Why would I need a brand story as a doctor?
If you have the feeling you did not need a brand story to be a successful specialist or surgeon ten years ago…then why is it important now? A brand story matters because it is one of the key answers to a new reality. One where patients have devices in their pockets to check you out, compare and make a free choice. Based on emotions.
Why would I need a brand story as a doctor?
September 12, 2022
First thought: I do not need this, I need referrals
creating a narrative
The reason you probably have not spent the last month creating a narrative for your private health practice? Your focus on GP referrals. As a doctor, you focus on seeing and treating patients, establishing your reputation and getting general practitioners to refer to you.
"Brand story is not a buzzword. Creating a narrative helps you connect with real people in your community so they know and trust you. More than a decade ago, your practice needs a strategy to cut through the noise. Your narrative does that for you."
So what exactly is a brand story when we look at a private practice? It’s the combination of content, both words, images, graphics and multimedia items, that represents the facts and the emotions linked to your brand.
- Facts: Patients want to see your reputation validated. Having a professional online presence is a start, and having information that confirms your qualifications, experience and hospital associations is also essential in those initial seconds of a new (online) conversation.
- Emotions: Patients want reassurance that if they explore working with you, they are making the right choice. Will they get your best? Will they get the best doctor in town? Will they receive genuine care and support? Will they get clarity? You would be surprised, as a medically trained professional, how important the emotional conversation is when people choose a doctor.
That is where your brand story comes in. This is a key factor in those split seconds when consumers decide to stay with you (your brand, your practice) or leave (your website) and go elsewhere.
Second thought: I don’t need emotions. I want facts.
Many doctors I meet hate emotive marketing. Cheesy and fluffy content is not something they want to be associated with. And I get that. You have chosen Science and Medicine as your field and not artistic expression.
Let’s unpack the biggest emotions involved in healthcare communication, from the patient’s perspective.
- Fear: As our health comes under pressure, fear of loss is ever present. Loss of quality of life, fear of the unknown.
- Trust: As the consumer is looking for solutions, the biggest currency is trust. Trusting another human being for their expertise comes with a choice, particularly in the context of private healthcare, which puts a heavy emphasis on the choices we can make when we need a specialist doctor or a surgeon.
- Overwhelm: As the consumer/patient is confronted with new and unfamiliar content (the content that has been your natural environment since Medical School), there is information overwhelm. The currency here is clarity.
"If you were not convinced that emotive marketing is an essential part of how you run your private practice, inspect these real emotions in your patients today. Then think about ways to communicate more about those emotions, not just about medical facts. You will change the dynamics of your practice forever."
Here’s the challenge. Emotive marketing must be authentic to your values to sound true. I have known doctors who wrote about empathy and genuine care and who – in actual fact – did not demonstrate these values in their consultation style.
Why are you doing what you are doing? What truly drives you to be a doctor? The story behind your practice drives emotional engagement and is often even a mirror for the team to use, as they realign themselves with their own role in your practice.
Third thought: I am not Apple. I am a surgeon.
create an experience
We all know that Apple has been doing a remarkable job with their brand story, in the last two decades. The design of their devices, the style across their communication channels and the experience customers get at the Genius Bar or in an Apple Store. The way major announcements are packaged.
"I know that as a surgeon or specialist, you are not Apple. But think of how you could lead the conversation around hip replacement, IVF treatment, endometriosis treatment, cataract surgery or gastroenterology. All it takes is a choice to think beyond your current work and create an experience."
There is no need to go overboard and copy Apple when you decide to create an experience. You don’t need people in uniforms, big screens or gifts (that wouldn’t be compliant with advertising regulations anyway).
The experience starts when a patient or healthcare consumer starts googling. They land on web pages, and provided you show up (Google visibility is a whole different aspect of medical marketing that we cover extensively here in our Grow magazine), the experience starts.
The key ingredients of the online experience you can create as a doctor are:
- Rapport: Visuals, images, copy and content that build trust from the first impression and beyond.
- Education: Your content helps patients and referrers understand aspects of a health condition or a treatment pathway.
- Support: Your content radiates a mindset of genuine care and support.
To create an experience that ticks these boxes takes time and precision. It’s not a quick-and-dirty job you hand over to a junior web developer with no medical experience.
Fourth thought: I want to grow my practice
grow your practice
Let’s unpack the role of a brand story in the process that we call practice growth. As soon as you launch your private practice as a doctor, you are wearing a business hat, at least a few hours every week.
Practice growth also means building and maintaining a team. So many conversations between doctors in private practice are about recruitment and never focus on staff retention.
Is it possible that deep inside, all you want is to attracte motivated, like-minded individuals to work with you to grow and develop your practice? So what is the secret?
"The secret sauce some leading doctors are using to create exceptional clinics and private practices is their brand story. It makes the business inspirational and it can even be applied as a revamp method if your clinic has been around for decades. A brand story is not just for young startups and new clinics!"
At Digital Practice, we are grateful to work with some of Australia’s top surgeons and specialist doctors, co-creating their brand story.
Let me take you to a few examples of active brand stories that our team has created in a variety of specialty areas. If you want to grow your practice, these strategies are a great inspiration to see how you can transform your online presence and get more referrals.
Eye Surgery and Ophthalmology, Melbourne: Dr Brian Ang combines facts and essential information with a brand story about passion and commitment, as well as personal experience in his online profile.
Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery, Brisbane: Dr Alex Koefman and the team at Digital Practice have built a brand story around innovation, progress and contemporary communication in surgery. Stepping away from the ivory tower philosophy that was the backbone of many medical strategies, Dr Koefman applies…well, a bit of the Apple vision behind his brand as a surgeon in private practice.
Obstetrics & Women’s Health, Perth: Dr Mike Kamara and Dr Barton Smith in Perth are ticking all the boxes we discussed earlier: A welcoming visual appearance, close to the patient and standing next to the future and new Mums, using an accessible and caring tone of voice across all copy. The information is presented in a magazine style so the visitor experiences clarity, warmth and care…from the very first moment they land on this amazing website.
Final thought: You can have it all
Healthcare marketing is in full evolution. Phones, apps, telehealth, digital innovation and digital literacy on the patient’s side are all pillars of that evolution.
"The comment I hear most frequently is: I have neglected this evolution in my private practice in the last 10 years! Think about the lost opportunities and the choices you can make today to bring your practice into the 2020s. Digital content is not something for the younger generations anymore and your brand story can be dusted off and revamped in no time."
I have seen amazing transformations in the last couple of years. Doctors who had a decent but not exceptional brand story, who are now celebrating their unique leadership position. Specialists who were able to double or triple their practice. Surgeons who were in a position to taken on more staff and work less, but do more business. It’s a matter of rewriting that brand story and stand out.
Let’s rewrite your story
redoing your website
Rewriting your brand story is not just about redoing your website. Here at Digital Practice, it involves market research into the topics patients and referring GPs type into Google. With the data, we build better content so you stand out and convert clicks into new patients. Book a free Strategy Session today so we can start rewriting the story of your private practice.