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1115

There are arguments to both sides of the coin. It really depends on whether what your competitor is doing it smart! Here are a few ideas to think about for when you are thinking about doing what your competitor does.

-    If they’re doing it – why not do it better?

  • Improve on what already exists. The idea is there for you to work with – so why not just make it better with a twist of your own

-    Slip into the tailwind

  • Sometimes there are big news topics, articles, advertising or media plugs from your competitors. Slip into their tail wind (providing they are on a good streak) while the news is big and on everyone’s minds. Provide your opinion and knowledge to the same area, bringing you square with, or in front of your competitor

-    Model, don’t copy

  • If your competitor is doing something great, don’t copy them. Instead, use their ideas as a platform to build upon and to increase to a better offering.

-    Don’t slash your prices

  • You don’t always need to compete on price, understand why your competitor has dropped their price before you make the move to do the same. You don’t want to potentially lower your business name by giving a cheap deal. Do what is best for you and your clients and understand the value of your offering.

-    Watch your own agenda

  • Your competitor and you may have very different goals and business plans. You need to make sure that your marketing fits within your agenda, not your competitors.

-    ‘Never compete with someone who has nothing to lose’ – Baltasar Gracian

  • Don’t compete with someone who has nothing to lose, start your own race – set your own goals and your own rules.

-    Learn from mistakes

  • You don’t want to follow your competitor’s mistakes, but you can learn from them!


One of the key things you should be doing to get ahead of your competitors, is to understand who, what, why and how you are marketing. Understand this and you will succeed where your competitor hasn’t.

 

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Maybe some of us don't remember this saying – it seems quaint and out of date, but the sentiment is as relevant today as when the saying was first coined.

Todays translation for medical business owners would be:

"Do I need really need to spend money on marketing to succeed in my business and how much do I spend?

Gone are the days when a medical business hung out its shingle or relied on word of mouth to build and grow. Today's competitive world has come with new realities for medical businesses – whether for sole practitioners or large multi-nationals. Like every other business, you need to include a marketing spend component, but how much should that be? Of course all businesses are different, so there are no black and white answers to the question. In essence, your marketing plan needs a budget component that takes into account your overall business goals.

We can look at an example of a company that used a strategic marketing plan including a budget that accounted for their business goals and a company that didn't have a plan or a budget and the resultant outcomes.

Example 1: A large multi-million dollar facility is in the planning phase. The new facility is going to double the existing capacity of their service provision. The existing services are to be moved over. It is a 4 year project from planning to delivery. Early into the project a marketing plan is devised and the budget set. The plan accounts for the new facility to open doors and not have an empty schedule. Over the period covering concept ,design, completion and end delivery the strategy is implemented.

The important point of this strategy is the recognition that to achieve a financially successful outcome , money needed to be invested in marketing long before any chance of income being generated from the service.

The opposite strategy is to build the facility and then try to fill it up. This means not having the marketing expense, but having heavy ongoing operational costs when opening whilst running at below 50% capacity and playing catch up trying to fill schedules.

The result: The facility was completed and was running at around 80% capacity one month after opening.

Was this a successful strategy – absolutely.

Conversely, there are lots of examples of medical products, service providers and facilities that have struggled or failed due to a lack of marketing spend.

Example 2: A joint practice wants to grow their business. They have a good, diverse product and service line and a strong Unique Selling Proposition. There is a business growth plan that incorporates different offerings but it hasn't included a detailed marketing plan. Most of the marketing activities have been done ad-hoc or in-house. The practice relies heavily on word of mouth, relationships and web based marketing. They have experienced inconsistent results and unexplained drop offs. There is no consistent monitoring of the business and the business is in danger of reaching crisis point.

Like the first example, they have the product, services and the facility to expand but they have considered marketing an unnecessary expense that they have wanted to minimise in their business budget.

The time, opportunities and money lost by a lack of planning needed to be put aside and the business completely re-launched with a comprehensive marketing strategy. What the first example knew and the second example learned is that marketing is not an expense item, it's a performance based revenue item.

So how do I set a realistic marketing budget for my business?

Have your business goals set and know what you want to achieve. Make the goals realistic and achievable and set a marketing plan and budget accordingly.

If you haven't set a marketing budget before, there are lots of ideas based around %, but here is a simple 3 step process example to help you get started.

Know your goal.

Step 1

Start off with the end result foremost in your mind.

Equate your incremental growth goal into dollars. Over your current annual revenues, how much do you want to increase in the next year?

Step 2

Return on Investment (ROI)

Divide your $ goal by an ROI of 4. Some marketing strategies have better results than others. Overall your goal for your marketing plan should be a return between 3 and 5 to one. We can use 4 as a middle ground ROI. This is a per annum goal and your matching budget can be broken down into monthly or quarterly increments – but remember that you will usually have the heaviest amount of spend in the early stages of your marketing.

Step 3

Monitor your goal and your budget and keep them aligned. Maintain the ratio between goal and budget if you need to adjust up or down. Ie – if you are increasing in growth at a higher rate – you can increase your marketing.

You need to use your budget wisely – monitor what is effective and adjust it effectively. Stick to your marketing plan and be aware of your budget spends. It is often the small leaking ad hoc items that start to eat into your budget pie. Things like distress rate media and promotional items that never formed part of your plan that can bleed hundreds to thousands of dollars at a time and are unlikely to deliver results.

