Marketing for Nurse Practitioners, Really?

Marketing? You think you don’t need to worry about that, right? As a matter of fact, most of us think marketing is only used to sell “stuff.”

But nothing could be further from the truth!

Marketing is not only used in business, but it’s also used by nursing professionals. And as a matter of fact, you’re probably already marketing, even though that’s not what YOU call it!

So what on earth possesses me to make such a controversial statement? Well, there are several reasons for it, and I’ll get to that shortly.

For now, let me say this. You must market yourself, regardless if you are:

  • working in clinical or non-clinical nursing
  • if you’re employed or self-employed
  • if you are an RN or an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)

But before I tell you why you must market and show you specific examples, let’s look at what exactly is marketing.

According to the American Marketing Association:

“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

At first thought, you might think: “This does not fit me. I don’t have a product or a service.” But wait!

What About Value?

Don’t you, as a nursing professional, provide value? Don’t you provide services, even if you are not a business owner?  And if you are a business owner, then you already know that you provide products and services.

When someone is engaged in marketing, they are trying to “sell” someone on something. I know we all hate selling, and we dislike being “sold to.”  However, take a moment and consider the following:

Every day you work with your patients toward different goals, such as:

  • smoking cessation
  • exercising
  • losing weight
  • taking medication
  • changing their own dressings

Not only are you teaching your patients what they need to do; you also discuss the benefits of doing what you are asking them to do.

  • You talk about how much better their health will be.
  • You discuss how they will be able to participate in activities once again.
  • You talk about having a better quality of life.

When it comes right down to it, you “sell” them on improving their health… at least that’s what you’re trying to accomplish.

Marketing is Education

And you do the same thing when you’re interviewing for a job.

Your goal is to convince your potential employer that you are the absolute best candidate for the job. You “sell” them on the benefits of hiring you over someone else.

Moreover, if you happen to be a business owner, you’ll want to sell the idea, the benefits of your business to potential clients (customers, patients, etc.), employees and potential stakeholders or business partners.

So when you look at marketing and selling through this lens, marketing is no more than education.

We educate our clients on the benefits of behavior change, the benefits of working with us and the benefits of hiring us.

In other words, “Marketing is Education.”

While you and I have a hard time thinking that we are selling, we have no problem with educating – it’s part of our DNA.

More Applications

Now let’s look at other uses for marketing.

You might want to market yourself if:

  • You are looking for a job.
  • You are working towards a promotion.
  • You are applying for a grant.
  • You are applying to graduate school.

At times, you may also engage in marketing your profession. For example:

  • You are meeting with state or federal officials on the needs of nursing and your patients.
  • You are meeting with stakeholders to educate them about nurse practitioners and the role NPs play in healthcare and why full practice authority is essential.
  • You have a meeting with payers about the benefits of including nurse practitioners in their provider panels.

Of course, if you have a clinically or non-clinically related business you’ll want to market to grow that business.

The end goal will be different depending on the business you are building, but the outcomes will be similar. A successful business creates a winning circle for all involved.

How To Get Started

Now that you know what marketing is, and why you want to market, here are a few tips to help you get started.

  1. Self-Assessment. It’s important to understand the value you and your business bring to the table.  For example, if you are looking for a job, exactly what value can you bring to the new organization? Alternatively, if you have a business, ask yourself what value do you provide for your customer?
  2. Who.  Knowing who your ideal client is (or employer, customer, patient) allows you to create targeted messages that let them know you understand what they need.
    To find your “who” ask yourself who you’d like to work with. Gather as much information about them as possible (demographics, psycho-demographics, needs, pain points, etc.). You’ll want to create an entire picture and story about that person, known as an avatar.
  3. The Message.  Once you have identified your avatar, you’ll be able to create a message that allows you to talk directly to that person. While others will hear your message, it will resonate more powerfully with the people that are like your avatar.
    You’ll want your message to be like an accordion where the basic essence can be just a few words or expanded into copy for websites, brochures and speaker sheets for example.
  4. Marketing Campaigns.  Like a care plan, a campaign consists of a problem, an objective, and action steps that will help you meet your objective. Here’s an example:
    • Problem:  You wrote a book and now want to sell it.
    • Objective: You want to get more people to your website so they can see your book. For this campaign, your goal may be to get 1,000 people to your website.
    • Action steps: Using Facebook as a marketing channel, make posts to newsfeed, page, and groups. You may also decide to purchase Facebook ads to help drive traffic.
  5. Where to market. The decision of where you will market will be dictated by what you learned when you identified your avatar… go to where they hang out. So for example, if you know that your ideal clients hang out on Facebook, you’ll be more likely to do much of your marketing there.

Whatever you do, keep up with the trends. For example, according to the PEW Research Center, “62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition”.

Keep in mind that this number is likely higher as the data does not include tablets or smart watch technology. In other words, mobile devices rule the day, and your campaigns need to keep that in mind.

There is so much more to talk about when it comes to marketing!

Indeed, everything I talked about here can be an in-depth topic in its own right. But these tips should get you started thinking about marketing and educating yourself, your profession and your business.

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  1. I agree – Marketing is Education. When you provide education to your patients, you are providing value for your patients, your staff, your business and yourself! Adding your interpretation of education tips for your patients on your website, blog, or patient education brochures is one more way that you show your patients how much you care.

  2. I absolutely feel marketing is essential to my private practice. I use several resources to meet the needs of my patients. Facebook is probably the most far reaching. Last year I ran a bicycle safety campaign. I found some bike helmets online for a great price, I ran bike safety posts and yes gave away free helmets. I offered to patients and non patients. It was so worthwhile and I did actually get new patients from the campaign. Creativity is key, but it truly pays off! Great words as always Barbara!

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