Bespoken Management

Common Pitfalls of Medical Marketing

The medical world has changed significantly over the past few decades. Insurance providers have standardized practice reimbursements, hospital + university groups are buying out private practices, and medical schools are teaching to follow suit.
In this time, marketing has also undergone a massive shift. These changes have dramatically changed the way consumers look for just about every type of service, so the medical field has had to adapt to modern marketing practices. Today, digital marketing largely determines how people find treatment providers and educate themselves about treatments. Although medical marketing has risen to prominence, many practices and physicians still fail catch on.
This happens for many reasons. Physicians who received their medical degree and license 20+ years ago largely consider advertising medical services unprofessional or unethical. They often believe medical marketing “cheapens the profession.” There are also physicians who understand marketing as a “necessary evil,” but lack the direction, savvy, and frankly, the time to commit to incorporating it into their practice. 

This often creates a desire to hire outside services and agencies or pay as little as possible. Many physicians believe referrals will always be their best source of new patients. However, many practices learn that these are not their best options. They need a new plan.


The problem with these approaches is simple. Marketing is not a necessary evil.  It’s necessary of course, but what physicians often fail to realize is that marketing could be used for a greater purpose. It can be used as a tool to educate both the public and their referring physicians. By educating patients and other physicians about their specialty and services, doctors can leverage their knowledge to dispel myths, answer commonly asked questions, and elaborate on the importance of their services. Doing this will help establish create thought leadership and greater brand recognition.

Medical marketing doesn’t have to be hokey. Your approach really depends on your customer and what problems you are solving for them. If your audience cannot relate, you’re missing an opportunity. Sharing and creating content that is helpful allows you to provide useful information in a palatable way.


Another common problem doctors face is finding the right agency or marketing tools. Doctors often hire their friends or children as a favor on the cheap. This may work at first, but many end up with results that frequently reflect the fact that they made their decision lightly. While many companies offer a number of services, it is important to find an agency that gets your business, and more importantly your core customer. This is especially true if you are in a subspecialty.

Understanding what characteristics define your best customer is the best way to approach any marketing decision. Finding an agency that gets it from the beginning will save you a lot of money in the long run and will increase your chances for better ROI.


We aren’t suggesting that you spend enormous amounts of money on marketing, but not spending any can be detrimental to your practice.  It’s common for smaller practices with only one or two practicing physicians to be reluctant to spend money on marketing, but the truth is that referrals are no longer your golden goose.  In fact, as hospital groups continue to consolidate, many previous referral sources are no longer available. They might actually be prohibited from referring outside their network. Additionally,  more and more patients are finding their doctors online. If you fail to create a strong presence online, you will lose patients. Period. The other truth is that to make money you must spend some. Some of the most successful private practices spend a good amount of money on marketing and continue to grow their business accordingly.

For More Great Marketing Tips, Download Our Free Guide!  

inbound marketing for physicians

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.