Branding Your Physician Practice, Practice Management
Branding Your Physician Practice
September 30, 2020
Never before has the public been more aware of medical technology and what it offers; nor have healthcare practitioners had such opportunities for practice growth. So how do you capitalize on this atmosphere to grow your practice?
The answer, in a word, is "branding." The power of brands has spread well beyond the boundaries of traditional consumer-goods manufacturers who invented the concept. For healthcare professionals in every specialty, brand development is more important than ever. The reason? Consumers - both patients and referral sources - have more choices than ever before.
Image is the key ingredient for public assessment of your practice. Your image promotes name recognition, reflects the commitment you have to your patients and referral sources and represents the vision of your practice. You don't need to be a global entity to have brand power. Rather, your practice must be recognized as the dominant brand among the target audiences with whom you do business.
Understanding the concept of strong brand positioning
To develop a strong brand identity within your marketplace, you must focus on the characteristics of the practice that make it unique. To differentiate your "product" from others in your market, you must effectively communicate to your target audience both the added-value benefits that you provide them and the motivation to utilize your practice to provide those benefits. This process is called "positioning."
As is always the case with successful practices, you may do many things well and provide many benefits. While you don't want to neglect to mention all positive benefits, you must create a priority of emphasis in your positioning so that you can create a quick, powerful, attention-getting impression. Don't make the mistake of forcing too many benefits to compete for equal attention. The impact of your message will be diluted, and the response will be dismal.
The strongest positionings for many practices focus on leading-edge technology, leadership in a specialty field or unparalleled commitments to customer service for patients and physicians alike.
Tell patients what they want to know
In defining your positioning as you expand and communicate your capabilities and benefits, it is important to consider those issues, needs, values and priorities that are important to your target audience and deter- mine how you can appeal to those priorities as they relate to your services. Keep in mind that a product positioning is the essential message that you want to communicate to your target audience - that one thing you want them to remember about your practice if they could only remember one thing.
Your position is the essential message and feeling about the practice that you must consistently communicate - the specific positive feeling that you want to evoke in your audience when exposed to promotion from your practice, regardless of what particular area or service of the practice you're promoting at any given time. It is the function of the positioning message to communicate - clearly and quickly - the essence of that positive patient and physician experience.
If properly executed, this positioning concept will be both extremely powerful and almost impossible for your competitors to effectively duplicate. Like all strong brand positionings, however, it requires your business to be ready, willing and able to make the commitment to a level of excellence that the other practices in your market simply cannot and will not be able to match.
Backing up your claim to fame
Ultimately, regardless of your (or anyone else's) marketing claims, your delivery of a consistently higher quality and value of service is your best and only long-term protection of a dominant market presence.
If competitive forces try to copy your message, they will fail because they will set their customers up for an expectation that they can't deliver as well as you can. Keep in mind that "he who makes the claim - first, best, loudest and most consistently - owns the claim," and your message will unquestionably be first, best, loudest and most consistently communicated as you embark on a program to define and project the brand image of your practice.
Reed Tinsley, CPA is a Houston-based Certified Valuation Analyst, and Certified Healthcare Business Consultant. He works closely with physicians, medical groups, and other healthcare entities with managed care contracting, operational and financial management, strategic planning, and practice growth strategies. His entire practice is concentrated in the health care industry. His other services include physician practice valuation and physician-related litigation support. www.rtacpa.com