Warning: Side-effects of this article may cause pondering your advertising and public relations plan, how you feel about social media, how important word-of-mouth is and a desire to learn more. Not everyone experiences the same results.
There once was a time when the medical profession did not advertise. Their only “branding” was a sign on their building. The physicians had their names on their prescription pads and on their receipts. Logos were few and far between.
A lot has changed since then.
Roughly 30 years ago, there was a local independent medical clinic that consulted an agency who helped them build their brand. It was not only advertising but the customer experience that was discussed. It was a bold step they took. Advertising helped give the clinic the visibility it needed to get patients in the door. The patients were treated with respect, and soon the word spread about how good the clinic was and how well the patients were treated. Then, the head of the clinic’s marketing committee asked that the advertising stop because they were getting more demand than they could handle on a timely basis.
The good problem with advertising is that it can be like a tidal wave: It starts slow, it gains momentum, and then the wave hits. Stopping advertising does not stop the wave. It still comes, and eventually it ebbs. Stopping the messages does not immediately stop the results. It takes time. Advertising has to be monitored. If the tidal wave is not moving in the right direction, course corrections have to be made to move it. Some waves are larger than others.
So, what happened to the clinic? They’re still around. I use one of the physicians. They’re part of another group and their focus has changed since its inception, but it still works on the customer experience.
Pay attention to medical clinic advertising. Once upon a time, it was unheard of, and now it is all around us. Does your physician, dentist or physical therapist advertise? What is their message? Do they have an online presence? Do you follow them on Facebook or Instagram? Do you pay attention when they post? What grabs your attention?
Social media is good for word-of-mouth. It’s great when your customer base gives you a testimonial without being asked because of the good work that has been done.
The internet is a wonderful tool, but it is also a double-edged sword. I am not an M.D., nor do I want to be. I’ve promised my primary physician that I will not self-diagnose using the internet. There was a time where I purchased a book from the AMA with flowcharts that could help diagnose an illness. Regardless of the diagnosis, though, the usual conclusion was “consult your physician.” When I was younger, I often thought the stitch in my side was appendicitis. Which is why I leave the “heavy lifting” of diagnosis to the physicians. I know what to do if I have a headache, but it if is something with which I am not familiar, I call an expert. n