This Sunday, millions of people will be watching the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting spectacle in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Many are only watching for the commercials and there is no doubt about the potential impact that a Super Bowl ad can have.  Lasting only an average of 30 to 60 seconds, they can have an impact that remains for years. There are marketing lessons that medical practices and facilities can learn from this event, especially in terms of branding focus and long term strategies for cultivating referral relationships and ensuring a robust pipeline of patients.

1. Utilize the strength of different communication channels

Super Bowl advertisers have evolved in their marketing strategies through the years. They don’t just rely on commercials to engage with the audience. They have a strong backup system using other channels that ensure that the ad stays in one’s memory for a long time.

Your practice should focus on a combination of communication channels to help build awareness amongst potential referral sources and patients. A majority of physicians rely on traditional marketing: newspaper articles, billboards, ads in local physician and medical directories, etc. There can be a place for this type of advertising, but it’s often pricey and not always terribly effective. The key is finding cost-effective ways to market your practice…strategies that can get you the most “bang for your buck.” Many forget to consider the importance of a long term marketing strategy by implementing a relationship marketing campaign to develop referral networks and increase brand awareness. It is easy to get caught up in short-term results and focus solely on immediate ROI (appointments booked, calls, etc.) However, an awareness based campaign focused on referral relationships will build trust between you and your potential referral sources, thereby strengthening your practices brand story and filling your patient pipeline for years to come.

2. Focus on your target audience

One aspect of Super Bowl ads is how the target audience sits up and takes notice of products highlighted. This is because beneath all the creativity is an ad with a message that reaches the target audience. As a medical practice or facility, you must KNOW who your potential referral sources are and target them directly. Get to know them, their staff and their practices. Know their needs and provide them and their patients with stellar service and prompt follow-up.

You may utilize a Physician Liaison to cultivate relationships on your behalf and/or to facilitate face-to-face meetings via drop-ins, breakfasts or lunches in your potential referral sources’ offices. Physician Liaisons are a very effective tool to help cultivate referral relationships by visiting referring practices, asking for feedback and thanking them for their referrals, thereby making them comfortable sending their patients to you.

3. Exceed expectations to ensure that they remember you

Successful Super Bowl ads are never forgotten. Your marketing goal should be to create awareness of you or your practice that will last for a very long time.

There are lots of practices, physicians and medical facilities out there that do the same thing you do. Referrers have choices. You have to go the extra mile. Referrals are earned one patient at a time and many times they result from lasting relationships with very satisfied referring physicians. Attracting more referrals starts with earning the trust of referring medical providers in your community. When they DO send a referral, deliver exceptional, reliable care and THANK THEM for their referral. Physicians who have a positive experience with you as a medical provider and receive good feedback from their patients, will likely refer to you again and again.

4. View marketing as an investment in your practice

Even at $5 million for 30 seconds of televised advertisement space, Super Bowl ad campaigns can be very impactful if they include a plan for execution beyond the actual commercial.  The old adage “you have to spend money to make money” is so true. When done right, marketing campaigns can produce returns that will ensure your practice thrives for years to come. Investing in marketing is investing in the long term success of your practice.

We hope you found these marketing lessons useful. Look closely and you will realize that they are simple and easy to follow. Good luck and enjoy the game (and the commercials)!