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The Biggest Challenges In Medical Marketing And How To Overcome Them

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January 22, 2014

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Medical practices like dermatologists, chiropractors and dentists face a unique set of marketing challenges. There are long, incompressible medical terms, mountains of information on complicated illnesses and, not to mention, extreme competition.

Luckily, marketing agencies have created innovative marketing solutions to meet these unique challenges so that medical facilities can acquire new patients and continue to help those in need of their services.

"The medical service industry has unique challenges when it comes to marketing which is why agencies like ours need to work with medical professionals to understand those challenges so we can create custom, creative solutions," says Ajay Pattani, Founder and CEO of Perfect Search Media, a leading marketing and web design company in Chicago.

4 Biggest Medical Marketing Challenges:

Awareness & Trust

One issue that many medical practices face, especially at new facilities, is the challenge of awareness. Some people think that if you put a sign on the door and a logo on the website, people (and money) will come flowing in. Unfortunately, that's not the way it works. "Capitalize on the efficiency and ubiquity of online marketing with search advertising and a top-notch website," says Daniel Weinbach of Weinbach Group, Inc. Building awareness is a process that takes time and multiple marketing channels to achieve.

Medical professionals provide an extremely personal and crucial service. Choosing a medical provider is not like choosing what shirt to buy or where to eat lunch. The conversion cycle from visitor to patient takes much more time and energy in the medical field. In order to be successful, a medical facility needs to earn the trust of the consumer, which is easier said than done.

Tim Murph, founder of MotionWorks Physical Therapy, experienced this challenge firsthand. "As a new clinic, we struggled to get awareness, let alone trust. My tip to overcome these challenges is to be the best provider in your area and then leverage that strength through PR and word of mouth," says Murph.


Whether you own a chiropractic office or a dermatology practice, chances are you have stiff competition. Competition doesn't just refer to the other local doctors in your area. It also refers to your online competition or the other websites that are competing for your potential patients online.

So what's the solution to steep competition?

Ricky Shockley III, Owner and Marketing Director of Shockley Marketing LLC, says that differentiating your business is the best way to beat out the competition.

"Why are your services superior to your competition? What makes you unique? Use the answers to these questions to create a unique value proposition that will guide your marketing efforts and give you a way to stand out from the crowd," says Shockley.

Government Regulations

This is a challenge that we don't see in a lot of other industries. Medical marketing has to be sensitive to the government regulations that protect patients and doctors. This is true specifically regarding HIPPA, which stands for 'Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.'

Wendy Kenney, President of 23 Kazoos Marketing and PR, believes it's crucial to understand HIPAA rules about marketing. A medical marketing mistake could lead to major fines if it does not adhere to HIPAA regulations. "Understand that HIPAA also applies to outside vendors. If you hire outside vendors, they also need to be aware of HIPAA laws and sign HIPAA consent forms. You are liable for their activities," says Kenney.

Negative Online Feedback

Negative online reviews are a challenge that a lot of industries face. One negative yelp review can drastically impact a business. Unfortunately, the medical community is not immune to this phenomenon.

Melissa McCormack, Medical Analyst at Software Advice, has experience properly handing negative reviews.

"First and foremost, when responding to a negative review, do not mention anything specific to the patient or their treatment—that's a major HIPAA no-no. Instead, speak to the general concern. Don't respond in the heat of the moment; you want your response to be calm and professional. Craft a response that calls out any actions you're taking to provide a better patient experience in your practice. Thoughtful responses demonstrate to other patients who come across the site that you're attentive to patient feedback," says McCormack.

Medical marketing may have challenges, but there are also efficient, cost-effective solutions to counteract these challenges, including content marketing, online advertising and various other marketing techniques. Agencies have nearly perfected medical marketing strategies so that new facilities and well-established medical centers can reach new customers and continue to help people in need of their services.

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