Dermatology World

Public Service Advertising

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Dermatologists find success in patient-centered approach to spreading practice messaging

By John Carruthers, assistant editor, September 2, 2013

Options for advertising, marketing, and branding one’s practice are more diversified than ever — billboards, radio ads, websites, a Facebook presence, and more. But dermatologists and practice managers are increasingly finding the best boost to their reputation comes from the old ways — one-to-one patient outreach, community activities, and focusing on public health messages.

Finding new outlets

Marketing a medical practice is, at its heart, an attempt to raise the image or reputation of a practice and/or its physician or physicians in the eyes of the community it serves. While undertaking a campaign in the modern era presents near-unlimited possibilities for tone, content, and delivery, consumers faced with myriad advertisements in their daily lives are better than ever at tuning out advertising messages. Fairmont, W. Va., dermatologist Beth Rosenberger, MD, said that while she came to her practice with largely subsidized advertising from the local hospital that recruited her, she found that forming a steady relationship with a reliable patient base was better served by offering free public skin cancer screenings.

“The number one way that patients hear about us is word of mouth. We get referrals from existing patients and their family members. Once you’ve established the messaging you can do, the best advertising you can do is to do your best every day. That’s where it really counts,” she said. “I did a lot of advertising in different media for the first few years I was in practice. But I also like to be efficient with the way I spend money. You pay for these tiny ads in a phone book or newspaper and you don’t know if people are going to look at them. If I do a screening, I know how many people I’ve contacted, and I’ve also given a skin cancer screening while I’m at it.”