Saturday, May 18, 2013

Marketing vs. Advertising in Rehab Business

There exists this interesting perception that much of the expression of a good marketing program is seen in good advertisement. I'd like to disagree with this.

The way I see it, marketing is creating demand.

Advertising is simply getting your name out there.

Creating Demand vs. Flashing a Name
IMHO, the key difference between true marketing and simply advertising is this facet of business. When marketing, a firm wishes to make their product/service/brand more desirable to the consumer. When advertising, a firm wishes to make their name/brand/product/service known to the consumer. The funny thing is, in order to market to a segment of consumers, knowledge of a brand is inherently part of the working. Advertisement tends to be more passive. However, a good marketing campaign utilizes advertisement in strategic manners that not only makes known a name/service, it also positions that firm in superior elements - much like a top shelf alcoholic spirit is positioned above the generic competitors.

Advertising is a projection; Marketing requires introspection.
In advertisement, firms tend to tell others what they think of themselves. This can be a total shot in the foot when the consumers think something ENTIRELY different than the firm's self-perception. Something recent that floated up of generally relative connection: Abercombie & Fitch.... #FAIL!

A good marketing approach thinks on what others think of you. Therefore, in this approach, marketing creates a discussion with a target segment; advertising is plain talking at said segment - and really, no one likes being talked at.

Marketing makes an emotional connection; Advertising creates an intellectual connection.
Laughter. Tears. Anger. Outrage. Love. Hate. These emotions are critical elements of the human experience. This are also the critical elements of what makes a good marketing campaign "good".

Remember that Old Spice commercial? The Man Your Man Could Smell Like? Sure, this was an ad, however, the entire campaign of Old Spice was shifting its market position from "the smell of grandpa" to "the man your man could smell like." It was so simple! It was so easy! It was so genius! This campaign combined humor, complete randomness, female desire, male jealousy, and amazing film-works which made Old Spice relevant again.

Compare that to something on the extreme bland... something like this:

Or this.....

Seriously?! Does anyone really expect consumers to respond to stuff like this? Do you? I sure don't. In essence: Marketing "entertains"; "advertisement educates." Good marketing causes an entertainment factor (emotions), and, in the end buying into something is highly emotional - not always intellectual.

Marketing is a purposeful study of the market environment, the firms involved, the customers at hand, and the climate of the economy.

So how does this apply to the business of physical rehabilitation?

To answer this, we must keeping in mind that most people don't care about outcomes and care mostly about the experience at hand. How do we present ourselves to the market, as if we were on that retail shelf and better position ourselves in reference to competitors? A strategy from Proctor & Gamble comes to mind:

“Who am I?  What am I?  Why am I right for you?”
                          - Questions every P&G package MUST answer.

So then, what can/does physical rehabilitation (and wellness) provide? The following comes to my mind:

  • Pain relief and physical comfort
  • Enhanced mobility of joint, muscles, and movement
  • Solutions for recovering from injury and illness
  • It addresses pre/post surgery considerations
  • It can help where drugs (pharmaceuticals) have failed
  • A present friend to help during your time of need; restoring your ability for life
  • Expertise in health, fitness, and longevity of well-being

Not good enough? CORRECT! We must segment descriptions of service strategically:

  • For seniors that wish to avoid nursing homes and hospitals, we are the preventists - experts in helping you keep out of the hospital and rehabilitation facilities.
  • For the elite athletes, we are specialists of human performance, strength & conditioning, and recovery from injury.
  • To the third-party-payers, we are the most cost-efficient, time-efficient, practitioner of choice who can bring people back to their livelihoods and prevent them from needing recurrent care.
  • To individuals with chronic pain, we are compassionate clinician who will spend the time you need to deal with the stressors, triggers, and causation factors that have made for a life of discomfort.
  • To those who are generally healthy, well, and active - we are providers of  well deserved comfort; a luxury service to pamper to the physical, the mental, and perhaps even the spiritual.

I hope that this post has been helpful in creating sparks of business solutions for your rehab marketing needs. All too often, the healthcare industry is too obsessed with the outcome of the service and not the experience of the service. Additionally, the industry is far too inclined to talk at our customers rather than talk with them. Making an emotional connection during a highly emotional experience (being cared for in healthcare) is a terribly important need. We should position ourselves as serving those in need rather than making patients taken as situational victims.

When the public at large views physical rehabilitation services as a highly desirable, accessible, and favorable enrichment to their life's experience - we would have met success in the marketplace.

Make demand. Fill the demand. Scope for change. Plan for the future.


  1. Ben, great post, is my homepage enough?

    1. Erson, your home page is great. I've been watching it developed and just browsed through it just now.

      Found this link broken:

      The key to a home page is much like that of a good retail store; you must draw people to stay as long as possible once they get into the site.

      The longer someone browses for (whether in the home page or in the adjunct sites) the more successful the design & content.

      What I REALLY like is that this home site serves as a gateway to all your other areas of expertise, services, products, and outlets.

      Excellent stuff!

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