How Not to Market Your Healthcare Service, Part 2

There’s an innovative treatment center in Portland, Oregon with a non-surgical approach to relieving chronic pain. With the crisis in opioid abuse and the prevalence of chronic pain (11-40% of the U.S. population, according to studies), it’s a big business opportunity. So it’s especially disheartening to see a novel approach squandered because of how poorly it’s marketed and sold.

I visited the clinic awhile back, ailing boomer that I am. The first treatment (which was free—nice move!) was encouraging, even though the full course takes place over weeks to have a lasting impact. Because it’s a new approach, insurance companies don’t cover it yet (and that’s another discussion).

After the treatment, the person working with me laid out the pricing model. It was steep, so I told her I wanted to think about it. And that’s when the sales pitch kicked in. And when they lost me.

Among the many claims from this person was that, “Of course, the cost is tax deductible.” Which of course it isn’t, for most people. The IRS allowed a taxpayer to deduct only qualified medical expenses that exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income during that year.

I had to counsel this health care professional on medical spending and taxes. She had already lost credibility. And trust. Her follow up sales call a few weeks later wasn’t any better. It was all push-push-push.

Nobody wants to be sold to. Especially by someone who hasn’t first inspired confidence and trust. This medical business could have easily inspired both by a simple drip-marketing campaign that tries to educate, not sell. They could have set up a cadence every few weeks of patient testimonials, clinical research summaries and more on the benefits of their approach. That is, turn me as a stranger into a friend, then turn me as a friend into a customer. And even perhaps an evangelist.

Instead, they used old, shop-worn selling that goes nowhere with today’s consumers.

If you have a breakthrough medical product or service, and you want to build a revenue pipeline, stop selling and take these steps instead, whether you’re selling B2C or B2B.

  1. Learn as much as you can about the prospect.
  2. Make it your business to win her confidence and trust.
  3. Help him learn, so he’s a more educated consumer. He’s doing online research anyway, so you’d better be part of that experience.
  4. Do not ever lie about or misrepresent any aspect of what your product or service does, or any aspect of the customer’s experience with it.

Using the old school model to sell to today’s buyers is one of the worst ways to generate revenue, build your brand and grow your business.

Even the used car business has figured that out. CarMax built a stunningly successful used car business nationally, not because they sell better cars, but because they guarantee they’ll sell you a car that’s passed a thorough inspection, that’s priced fairly with no haggle, and that is sold by someone trained in treating you with consideration and respect.

One of the biggest green fields of opportunity in health care is quite simply improving the patient experience. That most of the industry still hasn’t caught on leaves it still ripe for massive disruption.