Replace the Healthcare 4 P’s in Your Marketing
The History of the 4 P’s in Marketing
In business, especially for businesses that sell a product, “the 4 P’s” have been marketing dogma since the 1950’s. The Healthcare 4 P’s grew out of the marketing mix described by Borden, and even evolved into more complicated marketing schema including the “Seven P’s” and others. There is a nice historical review of the 4 P’s on Wikipedia.
The Problem with Healthcare 4 P’s
The framework of the 4 P’s – Product, Place, Price, Promotion – was to guide a marketing plan. But in this digital age of shrinking attention-spans, and the me-me-me-first consumer, this product-centric approach is becoming ineffective. And as we’ve learned from experience with internet marketing – the most immediate feedback possible – emphasizing features does not work; you must emphasize benefits. It’s not about you. It’s not about your product. It’s not about your practice. It’s all about the customer; the consumer; the patient.
In Healthcare, It’s NOT Selling
As I was recently preparing to present a workshop on Healthcare Brand & Marketing Your Practice for physicians and practice managers, considering the 4 P’s in that context, I realized how poorly the 4 P’s fit my notion of “marketing” in healthcare: we’re not selling; we’re connecting.
S-A-V-E Your Healthcare Marketing Efforts
So it was a pleasant surprise when I stumbled on a great article at the Harvard Business Review, entitled “Rethinking the 4 P’s.” So here is the update to “save” the 4 P’s based on that article:
- Instead of PRODUCT, focus on SOLUTION: It’s not about the features; it’s about the benefits. What problem do you solve for your customer or patient?
- Instead of PLACE, focus on ACCESS: Be present; be available. Do everything possible to reduce friction at every touch point on the patient’s journey. Consider that entire journey, not just the face-to-face interactions at your clinic or hospital. Those interactions make up only a small fraction of the total touch points along that journey. For more about the patient journey, see Google’s report, The Digital Journey to Wellness.
- Instead of PRICE, focus on VALUE: Articulate value and benefits provided, not the cost of doing business. Nobody cares what your overhead is; they don’t care how many coders or nurses your need to support.
- Instead of PROMOTION, focus on EDUCATION: Provide information … relevant, accurate, useful information. Answer their questions. Help educate them about their condition. Be their go-to resource for trustworthy health information. The result will be that when they need to make a clinic appointment, you will be their trustworthy resource for that also.
I’ve said it before – in healthcare, we’re not marketing. We’re not actually selling anything, not even healthcare. We’re connecting. We’re developing trust relationships. After all, what do we want most in those who provide our care? I think we want someone we can trust to do the right thing.
In order to develop those relationships with your prospective patients, avoid selling. Instead, provide Solutions, Access, Value, and Education, and SAVE your marketing efforts.