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Marketing vs. Selling to Patients: What Practices Must Understand


Don't let marketing misconceptions hinder your medical practice from successfully attracting new patients.

It seems that practices fall into two broad categories when it comes to marketing to their patients: Either they are all for it and go all out, or they find it distasteful and possibly even a waste of time.

Those who find it a waste of time, often feel that marketing to their patients is akin to selling, and relate it to billboards and flashy advertisements.  I have even heard from physicians that, “Marketing is just not something serious physicians do.”

Really this seems to be a two-fold problem: First, there is a steep learning curve for health professionals to dive into the best way to market their practice; Second, there is a misconception around marketing being equivalent to selling.

Let’s look at solutions for the learning curve. Since I can’t create a 28-hour day to give you enough time to learn how to find your ideal patients, speak to them through marketing, and attract them to your practice, your best option is to find someone that can learn this for you. Consider polling your staff to see if someone is interested learning valuable marketing techniques to put to work for your practice. 

Another option is to hire a firm to do the marketing for you. My company, for example, will either train your team to market for you or simply do your marketing for you.  If our company doesn’t resonate with you, there are other companies out there that can provide offerings that may be a fit for your practice.

Before you bring up the expense issue, take a look at what the value is of a new patient over their time with you in your practice.  In some practices, especially those offering ancillary services, it takes only one to two new patients per month to make hiring a marketer or marketing firm worthwhile.

But what about the marketing vs. selling misconception?

Selling, as it relates to your practice, is taking patients and convincing them they need what you have. It is driven by the needs of the practice regardless of the needs of the patient. It usually looks and feels cash motivated. Selling is like saying, “Look at me, look at me! I have cool stuff and you know you need it!”

Marketing is driven by the needs of the patient or prospective patient.  When you are marketing your practice you are identifying the points of pain your ideal patients have and letting them know you can help them or, if you can't help them, letting them know that you can find others who can help them.

As I mentioned, medical practice typically fall into two broad categories when it comes to marketing their practices, there is rarely anything in between.  Which category do you fall into?


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