This week in Healthcare Marketing Made Easy, we discuss the impression your medical website may be sending to visitors, and what to do about it.
Let's play a quick game. We’ll give you a series of items, and you guess what category they all belong to. Ready? OK, here goes:
- A political press conference
- A roundtable discussion (any roundtable discussion)
- An interview with Alex Rodriguez or Tiger Woods
- Physician websites
"Oh, I got this one! Things that are useless and boring!" Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!
Of course, not all physician websites are useless and boring. But a great many of them are. That's just a fact, and if you’re in doubt take a stroll around the Web and you’ll be convinced in no time. You'll see cookie-cutter sites with the following generic formula:
Home Page: "We here at XYZ Orthopedics have experience with the latest diagnostic techniques and treatment options available. Call today for an appointment."
Page 2: Physician Bio—"Dr. John Doe went to Central State Med School and is a member of the Society of Orthopedists."
Page 3: Appointments—"Call us at 555-1234."
We see sites like this all the time as frustrated physicians come to us for a website overhaul. Now, we'd love to tell you that visitors detest these cookie-cutter websites in order to motivate you to actually make the necessary changes. But we can't. The reason we can’t is because these sites are so flat and forgettable that they don't inspire any reaction whatsoever—even a negative one! Visitors just yawn and move on. About all we can say about these sites is that they’re Pavlovian in nature—only the eyes water instead of the mouth. The visitor enters the site, their eyes instantly mist over, and they’re overwhelmed by the need to get oxygen deep into their lungs (hence the huge yawn that follows).
Personally, we here at Paramount/MD have a love/hate relationship with these cookie-cutter sites. On one hand, we love to see them because, yes, they represent a client in (great!) need of our services—or otherwise a ‘competitor’ for one of our clients who obviously won’t present any competition at all. On the other hand, we feel terrible when we see these generic sites. We really do. These sites are such a waste and they transmit such a poor message.
To make our point, let us switch gears for a moment and ask a rhetorical question: Is medical care a commodity, like corn, gas, or simple tax preparation? Of course not! And yet, if you put up one of these vanilla sites, that’s exactly what you’re saying. You are announcing to the world that you’re "just another ENT."
Invariably, some of our clients respond that they have a generic site because they are "indifferent to marketing" and that "the care of the patient is all that matters." But this is not how patients see it. What you see as indifference to marketing, they see as apathy toward a patient seeking care. We’re not exaggerating, either.
Remember this simple fact: Nobody is forcing a visitor to your site. They came because they sought some information. They sat down at the computer after a long day and looked you up. Responding in such a manner that the most salient piece of information on your entire site is some banality like "Dr. Doe is has performed many tonsillectomies and is a member of the Society of Ear, Nose and Throat Physicians" is not a demonstration of professional indifference to the triviality of marketing. It's a demonstration of professional indifference and apathy toward the needs of a prospective patient.
"Even so,” you say, “I still don't like the message sent by other members of my profession who market themselves too aggressively." To which we respond: Neither do we! We don't tell our clients, for example, to advertise "Botox Tuesday! TWO for the Price of ONE!!" Not at all.
We advocate the facilitation of useful information to assist all prospective patients. We want you to have a professional and aesthetically pleasing website for the same reason that we believe you should wear professional attire for office visits. Stating that an attractive website is just "too commercial" is like saying that wearing dress slacks, instead of sweats, is just too "marketing-slick."
Don't neglect your website any longer. Your website should be an engaging and accessible tool for patients and visitors to interact with your staff, find useful medical information, and feel good about their choice to use you as their physician. Anything less, and you're just telling the patient that you don't understand "newfangled technologies like the Internet," that you’re "a believer in mediocrity," and that, oh yes, you are "a member of the Society of Gastroenterologists."
We’re here to help. If you have questions about website development, brand development, or other healthcare marketing approaches we’d love to hear from you.