savvy doctors often speak about personal lessons in courage and determination. For example, physicians—surgeons in particular—are risk-adverse in business. In fact, being risk adverse is the number one factor that holds back most doctors and keeps them from being successful. The tough part is having the courage to accept risks in order to reap the rewards in business. Success—and the personal and professional rewards it entails—is achieved when the desire for success is greater that the fear of failure. Secret #3: What helps people helps business. Some medical practices rush to advertise what they most want to sell, and they do so without regard for consumer needs and expectations. The fundamental truth here is that no one goes shopping to buy “a surgery,” or a medical treatment. People are shopping for and buying a greater well being for themselves. Doctor marketing that understands and communicates a solution to a problem or an answer to a need is essential to both helping people and attracting patient revenue. Secret #4: Marketing is a revenue-generating investment. Some doctor’s offices mistakenly account for marketing as if it were an expense item. In fact, it is the primary new business fuel, and the measure of achievement in marketing is Return-on-Investment (ROI). Dollars applied to marketing are expected to track to the specific revenue that results. Practice principals appreciate that they have no better, or more rewarding, opportunity than in investing in the growth of their own business. Secret #5: Ideas without action are worthless. A doctor’s office that wins at marketing begins with a detailed game plan. It’s a plan—based on proven strategies and tactics—that includes specific goals and a means to measure progress and results. It also includes a budget that’s strong enough to matter and to achieve the goals. Secret #6: Successful marketing is a team endeavor. A doctor’s office—even a larger group practice—is seldom staffed with broad and deep marketing talent. Although the entire office staff participates, growing practices often reach a plateau that requires experienced outside help to maintain the upward growth curve. Doctors that are determined to break through often partner with a healthcare marketing and advertising agency for the assistance they need to grow. Secret #7: Good enough never is. Nobody wants to see the “second best” doctor. Achieving marketing success in attracting new patients is an ongoing effort to communicate a message of quality in healthcare delivery. The business grows from excellence in clinical care and outcomes, patient experience, professional growth and personal satisfaction.