By Kathleen Perley, President & Founder
Sometimes the hardest part of beginning a marketing plan is getting everyone involved on board. Unfamiliarity with the process and the potential of digital advertising can make it hard to grasp, especially when your stakeholder’s idea of marketing is using traditional media to reach an audience containing only a few potential consumers. While getting the uninitiated to consider digital advertising may seem daunting at first, it can be done. As experienced healthcare marketers, we have found some key techniques that help get doctors excited about these modern—and highly effective—marketing techniques.
When talking to physicians, speak a language these scientists can understand: data. In the frequently subjective world of advertising, the digital marketer has far more analytics into campaign success than their traditional counterparts. Bring evidence to back up every suggestion you make (it’s hard to argue with numbers), and if all of that still doesn’t convince them, pull out case studies to show you have a track record of success.
Find the most respected doctors in key service lines, and seek to get them on board first. When the top dogs start to see results from your campaign, they’ll share their successes with their colleagues and those who admire them. If the hospital or health system sees an increase in revenue from your campaign, they’ll likely invest more money to market additional physicians and service lines where appropriate and the physicians will already be on board.
It’s much easier to get someone to agree with your plan when they feel you value their input. Not only does asking for physicians’ advice help them to feel more comfortable with the process, but it can also help narrow down your targeting methods to be more relevant to your goals. Ask them about their typical patient, associated conditions (such as GERD or sleep apnea for a bariatric surgeon), and the types of medications they often prescribe to patients, then use this information to create an even more highly targeted audience.
Physicians know that no two cancer treatments are the same. While they typically have the same basic elements (chemo, surgery, etc.), each patient experiences different doses and timelines. This concept rolls over to marketing. You wouldn’t market an oncologist the same way you would market a primary care physician. You wouldn’t market lung cancer care the same way you would market a breast cancer center. You’ll typically begin with the same basics (landing page, search, social ads, etc.), but the content you use and the way you target people will vary widely. For example, a bariatric surgeon’s audience targeting might benefit from using prescription codes for obesity-related conditions, while an oncologist who treats mesothelioma might benefit from targeting jobs with a history of asbestos exposure. And on the content side, a breast cancer center’s campaign may rely on emotional appeals to motivate your audience, while a gastroenterologist who treats GERD would focus on symptom relief.
At the end of the day, doctors want to share their successes and find new patients; you just need to show them how digital marketing can help them achieve their goals. This builds strong communication channels with those you’re working with, a necessity no matter your career. The techniques above rely on transparency and honesty, critical factors in earning your partners’ trust. By communicating openly about your goals and methods for achieving them, you can develop a lasting partnership with the doctors you serve.