This week’s episode is the third in a three-part Reboot Marketing Series for medical practices. In this episode, Michael, Scott, and Jared discuss the relationship between marketing your practice and marketing your physicians. What products or services are practices actually marketing? Learn how to address this and other questions that typically come up during discussions about branding and brand engagement.
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Announcer: It’s time to think differently about healthcare, but how do we keep up? The days of yesterday’s medicine are long gone, and we’re left trying to figure out where to go from here. With all the talk about politics and technology, it can be easy to forget that healthcare is still all about humans, and many of those humans have unbelievable stories to tell. Here, we leave the policy debates to the other guys and focus instead on the people and ideas that are changing the way we address our health. It’s time to navigate the new landscape of healthcare together, and here are some amazing stories along the way. Ready for a breath of fresh air? It’s time for your paradigm shift.
Michael: Welcome to the “Paradigm Shift of Healthcare,” and thank you for listening. I’m Michael Roberts here today with my co-host, Scott Zeitzer and Jared Johnson. Today’s episode is the third in a three-part series about rebooting practice marketing. This is building on our recent three-part marketing refresher series where we walked through parts of your digital marketing that tend to get neglected or forgotten, but they’re vitally important to your online presence. We would encourage you to go back and listen to that series. If you haven’t yet, it’s episodes 73 through 75 where we talked about SEO, social media, and physician finders. We also encourage you to check out the first two parts of this episode series. So we’ve got episode 79 and 80. We are up to 81, guys, 81 podcasts. It’s that wild. We’re talking about keeping an eye on your ROI, taking your online content to the next level.
Today, we are talking about taking that relationship, figuring that out between marketing your practice and marketing your physicians. This is a discussion that we have quite a bit and really seems like the answer changes sometimes depending on who we’re talking to and that’s not being duplicitous. It’s just really taking into account all the factors that they’re dealing with at the organization where they’re at. So figuring out how to market either your practice or marketing your physician, what’s the right choice for you? So that’s where we’re going. Let’s start with kind of a marketing-centric kind of word first. Let’s talk about what a brand is and let’s talk about even how that relates to physicians and practices here in a bit. But let’s just talk about what is a brand?
Scott: I’m gonna leave that to the marketing guys. Why don’t you guys explain to this poor salesperson what a brand is?
Jared: I love it. Okay, okay. See what you did there?
Scott: Yeah, I did.
Jared: So a brand, there’s no right answer here. Well, there are plenty of wrong answers, but I don’t know if there’s just one right answer here. But I would say, brand is how people experience your organization. It has to do with your reputation, but it’s different. It’s every encounter or touch point that somebody has where they interact with you. And that could be seeing an ad from you. It could be coming in and actually, you know, attending your…being at your clinic, having an appointment, and it’s everything in between. It’s everything that represents you to your five senses of anybody who’s encountering your organization. So how about that for a roundabout answer?
Scott: Good roundabout answer there. Mike, do you have anything to add to that?
Michael: I’ll totally blank on the attribution here on who it was that said this, but it was somebody saying that your brand is what people say about you and what they think of you when you’re not in the room, you know.
Michael: What’s the honest reflection that they have about Apple computers, about this doctor, about, you know, this line of cars, like, whatever. What’s that, like, gut feel that you have, what is the company or the organization doing to either enhance that narrative, or to change that narrative if they’re starting from a rough spot. So it’s interesting like how quickly this turns into a very, like, ethereal conversation.
It’s everything around us, you know, it’s everything that we touch, moving, thinking. But it is this very like, representative concept though, right? Like, it’s more than just like, “Hey, there’s a Swoosh for Nike, so that’s the brand.” It’s like, no, it’s the Swoosh, it’s the community of athletes that it’s built up, it’s the aggressiveness that it takes in these marketing campaigns. It’s all of those things, the feeling when you put on that shoe. One of our co-workers would be very excited to hear as we’re talking about Nike like this.
Scott: That’s true. He will.
Michael: So that’s the thing, it is that feeling that goes beyond just the physical product, the physical brand.
