Healthcare decisions are the most personal and significant we make

Every business benefits from a strong brand, but in healthcare it is an imperative. Why? Because healthcare decisions are the most personal and significant we make. These kinds of decisions require enormous amounts of trust, and a brand’s primary job is to facilitate trust.

You’ll buy a hot dog from someone you hardly know, but spine surgery? I don’t think so. You have to trust your surgeon, whether you personally know her or not.

There’s a formula that helps us understand how consumer relationships work. It’s Brand Promise + Brand Experience = Relationship. Among other things, this means that what consumers think of you before they know you is just as important as their experience with your service or product. Your brand is half the battle. Treat it well.

All doctors are experts

There’s good news and bad news for you as an expert American physician. The good news is that 300 million of your fellow countrymen recognize your expertise. The bad news is that they recognize your competitions’ expertise, too. In other words, your abilities as a physician are assumed and do not differentiate you in the mind of the American public—but your brand does.

This concept is called “price of entry.” Safety for airlines or clean kitchens for restaurants are other examples. That’s why airlines sell customer service and restaurants the dining room atmosphere.

What emotional intangibles do your customers value?

You must sell them before they are buying

Nobody likes seeing the doctor, and few consider their healthcare choices until they need them. So, we as healthcare marketers are constantly selling to an audience who is not buying. Yet.

Why do we do this? Because consumers will need our services someday, and at that point the decision is already made. They will go with the best-branded healthcare provider who they have known all along but never thought they would need.

-Mike Killeen