People who buy into the "butterfly effect" believe that small actions can result in large effects. Just like the flap of a butterfly's wings may cause a tsunami on the other side of the world, the messages that organizations share publicly can force sizeable change in the mindset and behaviors of their customers, shareholders, industry and even the world at large. Amplifying a practice's vision should be a key goal when developing any messaging strategy, yet many physicians struggle to decide if and when their practice brand should speak up and why.
When it comes to amplifying your vision, practice leaders need to control the conversation. Medical practices need to communicate early and proactively address the "why" of their vision. In my experience, innovative practices tend to share their point of view early on, in order to take control of the conversation. Whether that conversation is positive or negative, there are three important times to speak up.
When you expect changes in your specialty
Successful physicians carefully monitor where their specialty is headed and seek out opportunities for growth. Super innovative physicians can even drive change on a large scale, allowing their practices to grow market share while competitors scramble to catch up. When you see change coming, get ahead of the game with messages that address the change and explain how your practice is prepared to capitalize on it.
In anticipation of a new service launch
It's also important to be proactive in the way you're telling your story, especially when anticipating a new service launch. Start promoting your vision — not your service — before the service is launched. People buy visions, they buy purpose, and they buy solutions. They don't buy products. So if you know your practice will be launching a better mousetrap in two years, now is the time to communicate why you have a vision for a better mousetrap.
When your practice is having problems
Rather than reacting to ongoing patient complaints or a class action lawsuit, proactively seek out and listen to patient feedback to find out what your practice can do better. As you resolve those internal problems, openly communicate about what you're fixing and why. You may ask, "But why spill the beans if you don't have to?"
Some physicians fear transparency when troubles are brewing in their practice. They believe there is no need to expose something that doesn't need to be exposed and assume people (patients, referring physicians, etc.) won't find out about it. Why not just try to fix things and tell everyone, "We're great!" Marketing doesn't work that way today. Truth sells. And with today's 24-hour news cycle and all of the review sites that are out there, people are going to find out. The more honestly and authentically a practice operates, the more reliable that practice will be perceived. Make no mistake, transparency and authenticity beat positioning all day long.
Amplifying vision early on can also help practices weather a crisis
We've all seen healthcare organizations react too late to a crisis and end up dealing with huge public relations issues. Practices would be better off sharing a confident mantra along with ongoing examples of positive patient experiences with the public, before a negative crisis arises. By reinforcing this mantra with your staff, you can significantly reduce highly publicized patient incidents because employees will think twice before acting inappropriately toward patients.