Scott: Yeah. And if you think about it, we go back to the surgeon because we have a lot, I have a lot of conversations with surgeons who will come to me and say, “Man, I’m in a practice with four or five people and two of the guys are really old, and they’re not gonna pay for anything. But I got to start marketing myself and I’m worried about me.” And I’m like, “Well, you know, you got to protect your brand, you got to protect who you are, how people feel about you and I understand that.”
And by the way, everybody, that does not have to be a combatives thing. We deal with a lot of practices where we market a particular surgeon and we work with the group as a whole so that we have more of an even an added effect, you know, we might even have a multiplicative effect when you do it right. But that’s what that brand is about.
There are a lot of practices, most practices are basically when you’ve got a group of people together, there are set of costs involved and as a group of surgeons, you’re responsible for that. And then hey, the profit, whatever extra work that you bring in, whatever extra dollars you bring in, that’s your profit. And some people use that profit for marketing, some practices have very strict rules about what you can say and what you can’t say. There are a lot of physicians that go off to hospitals, you know, where they will negotiate with the hospital or system.
Like, guys, that’s great and because I’m being paid a salary as well as a bonus for the types of patients that I’m seeing or the volume of patients I’m seeing, I want control over my marketing. And, you know, the other part to put into that equation, everybody, is when you sign that contract, a surgeon out there with a particular practice or with a particular hospital, you know, I know you’re happy about it now. You may change your mind over time. And so having control over who you are and what to say, I think is critical as well. And that’s vice versa too, you as a practice wanna have a particular feeling and a particular way that you wanna work with your patients and with your staff, and with your local area, you know, that you serve.
Michael: Right, right, Scott. And I think you can kinda compile all that. And if we think about branding versus brand engagement, if I drill down a little bit from my super ethereal definition earlier of all things are the brand.
Jared: Talking effective man.
Michael: Yes, exactly. Okay. Really, what is a brand and what is brand engagement? And I do think it’s worth mentioning this difference here. To me, your branding starts with your visual identity. A lot of times that’s the part that we think of. That is the Nike Swoosh, you know, that’s a logo, that’s a tagline, it’s a slogan, it’s a positioning statement which is a statement that describes what makes you different than the next guy and how you do that, and what value you deliver for somebody.
It’s an actual statement. It can also include your website, graphics, value statements, you know, the content that’s on the website. So those are examples of branding and it’s worth getting that granular I think when we talk about this because these are, like, the deliverables, the most easily recognizable parts of a brand in a lot of cases. Then we start talking about brand engagement and that’s really what you build on the foundation of that visual identity.
So a brand engagement, Scott, are the types of things you were just mentioning. How you’re greeted when you come into the clinic, the types of things you’re told, the way something is explained to you, some content that you see on social media from the practice or from a physician. That’s the type of brand engagement. So brand ultimately is both sides. It’s that visual identity, it’s those basic elements, your logo, your website, etc., and it’s the way you engage with people. And a lot of times that happens digitally.
That’s usually something in a digital or online platform, and it’s also in-person. So yeah, I mean, there are a lot of parts to it and anyone of those parts could be more important than others depending on who you talk to. So it’s just worth realizing that it’s not as simple as a single calculation. Like, there are a lot of things that can influence what somebody says about you when you’re not in the room.
Scott: Yeah, you go back to it, right? I mean, that’s a very valid way to look at it in a simple and succinct way to do that. And I’ll go back to it over and over. If you want to make sure, there’s only one thing that you can really control is like, how you act out there in the operating room, how you act taking care of your patients, etc., and that brand like, your reputation, etc., something you need to be aware of and something you need to be on top of. Certainly, online marketing can be part of that conversation, but it’s only a small part of the picture.
Michael: On a very high level, this brand, this overall thing that we’re trying to get across, for practices in particular, what is this all being used for? What are practices supposed to be marketing when they are? What are the products that they’re trying to sell people?
Scott: You’re talking about the surgeons themselves and the practices?
