How can a business ensure a successful outcome when marketing its products? Before beginning to market your business, service or product, you should follow the two-step program – know yourself and market yourself – as laid out by Dr. P. Mona Khanna, a visiting clinical associate professor at the University of Illinois, Department of Medicine, at the 2011 World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress.
Part of the failure in marketing is because companies don’t know themselves well enough,” Khanna said. “They have to be able to define themselves and their mission clearly before they can market themselves.”
The two-step method applies to individuals, organizations, business, services and products in all fields, including medical treatments, drugs, procedures and hospitals.
Step One: Know Yourself
The first step is the basis for a marketing plan and comprises defining yourself, a business plan and branding. Defining yourself means understanding your business inside and out. Ask who, what, where, when, why and how. What is your purpose for existing? What is your motivation and who are your employees, clients and benefactors? Having this background knowledge before creating a marketing plan will enable you to create a more detailed, unique and holistic plan.
“The message will get muddled if you don’t know what you are and what you’re doing,” Khanna said. “You can’t have a clear message unless you have a clear identity.”
The business plan involves knowing your mission, vision, values and goals. You then have to create a reasonable timeline and allocate funding and resources. An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of current and potential competitors will enable you to craft your marketing plan accordingly and address possible issues. A look at your market share is also an important step.
Finally, branding yourself is a part of analyzing what makes your company or product unique. Ask yourself: What is your brand? How are you identified? How are you differentiated? These answers will aid in the crafting of a distinctive marketing plan.
Step Two: Market Yourself
The first step in marketing your business is figuring out who the target audience is. “If you send out a message and it’s so broad, you won’t get attention from anyone,” Khanna said. It is also important to understand your target’s values and motivations.
There are a number of marketing techniques that can be used separately or in combination to reach the various target audience. The first is direct-to-consumer. This includes commercials on TV or advertisements in a magazine. Essentially, the marketing is geared toward the end-user of the product.
In media marketing, a representative from the company or organization speaks to a reporter about the product or service. This is a great opportunity to make positive statements about the company or product, especially if the reporter is asking questions that cast doubt upon its effectiveness or authenticity.
Companies ought to utilize traditional media, including newspapers, magazines and radio, as well as contemporary media like social networks, instant messaging, podcasts, phone applications and blogs.
Khanna notes that these contemporary outlets are advantageous because they are instant and cost-effective. They also reach a wider net of people. These modes are valuable because two-thirds of adults use the Internet to search for health information, and 96 percent of the U.S. population owns a cell phone.
Trade or industry marketing occurs when the organization holds an exhibit at a conference or submits an article to a trade publication. For example, if a drug company runs an ad in a medical journal, it is targeting the doctors who prescribe its medicines.
It is also essential that your company think out of the box about other targets it wants to reach and how it can reach them. For instance, male enhancement drugs are most often targeted only to men. But women also receive a benefit from them, so targeting the female population in women’s magazines is another way to market the product.
Organizations should take advantage of the powers of various media forms, Khanna said. They should personalize their advertisements for the specific population the media outlet caters to and present the information in an attractive way for that specific target. Additionally, audience participation and feedback through surveys and contests will provide greater interactivity between you and your clients.
There are no steadfast rules when creating a marketing plan for your company, product or service. But, there are methods you can utilize to enhance the plan and ensure a more successful outcome. By fully understanding your organization and products, you can be certain your marketing plan will be better developed, more accurate and more unique.
Renée-Marie Stephano is the President of the Medical Tourism Association™. Ms. Stephano is also the Editor in Chief of the Medical Tourism Magazine, Health Tourism Magazine and Healthcare Development Magazine. Having a background in international marketing and relations, health law and litigation, she provides a valuable service to the Medical Tourism Association™ in these fields. She may be reached at Renee@MedicalTourismAssociation.com.
Daniela Abratt is completing a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and minor in Inter-national Development and Humanitarian Assistance at the University of Florida in Gainesville and will graduate in May 2012. She has previously interned at The Miami Herald and is planning on attending law school in Fall 2012. She writes for the Medical Tourism Association’sTM Medical Tourism Magazine and Health Tourism Magazine.