A checkup on Provider-to-Provider marketing

Few professionals are more reluctant to market to their peers than healthcare providers. [Although lawyers, for the record, are a close 2nd.]

It’s not that healthcare providers don’t see the value of marketing to other providers to develop their brand and build their patient base. It’s just that marketing isn’t in their DNA. It sometimes feels wrong to actively leverage provider relationships as referral sources.

But if you’re a healthcare communications person interested in attracting new patients with Provider-to-Provider (P2P) marketing, here are some points to consider.

Make your marketing about content

We think the antipathy toward marketing that still exists in some areas of healthcare is based on mistrust. To a risk-conscious, clinically driven industry, Branding = Fabricating/Spinning/Manipulating.

Our advice: Don’t worry about “branding” for your health system, hospital, large group practice, specialty practice, or any other type of healthcare entity.

Focus on content – information-rich, easily searchable/findable, well-written and designed, mobile-friendly content – and let your brand emerge on its own. The reason: Providers find strong content useful because it supports evidence-based decisions.

Blogs. Bylined articles. Deep profiles on key providers. Outcome reports. Innovative practices. Short-format video segments. All forms of thought leadership content are the bricks.

Fear not the Email Program

Email is the mortar. It holds content together and builds connections.

Top hospitals love our PT program
– Inflated claim. Borrowed equity. Inappropriate emotion.

Moderately better:

3 key criteria for selecting outpatient PT
– Concise. Content with value. Fact-based. Demonstrates authority.

No heroics are necessary in terms of frequency, just 1-2 pieces of correspondence per month, each connected to meaningful content and an invitation to discuss, explore, or continue a conversation. Metrics can then be studied to boost efficacy and contacts can be assimilated into a healthcare CRM system – an 880 lb topic for another day.

Reformat, repurpose, repeat

We find it’s good content marketing practice to begin with a set of topics that will be relevant to a targeted provider group; speak to their issues.

Identify the key points and build out medium-length articles with strong headings and subheads. Remember that web copy is scanned rather than studied, and good subheads (the kind that accurately synopsize the content) grab the eye and speed the read. If you want to see the gold standard, look at how Big Pharma’s lobbying group executes long-format content.

Once articles are drafted, format them as blogs, articles, video scripts, or distribution pieces such as direct mail, or even waiting room content for patients. In other words, content is an investment. So milk it.

Get providers out of the office

Healthcare providers at various levels all carry the message. Their personal voice and professional presence will always, always carry more weight than a marketing program in securing referrals. So make them part of your marketing program.

Speaking engagements, local medical panel discussions, civic groups, and industry networking events are all places to build the reputation of any healthcare organization. In our experience, serious professional engagement beats golf tournaments.

If your P2P marketing could benefit from serious discussion, we’re here to help.