Michael: Right. So all the people that are involved in this organization, what is it that they’re selling to their customers if we’re thinking of it very much in, like, a consumer kind of relationship?
Scott: Yeah. You know, it’s funny, you’re talking about the surgeon themselves, you’re talking about their experience level, and you’re talking about their ability. It go back to that building trust and how do you build trust. “Well, I’m very experienced at what I do. I care about you. I wanna set appropriate expectations with you,” I think those are the components that come to mind quickly for me.
Jared: Yeah. When you look at what do people searching for, you know, this isn’t shopping for shoes or lamps, or, you know, even a new car. It’s searching for a service that can make you better, you know, that can improve your quality of life. So yeah, what’s the actual thing that you’re marketing or what is the brand about? It’s typically about the healthcare services that the provider is providing, but the thing that you really have to get out there, the kind of the face of the brand if you will, does tend to be the provider themselves. And so yeah, it’s a tricky mix sometimes because if you really are marketing a person the way you would market a product, you’re going to talk about features and benefits, you’re gonna try to, you know, say what makes us better than the next guy. And that does get tricky because you’re actually talking about a person.
Scott: You’re absolutely right and it’s a very personal thing. And that whole brand experience, it’s a slightly different conversation when you move over to the practice. But it is similar. Yes, it will go down to the surgeon that you’re working with, but then when you start talking about “branding” the practice as a whole, the surgeon becomes part of the equation not the only part of the question, then it becomes the team as well.
And even when we do a surgeon’s practice, I always talk about, tell me about how you lead your team, how you’re the captain of the ship so to speak, and how you kinda lead that team to do what you want it to do. When it’s a practice, we talk a lot about like, physical therapy in-house, do you have x-rays and MRIs in-house? What’s the process overall? How do you manage all of that? And there’s some people who truly believe that, you know, PT needs to be in-house with x-rays, etc.
There’s some people like, “No, I want it all separate.” And it’s fine, Michael, like, we’ve been on conversations like, they’re so passionate on either side of the coin, but let’s get that point across because again, you’re trying to match up the right patients with the right practice or positions. It’s like, some people getting to wear that Nike shoe, some people getting to wear the New Balance shoe. There’s a reason behind all.
Michael: Everybody, I always appreciate that you tune in, that you’re listening to the show here. I wanted to let you know that we have set up a new newsletter that you can get to at paradigmshift.health, that’s paradigmshift.health. You can go there and the reason that we’ve got this newsletter is that we like to send out a few extra pieces of information with the show. We also have a full transcript for every single episode that we do and we can let you know that through email. We can let you know also if we have like, a good quote card to be able to show for every episode. So check that out if you’d like, paradigmshift.health. Thanks so much.
At a certain point, you do have more and more educated patients that are out there and that they really do get into, like, their very, very specifics of what the surgeon might feel or doctor might feel. But in a lot of cases you do still have this whole component of, like, appealing to trust and appealing to, like, level of expertise, and bedside manner, you know, to say it quickly. Like, there are so many things beyond the medical training that almost become a shorthand for some patients. You’ve been in the operating room, you know, several times over to participate as a medical device salesperson.
If I ever need a hip replacement, I won’t have a really strong opinion on a direct anterior versus a lateral approach to getting my hip replacement. Like, “Doc, can you do it? Can you do it well?” And those are the main things I’m concerned about, right? So like, after a certain point, there really is like, a point with a lot of the patients where I just need to know that I’m gonna be taken care of and I need to know that you know what you’re talking about, and then I’m good. And then you do have the patients that are like, “No, I really do think that direct anterior is the best way.” Like, “I really read up on this, I’ve really studied.” But there is this need to appeal to both types of patients out there.
Scott: Well, there’s no doubt about it and again, it’s about building trust, right? I think the surgeons out there who take one approach over another approach in terms of hip repair will have a very, you know, kinda a smile as their listeners because they are passionate about which modality, which approach they take. And it’s so much more than just the approach and what kind of everything, you know, from how they’ve prepped and… Preoperatively what they’re doing and then postoperatively how they’ve managed the patients, etc.
