At its recently completed winter meeting, the National Governor’s Association issued a report: “Call to Action: An Agenda for America’s Governors”. The report zoomed in on obesity as the underlying cause of a number of problems, including the general health, health spending, productivity and learning. (The last is particularly ironic, given the cuts in PE classes in public schools, but I digress).
I look to patient education as the focus of a practice’s marketing program. In this case, the Obesity Education Initiative of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHBLI) offers a number of free resources that you can use in your practice and as the theme of a spring marketing program.Partnering with other organizations is a great way to reach people and make your program effective. By partnering, you reach many more people than on your own, and the awareness, reputation and reach of your partner benefits you. Both of you want to reach people for different reasons. A radio station, for example, could have their afternoon drive time hosts on a walking program – perhaps run the show while walking (!). Or they could organize an after work walking club at a park, office park, shopping mall, health club (free admission for walkers) and so on.
Many enclosed shopping malls have walking clubs already, so there may not be an opportunity there. Libraries are a good partner for a number of reasons: they want people in the library and people know where they are. Perhaps they will allow you to put out free materials (make sure your name is on everything you hand out!), you could run a program in the community room (many libraries have them), you could donate books and videos (make sure you get your photo in the newspaper) and so on. These are also seen as “neutral” venues, so you are the “endorsed” expert ” (by implication, although not by action).
In smaller markets, you can use radio and/print ads to promote your practice, using obesity education as your theme. Both of these should refer listeners/readers to your website, which in turn has loaded the NHBLI materials (check the copyright to make sure this is allowed – some federal publications actually contained protected material), This is your “call to action”, and you can ask for basic demographics in order to send the visitor occasional information later on.
Your objective here is to promote your name and further enhance your image as a physician who cares about and is knowledgeable about health and keeping people healthy. Ask all of your patients when they come in if they have heard/seen your marketing, what they think, and offer them the materials to take home.
I’d be interested in hearing from practices who use education in their marketing – let’s share the wealth!