Have a goal – make a plan, recognise marketing is a performance based revenue item.

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Having a marketing strategy is important for every business. It is central to successful business outcomes and has a proven direct link to the bottom line.

It doesn't matter that you are in the medical industry and provide a specialised service, nor does it matter how big nor how small you are; whether you are a sole practitioner or part of a large group- a marketing strategy is something that you need to have in place to grow a successful business.

A good marketing strategy gives you a map and provides a clear direction on where you should go with your marketing efforts as well as giving you the insight on what methods are going to reach your customers in the most appropriate manner.

Many medical industry business owners often don't work on establishing a marketing strategy because they are unsure how to proceed and much of their attention is focused on the delivery of services. However without a strategy, we fall into the trap of knee jerk activities, doing things ad-hoc or trying the "latest thing". Just doing activities in this fashion means you can quickly burn through your marketing dollar in the hope that something will turn out to be a successful activity that produces results.

A successful marketing strategy starts by research. It means studying and understanding your customers and how best to communicate with them.

A key part to understanding your customers is to look at your business from your end customer's viewpoint and find out what they truly get from your product or service. It's often not what you think it is. You need to identify your Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

In the medical industry, your "customers" can include other health professionals and referrers, service facilities, medical suppliers or patients. Often times you will have 2 – 3 very different audiences. Your different audiences might be medical specialists, General Practitioners and the general public. You then have to ask yourself who is your ideal customer in each of these groups. Your strategy needs to take into account how to best to tailor and deliver your message effectively to engage each respective group.

Every business is different — the strategy plan for a specialist sole practitioner and the marketing campaigns and tactics for a large multisite medical imaging provider are entirely different. However, the true essence of marketing and the key to a successful strategy is to understand your customers' needs and develop a plan that surrounds those needs.

It's this understanding and not the slickest marketing collateral that is the secret to marketing success.

The next step is to find out what you are offering that sets you apart from your competitors. While you want to make sure you are letting your marketplace know the facts about your product or service, you need to remember that there are likely to be a number of other providers that offer the same thing. So you need to think about what sets you apart.

When doing this – you need to go back to being the customer and ask yourself the question "why should I buy from you". This is going to be a key factor in your communication with your customers, so it needs to be real and deliverable. Remember you are dealing with a sophisticated marketplace who probably won't respond well to vague "because we're the best" messages.

The end delivery of your marketing strategy can be done through a number of different vehicles and will vary greatly depending on your different audiences.

Medical marketing can include delivery through many channels including education via presentations, web, digital and social media, press, printed collateral and networking. To be effective and to cater to the needs of other medical professionals or to the general public, the content, images and language has to change for your respective audience.

Remember – before you start on a journey, you first need to plan your route.

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GP education event held on 13 February 2013


Dr Lucia Saliba is a Breast, General and Endocrine surgeon and was the keynote speaker for a GP education event held at Gemelle’s Ristorante in Liverpool yesterday evening.

The event was titled:
Breast Cancer in 2013 and Dr Saliba’s topic was Surgical Management of Breast Cancer. The 2nd speaker for the evening was Dr Jessamine Reddy a Histopathologist with Douglass Hanly Moir.

Dr Reddy spoke on the topic of Pathology of Breast Cancer.
The desire for greater knowledge of the topic was evident by the large number of GPs who joined us for the evening as well as the strong audience interaction throughout with extended random Q&A activity.  There were 52 GPs who attended from the SSWGP link medicare local.

The event topic will be repeated in different locations throughout 2013.

DSC 0548

Dr Lucia Saliba

 

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1136

Ditching meat and fish in favour of a vegetarian diet can have a dramatic effect on the health of your heart, research suggests. A study of 44,500 people in England and Scotland showed vegetarians were 32% less likely to die or need hospital treatment as a result of heart disease.

Differences in cholesterol levels, blood pressure and body weight are thought to be behind the health boost.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Heart disease is a major blight in Western countries. It kills 94,000 people in the UK each year - more than any other disease, and 2.6 million people live with the condition.

The heart's own blood supply becomes blocked up by fatty deposits in the arteries that nourish the heart muscle. It can cause angina or even lead to a heart attack if the blood vessels become completely blocked.

Scientists at the University of Oxford analysed data from 15,100 vegetarians and 29,400 people who ate meat and fish.

Over the course of 11 years, 169 people in the study died from heart disease and 1,066 needed hospital treatment - and they were more likely to have been meat and fish eaters than vegetarians.

Dr Francesca Crowe said: "The main message is that diet is an important determinant of heart health, I'm not advocating that everyone eats a vegetarian diet.

"The diets are quite different. Vegetarians probably have a lower intake of saturated fat so it makes senses there is a lower risk of heart disease."

The results showed the vegetarians had lower blood pressure, lower levels of "bad" cholesterol and were more likely to have a healthy weight.

Tracy Parker, from the British Heart Foundation, said: "This research reminds us that we should try to eat a balanced and varied diet - whether this includes meat or not.

"But remember, choosing the veggie option on the menu is not a shortcut to a healthy heart. After all, there are still plenty of foods suitable for vegetarians that are high in saturated fat and salt.

"If you're thinking of switching to a vegetarian diet, make sure you plan your meals carefully so that you replace any lost vitamins and minerals, such as iron, that you would normally get from meat."

 

 

Original Article By James GallagherHealth and science reporter, BBC News

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