How to win respect and influence doctors

Four ways hospital marketers can earn the respect of physicians

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield was famous for his trademark line, “I get no respect!” It was the perfect set up for his jokes about being underestimated and mistreated by all the people around him, from his wife and kids to his doctor. While we don’t get the laughs that Rodney did, there are many healthcare marketers who feel the same way – no respect.

Despite our best intentions, we don’t seem to get the respect we deserve from the physicians we serve. Sure, doctors want what’s best for their patients. They question the ethics of competitive advertising, of encouraging patients to seek out trendy cures, and fear that successful advertising would reduce the time they have to spend with patients. These perceptions, right or wrong, can put a strain on relationships between marketing and doctors. So, what can we do to improve doctors’ perceptions of us? Here are some ways we can build more productive marketing relationships with doctors.

Four things you can do today to earn doctors’ respect:

  • Dispel the myths about advertising: Demonstrate how marketing can be a positive force to educate and inform patients, and even help them to receive better care. Show them how an effective brand message can align their organization and inspire caregivers to deliver a better patient experience. Advertising isn’t all catchphrases and empty promises. It can deliver substance and support.
  • Lay out the strategy: Present the big picture of the organization’s overall objectives, and how the marketing plan addresses those goals. Then run through the tactics used for high-level brand building, as well as individual service lines’ patient volume and revenue goals. Your plan may not give them full-page ads with the physicians’ smiling faces, but they’ll understand that an integrated strategy can achieve more than random ads and one-off messages can accomplish.
  • Use an evidence-based approach: Physicians are scientists who believe in the power of empirical data. Show them how KPIs, metrics and analytics can show a measurable response to digital marketing tactics. And be sure to schedule a follow up, to share the results and prove the efficacy of your marketing prescription.
  • Treat them with respect in return: Always be sensitive to your physicians’ time, their opinions and their commitment to practicing medicine. Caring for patients will always be their first concern. Advertising may be important to us, but unlike the medical profession, it’s not a life-or-death situation.

Maybe, with a little hard work and compromise, we can finally earn the trust and respect of our doctors. And then we won’t have to hear the voice of Rodney Dangerfield saying, “Take my Marketing Director… please!”

Watch for more posts about managing relationships in the Smith & Jones healthcare marketing blog and download our e-book, “The Complete Healthcare Marketer’s Guide to Building Great Physician Relationships”.