I love talking to each one of them because they really do get into it. And guys, if you’re a patient out there, you really do want your surgeon, your caregiver to be very passionate about it, and they are. I get such a kick out of it and be like, you know, we’ll start interviewing them for some content and they’ll be like, “Well, I don’t really do anything that important you know. And it’s like, “Well, tell me a little bit about…” You know, and all the sudden like, there’s this whole conversation blowing up, you know, around a particular procedure.
I just really do love it, but that excitement, that kind of excitement is what you’re trying to get across when you’re building a brand. And I go back to, like, for the physician it’s really much more about that surgeon and what that surgeon does, and how they practice medicine. For the practice, it gets into of course, the individual surgeons and what they do. But then the group as a whole and their philosophy of patient care becomes so much more important, you know, you just kinda… You don’t zoom in as much with the lens.
Jared: Right. And when you think about, there really is a balance here. There’s definitely a portion where if you leave the practice totally out of it, then you may be doing yourself a disservice. I mean, it’s a good question. I guess if I had to lean one way or the other, I would lean towards marketing the provider more, you know, and building their individual brands because at the end of the day, Michael, to your point, you just want the thing fixed. You just need the thing.
And so the reason why you’re exploring which provider is going to do the best is because you just want it done like, you want it done in the right way and you don’t have to worry about it after that. So you wanna make sure a few of those basic boxes are checked. Yes, the doctor is competent, yes, they’re experienced, yes, I’ll have at least a reasonable experience going to see them, yes, I will hopefully understand how much the thing costs.
And I laughed because that’s actually of those four that’s often one of the most opaque things there. It’s usually one of the hardest things to find out in terms of checking a box before you go. So yeah, there are a lot of advantages to branding the physician individually and we just have to realize that it’s not completely either/or because again if we talk about, what if we over-index on marketing the practice, I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. What you wanna do is build trust in both.
You want in the same way to know that somebody comes to anyone at your practice that they’re going to get the same experience and the same treatment, and the thing is going to get fixed. So it’s worth marketing the practice itself. We just have to be careful that it’s all being done together, right? That it’s not being done in two totally different silos by different people in the organization because the last thing we want is there to be any inconsistency with how the practice and the physicians are being branded.
Scott: No doubt about that. I agree with you.
Jared: So I guess that kinda leads, is it a misconception to say that you can’t do both at the same time, because I definitely hear that and I’m sure you guys… I know you guys hear that question a lot. Well, you know, which one do we do? And that’s not the right question asked. The question is how do we do both at the same time effectively? And yeah, it’s very possible. I do think, you know, we have to recognize that again, kinda coming back to the what are we marketing, like, what’s the product, “product” here, and it is a person performing a service. So these are people involved. So we have to make sure it comes off that way and that we don’t just treat a person like something else you’re trying to sell.
So that being said, when you realize that that is the thing that somebody’s probably looking for, but that’s not the only part of the experience or the brand that they’re coming across, then you’re gonna do a couple of things. You do wanna build up the doctors by name and one of the best ways to do that is actually a couple of things that we covered in the last couple of episodes, which is leveling up your social media and your video, and content in general because that’s one of the quickest ways to actually get people to know the provider, is to have that provider create content.
And it could be something as simple as, here’s why I went into this specialty, here’s how I ended up in orthopedics, here’s how I ended up being, you know, specializing in hand surgery or shoulder surgery, or, you know, or hip replacement, or whatever it is, here’s the reason I do that. And 9 times out of 10, that’s a great piece of content that is significant in helping build the physician’s brand. And when that’s built into the practices, marketing strategy, I mean, even better. So again, to me this comes back to just a lot of planning and a lot of strategy, and a lot of communication of making sure it’s all happening at the same time.
