Competitive Medical Practice Marketing through Thought Leadership
Recently, we received a question from a reader who asked how to compete effectively with other practices offering similar healthcare services in the same area. With the increasingly hyper-competitive environment currently facing professional service providers, medical practitioners are grappling with this issue daily.
It’s not all bad, however; the Harvard Business Review back in 2004 determined that strong competition was the answer to better healthcare services for patients, provided it takes place at the right level – that of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of individual health conditions or co-occurring conditions. So by making your practice more competitive, you not only increase your revenue but the patients and the healthcare system win, too.
Analyze the Competition
The first step towards competing effectively against other practices is to understand exactly who your competitors are, what they offer and how much potential business they have. Research the practices located nearest to you geographically, as well as those further away that compete in the same specialty areas. You can do this by:
- Searching online for the keywords your patients use when they are looking for your services.
- Reviewing the websites that come up in search and making a note of the details you find, such as
- the number of healthcare professionals they have
- the services they offer
- their hours of business
- resources available to patients, such as educational materials, a blog and interactive, online community forums, open days
- Saving your searches and setting up Google alerts on the names of the main competing practices you identify, so you can keep track of any news published about them online
- Performing a thorough SWOT analysis based on the information you collect.
Identify Opportunities for Differentiation
Your research and analysis should turn up some areas where there are gaps in the local market. Provided these fit in with your practice’s culture and business model, they could offer opportunities you can use.
For example, many practices refer patients to pathology labs for blood tests. By employing a registered practitioner and fitting out a room in your practice you may be able to offer onsite collection of samples for testing, even if it’s only on certain days of the week or for a few hours a day.
This will greatly improve the convenience to your patients, and set you apart from practices where patients have to find their own way to get the tests done.
Develop a Thought Leadership Strategy
This seems to be a popular strategy right now, according to several online sources including Forbes Magazine. Driven by the recently published book “Profitable Brilliance: How Professional Service Firms Become Thought Leaders,” the thinking is that thought leadership is a powerful method of gaining recognition as a leader in a particular field. So how do you go about developing this type of strategy for your practice?
- Become recognized as a subject matter expert (SME) in your area of specialty by creating a comprehensive content marketing strategy to showcase your expertise;
- Build a patient-friendly website with interactive options and educational resources, which draws existing and prospective patient back time and again;
- Offer content in multiple different formats accessible through a variety of channels. Popular content formats include blogs, videos, podcasts, slide shows, eBooks, white papers, radio interviews, patient reviews and press releases.
- Build a strong social media presence where patients can interact with your team, ask questions and access your latest resources directly.
- Attend public and community networking events and offer to give presentations on healthcare issues. Gastroenterologist Dr. Douglas Drossman has succesfully built a reputation as an expert in his field by doing this (see photo).
All this sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? For a busy medical practitioner, formulating any kind of creative marketing strategy is likely to be time-consuming and difficult. That’s where a professional consultant with experience in medical practice marketing can help you to devise and implement a marketing plan that will put your practice on the map. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your needs and find out how we can help.