Essential Secrets To Marketing Your Practice Successfully

By Kevin McDonald, DPM

When I was in podiatry school 20-something years ago, there was a podiatrist on the faculty who was very impressive to me. He wore stylish clothes, drove a Mercedes convertible and took vacations to Australia. One day, I asked him: “What does it take to have a successful career as a podiatrist?”
The doctor looked me square in the eye and said “Son, it only takes two things to be a successful podiatrist. One, you have to have a touch of gray hair so that you look experienced. Two, you need to have a couple of hemorrhoids so you look … concerned.”
I did not want to wait for the gray hair and the other thing so I kept looking for alternate routes to success. I found that it really does take only two things to have a successful podiatry practice. First, you have to do a good job helping people with lower extremity problems. Second, you have to market yourself so folks will choose you out of the multitude of medical providers available to help them.
Our schools, residency training programs and continuing medical education opportunities focus, rightly so, on helping us successfully treat problems of the foot and ankle. Education in marketing is primarily left up to the practitioner. The following “Laws of Marketing” may be useful to podiatrists who are looking to improve their marketing programs. The information provided is based on the writings of Al Ries and Jack Trout, two of the most influential marketers in the country.

Pearls For Competing In A Competitive Market
1. The Law of Leadership. Have you ever met someone socially who you would like to have as a patient? Then when you tell him or her that you are a podiatrist, the person exclaims, “Oh, you must know Dr. So-and-So. He is wonderful.” You think to yourself that Dr. So- and-So is not that wonderful but you are going to have a hard time converting this new acquaintance to a patient. The Law of Leadership says: “It is better to be first than it is to be better.”

2. The Law of Category. It is often hard for people to tell which one of several doctors is really better but people take note of something new or different. There were many companies selling computers when Dell Computer Corporation became the first company to sell the machines over the telephone. Who sells the most computers now? The Law of Category says: “If you cannot be the first podiatrist in your town, be the first podiatrist to do something new.”
3. The Law of the Mind. It does you little good to develop a new service or feature if the podiatrist down the street copies your idea and heavily promotes the concept to your prospective patient base. Your competitor now “owns” the idea and you become a “me too” provider. IBM did not invent computers but everyone thought they did because they had a great sales force blanketing the country. The Law of the Mind says: “It is better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.”

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