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:
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.”
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.