Educating is most effective marketing strategy for integrative health providers
April 21, 2017
by Glenn Sabin, Founder of FON Consulting Medical providers, passionate about delivering healthcare, often cringe at the subject of marketing and advertising. After all, most didn’t invest years of education to learn about business and marketing—they studied to become healers. To most medical professionals, the concept of advertising to secure patients is anathema. Few physicians are taught the necessary business development aspects of growing a sustainable clinic or center during medical school. And getting one’s head around digital marketing, paid advertising, and fast-moving technology and its jargon, is enough to make most practitioners feel uncomfortable, if not downright queasy—not to mention overwhelmed. If you are in the majority of cringers, let me offer some relief: thankfully, as an integrative health provider, you are wired to educate. Inside you exists the most powerful marketing machine ever devised by humans: teaching and engaging through quality storytelling. The most powerful ‘marketing’ opportunity to build patient and client volume today is through education.Physicians tend to conflate all marketing to the bucket of ‘high pressure selling’—the use of ‘interruptive’ print, radio and television ads, or the digital equivalent of AdWords and Facebook advertising to bring attention to their services, programs, and products. To those of you for whom paid advertising feels right, and it’s working, then keep doing it—but recognize, the world has changed; and so has consumer retention of information—especially when it comes to over-saturation of advertising impressions. The old-school approach tends to be expensive, unsustainable and, generally speaking, ineffective, and it’s difficult to measure a return on investment. You no longer have to spend large sums of money for traditional advertising to catch the attention of prospective customers (AKA patients). Nowadays, few conventional providers beholden to third-party insurance and CMS reimbursements have the luxury, skill, or inclination to be effective teachers to their patients. It’s typically short-shrift casual mentions of behavioral change during an annual physical, and even less dialogue during the average 13 minute follow-up clinic visit. But this is where you come in, because you are different. As an integrative health physician you have been trained to teach about lifestyle medicine and all things ‘health creation’. Your content—your intellectual capacity to be helpful around prevention, sustainable wellness, and talent in identifying root causes of disease—is innately and uniquely yours. Educating is your best marketing strategy. High-quality content is the basis for quality teaching and educating. As such it should be the foundation of any marketing program you devise. Through seven years of blogging in this forum, I have written more on the importance of consistently creating informative, actionable, and high-quality content than any other single subject. Content can take many shapes and forms. It can be distributed and promoted myriad ways. Done well, it engages, teaches, and builds trust. Content is the single most effective way to build a mailing list. It also supports the development of thought leadership and subject matter expertise. Your ownership can pay dividends for years to come, as Google indexes your web pages. Have a PowerPoint presentation from 2010 on reversing diabetes and heart disease? It’s yours. Update it with the current science and clinical thinking, then present it to a new and larger audience—in person or virtually. The simple math: Being helpful + teaching + engaging+ inspiring = The Best Marketing. Ready to learn more about all things content—including how to put it to work as a practical matter? I invite you to explore FON’s deep blog of actionable content. Simply search using the keywords, “content marketing”.