Marketing 201

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In the second article of a series in the Journal of the American College of Radiology, Frank Lexa, MD, and Jonathan Berlin, MD, MBA, warn radiology practices that they can waste marketing dollars if they do not observe what he refers to as the 4 P’s of marketing: product, price, positioning, and promotion. A summary of these foundational elements follows.

Product. The primary challenge is to create a unique product or service that customers perceive, want, and is worth paying a premium for. The authors recommend that an organization begin by identifying their customers and finding out what they want, as well as performing some market and self analysis to discover what you do differently than your competitors and what you could do differently than your competitors. Some real-world examples cited include: expanded hours of business, higher levels of comfort, women’s imaging centers.

Price. While most imaging providers are what the authors call “price-takers” rather than “price-makers,” they did advise providers to proceed with caution when adding cost to the operation. They also suggested:

  • When contracting, pay attention to what you are reimbursed relative to the competition and consider increasing attractiveness of the product or reducing costs
  • Consider the implications of change, as the ability to increase price is unlikely
  • Think strategically about additional costs and whether they increase competitive advantage

Positioning. This refers both to geographic location as well as the more strategic practice of positioning the product in the minds of your customers. To properly position your product, it is imperative to review who your customers are: referring physicians, patients, family members, caregivers? What is important to them? Remember that you also need to be able to deliver the product you are positioning yourself to deliver, the authors emphasized.

Promotion. This is the action part of the marketing plan. Before you begin to spend dollars, the authors advise that you answer the following questions:
• To whom are you selling?
• Why will they buy?
• What message do you use to get through to them?
• How do you reach them?
• Where do you advertise to reach them?
• When do you advertise, and how long do you run a campaign?