- image and positioning;
- evaluating and utilizing programs that work.
If we compare screenings to conventional medicine, do general practitioners collaborate with their local supermarket to conduct free exams? When you visit the local retail store, are you greeted by your cardiologist conducting free check-ups? Absolutely not!
Please, do not misunderstand me.
To effectively market yourself and your practice, you must first substantiate your worth through public relations and marketing. Public relations incorporates positioning, branding and image through credible vehicles of communications. It is only through integrity and credibility that you can create a positive image, recruit new patients and retain existing patients.
For example, perhaps you identify a large retail outlet to conduct 15 screenings over the next six months. In conjunction with these screenings, you also identify and collaborate with the United Way. You create a six-month campaign corresponding with your screenings in which the retail outlet will donate $5 for every examined person. Now you've incorporated a public relations and marketing approach into your practice.
Let's evaluate what you've accomplished:
- Since you've substantiated your worth, it will be much easier to generate media visibility for you and your practice.
- You've positioned yourself and your practice as a good corporate citizen within your community.
- You've created a lasting partnership/relationship with:
- the United Way
- a retail outlet
- print and broadcast media outlets
- your local community
- newspaper articles
- television news segments
- radio news segments
Now that you understand the power of public relations, your efforts must not stop there. In the past, public relations was thought of as an intangible. For example, if an article appeared in your local newspaper about you and your practice, how could you measure its effectiveness? Will the article bring in 10 new patients? It is for this reason that you must incorporate a public relations and marketing strategy.
You can use the article that appeared in the newspaper as part of a direct mail campaign to promote your screening. You mail the article to all your patients and some potential patients with a letter offering a free consultation, and express your concern for the recipient's health and overall welfare. You explain in the letter that the recipient must bring in the article to receive the free consultation. (You should be extremely lenient in this capacity, in that many people will mention the article, but forget to bring it in.) You have used the power and credibility of the article to substantiate your worth, while also utilizing a marketing tool to measure its effectiveness.
Once you've established credibility and an identity through media visibility, marketing programs that utilize communication tools targeting key audience groups and demographics must be deployed.
Whereas media visibility establishes brand identity and conveys a consistent image, it is through marketing programs, such as a direct mail flyer or an electronic newsletter, that people will identify you as a credible leader in the community. It is through media relations and marketing that people will be motivated to seek out more information about you and your practice through your website, brochure, and newsletter.
Click here for previous articles by Christopher Malter.