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Medical Practice Business And Marketing Articles
Article #H - May 2009
"How To Position Yourself And Your Medical Business For Maximum Success And Wealth"
Positioning: a powerful marketing strategy that puts
you in the center of opportunities.
Positioning is a marketing concept which, when stripped of it's advertising label, has become one of the most important marketing strategies for your medical practice business.
The best definition of positioning I've found is what Dan Kennedy describes as (my paraphrasing), "controlling how your patients and prospective patients think and feel about your medical practice business in comparison to other, similar businesses competing for their attention.
Experts are quick to teach the most effective strategies for positioning yourself in any business enterprise. These three should be implemented into any medical practice, especially now because of restricted fees, continued high malpractice premiums, and ever increasing office overhead expenses that shackle your entrepreneurial spirit... and income.
How to attract the patients you want
Patients need to know what you do in your medical practice business. One way to make it clear is in the name you choose for your practice, business cards, and letterheads.
It should reflect exactly what your business does--your primary focus. Thousands of doctors do obstetrics, for example. Your business name might be "Complicated Obstetrics," "Natural Birth Obstetrics," or
Patients who see "Surgical Obstetrics" quickly know you love to do C-sections and even forceps deliveries, and migrate to your office for care and their repeat C-section.
What would you understand if you saw signs like "Emergency Chiropractic" or "Chronic Pain Chiropractic?" Do they steer any patient to the right place? You bet! You need to think in terms of targeting those patients
you prefer to work with.
Titles make profound imprints on patient's minds as well. If you don't believe that, then why are Osteopathic physicians given the choice of using D.O. or M.D.? In the past the training levels of each profession were quite different.
The reasoning is that patients know the difference and select the M.D. doctor because of the perception they are better trained doctors, even if they aren't. It gave an edge to osteopathic physicians on patient attraction they would
not have had.
Labels placed on business ventures, if done with marketing and attracting patients in mind, are very effective in areas of value, interest, and benefit.
A friend and associate of mine in practice moved from obstetrics and gynecology, to allergy, to "Environmental Ecology Specialist." In the 1970s there were only 200 in the whole USA. He actually increased his practice flow using that EES label for what he was, and still is, doing. He stepped
out of his comfort zone and made a difference.
How to use medical fees and pricing to position yourself
Fee strategies used by doctors have never in the past been able to overcome their fear of losing patients or never having enough patients in their practice to make their medical practice financially stable. It's a myth which has been perpetuated for decades in medical circles. The only area in our profession that seems to have overcome that barrier is in plastic surgery.
However, a small number of physicians have managed to beat the odds in their cash only concierge medical practices residing in affluent neighborhoods.
It is clear that any business dependent on "lowest prices" concept alone are prone to fail for many business and economic reasons.
To illustrate how you might look at this process, let me ask you a question. Would you rather serve 100 patients at 20 dollars a visit, or serve 1 patient at $2000 a visit? The latter, of course.
By understanding the dynamics of money, you recognize that you are not selling price in your medical practice. You are selling your services, expertise, skills, and knowledge. These are unique to you alone--no one else. They are worth a lot more than most physicians attribute to them.
One of the most powerful dynamics of marketing any product is what's called "scarcity." So if you raise your fees well above what comparable doctors are charging, what happens? You would think you'd lose most of your patients. Not true.
Human nature says that the harder it is to find a product, the more it's worth to you. People naturally fear missing out on deals, bargains, and products in short supply. Doctors who begin to restrict their practices by raising their fees find that they become even more in demand. This has proven to be true in all aspects of the business world.
I firmly believe that most financially stable medical practices are linked to the highest quality medical care by doctors.
The low end price conscious practice patients shopping for the doctor having the lowest fees are the least loyal to your practice. Actually, loyalty is an illusion nowadays. Patient retention must be earned, and can't be obtained by lowering fees. So, don't lower your fees, ever.
A scary thought-You're selling your services for less than you need to.
A scarier thought- You're selling less of your services at a lower price than you would at higher prices. A fact.
Why is this true? Because business owners are so fearful of raising prices. The same is true for physicians.
One well researched factor is that fees are not linked to your patient's actual knowledge of what your fees should be or what the comparable fees locally actually are. It leaves you with far more flexibility and freedom than you probably take advantage of to set your fees at a level which pleases you.
The more effectively you use your marketing skills, the less your fees
will matter to your patients.
The Harvard Business Review contains examples showing that raising the prices on goods increases demand for the more expensive item. Net profit, may be more for sales of the higher priced product.
The fear of losing patients as a result of increasing fees is a myth.
How to make your image help your practice income
It's generally accepted that if you want to be perceived as a successful trustworthy physician, you must be the image of a successful doctor.
You can deliver a profound and motivating speech in your jeans and a T-shirt knowing the high value of what you are saying. Your attire, however, will have everything to do with how that speech is received. People judge you by your looks in spite of what you've heard.
Dressed up physicians creates an authoritative look and avoids the psychological barriers for acceptance patients have for the doctor in jeans. If you'd rather be rich than right, dress professionally.
How to become an expert...
Simple, just be one! Being an expert does not require approval by any person or organization, nor does it have requirements that must be met first. If you have ever read Robert Ringer's book, "Winning By Intimidation," you'll understand his business concept of "leap-frogging" to the top.
You want to get out of that group of doctors at the bottom of the line who are waiting for permission from somewhere to move higher in the hierarchy.
Expert positioning is all about self-promotion and declaring yourself as an expert. As a physician there are areas of skills, knowledge, and expertise that no one else has and makes you unique. No other physician knows all the same things you do, nor has all the skills you do when you get right
down to it.
Among those skills is the need to retain certain amounts of modesty and appreciate that others have the right to be important.
To position yourself and your medical business it's necessary to clearly determine who you are, and drive that home in every marketing effort you do. Don't short-change yourself as most doctors do. If you feel like an expert then, it follows, that you will act like an expert.
You act like an expert because there are things you know and do that no others can. It's a reality that you develop a mind-set for.
It's fascinating how those around you will usually accept the position you choose for yourself and present to others. Look at the doctors around you every day. You have a perception of each of them relative to their strengths and abilities. Your perception of them is what they present to you about themselves, and you pick-up on.
You know the doctor who takes it on himself or herself to take over the discussion in every committee meeting he is a member of. There's more than one on every medical staff. Is he a leader with real knowledge, or is he a blow-hard with little to add. Your perception is the same as everyone there about this person.
Use this track to develop and promote who you really are and how you
want to be perceived.
The author, Curt Graham, is a highly experienced business and marketing expert, copywriter, and entrepreneur who has been published in various media over 50 years while in medical practice and after.
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© 2004-2011, Curt Graham M.D., All rights reserved.
Word count = 1445
Keywords = marketing medical practice,positioning,marketing strategies,concierge medical practice,self promotion,fee strategies
Curt Graham, M.D.
2404 Mason Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89102
E-mail = cgmdrx(at)gmail.com
© 2004 - 2016 Curtis Graham, M.D., All Rights Reserved.