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The 5 Ps of Marketing Healthcare: a Prescription for Success


Doctor in white holding up a high five symbolizing the 5 ps of marketing | Vanguard Communications

Tap the 5 Ps of marketing: product, promotion, price, place and positioning


Unfortunately, most physicians have little background and understanding of marketing techniques’ importance in building their practices. Applying basic marketing principles can enhance the experience of existing patients as well as attract new patients to your practice.

The traditional marketing mix, known as the 5 Ps of marketing (product, price, place, promotion, positioning), has long been a staple in marketing for other professions and services. And there’s no reason they can’t work for your medical practice. Effective marketing strategies have become essential for healthcare professionals to thrive.

Following are the principles of the 5 Ps of marketing healthcare and how they can be used in any medical practice. I provide a hypothetical case study practice and how to consider interpreting the results of the five Ps.

Product: patient centered care

In healthcare, the product is usually not a tangible or physical product; instead, it encompasses the services and care provided to patients. Healthcare professionals must focus on delivering high-quality, patient-centered care and ensure every patient has a positive experience.

This involves continuously improving the quality of care, emphasizing patient safety and fostering a favorable doctor-patient relationship. Additionally, healthcare professionals need to differentiate their services from other practices in the community or region by focusing on areas of expertise, patient satisfaction and access to care.

Price: value & price transparency in healthcare

Today, with high deductibles and co-pays, patients are increasingly cost-conscious. Healthcare professionals must provide transparent pricing information, offer competitive fees and demonstrate the value of their services.

Communicating the benefits and outcomes of treatments can help patients understand the value proposition and be more willing to invest in their healthcare. Furthermore, offering flexible payment options and insurance coverage assistance can enhance affordability.

Place: convenient doctors office location & telehealth

Place refers to the location of the practice and accessibility of the providers. In today’s digital age and after COVID-19, providers must extend their reach beyond traditional brick-and-mortar practices or face-to-face interaction with patients.

Offering telehealth services can increase access to care, especially for patients in remote areas, those patients with minor complaints or with limited mobility. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 37% of adults used telehealth in 2021.

A user-friendly website that offers online appointment scheduling, virtual consultations and health resources can enhance patient convenience and engagement. The majority of people now search online before becoming a patient.

Promotion: healthcare digital marketing

Promotion is the most well-known aspect of marketing. Healthcare professionals must effectively promote their services to attract and retain patients. Traditional methods of promotion may include print advertisements, presence on radio and TV, brochures and participation in community events.

Today, it is essential to use healthcare digital marketing strategies and dial back on the traditional. Why? You want to promote where you know patients are, and that is online.

Social media, online reviews, content marketing, SEO …

Healthcare digital marketing avenues, such as social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, X (Twitter) and YouTube, are necessary to reach your target audience for new patients.

A website full of excellent healthcare information for patients pertinent to your area of medical practice is an essential element of promotion today. It’s also known as content marketing, with the proven principle of: Show them what they are already searching for online and they will come to you. Search engine optimization (SEO) is necessary for that content marketing to work.

Targeted online promotions such as e-newsletters and e-blasts can increase the reach and impact of promotional efforts. Moreover, leveraging patient testimonials and online reviews can enhance credibility and trustworthiness.

People: healthcare professionals (not AI)

In healthcare, the human factor plays a pivotal role in delivering exceptional patient experiences. Healthcare professionals must prioritize building strong relationships with patients based on trust, transparency, empathy and open communication. It is imperative to train staff members in effective communication and patient-centered care.

Moreover, fostering a positive organizational culture that values compassion and teamwork can enhance the practice’s overall patient experience and reputation.

I know that many physicians are worried artificial intelligence will replace physicians. However, AI cannot provide empathy and compassion. Therefore, physicians have little to fear regarding incorporating AI, including ChatGPT, into their practices.

Some examples of the 5 Ps of marketing healthcare

Let me provide a hypothetical example. An assisted reproductive healthcare practice that specializes in in vitro fertilization (IVF) has noticed a decrease in market share from the previous year, while the competitor in the region appreciated a small increase in procedures and market share.

Upon closer look at the price for each IVF procedure, it was noted that the competitor had a lower price. Certainly, a lower price would influence provider selection since IVF cycles are very often not covered by insurance and require out-of-pocket payment for each cycle.

Next, there was a consideration of the place or location of the practice. It was noted that the fertility practice was in a large urban community. The demographics indicated that many potential patients were younger and unmarried. Consequently, they do not need the practice’s services for assisted fertility.

Most of the potential patients who were married and older had moved to the suburbs. As a result, the target market of potential patients was greater in the suburbs, where they did not have a bricks-and-mortar facility.

Finally, is the consideration of promotion. One service that the practice offers was fertility preservation through egg retrieval and freezing for later use. This service would certainly apply to younger, single women who wish to preserve their eggs for later use. Egg retrieval and freezing of the eggs require a comprehensive laboratory.

The hypothetical practice had decreased lab capacity with only one lab compared to the competitor, who had three labs in the urban area and also in the suburbs. As a result, they were competing with a competitor who was promoting a greater number of labs. The competitor could offer faster service than the hypothetical client.

So, what did we learn from the analysis and comparison of the two assisted fertility practices? The practice had to lower its price to compete with the local competitor.

It had to decide on its place, and whether to open another facility in the suburbs where the greater population of patients would need fertility assistance.

To promote egg freezing services, it would have to consider increasing the capacity of its existing lab or whether it needed more labs to be competitive.

Don’t blame the 5 Ps of marketing & don’t ignore them

Marketing is a double edge sword. It is common for a practice to scapegoat healthcare marketing when there is a decrease in revenue for the practice. When revenue declines is not the time to consider cutting the marketing budget. (I have a great story about Kellogg’s competing with Post after WWI, and the winner was the one that increased marketing while the other decreased their marketing expenses. Who do you think that was?)

On the other hand, marketing is often misrepresented as a magic solution for increasing market share. I hope this hypothetical analysis of an assisted fertility practice demonstrates that marketing uncovered issues such as price, place and promotion that needed to be addressed. Marketing explained the decrease in revenue; it wasn’t a failure of the marketing efforts but a problem with the price, place and promotion that needed to be addressed.

In the ever-evolving healthcare industry, healthcare professionals must have a comprehensive marketing strategy to thrive. The five Ps of marketing for the healthcare profession – product, price, place, promotion and people – provide a framework for healthcare professionals to implement their marketing efforts.

By delivering high-quality, patient-centered care, demonstrating value, differentiating your practice from the competitors, embracing technology such as AI, and fostering strong doctor-patient relationships, healthcare professionals can position themselves for success even in a competitive environment.

Remember, successful marketing in the healthcare profession ultimately leads to improved patient satisfaction, better online reputation management, an increase in revenue and perhaps enhanced outcomes of care.


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