How To Build A Stronger Medical Practice Marketing Strategy
Effectively marketing a medical practice requires more than being able to execute a combination of paid and unpaid (organic), and digital and offline tactics. Marketing tactics, and the results they generate, will only ever be as effective as the foundation they’re built on. Before you allocate any expenditures for brand marketing, your medical practice marketing strategy needs to be solid. In our view, this begins with a stronger branding strategy.
The Power of A Strong Medical Practice Brand
A strong medical practice brand insulates your organization from competition, attracts more patients, at a lower cost per acquisition, who are happy to proactively spread the word about you. In the long run, brand-building is a better driver of sales growth than repeated short-term “performance-based” medical practice marketing activation initiatives.
While it’s not always easy to see a direct relationship between your brand investment and your bottom line, this doesn’t mean branding isn’t one of the smartest investments you can make in your medical practice business. In an increasingly saturated market, healthcare branding is essential to any organization looking to increase patient acquisition and grow their business. A strong brand will also help attract, engage and align the employees responsible for steering your medical practice experience.
Medical Practice Brand Building Pillars
Like most industries, there’s little actual difference between the medical services offered by similar healthcare providers. And there are only so many ways to talk about and distinguish your medical staff, outcomes, technology and awards. How, then, can your medical practice brand stand out versus the competition and build a personal connection with patients? These five pillars are a critical foundation.
1. Sharpen Your Target Audience
Given the competitive and changing nature of the healthcare category, along with prospective patients who are much more engaged in their own healthcare, it’s advantageous for you to be as specific as possible about who your most lucrative prospective patient targets are. Success begins with customers and the problem you are solving for them.
Depending upon the nature of your medical practice, this is less about identifying an exact demographic and more about identifying the mindset of your target audience (their attitudes and behaviors) and the key problems you uniquely solve for this patient audience.
2. Fuse A Functional And Emotional Story
When building a brand, you can’t stick to the rational, or be purely emotional. You need to find a way to bring the two together, thinking not just about what your brand does or what it says, but how it makes people feel and connects to them. This is the balance medical practice brands tend to be missing, and it impacts your ability to realize your full growth and revenue opportunity.
Every strong brand – even a medical practice – has a great story to tell. A story that touches the heart and is easily remembered. The basis of effective storytelling is a framework that underpins virtually every story to ever gain widespread adoption: The Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey structure was first outlined by comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell in his work The Hero with a Thousand Faces.
3. Align Around Shared Values
Today, it’s incumbent for brands to put their values, not their visual identities, front and center. Consumers have begun to hold businesses accountable for their behavior, and they’re seeking out organizations that align with their core beliefs and to which they can relate on a human level. And these expectations know no boundaries.
According to 5WPR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report: 83% of millennials want companies to align with their values, and 76% want CEOs to speak out on issues they care about. Great brands today find new and positive ways to tap into and connect with people’s sense of self. They meet consumers where they are, instead of trying to force them into the story a brand wants to tell.
4. Brand Positioning That Matters
Positioning your medical practice brand is a crucial foundational exercise of staking out the territory you want to own in the minds of your target audience relative to competitors. Proper positioning serves to institute an internal, unified understanding of your brand, provides direction for service development, establishes direction for brand identity and marketing communications and distinguishes your medical practice from similar competitors.
Key objectives of brand positioning include relevance, differentiation and credibility/attainability. Relevance is priority one, as patients must find your medical practice brand appealing. If not, the brand won’t make it into the consideration set, regardless of how differentiated or credible it is. Differentiation is critical and the key driver of positioning success. Your medical practice brand must be unique vs. competitive offerings. Credible and attainable is the final measure. If you cannot credibly deliver the offering, your patient is left with an empty promise.
5. Compelling Visual Brand Identity
One of the most natural and interesting ways to make your medical practice brand stand out is by keeping your visual identity fresh and modern. If you take a look around the healthcare industry, most brands tend to have lackluster visual identities. Some of these brand assets are holdovers from many years past. Others were designed as a matter of necessity with little inspiration or backing from physician leadership.
But your medical practice brand visual identity is an excellent tool for brand building. It can signal to your patients why you are different from your competition, and works alongside and supports your brand story. Think of your visual identity as right-brain creative storytelling coming together with left-brain strategic storytelling. Together, they’re a unified force signaling brand and telling a story, building on each other in a positive and powerful way.
Medical Practice Marketing Takeaway
In today’s fiercely competitive and changing healthcare landscape, the ability of branding to plant your flag with prospective patients is more important than ever. Healthcare branding is essential if healthcare companies hope to stand out from the crowd, align themselves with the attitudes and behaviors of patients and develop meaningful, lasting relationships that build sustainable growth and volume. With this kind of solid strategic branding foundation in place, medical practice marketing then becomes that much more effective!
Since 1999, our hybrid brand consultancy / marketing agency has partnered with clients across the health and wellness industry to build better brand-led businesses. Reach out for a no-obligation consultation.