3 Must-Haves When Marketing to Doctors for Referrals

by | Apr 10, 2019 | Physician Marketing | 0 comments

When marketing to doctors for referrals, use these strategies to successfully communicate your message.

Effec­tive­ly reach­ing physi­cians with tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing tac­tics can be chal­leng­ing. While there are many tech­niques for com­mu­ni­ca­tion in gen­er­al—many of which we have writ­ten about here before—hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems often ques­tion these meth­ods when try­ing to encour­age refer­rals from physicians.

As with any approach, there is no one-size-fits-all method. Each area is dif­fer­ent, and know­ing your own mar­ket dynam­ics will give you a sol­id ground to stand on when cre­at­ing a strategy.

Use these three must-haves when mar­ket­ing to doc­tors for referrals:

Peer Perspective

If doc­tors are going to trust anoth­er physi­cian or spe­cial­ty pro­gram enough to refer their patients to the orga­ni­za­tion, they need to know who they are send­ing them to. Strong con­tent plays a key role, so it’s crit­i­cal to con­sid­er the infor­ma­tion you choose to pro­mote. What are the stats and data that doc­tors care about when learn­ing about refer­ral options? How do you con­vince them?

Try to focus on the advanced tech­nol­o­gy the physi­cians use, if they par­tic­i­pate in cer­tain clin­i­cal tri­als and if a spe­cial­ist on the team is the only physi­cian in the area offer­ing a cer­tain procedure.

“Show­cas­ing high lev­el exper­tise can sep­a­rate a doc­tor or prac­tice group from their com­peti­tors,” says Eri­ka Ben­nett, man­ag­ing edi­tor at True North Cus­tom who works with our edi­to­r­i­al team to devel­op clin­i­cal and busi­ness-focused con­tent for the MD News Net­work. “This kind of con­tent also speaks to why physi­cians should refer their patients.”

At the root of it, con­tent of this type builds pro­fes­sion­al trust. Much of health­care mar­ket­ing now speaks to a holis­tic approach to care—not just treat­ing a dis­ease, but treat­ing a per­son. Physi­cian refer­ral mar­ket­ing is no different.

“While the mate­r­i­al as a whole comes across as hard-sell, clin­i­cal con­tent, it also takes on a nur­tur­ing under­tone,” Ben­nett says. “It’s almost as if you’re say­ing ‘here are all the ways we will care for your patient and make them part of our fam­i­ly.’ Physi­cians are more like­ly to make the refer­ral if they know their patients will be tak­en care of.”

Here’s where we need a reminder as mar­keters: At the end of the day, the reader/physician/customer is still a per­son. This kind of con­tent should speak to your audi­ence and be clin­i­cal and ana­lyt­i­cal, yet also 100% authen­tic. “That often gets lost in the process,” Ben­nett adds. “Mar­keters can for­get they are still com­mu­ni­cat­ing to people.”

Empirical Data

Data is just num­bers if it doesn’t res­onate with your audience.

But what data mat­ters to physi­cians and will dri­ve them to make a refer­ral, and which dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nels should you use to pro­mote your con­tent? If doc­tors don’t access your con­tent and the data you present—no mat­ter how com­pelling it is—all your hard work is a wast­ed effort.

Here are proven tips for iden­ti­fy­ing and pre­sent­ing data to your doctors. 

Which Data Matters?

Keep­ing in mind that your audience—doctors—are sci­en­tists, you need to speak their lan­guage. Use stats that com­mu­ni­cate the pos­i­tive impact of refer­rals and deliv­er details about out­comes, sat­is­fac­tion and oth­er rel­e­vant measures.

This allows you to nur­ture the physi­cians’ trust, help­ing them under­stand that their referred patients will be tak­en care of.

Pre­sent­ing the Data

“When a pop­u­la­tion skims con­tent rather than read­ing it—as we’ve learned physi­cians and all read­ers often do nowadays—infographics have proven to be an extreme­ly suc­cess­ful way to share infor­ma­tion,” Ben­nett says. An info­graph­ic breaks down data into small, visu­al tid­bits, which makes it easy to con­sume and digest. And, with the added visu­al ele­ment, it holds engage­ment longer than a writ­ten arti­cle may.

Info­graph­ics have a long shelf life, too. Once cre­at­ed, they can be used in a print mag­a­zine (maybe as a tear-out ele­ment), made into a poster or shared on social media. Because they’re engag­ing, info­graph­ics have the poten­tial to reach an audi­ence quick­ly, and they clear­ly illus­trate the key facts and the main point in a way that grabs attention. 

Clear Path to Access

Grant­i­ng your audi­ence a clear path to access to your con­tent is also impor­tant. Physi­cians are extreme­ly busy. Know­ing where to speak to them is key. When mar­ket­ing to doc­tors for refer­rals, care­ful­ly con­sid­er whether your physi­cian mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy includes a lean-in or lean-back approach.

Social media and dig­i­tal con­tent require a lean-in approach for read­ers, as they have to seek it out and find it. How­ev­er, a print pub­li­ca­tion gets deliv­ered to a physi­cian’s home or office and allows them to lean back and con­sume the con­tent in a more relaxed way.

Con­sid­er your approach and your clin­i­cal audi­ences’ access to your con­tent. And, of course, no mat­ter who you’re try­ing to reach: Con­sid­er an inte­grat­ed con­tent strat­e­gy to get the most mileage out of all con­tent you cre­ate and publish.

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