A very interesting and informative piece circulated on Twitter this week and caught my attention. The post by Jeff Bullas, Social Media Marketing: 10 Inspiring Infographics (Great resource piece!) shares some great statistics and examples of the power and influence of social media on our behaviors and buying patterns as consumers. Jeff also dives deeper into the conversation related to the shift from outbound marketing efforts, or what I like to call “shameless self-promotion”, to more engaging, conversational inbound marketing tactics. Timely, as just two weeks ago I led a lively discussion on shift to a better educated consumer, new buying behaviors and how social networking is a driving force behind these changes during my session at the Practice Management Institute national conference.
With consumerism alive and well in healthcare, these same shifts in patient decision-making behaviors and choices in physicians/institutions are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. With this sea-change in full swing, to be effective at reaching your patient (or referring physician, organization, etc) you must understand the difference between these two approaches to marketing. My friend and colleague Howard Luks, MD, does a great job of outlining those differences in his recent post: Social Media and Healthcare: Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing (be sure to check it out!). In his post he poses the question, “does your marketing professional understand the difference?”. Good question! Many don’t, which is very disappointing.
This healthcare marketer has a few additional thoughts and tips for you to consider as you build your organization’s marketing strategy and look to adopt more inbound concepts verses that “shameless self-promotion” approach I mentioned earlier.
1. You’ve got to make it real for your audience! Your patients don’t trust advertising, they trust their peers’ recommendations. Where are these recommendations being asked for and received? Your patients are now on Facebook, Twitter….social networking sites! So, build platforms that make it easy for these peers to sing your physicians’/institutions’ praises. Patient testimonials make it REAL for your audience; they can connect with these current patients of yours, their stories and their reasoning behind choosing you. Stories sell. Period.
2. Don’t put all your marketing eggs in one basket; it’s crucial you STILL diversify your marketing mix! That’s right, there is still a place for more traditional forms of marketing such as TV, radio and print. It’s all about the message! You can engage your audience and provide educational content through these traditional mediums, it doesn’t have to be all about simply promoting services or providers. However, for a healthy balanced marketing strategy, you must use these more traditional methods they must be used in conjunction with new inbound tactics, including social media.
3. Be sure you know your audience! Even with inbound marketing tactics, you can still miss truly interacting with your audience…or turn them off completely. Know who you are talking to, who you want to attract, who you want to engage and ultimately who you want walking through the doors of your office; you cannot be everything to everyone, even through social media channels. Stick to your message, engage and produce quality content within your physicians’ or institutions’ realm of expertise.
Marketing your practice can be a daunting task, but keep in mind, your goal as a healthcare provider should be to provide educational content to your audience. If you focus on providing education and becoming a health resource to your patients, potential patients and community, regardless of the medium, you can be successful in reaching and engaging your audience.
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