Integrated Marketing: Building Relationships Builds Your Practice
To communicate effectively in the health care marketplace, you must be
consistent in absolutely everything you do.
Why is consistency so important? You'd be
surprised how many health care professionals ask me that question. Consistency is vital
because it builds trust, and trust builds relationships.
"What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today's marketing experts clearly believe relationship marketing is the future
of marketing. To build relationships, rather than dealing with people as mere
transactions, you must integrate their communications to build a consistent approach
that will help develop those relationships.
The integrated marketing approach discards old marketing theory and replaces
it with new thinking. The old thinking was a very internal, product-driven, "we know
it all" type of approach. The new integrated (brand
management) approach focuses on the consumer your patients and prospective patients. It understands that your
brand, i.e., how you present/promote your practice, should be the very core of all
your marketing efforts and that you don't control that
brand. The best you can do is manage the brand process.
Today's brands are based on the consumer perspective. Your job is to
understand that perspective and manage each brand experience to the best of your ability.
It's important to understand that any contact with a patient or potential patient is
a communications opportunity. The goal of integrated marketing always should be
to know as much as possible about individual patients and prospects, in order to
better serve their needs and wants.
Integrated marketing starts with the outside-in view; that is, what the
consumer is doing or has done. Then it focuses on the true meaning of
marketing: finding and satisfying consumer wants and needs. Integrated marketing
management views the brand as the primary competitive differentiator for
products, services and organizations that build ongoing relationships with consumers
and potential consumers. You should not make assumptions about perceptions of
a brand; instead, you need to go "out
there" and listen to the people who influence its success your patients.
"Today's brands are based on the consumer perspective. Your job is to understand
that perspective and manage each brand experience to the best of your ability."
It used to be that providers had control. We used to say
caveat emptor, or "Let the buyer beware;" in today's marketplace, that has
been replaced with cave emptorem "Beware of the buyer," especially if you haven't been listening to
them. Marketing communications messages that are not recognizable, not related to
each other, in conflict with what has already been stored, or simply unrelated or
unimportant to the person, simply will not be processed. You must understand
your patients' fields of experience and place bits of information in their minds
that hopefully will reinforce their confidence in you and the care you provide.
This confidence will lead to repeat visits and lasting relationships that will
help grow your practice.
This new age of integrated marketing also establishes certain rules that must
be followed. To communicate effectively on a marketing level, your communications
always must be:
Respectful, not patronizing
Dialogue-seeking, not monologue-driven
Responsive, not formula-driven
In truth, all marketing is communication and almost all communication can be
marketing. So, the proper integration of all marketing messages is that much more
important. Marketing needs to be integrated over both measured media (advertising)
and other communication opportunities, such as your community involvement contacts. In
an integrated system, marketplace familiarity and acceptance are required, and that
may call for mass market and mass marketing programs, such as television advertising.
At the same time, customers need to have the contact and personalization of
one-to-one programs, such as patient education.
The results are consumers who are aware and knowledgeable about the fit of the
benefit of the service you are providing i.e., naturopathic care to their needs,
and consumers who clearly can perceive this fit in their interactions with you.
This clarity and consistency in turn fosters a commitment to the brand, which
translates into repeat visits and overall confidence in the care you provide.
Bio: Juan Nodarse is a 25-year marketing veteran and president of The Marketing Advantage, a marketing consulting firm working with leading alternative health care vendors, as well as helping doctors of chiropractic to implement successful marketing efforts. He can be contacted at