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Five Tips for Developing a Brand for Your Medical Practice


Here is a five-step strategy you can use to develop a buzz-worthy brand that lets patients know exactly what to expect at your practice.

Most of your choices - from the coffee shop you frequent for your jolt of java to the company that provides the medical supplies for your office - are based on someone else's successful branding strategy. And you may not even be aware of it, because subliminal suggestions and word-of-mouth marketing can be as contagious as a multi-million dollar advertising campaign.

Your medical practice is a business too, and in order to thrive it needs brand recognition. In fact, if you don't take the time to build a unique brand, your patients will create one for you - and it may not be what you were hoping for.

Here is a five-step strategy you and your team can use to develop a buzz-worthy brand that lets others know exactly what to expect when they engage in a professional relationship with you.

1. Stay in alignment. Your branding message will be meaningless if it is inconsistent with your corporate philosophies, operating systems, and guiding principles. Set aside one hour for a branding brainstorming session with your team. Ask everyone to write down as many concise core messages they can think of that pertain to your practice, in each of these categories:

Courtesy (how you will treat colleagues, providers, and patients);

• Punctuality (your level of commitment to being on time);

• Expertise (what you stand out for or specialize in); and

• Referrals (how you will accept or forward recommendations for care or services).

2. Excise the excess. After sharing the core messages you wrote down, condense the statements from each category into one or two words that really resonate with you. Do this as a group, and choose the words that are most congruent with the personality, purpose, and professional standards of your practice. Prioritize the words, and select the top one from each category. For example, after paring things down you could end up with something like: respectful; reliable; pediatric oncology; metropolitan Chicago. Or, your words could be: confidential; thoughtful; women's wellness; nationwide.

3. Develop credibility. The words you've selected will become the fundamentals of your branding message. But in order to broadcast your brand, you must first make sure that you're ready to deliver. You do this by becoming increasingly known for the characteristics your chosen words represent. If you claim to stay on schedule, that's what you must do. If you assert that your staff is friendly, they must sincerely be so. It is imperative at this point that you make a personal, professional, and team commitment to develop a reputation for consistently demonstrating those qualities. Anything less makes you appear superficial.

4. Make a declaration. This is where the IV meets the vein, so to speak. It's time to go public with your branding statement. Translate your words into an edict that sums up who you are, what you do, and how you do it, like this: "Dr. Jones and her team specialize in treating more than just kids with cancer. We proudly provide compassionate, convenient, and collaborative care for those children - and the people who love them - in and around Chicago." Here's another example: "Our interconnected network of healthcare professionals focuses on serving women across the country, who expect kindness, confidentiality, cutting-edge treatment, and not to be kept waiting." Talk with your patients in your message, not at them.

5. Exhibit your brand. Now it's time to look for opportunities to display your new brand. If you have a website, take an objective look at it. Is there a way to add your updated brand message? What about your business cards? Perhaps you can have them redesigned to include your new statement. You could even have signage made for your office to set the tone. But more important than any of those tactics, find ways to share your message through your words, attitude, and behavior. Because no matter what you display externally, it's who you are internally that is your real brand.

Every successful business, including your medical practice, benefits from having a strong branding message. When creating yours, make sure it's a proclamation, not a pitch. Because what you're really delivering is a promise, and that's what the buzz is all about.

Sue Jacques is The Civility CEO™, a veteran forensic medical investigator turned corporate civility and professionalism consultant, keynote speaker, author, and coach who helps individuals and businesses gain confidence, earn respect, and create courteous corporate cultures.www.TheCivilityCEO.com

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