Practice the Five P's of Good Marketing

Physician's Money Digest, May 2005, Volume 12, Issue 8

A successful practice is built on a high integrity marketing foundation. There are many elements that serve as the foundation, and they must be applied appropriately. In journalism, it's endlessly drilled into reporters' brains the six tenets of their craft: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Health care also has its own basic recipe for successful marketing. They are the five P's: product, price, place, people, and promotion. Here's how they work in concert to help build your practice's marketing foundation:

1. Service. You can't have a business without a viable product or service to offer. What are you offering? And what are your credentials? Do you have a professional curriculum vitae clearly on display for your patients to see? If you offer too much, your credibility will be diminished; but offer too little, and your patients will go elsewhere.

2. Price. Nothing chases away or invites in patients as prices. You can't change fees way beyond what your competition charges unless you have something superior to offer. So it's crucial to know your market. What fees are within reason and what services can you offer that will allow for higher fees? Be sure to offer easy payment terms.

3. Place. You wouldn't house your practice in an area abundant in practitioners. You need to identify an area in need of your services. The setting needs to be attractive, clean, and offer convenient parking. Your sign should be professional and easily visible from the street.

4. People. You can have the best location, marketing strategy, and credentials, but without a friendly and knowledgeable staff, all efforts will be defeated. The decision by patients to commit to a service is influenced by the service they receive at your office.

5. Promotion. Now that you have the first four P's lined up, how do you let people know you exist? You need to communicate who you are and why you're a good choice. You need to reach the right people (ie, the patients you want to attract). Specific strategies and specific advertising mediums are required to reach these goals. Also, you need to track your promotional efforts and find out how effectively you're reaching out to people. Once you have the basics addressed, you need to keep yourself in tune with the ever-changing marketing world, paying attention to other practices. Take notice of current trends and advertising opportunities.

Monitor shifts in your demographic base.

Source: Practice Builders (800-679-1200; www.practicebuilders.com)