The first lesson about healthcare practice branding has to do with setting expectations. All too often, the misguided concept of branding for a healthcare practice or individual practitioner is an overnight magic trick.
The practical reality is that healthcare practice branding is a high-level and long-term marketing strategy. (Emphasis: long-term.) The principal investment is time, years, in fact, to uniquely differentiate the practice brand in the mind of the consumer, the patient and the public. The extended duration means that defining the brand’s positioning statement must be a carefully considered process and decision.
Unique Selling Proposition: The “Why You” Question…
The path to brand differentiation begins with a Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Simply, this is the unique idea that your practice occupies or hopes to occupy in the mind of the consumer.
In other words, what is the one thing you want patients or the public to remember about you if they remember only one thing? This needs to be tightly defined because prospective patients are exposed to at least thousands of commercial messages a day.
With so much clutter in the marketplace, you’ll have to give up trying to be everything to everybody, and instead, focus on becoming uniquely special to somebody.
Consider how these examples from corporate companies communicate a positioning concept:
- Medibank – live better with Medibank
- Woolworths – the fresh food people
- BMW – the ultimate driving machine
- Domino’s – hot, fresh pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less
- Mercedes-Benz – the best or nothing
- Nike – just do it
To bring focus to your own position, begin by answering the question: “Why you?” In concise terms, what is the single most important reason, unlike any competitor that someone should choose you, your practice? How do you present yourself as different, better and more desirable from any other practitioner that the patient could call today? What do you do, and who are you for?
Begin by asking: “What makes us special?”
Refine your initial ideas to a single, precision core concept.
Consider what makes you special? Do you have?
- Unique capabilities or services
- Special equipment or technology
- Particular training, experience, credentials
- Customer/patient experience delivery
- Other differentiation factor(s)
Your positioning crystallises the competitive advantage that influences and motivates your desired audience to see you as their best choice. People buy based on emotion and justify based on facts. Ask what is an emotionally compelling reason why the patient should choose you?
Consider what is the most important value that you want them to remember about you? What is the “how” and “why” of what you can do for people?
The key criteria and guidelines to positioning your practice in the patient’s mind include:
- Differentiating – not saying the same thing everyone else says
- True and Credible – you can deliver on the promise
- Memorable – you are competing with thousands of messages a day
- Compelling – resonates with the needs of your intended audience
- Easily Understood – immediately communicates individuality
- Exclusivity – a position that you alone can own in the market
One last test: Avoid your own biases. While you may be proud of your advanced education and achievements, remember that you are not your audience. Prospective patients are far more interested in how and why you can be of benefit to their lives.