September 2019

IN THE PRACTICE

Brand with a plan
Smart marketing for the value-based care era


by William Rabourn Jr.

A new value-based care model is putting more power than ever before into patients’ hands. Whether your ophthalmic business has already adopted this model of care, is considering it, or is keeping an eye on industry trends, note that value-based care is reshaping the conversation among patients and providers and may set the ophthalmic business on the most profitable track when those businesses make smart choices concerning their medical marketing. This includes planning a marketing strategy promptly and comprehensively.

What is value-based care?

Until recently, volume-based care ruled the industry, prioritizing the volume of services rendered. Today, some medical businesses follow a value-based model that is more concerned with the actual effectiveness of medical services than how many are provided. This model emerged not just because of changing regulations but because patients voiced their preference for a truly “valuable” healthcare experience. Their collective opinion on how their care is delivered influenced a shift. This suggests that if ophthalmic businesses have not already, they should acknowledge the power of the patient voice and how important it is to actively communicate with them.
If your ophthalmic business or brand has not yet set up channels for conversation with current and potential patients, now may be the time. If your brand already includes patients in its conversations, make sure the topics reflect this new focus on value. Patients want to hear how eyecare providers are delivering the best value through their “patient experience.” In other words, what makes your products and services better than your competitors’? Patient outcomes? Advanced technology? Multiple convenient locations? Doctor experience? Patient-friendly facility amenities? Highlight your strengths.

How can a marketing plan start and optimize the conversation with patients?

Engagement. Give your patients the opportunity to repeatedly encounter and interact with your practice in person and online with well-executed medical marketing. Smart, strategic medical marketing fuels a healthy patient-provider conversation by building brand credibility, establishing a positive practice reputation (e.g., testimonials), attracting new patients, and nurturing loyal, lasting patient relationships.
Smart marketing will look different for each brand based on the available products and services, as well as the strategic and financial goals of the provider. However, no matter what your brand is selling or seeking to achieve, a plan is the key to profitable marketing, and it should be formed as soon as possible. The earlier you know what your goals are and which marketing mediums you will use to achieve them, the more time you have to execute and adapt to inevitable changes or hiccups. Considering that next year is 2020—a year that comes with built-in advertising, promotional, and headline opportunities referencing 20/20 vision—having a plan is more important than ever.

Where should you start with your medical marketing plan?

It starts with team building. How many people do you need to accomplish your marketing goals? It varies, but do not make the mistake of offloading this responsibility to one individual within your ophthalmic business. While an ophthalmic business may designate at least one person within the practice to lead and coordinate its marketing, that person should be working with multiple members of an internal or third-party team. In many cases, that individual already has responsibilities within the practice and cannot focus fully on everything that needs to be done to successfully plan and execute a comprehensive marketing strategy.

What is a comprehensive marketing strategy?

Before building your team, understand your strategy. Comprehensive marketing does not mean you must use every single marketing medium and tool at your disposal (digital ads, social media, websites, web videos, eblasts, billboards, print ads, radio, television, press releases, reputation management software, etc.). Instead, it seeks to put your brand in front of as many current and potential patients as possible by targeting the mediums most heavily trafficked by your audience to maximize your budget. For example, if you are selling LASIK, it is smarter to target online mediums, where you will likely find your audience scrolling through social media feeds, leaving online reviews, and searching Google for information about the best LASIK surgeons near them. If cataract patients are your bread and butter, combining traditional methods such as television and print with online options is ideal. If your audience is made up of both groups (or others), your comprehensive strategy should be more even complex.
In reality, most comprehensive strategies will appear complex, especially to those who do not specialize in medical marketing. That is why building a team made up of members with their own specializations is strongly recommended.

What should your comprehensive marketing team look like?

In many cases, the first members on the marketing team are the consultants that the ophthalmic business has contacted to help define marketing goals and audience. If needed, some of these experts can then connect you to the creative side of your team. This may include web developers, digital marketing specialists, social media managers, reputation management specialists, graphic designers, videographers, medical copywriters, and media buyers.

What is the ultimate takeaway?

The patient is king, especially to those utilizing the value-based model of care. Prioritize the conversation with those allowing you to practice eyecare, consider how to talk to patients about the unique value in your eyecare experience, build a smart marketing team to manage that conversation, consult with industry experts if needed to keep your strategy on track, and do not waste time doing it.
Do not wait to start planning for next year. Take it from Benjamin Franklin who said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

About the author

William Rabourn

Founder and managing principal
Medical Consulting Group
Springfield, Missouri

Contact information

Rabourn: brabourn@medcgroup.com

Brand with a plan Smart marketing for the value-based care era Brand with a plan Smart marketing for the value-based care era
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