marketing mix in healthcare

The only marketing theory you’ll ever need in medicine

Marketing theory is full of abstract concepts that most doctors frown upon. We thought it was worth skimming through the foundations of marketing and advertising, to understand what could be the ideal marketing mix in healthcare, to promote your private practice. 

marketing mix in healthcare

The only marketing theory you’ll ever need in medicine

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice

Kris Borgraeve

April 6, 2022

Why medical marketing should be on your radar

marketing mix for doctors

Change is occurring at a higher pace than ever before in human history. That is why your medical practice is subject to market fluctuations: the pandemic, consumer confidence, the uptake in private healthcare, the current status of our health system. 

Chances are your practice goes through fluctuations as well. That is where medical marketing comes in.

Marketing for doctors is not this static activity where you push messages toward consumers the way Apple does it or the way Nike or Adidas are doing it. In healthcare, marketing helps you maintain an acceptable pipeline, also called your waiting list.

Why? Because the shorter it is, the higher the pressure on your practice as a business. As soon as it reaches a comfortable sweet spot (not a single doctor benefits from a 12-month waitlist), you feel a certain peace of mind.

Marketing does exactly that because it brings people in at different stages of your pipeline:

  • Exploration: We don’t need your service yet, but we start becoming aware of your leadership position in your specialty area. We’ve heard of you. We may have come across your content online or a friend may have sent us a link.
  • Research: We are aware of a symptom and want to find reassuring or clarifying information online. We now actively compare your content with your competitor’s content. As a result, we are well informed or not. We feel trust and rapport or we don’t.
    Shopping: We now officially need a specialist. Even though we have been given a GP referral we actively compare ‘About Pages’ and profiles, reviews and YouTube channels, Instagram feeds and LinkedIn posts. We are shopping around in that precious time when we are about to choose a specialist doctor.

The marketing mix in healthcare is one that has a single currency: credibility. You could replace it with trust and rapport, but I believe credibility covers the basics.

How digital has disrupted most marketing theories

digital evolutions in healthcare

Traditional marketing theory uses ‘advertising’ as just one of its components. Yet, you may feel confused when you think about your online presence. Is it advertising? Is it marketing? 

For the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), your online content falls under the Advertising Guidelines for Health Practitioners.

When we look at the marketing mix in healthcare, advertising is one of the layers you may add to your marketing strategy.

In the video, we take a look at the role of online medical marketing in the bigger picture of the marketing mix for doctors.

Are doctors wearing sales hats from time to time?

sales techniques for doctors

It’s an interesting ethical discussion: do you wear a sales hat? As a surgeon, or a doctor in private practice, do you actively guide the patient to a ‘next step’?

We know that AHPRA guidelines are clear about not promoting unnecessary treatment, misrepresenting medical information or stats, or making unsubstantial clinical claims.

If we define ‘selling’ as the activity that helps people make a decision for their benefit, then we take away the examples where you are doing them a disservice.

In that definition, I put it to you that you are always wearing a sales hat.

You are selling the idea that the patient is best served if:

  • They choose to have certain tests done to get more information
  • They choose to follow certain general guidelines to reduce risks
  • They choose to follow general healthcare advice and make changes to their lifestyle
  • They choose to consider a specific treatment or surgery

Within the framework of doing the right thing and following the applicable advertising guidelines and professional standards, there is room for personal selling as part of your marketing mix.

From experience, we notice that doctors who work with us to create a clear online profile, also find it easier to highlight their core messages and the core benefits of using their service.

In other words: it’s easier to consult when your patient has already warmed to your online profile.

Your online profile as the invisible sales person

driving patients to your practice

When you put your business hat on as a surgeon or a doctor, driving patients to your practice is a focus. 

What we see in our daily work with thought leaders in obstetrics, fertility, orthopaedics, plastic surgery, gastroenterology, urology, dentistry, psychology and other specialties, is a spectacular new trend.

Kris Borgraeve - Co-founder Digital Practice
Kris Borgraeve | Co-founder Digital Practice

"An effective online presence works like an extra sales division. It captures traffic, hooks the audience with relevant content, starts an automated conversation and converts visitors into new patients, with a built-in triage because your online story filters out time-wasters and irrelevant patient leads."

The amazing impact of a high-performing online profile transforms your private practice almost instantly. 

More leads means more certainty, predictable growth and increased capacity to recruit, delegate or improve the structure of your practice.

More leads means more leverage in negotiations and conversations with your associated hospitals, better access to theatre lists being one of the side effects.

More business means that you are now in a position to generate value in your practice as an asset, and look at the future of your medical career and your personal freedom.

The true role of medical advertising

affordable medical marketing

Affordable medical marketing first looks at the way you invest your budget:

  • Advertising: The money you pay for temporary space or attention (like rent)
  • Content Marketing: The budget you spend on sustainable, future-proof assets (like buying real estate)

The way we coach our customers toward higher ROI and a more effective way to budget for marketing and advertising is simple. Just like your financial planner may advise you to buy property, so will we!

Content Marketing is a relatively new area in healthcare marketing because it comes after a dark era where toxic backlinks and dodgy SEO techniques seemed to be the only way doctors could increase their Google Visibility. With a more mature Google ecosystem in place (you must have heard about the famous algorithms Google uses to define if your content is really that relevant and worth displaying in position 1 of Google Search), times have changed.
Content Marketing means that you invest in quality content pages on your website, to nurture and grow your organic visibility. It means that you show up as high as possible without paying for ads. These clicks are gold because patients can feel that this is real information, not an ad.
In healthcare, the focus on genuine, reliable information rather than commercial information is high and your credibility increases when patients can find your pages without clicking on ads.

Advertising has its place, and online advertising is more diverse than the well-known PPC or Pay-Per-Click strategies that Google Ads is famous for. Did you know that:

  • You can use Google Ads not just to target patients who do a particular search, but also anyone who has visited your website in the past? With patients who are shopping around and postponing the choice of a specialist, this adds additional touchpoints and increases your chances of a conversion.
  • You can use LinkedIn to target all GPs in your local catchment area with a B2B message, building trust and rapport.
  • You can use pre-roll video ads and target specific local audiences on YouTube, creating new ways to raise awareness, amplify word-of-mouth and generate leads.

The true role of medical advertising is topping up your lead generation system.

A healthy medical lead generation engine starts with the low-hanging fruit: the patient who is doing a Google search for your specialty field right now, in your catchment area.

The ads we can put in place for you, are best targeted to a well-defined audience and drive additional traffic to your star content, so this content becomes even more successful in creating organic Google ranking down the track.

Let's meet

Confused? Let’s clarify it for you

free marketing tips for doctors

Book your free strategy meeting today so we can unpack the marketing mix in healthcare even further for you. We look at the current status of your online profile, your marketing and advertising strategy so far, and the options we can present to you to generate extra patient leads and grow your practice.

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