Marketing for Physicians: Get Your Product Recognized Without the “Cheesiness Factor”

Marketing for Physicians: Get Your Product Recognized Without the “Cheesiness Factor”

Some of the commercials for medical practices and hospitals are so awful and poorly made!    The announcer sounds like they are selling a used car, the doctor looks as nervous as a turkey in November, and the message is delivered like a poorly wrapped gift.

Author: Robert A Felberg MD

Topic: Physician Marketing

Keyword: Inbound marketing. Inbound Marketing for doctors, How doctors can advertise


They could hire the guy who makes the late-night commercials for the local storage facility and do a better job.  You want to get your brand recognized, reach potential patients, and grow your market share, but is marketing really the best way to do it? (Note: Here’s a recent commercial I was involved with. Look for me at the end! Did I do a good job? Let me know in the comment below)

Deciding to market your practice is a tough call. Although hospitals and health care systems frequently advertise, it can be far more complex for an individual or practice. Certainly, getting your practice and product in front of your target audience can drive growth, but at what cost? If done poorly, you can lose standing and reputation. Think of the attorneys who advertise, cajoling you with promises of easy cash if you were injured in a truck accident. Yes, they become well known, but no one is going to trust them with a complex case.

Should you consider marketing as a Physician? Here’s some consideration to help you decide…

  • Can you market as part of your hospital or system? It’s one thing to be Dr. Bob your local “eye guy.” It’s a whole other thing to be marketed as the director of the specialty eye surgery center of excellence at university hospital. Participating in a developed marketing plan that is part of a large and recognized organization is almost always worth pursuing.
  • Do you have a face for television? This is a little tongue and cheek, but how you appear in your marketing is important. You want to be people to think of you as calm, compassionate, and competent. If you are sweaty, nervous, and stammer your lines, you’ll likely want to get more experience in front of the camera or consider another platform. The phone on-hold messages at most hospitals with some local CEO droning on about all the things the hospital offers is a prime example of poor presentation rendering a message ineffective.
  • Do you have a marketing message? This is a key consideration. What are you selling? Do you have a new product, service, or benefit to offer your consumers- potential patients or referring physicians? Marketing without a message is a poor use of resources. Maybe your message is a practice accepting new patients in a high-demand market, a less invasive spinal surgery, or a a cutting-edge transplant program? Whatever it may be, you’ll need to define your message and you deliver it clearly.
  • Does the medium match the market? Facebook advertising for patients over 85 or AM Radio advertising for social media savvy young adults makes little sense. Understand your intended audience and focus in on them. If you can’t afford the cost of the marketing effort or you are unable to focus your message then spend your resources elsewhere.

In general, I would advise avoiding marketing yourself or your practice unless it’s part of a larger group or organization, or it’s the norm for your specific specialty in your community.

If you aren’t going to directly market to your audience through traditional means, how can you increase your product awareness? The answer is “inbound marketing”.

Inbound Marketing is difficult to define, but generally entails developing educational or entertaining content that is shared via social media or the internet.  Consumers find the articles “organically” through internet search engines or shared posts on social media platforms like Facebook. You do not pay for advertising or target market data-  Your target market finds you. For instance, if you had a Rheumatology Practice that focused on resistant cases of Rheumatoid Arthritis and specialized in innovative biologic pharmaceutical therapy, you could write an article called “10 things to know about your hard to treat RA”. Post this on your practice’s website, hospital site, or Facebook professional page. Patients will come across this article by their activities and be funneled to your site and practice.

The best things about inbound marketing include:

  1. You are providing valuable information rather than “selling” yourself.
  2. The patients are self-selected and primed for the message. After all, they sought you out.
  3. The media is “evergreen”- always relevant and fresh to the consumer.
  4. The cost is minimal compared to traditional marketing.
  5. Your reputation and expert status is increased through the publication of useful media.

  There are lots of important considerations when designing your physician marketing plan.   Be careful to choose the right platform, media, and message that matches the brand you are developing.  Partnering with an established Hospital or organization is a great way to enter into marketing on traditional media.   Approaching your system’s marketing department can lead to a fruitful relationship.   If direct marketing is not your best choice, consider inbound marketing. In many ways, inbound marketing is far more effective than traditional direct marketing, especially for healthcare professionals.

Develop your social media presence, work on your public speaking, and media interviewing skills. Match this with other professional and medical business skills to kick-start your career and succeed… really succeed.

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Have you ever made a commercial? What did you think of mine? Do you agree with the advice above? Any hints for doctors exploring inbound marketing? Let us know in the comments section.

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