The core purpose of marketing is to bring positive awareness to a product or service, with the hope that consumers will choose your goods or services over a competitor. Even if a brand doesn’t truly believe it’s the best, savvy marketers are still capable of convincing a portion of the public to buy.
It’s why some brands have the budget—and the chutzpah—to pay an insane amount of money for a Superbowl ad.
“Brand awareness” isn’t limited to Coke or car competitors. Health systems require brand recognition in order to be successful—not just in terms of patient offerings, but also from the physician perspective. For example, docs have plenty of choices when it comes to CME opportunities. Even if your curriculum actually is first-rate, unless you can effectively communicate that to potential registrants, no one will ever know.
Email has been proven as the most compelling way to connect with physicians. If you’re using it as a CME marketing tool but still seeing meager results, you might be making these email errors.
1) Lacking (or Ignoring) Preferred Email Addresses
A good physician email list will contain multiple email addresses for each physician, but an even better list will designate which is the physician’s preferred email address. Oftentimes, the address of choice is a doc’s personal account, rather than her professional. If you didn’t know the difference, you might send details about an upcoming CME opportunity to email@example.com (professional) instead of firstname.lastname@example.org (personal). Professional emails are regularly handled by office staff, so if front desk Sally gets busy checking in patients, that info may get lost in the commotion.
Don’t disappoint docs by ignoring their preferences.
There are two benefits to consider here. Having Dr. Hawkins’s preferred email address means she opted in with that address (opt-in = email compliance). Also, because she opted in with her preferred email address, it indicates she wants to hear from you. Don’t disappoint her by ignoring her preference.
2) Neglecting Audience Segmentation
If you’re a company that sells earbuds, how off-putting would it be for a deaf person to repeatedly receive your marketing materials? After the first 2-3 promotional emails, you might get an unsubscribe from that person—or worse, flagged as spam if you caught him on a bad day.
The same concept applies to CME. Educational sessions that cover dermatology have no relevance for cardiac surgeons. A geriatric conference bears no import to pediatricians. If you’re not segmenting your physician audience—or if your email list doesn’t provide the necessary segmentation data—physicians on the receiving end of your messages may have the same reaction as the deaf man.
3) Deploying at Inopportune Times
Most physicians lack downtime throughout their work day. However, what constitutes a “shift” differs per specialty. General practitioners maintain office hours, typically with a break for lunch. It might not be a long break, depending on how speedily morning appointments went, but it may be the time a doc catches up on his email. On the other hand, an emergency room physician in a large hospital setting is constantly on the go. He may not be able to attend to non-urgent emails until his day off.
This is not to say that you should deploy to every GP at noon. Individual physicians present unique engagement behaviors, but the great thing is those behaviors can be tested and measured. Metrics such as open and click-through rates give clues as to when physicians are most likely to engage. Again, this brings physician preference back into play. Disregarding individual preference hurts your efforts in the long run. Apply engagement trends to future campaigns in order to optimize response and boost registrations.
The healthcare industry is a competitive market. Maybe not on the Pepsi-Coke level, but enough that savvy marketing is a must. Conquer these three missteps, and you’ll be on your way to full CME sessions in no time.