In a recent episode of the popular television show Mad Men, super ad man Don Draper opined to his up-and-coming colleagues that “marketing is all about innovation.”
But the best-laid plans often sink into the abyss of the “same old, same old.” After all, if marketing is about distinguishing one’s organization from its competitors, why not rely on the tried and
true to punctuate the difference?
This reasoning is flawed, however; marketing should be all about going against the tide, not rolling with it.
Playing the stock market offers a compellinganalogy. How of- ten have you ignored the “buy low/sell high” axiom? Investors often buy a “hot” stock, only to find out that it was at or near its peak and will go down from there. But those who choose to as- sume some risk by investing in an emergingstock frequently ride it to the winner’s circle.
The same mindset should apply to marketing. It is important to pay attention to trends and modify what’s “in” at the moment in accordance with your clinic’s situation, rather than replicate marketingtactics that seem to work for others. If your clinic emulates current best practices, you are unlikely to distinguish yourself from the urgent care services pack and may fall behind as competitors move forward with marketing innovations.
Old marketinghabits die hard, especially in healthcare. Urgent care clinics are often steeped in yesterday’s practices, resistant to change, and risk-averse. Many healthcare marketing profes- sionals continue to mount the horse that brought them there, embracing what worked before rather than rolling the dice on what might work even better in the future.
I believe there is a continued over-reliance on 1980s marketing tactics such as print ads, radio and television spots, billboards, or, oversized wads of collateral material that throw benefits to the wind in the name of providing a comprehensive list of services. Relying on catch-up ball to get to a 2011 mindset, such marketers now are focused on high-touch tactics such as the use of social media, networking, email, and text messaging.
About 10 years ago, email blasts were the latest innovation. Now email blasts are common, even tired. Yet many in health- care still view them as a breakthrough marketing technique. We have to stop thinking 2011 and start thinking 2016 and beyond.
- Look beyond the innovation-resistant world of healthcare. Whether you are examining a product, service, or cause, ask yourself what is really getting through to you and if it is being marketed in a manner that you haven’t seen before. When you find such examples, examine them and determine whether they might apply to your clinic’s marketing needs.
- Follow Once you get beyond the sleaze and distortions that permeate modern political campaigns, there are consid- erable lessons to be learned. Watch how campaigns develop and reinforce their message (e.g., simple, repetitive, on mes- sage), pace their outreach, and mix their modalities.
- Diversify yourtactic De-emphasize and then phase out current practices over time while incrementally adding new approaches. Rapidly adapt to social media and other network- ing mechanisms and use them proportionately compared with techniques such as printed materials and email blasts.
- Let others do the work for you. Transmitting marketing information to a cohort of prospects with the intent of having them share the information with others is a great lever- aging A concerted effort should be made to encourage recipients of email blasts to forward them to others within or beyond their organization or to personal friends. If your distribution list is 1,500, and 10% of those recipients forward your message to 10 individuals, you have doubled your out- reach and touched many people you otherwise would not have touched.
- Brainstorm—without judgment. Innovations are often spawned by “silly” ideas. Sit down with a colleague and jointly list every conceivable marketing tactic, no matter how seemingly off-the-wall, and you will undoubtedly emerge with several great ideas.
- Swing for the fences. Innovation is all about a willingness to fail some of the time as you search for a few real winners. Many of the greatest personal and institutional success stories in history involved people who failed many times, learned valuable lessons from their failures, and then got it exceptionally right. Resistance to innovation is a ticket to mediocrity for both your clinic and yourself.