Do Only “Bad Doctors” Actually Pay For Marketing?

The managing partner of a large, respected group called me recently to find out if my firm could help them answer a rising competitive threat and build volume for their associates. The trouble was, he was very guarded and hesitant.

After a lot of coaxing, he finally blurted out the real reason behind his reservations.

“But don’t only bad doctors have to market?”

Since I have heard countless variations of this theme for years, I thought I would set the record straight in today’s post.

1. Marketing is not the same thing as advertising. Everyone in business markets, whether they know it or not, and whether they are good at it or not. Marketing includes your customer service, how you communicate with referring doctors, how you answer the phone, how good you are at treating patients, etc. However, since advertising is such a visible form of marketing, we’ll focus most of today’s discussion there.

2. Most doctors were told before they got into practice something like, “All you need to do is be a good doctor and everything else will take care of itself.” While this statement is reassuring for young doctors, the problem is it simply isn’t true. I have worked with over 1,000 doctors and hospitals, and I have witnessed countless exceptions to the “rule.” In fact, the Executive Director of a leading medical association recently told me her most respected speaker at the big annual meeting quietly confessed to her about his lack of new patients. It seems while his peers would line up to hear him speak, in his own town he is the “best kept secret.”

3. Doctors and hospitals advertise for many reasons beyond attracting more patients. They may want to build their reputation (brand), answer competition, promote specific service lines, etc.

So clearly advertising is not synonymous with being needy or greedy.

Whatever your own misgivings or attitudes, I can assure you that lots of great doctors and hospitals not only advertise (not to mention market), but do so effectively. In fact, many command the lion’s share of the best cases, while their peers stand idly by and do nothing. But that is a topic for another post.

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