Hospital marketing strategy to help overcome budget cuts #6: Stop the doctor appeasement budget.

Julia Mastropaolo 08/26/15 - 5:32 pm

You know the story: Doctor X calls to complain that she just saw Doctor Y on a new billboard across town and Doctor Y isn’t even performing Procedure Z. It’s not the first time she’s given you marketing advice. And it won’t be the last, because she often gets her way, diverting precious resources and strategic focus.

The docs that scream the loudest are sometimes the ones who get the most exposure. Not only is it unfair, but it puts undue (and uncalled for) pressure on hospital marketing directors and their budgets. It’s no wonder you’re left to face questions such as: Who should star in the next commercial? Will including my employed docs in a campaign antagonize my private practice docs? Should I try to avoid including any docs at all to escape this conflict?

While physicians are an important target audience, you can’t afford to let them dictate your limited marketing budget. Otherwise, the only ROI you’ll secure will be limited to one or two physicians. Chances are your marketing performance is based on building a broad consumer awareness of your brand; this is bigger than one doctor or procedure. Stick to your guns by educating them about the hospital’s marketing priorities and carefully allotted marketing budget plans for the year. Assure them that when the hospital brand rises, so too will their personal brand. Then offer options for exposure that do fit into your marketing action plan. As a start, here are five strategies that may work for both the physicians and your organization:

1. Blog – Feature your physicians on the hospital blog. This is a great way for them to demonstrate their expertise, raise awareness about their department and create evergreen content that can continually be shared by others. Incorporating keywords in your blog posts will also help to increase your SEO, which will ultimately result in increased hospital visibility. It’s a win-win for everyone.

2. Physician talks – Set up an ongoing forum for physicians to give a short talk to the community. They can educate consumers about health-related topics, inform them about treatment and care options and showcase their expertise in the industry. Make it a point to explain to physicians that face-to-face visibility is more relational and effective than just appearing on a billboard or print ad. Then encourage your physicians to put together a seminar for your next event, where they can interact and build relationships with the community.

3. Webinars – Can’t make it to an event or not so comfortable on stage? The Internet is a perfect alternative for physicians with a conflicting schedule or stage fright, where they can host a webinar for the community or other physicians to tune into. Set up an ongoing webinar series to educate consumers about new or popular services or health issues. Webinars have the potential to reach a large and targeted audience, which translates into the potential for new patients.

4. Videos – YouTube traffic to hospital sites has increased 119 percent year-over-year. So if you’re trying to put your hospital marketing dollars to great use, video ads are the way to go. Video production can be extremely cost friendly and can easily be shared. There’s no limit to how many times a person can watch it, link it and share it with others, which means your investment in producing physician videos can only benefit your hospital and the physician over time. Offer those inquiring physicians (and more) the opportunity to appear in a video to market themselves and their services. Since video is such a versatile medium, it can be used for a variety of purposes such as patient education videos, industry news and patient testimonials.

Covenant HealthCare’s limited budget led us to create a “donut” video, which allowed for interchangeable segments, such as short features of different physicians and departments, to be inserted into the “donut hole.” It was the perfect solution to give physicians the feature they wanted without the budget demands that a new marketing campaign would require.

5. Website biographies – Include a section in your website that is dedicated to displaying each physician’s biography. Having this platform in place is a great way for physicians to have their own profile. This may include their portrait, education and experiences, what they specialize in, any awards or recognitions they have received and any additional information. A biography page publicizes physicians while also providing patients with extra information they may like to know before choosing their doctor.

Covenant HealthCare dedicates an entire page on their website to helping consumers find a physician that works best for them.

These strategies will arm you with some helpful tips for the next time a doctor (and his ego) comes knocking at your door. With some of these strategies in place, you can still give doctors the visibility they want without appeasing their pricey pleas and putting a noticeable dent in your budget.

Find more suggestions on how you can overcome hospital budget cuts.

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