Michael: You know, one of the ways that you can really start to maximize your coverage and really start to maximize, like, your opportunity on each of the platforms that are out there, when we talk with practices about how to set up, like, the reputation marketing or our talk with them about how to set up their local listings, you know, your Google listings, your map listings, all that fun kind of stuff, like, there are big opportunities for practices. Listing about like, a 10 physician or a 20 physician practice, the brand’s name of that organization is going to have some real pull for sort of like, overall orthopedic procedures. But then you start getting into, like, the very specific procedures. So let’s talk about like a shoulder surgeon or, you know, sometimes the brand’s name can be better or the physician name can be better.
So there’s a lot of nuance that starts popping up where this surgeon could rank very well for you, this physician could rank very well for you and that still benefits the practice on a lot of ways. So you know, going back to this concept, we talked about it some in the last few episodes where you’re always looking for that highest ROI, you’re always testing and you’re always looking for what’s going to bring that best result. Putting all your eggs in one basket either way is somewhat risky. I mean, it’s not somewhat, it is risky to go that route because you really do miss out on a lot of opportunities. The big trick about all of this is that it’s coordinated. How are all of these pieces gonna fit together so that you are getting the best of both worlds?
Anytime that we’ve… I won’t say any time ever, but I’ll say that, like, the ways that we’re able to be most effective with practices and with working with teams even if there are sometimes different organizations involved, you know, you could have a practice that’s…a massive, massive practice, they’ve already got their marketing scenario figured out, but there’s room for the physician to be able to promote himself or herself. As long as there’s that level of coordination, there’s a lot of opportunities that each side can still bring to the table.
It’s these kind of blanket decisions are always tough to deal with, you know, nobody can market, nobody can take advantage of the system, and they can only have, you know, these little table scraps over here in terms of being able to do something. But there are so many opportunities at a tactical level, you know, from everything, from map listings to all these different review sites, to all these different kinds of things to build brands and to build real ROI, to build these real conversion opportunities, these real, like, new surgery, new appointment kinds of requests, kind of opportunities that are out there if you’re willing to do the work of coordination.
Scott: Yeah. And I think that’s a big takeaway from anybody listening is that I really do believe, like, usually the only reason there’s not coordination is just because it’s not a technical issue, it’s more of a political issue or an ego issue. And if you’re trying to get to a place where everybody’s gonna do better, communicate or it’ll make everybody’s marketing job much easier if that kind of work can be coordinated, that kind of conversation can occur. It’s always more difficult when egos get in the way. My best advice is suck it up a little bit and try to help each other out. And those are the cases where, you know, there’s the physician is working to promote themselves while the practice is working to promote the practice as a whole. Both can be successful and even more successful if done right.
Jared: Yeah. One good example of that I’ve seen, Scott, is an orthopedic group that regularly features on their organic social media feeds photos of an individual provider and it’s kind of a, you know, a humble brag I guess. But a publication, research grant that that provider, you know, just one or something significant, or a patient story where the patient is thanking that provider by name. But then in hashtags or somewhere else in the post, they talk about how proud their whole team is and they mention the team by name, you know, the name of the practice. And to me that’s a great example of doing both, featuring the individual provider, but doing it under the umbrella of the practice brand.
There are so many ways to do that when we do what you just said, coordinating it all along, taking the extra time to realize what the thing is that you’re marketing the first place. Tons of examples. That was just one that came to mind of how they’re able to do both on a regular basis. I mean, these are the types of posts that they’re putting out there several times a week and, yeah, you can focus in on a particular provider, but it is all under… There’s always a mention or a, you know, a call to action or a link back to a department page, or their practice page where you can learn more about the practice itself. So you know, lots of examples of that.
Michael: Absolutely. Guys, I think we have officially rebooted practice marketing through the series. We have three posts or three podcast episodes where we’re kinda talking through this concept. If you have questions around this or, you know, this is a topic that you’d like to discuss more, there are a couple different places you can go. You can go to paradigmshift.health. That’s our fancy URL for the podcast itself. We’re also over at P3 Practice Marketing where this is what we do all day every day. So either one of those are a great place to reach out to us. Thank you so much for listening. Have a great week.
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