To answer this question in a very brief way, here are some tips:
Ever heard of the phrase ‘Differentiation’ or USP [Unique Selling Proposition] ? Be original, be genuine and be different. Do not imitate what the others are doing. Anyways, who will buy a cheap imitation when the original is already available? There are a lot of creative ways to be different. You could be the most experienced. You could have the best technology. You could also be the most
reliable. You could be doing the same procedures differently. Whatever your differentiation stance, it will work as long as it is authentic and well communicated to the target market. Communicating your marketing stance is yet another big topic. For the lack of space, I am not discussing it here. May be some other time, I will throw some light on that. But I can not resist stressing that don’t
copy someone else’s uniqueness or don’t cut your fee to be different.
This is the thing for tomorrow. CRM or Customer Relationship Management as it called is a very important tool to retain your customers and to make sure that the word of mouth publicity is ensured for the long term. It is a well known fact that if we retain our existing customers and make sure they buy from us again and again we can increase our business by 10 to 30 per cent. Also it is cheaper to retain existing customers than to find new ones. Loyal customer will recommend you to others. You may find their friends, neighbors’ and relatives coming to you over a period of time. Perhaps you should appoint a PSO [Patient Service Officer] rather than a PRO.
Essentially, a CRM would include systems of staying in regular touch with your customers. You
may need to regularly send them cards, gifts, etc. It will also include inducing the past patients
to participate in activities being carried out by your hospital for social causes. Having feedback
forms filled during the discharge hour of the patient is one useful CRM exercise. Suggestion
boxes and patient satisfaction surveys can also be used.
Last word of advice from me is-Don’t try to be many things for many people. I will go to the extent of saying that doesn’t be many things for the same set of people. If you are a famous orthopaedic hospital, just stay with that. Don’t fall into the trap of adding gynecology or skin specialty. Yes you can become better and better in orthopaedics. No harm in that. But please don’t play with your brand image by making it too confusing for your target market to understand.
Ever noticed, why MacDonald’s is not selling potato parathas? They can try to sell pizzas, but who will eat a pizza at MacDonald’s when Pizza hut is specialist Pizza chain? Strategy is a long term proposition. So don’t expect to get instant results. It will take time and perseverance. But remember what the old and wise say. They say-‘Good happen to those with patience.’
I personally feel that marketing and business strategies are more or less absent from this
burgeoning healthcare industry. The sooner the light dawns on this critical aspect of business,
the better it will be for the healthcare industry.