Welcome to part two in our five-part series on “Getting Started in Marketing.”
The first article in this series discussed the importance of knowing who your ideal patient is. At first glance, this may seem silly… but trust me, it is not. You need to be clear about who you’re talking to.
In case you missed the article, you can click the link below and read it now. How to Get Started In Marketing: Who is Your Ideal Patient?
Today let’s talk about your marketing message. Wondering just what I mean by “Marketing Message?”
Very simply put, your marketing message is how you present your business, your products, and your services to the public. Unfortunately, all too often, this is not done by design but happens by default.
So what is your current marketing message? What do you say about your office and the services you offer?
Do you have a marketing message that clearly outlines the services or products you provide to your patients? And does your marketing message explain how you can help them address their concerns or solve their problems?
Let’s talk about two of the most important concepts to remember when crafting your marketing message:
- Marketing is customer focused
- Your unique selling point
But before I continue…
Even though we’re talking about marketing your practice and getting new patients, from now on, I will be using the term “customers” instead of patients.
And here is why…
I want you to start thinking about your patients as your customers! This doesn’t mean you do everything your customer wants you to do, such as … “I want a prescription for the new purple pill.” No!
Nor does it mean the customer is always right… you can’t do that as a health care provider.
However, what you can do is treat your patients with the mindset that they are your valued customers. After all, it’s customers that grow and sustain a business.
When you start thinking of your patients as your customers, it will change the way you approach and run your practice! I promise.
So let’s get back to the topic at hand.
Marketing is Customer Focused…
So what do I mean by “Marketing is customer focused?” It means that your marketing should be about your customer and not about your business.
While your customers want to know you have the credentials to operate a clinic, this is NOT what’s most important to them.
What’s most important to your customers are the problems they have right now. All customers have problems they want to solve. It’s that simple.
Therefore, your marketing message should convey that you know and understand your customer and that you understand their problems, their “pain.”
And please, feel free to replace “pain” with
- Worry: about blood pressure
- Want: to lower cholesterol
- Desire: to lose weight, reduce medication, etc.
- Need: to pass the exam so I can continue driving my truck
Do you need to address every single thing you treat in your marketing? No, of course not.
However, your marketing should communicate to your customers that you understand their concerns, frustrations, and needs. And you want to let them know that you are prepared and qualified to solve their problems.
Let me give you a “quick and dirty” example… A typical message (even though a bit exaggerated) says something like:
“Our Clinic offers primary care services to the citizens of our community. Appointments are available between the hours of 9:00 AM through 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. We have two Nurse Practitioners on staff to see you. Our office accepts most insurance plans. Please call to verify your insurance is accepted and to schedule your appointment.”
Does this at all touch on customer’s problems or needs? No!
How about something like:
“Welcome to our Clinic. We are here to support you on your journey to health and well-being. We listen to you so we can understand your concerns. And we will work with you so you can achieve your health goals.”
Do you see/hear the difference between the two snippets?
The first snippet talks about the clinic, the business. The second snippet talks directly to the customer, about what’s important to them: being listened to and being understood.
Your marketing message should always be customer focused. Additionally, your message should let them know what specific services or products you’re offering that will solve their problems (their pain).
For the most part, this will be similar for healthcare services. But even so, there may be an opportunity to show your customers that you have unique solutions designed to solve their problems.
Your Unique Selling Point…
Now you see that marketing is about your customer, their problems, and how you can help them.
The remaining question you need to answer is this: How are you different from your competitors? Talk to what’s so special about you. What is your competitive advantage? This is also known as a USP.
USP stands for unique selling proposition or unique selling point. It is an important concept in marketing any product or service.
Think of the USP as a summation of what makes your business unique, different and valuable to your customer. The whole idea for the USP is that there is something other businesses don’t do, can’t do or will not do.
Incidentally, the things other businesses don’t do are your opportunity to be different and unique. But you can only uncover that by researching your competition.
Having a USP helps make you stand out from the crowd and allows you to quickly communicate what you’re all about and what makes you different.
If you don’t have a USP yet for your practice, here are some pointers on how to craft one.
- First and foremost, your USB should outline benefits instead of focusing on features. Focus on what benefits your customer will experience when using your services.
- Feature-based: our highly qualified providers use the latest technology to deliver your care.
- Benefit-based: utilizing technology allows us to provide customized solutions to your health concerns, leaving you feeling comfortable and at.
- Communicate the problem you solve for your customers.
- Problem: people feel rushed during their visits and not listened to.
- Solution: We hear you and we listen to you.
- Communicate how your service will affect or improve their life.
- Problem: People may have to use work time to be seen.
- Solution: Our flexible office hours help you stay on top of your health without losing hours of work.
- What makes you different from the clinic down the street?
- What sets you apart?
- Why should someone come to see you over the clinic down the street?
- What is unique about you and your clinic?
As you think about this question, keep the following in mind. Marketing is customer focused… yes, I just repeated myself.
So as you crystallize what makes you unique and different, bring it back to your customer. How does it help your customer?
By the way, anything can set you apart from your competition, as long as it’s presented correctly.
A few examples of famous USPs are:
“The nighttime, coughing, achy, sniffling, stuffy head, fever, so you can rest medicine” – Vicks Cold Medicine; Benefit: get sleep.
“When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.” – FedEx; Benefit: package gets delivery guaranteed and overnight.
Remember, the purpose of the USP is to communicate the most important benefit of doing business with you. What benefit will Jane Smith gain from working with you over someone else? Communicate that in your USP!
Make sure you integrate and use your USP in all your marketing materials. Include it on your website and any written materials leaving your office.
Right now you may wonder if you have anything that sets you apart. Is there anything that’s truly unique about you?
Let me assure you that there is something for everyone and every business that sets them apart from the crowd. It may be as plain as offering evening hours or having a great location.
Whatever it may be, it’s your job to identify what makes you and your business unique.
Take time to craft your unique selling proposition. In all likeliness, it may take a while developing the USP that’s just right for you. Keep in mind, your USP is not written in stone and can be changed if you find it doesn’t feel just right for you.
Well, that’s it for today…
Take what you’ve learned and put it to work in your practice.
- Is your marketing message customer focused?
- What is your USP?
As always, let us know that you think; we’d love to hear from you.
By Johanna Hofmann, MBA, a regular contributor to the NPBusiness blog and author of “Smart Business Planning for Clinicians.”