Just recently Stewart was the guest speaker for a large group of healthcare professionals. (It was a dental society meeting, but the issue he encountered that evening applies to other professions, practices, medical groups and even hospitals. Please read on.)
Nearly all of the attendees in the audience were doing some degree of marketing, and in the face of increased competition, most were receptive to doing more and embraced the bottom line-building ideas that Stewart shared in his presentation.
At the close of the evening, however, one practicing professional approached and said, “Thanks for your presentation, but I don’t have or need a brand. It’s all bull.” (This kind of “left handed” comment usually launches a lively conversation.)
But this fellow wasn’t being a contrarian; he was truly interested, although slightly misinformed. The fact is that he does indeed have a brand. All professionals do. And it’s not something that is limited to a logo design, or newspaper advertising, as this person thought.
In fact, everything he does is part of his brand. It’s the total patient experience and how that experience defines the provider and the practice in the mind of the public. Logo. Advertising. Patient newsletter. Office sign. Reception décor. Staff attitude. Website. Everything…the works.
For this professional, it was easier to understand “brand” by substituting the words “professional reputation.” That made sense because he—like most professionals—was keenly aware of, and protective about, his reputation.
As far as the public is concerned, your brand/reputation is probably a lot less visible than you think. To the public in general, and to prospective new patients in particular, nearly all “white coats” look alike and are equally competent. They see no differentiation, if they see you at all.
With that in mind, you can choose to do nothing and hope that the winds of good fortune will, by chance, be kind and you will eventually have a good reputation. Or you can proactively manage the message in positive ways to enhance, expand and grow your reputation with the public and with professional peers. It’s your call.
In it’s purest form, healthcare marketing and branding is about building a positive reputation, getting your phone to ring, getting people to come in for a first appointment and building a lasting relationship. No bull.
By the way, HSS Founders Stewart Gandolf and Lonnie Hirsch are nationally recognized speakers and presenters and have spoken to tens of thousands of doctors and other healthcare practitioners on the topic of healthcare marketing. For more information about booking Stewart or Lonnie for your meeting or conference, click here.
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