The practice of medicine is a profound responsibility. It’s a sacred trust between clinicians, patients, and the people who love them.
But medicine is also a business, and if you want to be able to continue serving patients and their families, then you must strive to make that business profitable. Marketing, not surprisingly, is a critical component of that effort.
However, the ascendency of the internet in general and social media, in particular, has transformed the ways that healthcare facilities endeavor to reach their target audiences. Medical practices today depend largely on a multifaceted approach that not only combines traditional and new media but that also leverages the myriad forms of digital media marketing.
This article examines the various ways that physicians are incorporating multimedia marketing into their campaigns and explores the pros and cons of each.
Marketing in Medical Practice
Some clinicians may feel a bit wary in marketing their practices. They may feel leery about the prospect of “advertising” as traditional for-profit businesses do.
The reality, though, is that in an increasingly crowded and competitive industry notorious for its shrinking profit margins, practices must grow in order to survive. Marketing, then, isn’t about greed or selfishness. It’s about being able to endure and serve in a challenging market.
When you’re marketing your medical practice, it’s helpful to remember that your conceptualization of “marketing” is probably going to need to change. Marketing in healthcare is far less about advertising products and services and far more about building relationships with prospective and established patients and their loved ones.
And because relationship-building lies at the heart of medical marketing, you’re going to need a proactive and comprehensive approach to make it work. This includes availing yourself of the various digital channels through which to connect with your target audience.
In most cases, this will mean cultivating a robust online presence that includes a dedicated website with a blog and discussion forum, as well as an array of social media accounts.
In addition to the use of new media, though, it’s also important to capitalize on traditional channels — from print, television, and radio promotions to billboards and direct mailers. This will help you reach a broader audience, including those who may not have reliable internet access.
The Pros and Cons of Multimedia
As suggested above, one of the greatest advantages of a multimedia marketing approach is that it enables you to reach a broad and diverse target audience using their preferred media. If your practice seeks to serve all age groups and income levels, then combining the enormous power of digital marketing with the proven techniques of traditional marketing is the way to go.
When you deploy a multimedia approach, it’s vital to be strategic and deliberate. One of the most significant downsides of this sort of saturation technique is that your strategy may lack coherence.
For instance, you will want to create a consistent brand style that will inform all of your campaigns, regardless of where and in what form they appear. The goal is to ensure, ultimately, that no matter where your target audience receives your content, they will be able to instantly recognize it as your brand.
When you’re using such a multi-pronged approach, it’s also important to ensure that you have a clear, cohesive, and utilitarian communications strategy driving it. In other words, you need to have a reason behind every message you create, every content and design choice you make, and every decision concerning the timing and placement of your content.
This means understanding exactly who the content is intended for and what needs the content is designed to meet for that audience. Likewise, you will need to be clear on why a chosen platform, time, and style will be the best for reaching and engaging your intended audience.
Using Video as a Digital Marketing Tool
In addition to using multimedia to build brand awareness and support business growth, you can also tap into the tremendous power of video marketing. For example, health consumers are increasingly turning to social media to learn more about health and health products.
In an era in which medical technologies are often outpacing patient education, you may capitalize on your audience’s social media habits to educate them on services and products. You may, for instance, create explainer videos that introduce patients to new IoT medical devices, explore their benefits and drawbacks, and demonstrate how to use them safely and securely.
This is an ideal way to engage your target audience while building trust and showcasing your professional expertise. The most significant disadvantage, though, is the potential to appear as if you are hawking these products or seeking only to profit from the provision of services.
Remaining objective, measured, and forthcoming about the product or service, as well as any gain you may derive from them, is vital if you don’t want to come off as a snake oil salesperson.
Remote Events in Real Time
If these pandemic years have taught us anything, it’s that it’s not always feasible or desirable to meet patients in person. For this reason, clinicians are increasingly creating opportunities for patients and their loved ones to engage with their practice in virtual settings. Virtual healthcare is an ideal way to ensure that patients can access the medical care they need through real-time video and chat without exposing themselves to undue risk.
Further, healthcare apps can also be used to help educate patients, monitor their health status, and promote self-care. Especially among vulnerable patient populations, health apps and virtual platforms can be a lifeline to patients’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
But these tools do more than expand the scope, quality, and accessibility of care. They also serve as a form of interactive marketing insofar as they enable healthcare providers, patients, and families to safely come together in virtual environments.
For this reason, clinicians are using not only one-on-one, private consultations in the virtual space but also live group events. This might include anything from a weekly course on nutrition to a daily exercise live stream. Clinicians may offer audiences the opportunity to participate in online health fairs, health education seminars, or online support groups.
Such live events can be highly beneficial in nurturing patient relationships while also increasing brand awareness and driving the growth of the practice.
One potential downside, however, is that those in need of in-person care may neglect to get it. They may develop the misperception that virtual consults and online seminars are an adequate substitute in all cases. And this may end up doing some patients far more harm than good.
In an increasingly challenging market environment, multimedia marketing can be an ideal way for physicians and health systems to achieve significant long-term growth. The effectiveness of the approach, though, depends on the ability to overcome the potential downsides of the myriad forms of traditional and new media marketing while maximizing their many advantages.