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When many people think of marketing, they conjure up images of salespeople, false advertising, cold calls, and annoying popups on websites. But marketing, in its most pure form, is none of these things. Marketing is a powerful force to be reckoned with…when it is done right.
The used car salesman
Just try doing a Google Image search for “Used Car Salesman”…
We’ve all been there: you go to buy a car and you’re instantly harangued by the dreaded used car salesman: sporting shined shoes, a haircut to match Donald Trump, and an old suit that should have been throw away in the 1970s, the used car salesman is the punishment nobody deserves. They have become the American stereotype for any type of advertisement (or advertiser) that is largely unwanted or trying to sell you something fake or unreliable. For many people, the used car salesman is the image that comes to mind when the word “marketing” is used in conversation. But stereotypes are just that – stereotypes. Marketing (done right) doesn’t have to be like the used car salesman – it can be an incredible force for good that tells compelling stores, gets people engaged
It’s not a dirty word
You see, the only people who think marketing is a dirty word are those who don’t understand what marketing really is. Marketing isn’t just a logo; it’s not just a brand, a room of people with headsets cold-calling all day long. It’s not annoying advertisements, unsolicited offers, or in-your-face spammy emails.
At its heart, marketing is all about telling stories.
Authentic stories win.
Marketing is about telling authentic stories – stories that resonate with their audience and form deeper connections than a traditional advertisement ever would. Take this AirBnb ad, for example. It features Carol Williams, a fantastic host and wonderful person (our team has stayed with her, and we can vouch that her pancakes are fantastic!).
See? That ad was incredibly effective for Airbnb, not because they were trying to sell you on the idea of staying with an Airbnb host in New York City, but because they formed a connection between you and Carol. Rather than saying “We rent spaces in homes in big cities like New York. You should consider staying with us next time,” their approach was more subtle: “We empower people to live their lives and give them the freedom to connect with new people from all around the globe. Carol is an example of that. She rents out her apartment in New York City and gets to meet new people and care for them when they visit. If you’re traveling to New York, you can stay with Carol, too.”
See the difference? When you make marketing about telling your authentic story, it becomes a whole lot less like the used car salesman and a whole lot more like Carol.
Marketing as a mindset, not an advertisement
You have to start thinking of marketing as a mindset, not just an advertisement. For marketing to really work for ophthalmologists, it must be ingrained into every touchpoint patients have with your practice. Think of it not as advertising or marketing, but rather, as storytelling. When patients get to hear your unique story, they are likely to resonate with it on some level; as they share their story with you, a deeper connection is formed and whether they realize it or not, they are bonding with you in a way that actually improves their experience.
Actively listening to patients helps them form deeper bonds with you.
Marketing doesn’t stop once the patient goes from the consultation room back into the front office. Your staff can provide the very same immersive storytelling experience by asking questions, listening, and being engaged with the patient, just as you are in your treatment. Marketing requires investment – not just financial, but human investment as well. It requires training your office staff to tell the story of your practice so that patients receive a cohesive story, one that forms deeper connections with them and elevates you above being “just another doctor.”
Nor does marketing stop once the patient walks out the door. Marketing can take more traditional forms, such as advertising, social media, and the like…but it must all revolve around your story.
Without story, marketing does become like the used car salesman – advertisements, in-your-face solicitations (and yes, maybe even Donald Trump hair). But with story, marketing becomes an immersive, uplifting experience that allows people to connect with you on a deeper level.