At least, that's what my clients and other physicians tell me repeatedly.
I take that to mean one of two things. Either having to market as a physician business owner is a very distasteful activity, or the marketing skills of a physician business owners are severely lacking. Or both!
One on-line thesaurus offers these synonyms and related words, amongst others, for "Marketing":
- commercialize, cheapen, bargain, barter, merchandise, advertise, display…
It's no wonder you cringe at the idea or of having to market your medical practice or physician business!
And the definition offered for "phobia" is "general sense 'dread of, aversion toward' that specified by the initial element: e.g. agoraphobia. Or in this case, marketing-o-phobia!
When I recently gave away my Physician Marketing Mastery Program, I asked you to tell me why you made this particular choice. Here is a small sample of what you told me:
- I want to get more comfortable marketing my practice
- I don't want to feel pushy with my sales
- I would like to offer my services to a wide audience
- I need to get over my guilt asking for payment
- I want to be able to provide evidence that my services all worth it
- I want to avoid sleaziness in my efforts to attract patients
- I'd like to market myself effectively in a way that draws clients into my practice
This valuable feedback clued me in once again to the fact that physicians experience marketing as a tacky, slimy, awkward activity (and yet you recognize its necessity).
Once upon a time, in the early days of my business, I would've agreed with you. Now, I find it a lot of fun, especially when it means doing things like chatting to physician coaching prospects on the phone, writing blog posts like this one, sharing some interesting stuff on my Facebook page, and even giving talks at conferences like SEAK Nonclinical Careers For Physicians.
This didn't come easy.
I had to shift my perspective. Initially I viewed marketing as a nerve-racking burden, where I might be rejected and even (horrors!) laughed at -- at least that's how my brain worked with a strongly negative fantasy. I also knew I'd been smart enough to make it through medical school and into medical practice, and that if people with similar and even lesser intelligence were able to learn the skills of marketing, it is most likely I could as well. I just had to get trained!
The interesting discovery came with the realization that, even more important than the acquisition of marketing know-how, how I felt about marketing and "selling" conversations or even just the pricing of my services presented my greatest opportunities for learning.
I realized it was fundamentally about how I talked to myself. And what I believed about myself.
This feeling may not resonate with those of you in traditional medical practice, for whom pricing is hugely obscured by insurance reimbursements, so you never really have to answer the questions about pricing. (Those of you striking out with concierge medical practices may have had a rude awakening!)
But how about the challenge of communicating to prospective patients why they should pick you or your practice ("I don't want to sound like I am boasting - it's embarrassing to toot my own horn - I expect them to figure it out for themselves")?
Or that of figuring out why the last couple of new patients didn't return to your medical practice?
Or of avoiding that sinking feeling when you open your third letter complaining about your office staff and/or the time spent in your waiting room?
Marketing is all about persuading the right people to "purchase" your offering (your ideas, your suggestions, your advice, yourself as a top-notch potential employee, your services, your products), and creating/managing their perception.
The secret ingredient of successful marketing is Education - educating yourself. Educating "the right prospective clients or patients". And physicians are natural educators!
Need some convincing?
Join me next week on Thursday March 31st 2011 at 4 PM Pacific / 5 PM Mountain / 6 PM Central / 7 PM Eastern for a 60-minute free teleclass I’ve called “Marketing Magic for Physicians: Authentically, Tastefully and Effectively Master the Art”
In this one-hour class, I will help uncover the Magical Marketing Mindset and Map needed for an effective marketing plan and strategy. You can learn more and register here.
I'd love to have you there with me!