With the fierce competition we are confronting in imaging, this advice has never been more applicable. How well do you know your competition? In a previous column, I discussed the importance of efficient operations for survival. However, internal operational efficiency is only half the battle. Growing and maintaining a referral base is the other half. While internally you must focus on delivering efficient, high quality care, externally you must focus on positioning yourself in the market and launching a strategic marketing effort.
So where do you begin? A strategic marketing plan is a daunting task. The first step is gaining an understanding of your position in the marketplace. At the core of this understanding is detailed knowledge of the competition. As in chess, knowing your competitors and anticipating their every move, gives you an edge.
How many of the following fundamental questions can you answer about your competition?
- Who are your competitors: hospitals, cardiologists?
- What type of equipment do they have: 3T MRI, multislice CT, open MRI, PACS?
- What are their hours of operation: evenings, weekends?
- What is their appointment availability: same day, next day?
- Who are their key referrers: physicians you know, physicians in close proximity to you?
- What level of service do they provide these referrers: rapid report turnaround, online access to images?
- How do they market their services: marketing representatives, web site, brochures?
- What types of amenities do they provide: convenient location, free parking, online scheduling?
Not only do you need to know all of this information, you need to keep it up to date. Constant surveillance is vital. I recommend creating a grid that lines up all the competition side by side on the attributes above and others that you believe are relevant. With this knowledge, you will be ready to develop a stronger and more effective marketing campaign.