Health Care Marketing Series – Marketing MIRVs

MIRVs or Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles are the most powerful weapons in a military arsenal. They are typically multiple nuclear tipped missiles with each warhead programmable to a specific target.

If you have read our previous articles you should know by now that I like to use military analogies for describing marketing concepts. We have previously discussed how military strategy is applied to create a marketing campaign. Strategy development serves as the foundation for all of our marketing efforts.

Once research is done marketing strategy designed to position your strength against your competitor’s weakness can be developed. We talked about your strategy being like the warhead on a missiles and your delivery system as the actual marketing missiles. We then discussed how marketing metrics are used to determine both the effectiveness and efficiency of your individual marketing execution action steps.

In this paper we are going to discuss marketing MIRVs. Marketing MIRVs cluster together several marketing action steps that are designed to create a bigger response than any of the individual action steps might if implemented in isolation.

This example of our marketing MIRV will combine aspects of Buzz marketing, social proof, the educated expert model, public relations, mass media marketing and word-of-mouth.

Since I am specifically talking about marketing the professional healthcare practice let’s review the concept of a unique selling proposition or USP from the health care perspective. Your USP must be unique from a patient’s perspective. The question it must answer is how can it help the patient with his or her healthcare problem and how is it different (or better) than the competition?

Now if we were marketing a product on late night TV we might list one or more testimonials from people that have used our super shammy or whatever we are selling. As healthcare providers, however, we should be familiar with and capable of presenting case studies, not testimonials. Now the case studies should be actual patients from our office highlighting now our specific approach helped the patient with a specific condition. Make sure you obtain written consent from the patient before you publicly present their case study. These case studies should be selected based on a healthcare condition that our previous research has found has widespread prevalence within our coveted market demographic. While highly targeted case studies are much more powerful than testimonials, they still lack a certain amount of social proof. Social proof is an aspect of consumer psychology discussed in great detail by Robert Cialdini a professor at Arizona State University. To understand social proof read Dr. Cialdini’s book: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (1)

(1) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Robert B. Cialdini

I personally have had great success in treating patients with difficult neurological conditions. So much so that I began writing about the success my patients have obtained. In the healthcare arena, there is no greater credibility than having a scientific paper published in a peer reviewed medical journal that is indexed in the National Library of Medicine database. I happen to have multiple citations in the index of the National Library of Medicine. It is not an easy task. If it was, everyone would have citations. On average it took me two years of writing and defending my conclusion before one of my case studies was published.

See before an indexed journal article is published it must survive the rigorous peer review process. The peer review process consists of the article being reviewed by some of the top doctors in the world. They literally try to tear your article to pieces. To get the article published you must defend it, revise it and resubmit it time and time again. Most articles never survive the peer review process. This means they are never published or are published in a non-peer reviewed journal. Something like a trade magazine. The point of describing the peer review process and having your unique selling proposition include the fact that you have published your patient’s results in indexed journals is that it strengthens your credibility and garners social proof. You can not make wild claims about your results in a peer reviewed indexed journal article, unless or course you can absolutely positively substantiate your results.

Stop for a moment and consider a testimonial from Mark and Sally Jane talking about how wonderful you are versus several articles detailing your success with conditions like spinal stenosis, trigeminal neuralgia or neuropathy(severe medical conditions) published in medical journals indexed in the National Library of Medicine. This illustrates how we first develop a marketing strength and then use it as a positioning feature (strength) against your competition’s weaknesses. As we discussed in previous papers, matching your strength against your competition’s weaknesses IS marketing strategy.

Since the title of this article is marketing MIRVs, how do we multiply the bang from our published case studies? One way is to have your published articles professionally framed (the journal cover and title page of the article which our course includes the author’s name). These framed articles are then displayed in your waiting room. Also in your waiting room is a continuous loop video with patient case studies including those that were published. These include minimal one time costs and produce returns on your investment for years.

This creates Buzz in your office and also let’s patients know of all the different conditions you have had success treating and how effective your methods are. Buzz creates word-of-mouth advertising (WOM)..

But how can we enhance the Buzz and WOM?

Well you have patients that responded so remarkably to your treatment that their results were published in the National Library of Medicine database. Most likely these patients live in your neighborhood. Do you think their remarkable results might interest the local newspaper? How about the local health reporter?

In our office we were not only able to get our cases published, but once they were, we submitted news releases to the local print media, not pitching how wonderful we are, but the amazing results local folks had obtained and how their results made the National Library of Medicine.

The results: We had six television news stories about our patients, their results and our methods featured on the local television news. From a social proof perspective, the peer reviewed article might impress other doctors, but nothing impresses potential patients more than having a news story about your results appear on the evening news. One of the cases reported on the news produced more than 500 phone calls within the first 3 days after it aired. We we able to help hundreds of local patients and provide free information to many others living outside our demographic area.

The newspapers ran stories about our patients’ results and of course the news stories were added to our in office video and the newspaper articles were professionally framed and placed throughout the office.

People saw the dramatic results our patients were receiving and referred family and friends.

That’s not the end of our MIRV strategy either. We submitted several of our cases to conferences at major universities. The results: We were twice invited to present our results as poster presentations at a medical conference at no less than Johns Hopkins Medical School.

Which of course lead to more news releases, more Buzz and more WOM.

How far did our Buzz go? Just this week one of the top neurosurgeon’s at a local University Hospital called me. He read my peer reviewed indexed article and started referring me a trigeminal neuralgia patients.

Needless to say there is no shortage of new patients at my office.

This marketing strategy, to create a strong unique selling proposition and then featuring my strengths versus the weaknesses of the competition within my geographic area has paid off handsomely.

If you have read my other articles concerning return on investment and marketing metrics you’ll know that I loath spending even a dollar on inefficient and ineffective marketing campaigns.

As a healthcare provider, you should always keep in mind that your job is to help those suffering in your community. Even if you produce incredible results for your patients, no one will know about you until and unless you market your results to your community at large. There are hundreds, if not, thousands of suffering potential patients right in your neighborhood, you must let them know your solution to their problem. That requires getting the word out, which requires marketing which is best accomplished by using marketing MIRVs.

So how much did it cost me? Virtually only time and energy. I did have to make a couple of trips to Baltimore for my poster presentation at Johns Hopkins, but that was like a vacation.

The television news stories and newspaper articles were free. The journal articles were free. Although I did spend about $100 per article having them professionally framed in fine cherry wood.

One final word on creating the unique selling proposition or exceptional value statement. I’m not sure how or why Who’s Who organizations or the Consumers Research Council of America selects doctors for inclusion into their publications. Many people find these organizations to lack credibility. Once you have created your USP with strong credentials you’ll probably receive a letter stating that you have been listed with one or more of these organizations. If you have a very strong USP with strong social proof, why not tell potential patients about being included on these lists. The listing is free. You may even be able to include a link-back you your office website.

I hope after reading this article you can see how important the UPS can be and how you can cluster multiple action steps to create a nuclear marketing MIRV. It doesn’t matter if you are the most dedicated doctor who is caring and compassionate. If sick and suffering folks in your community don’t know about you or the results your patients obtain with your methods, you can’t help them. If you have answers to their health problems, then by all means let them know about it. It is the right thing to do.