- When a physician practice attempts to establish a professional brand that differentiates it from its competitor physician practices, the first place to begin is by determining who is its ideal customer.
- Brands are far more than a logo, a color scheme, or an advertising campaign. “Living Brands” maximize the experience at ever single interaction between a customer or patient and a professional practitioner and his or her staff, both in person and online and in the revenue cycle.
- While your practice may be sold on automating as much as possible and driving more actions with technology, you open yourself up to more opportunities to create a perception with audiences, whether positive or negative. This includes with patients and their families, other doctors, insurers and other payers, the hospitals where you maintain staff privileges, banks and software and other vendors, community trading partners far and near, and others who visit or encounter your business. If you use artificial intelligence tools in your practice, that brings a brand new definition to the human connection when people engage with your business.
- Positive brand image makes your medical or dental or veterinary practice more attractive to both customers and job-seekers who want to join your team.
You may have determined that it is time to market your practice but are a little light on cash to assign to this new activity and staff trained to do it. I’ve been inundated lately with advertisements via email, SMS, and on LinkedIn from people wanting to sell me marketing services, thinking that Mercury Healthcare International is a practitioner, and not a consulting firm. As a result they send me all the same adverts you get. Some of you may have decided to market your practice through various APIs and apps that are actually artificial intelligence that auto respond to incoming communiques. This diminishes the amount of person-to-person interactions between callers, emailers and your business. It means you’ve decided that the process of creating relationships with an audience will soon be the responsibility of a computer, rather than a sales or marketing team. Is that correct?
Well, it may work, as long as the business rules are set up properly. Who is going to set up your system? For years, there has been a culture within your practice that is based on the personalities and practices in practice or workplace. Your business’ culture is based on the personalities and practices in place. You may have taken training to improve your interactions for CAHPS scores, but is it window dressing? Is it woven into the fabric of your practice through and through?
KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
Branding is about creating relationships by understanding who exactly the audience is, and what they want. If you are selling services within a particular specialty, determine where the patients are located, how they speak, what language or idiom they use, why they might need your services, how they book appointments and progress through the episode of care, and more. You must be able to create an emotional connection with them. The more differentiated and relevant your message, images, color scheme, tag line, and approach, the more business you can attract away from your direct competitors, assuming you even know who your direct competitors may be. Do it right and render your competition “irrelevant.” The feelings that consumers have towards a brand often arise from the content that a business publishes and whether or not it is relevant to that targeted audience. You cannot use the same narrative, imagery, colors, and campaigns to all readers and listeners even if the product you are offering all of them is the same.
Answer these 5 questions:
- Do people read or hear your narrative and come away thinking “they care about me”?
- Do people read or hear your narrative and come away thinking “they are making a difference at the forefront of medicine or dentistry or veterinary care”?
- Do people read or hear your narrative and come away thinking “I feel special when I visit them”?
- Do people read or hear your narrative and come away thinking “I feel more confident that I can beat this illness or avoid it completely”?
- Do people read or hear your narrative and come away thinking “I feel pampered and cared for”?
To build these powerful emotions between you and your customers, you must first know who you are trying to connect with.
If you only studied the demographics of your patients, your assessment may not always be accurate, especially if you measured the wrong data points. If you’ve failed to identify an important demographic or niche of potential customers through ineffective audience analysis is a missed opportunity that many businesses cannot afford. If you’ve sent the wrong message because of total failure in assessing the prospect, like those folks who email me and want to market my medical practice (when I am not a doctor), or send me emails to refer “my patients” to them as a medical travel facilitator, you’ll embarrass yourself immediately and lose any potential credibility. If nothing else, Be RELEVANT!