Sometimes, it’s easy to get complacent in the medical industry. After all, it’s not like going to the salon. People need healthcare. And that need for healthcare doesn’t go away, no matter the latest fashions or the state of the economy.
Still, good marketing is critical in an industry where so many different kinds of organizations rub shoulders. Hospitals so massive they have their own zip codes, independent practitioners, pharmaceutical companies, equipment manufacturers, public health agencies, and more all fall under one massive umbrella. Picking out the distinctions is easy from the inside, but to many, it’s just “healthcare.”
Here are a few reasons why medical professionals, organizations, businesses, and agencies need to market themselves, no matter their type or size.
People need medical care, but they need to want it from you.
Canadian healthcare expenditures total around $242 billion annually, with almost 30% of that coming from private sources, so there is a lot of profitability in being someone’s medical provider of choice. While the biggest names might have nailed down the major awards like Top Oncology Center or Safest Place to Have a Baby (although you should certainly tout those if they apply to you!), marketing can help even smaller medical settings set themselves apart in other ways.
Does your nursing home employ a massage therapist? Is your clinic known as a friendly place for LGBT patients to seek care? Heck, do you respond to phone messages in a timely fashion? While it’s true that many people are unable to make decisions about where they receive care, whether it’s because they lack transportation, resources, or knowledge, many Canadians are in a position to make personal decisions about where they get at least some of their care.
While it’s true that location is perhaps the largest factor in medical choice, don’t forget the importance of reputation. If people will travel around the world to reach a top hospital, they will also travel across town for services they know and respect.
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Combat mistrust and misinformation.
There are many people out there with a massive mistrust of the medical industry. Some of the reasons are valid (The Tuskegee Study), and some aren’t (the bogus vaccines and autism connection), but increasing numbers of people are acting on this mistrust by opting out of medical care, or even replacing it with dangerous “alternatives.”
In this context, marketing isn’t just important for your own work, but for the medical industry as a whole. When people skip out on preventative care or simple, needful treatments, they eventually find themselves in the emergency department. (Or in the worst case scenarios, the morgue.) Marketing is a way to reach out with helpful information and good advice, building back some of the trust that has been lost.
Marketing in the medical industry needs to strike a balance.
Yes, you want to bring in new patients, but you’re also hoping to provide them with the right care so that you see them less often. You need to stay within a budget, but you also need to stay solvent. And in the end, you can’t glamorize your services when accurate patient education is a sacrosanct need. It’s not like selling cars. It will never be sexy. And it shouldn’t be; the right of human beings to receive medical care should never be trivialized in that way.
But marketing does matter. It educates. It builds trust. It creates informed decisions and volition and choice. Yes, this balance can be tricky, but it’s worth it when you get it right. And of course, we’re always here to help.
You might feel it’s unnecessary to market as a medical professional— after all, people need healthcare no matter what. But if you don’t set yourself apart from the other medical professionals in your community, what will induce patients to choose your services? Effective marketing allows you to distinguish yourself, educate prospective patients, and establish a relationship built on trust with your community. Medical marketing is worth a second look.