Few, if any, doctors entered practice because they wanted to run a business.   But healthcare long ago became a major business in the United States, at least for large providers and payers. And businesses require a steady stream of customers.

A key fundamental to attracting and retaining customers is differentiation.

Do you know what you measurably do better than your market competitors? What’s the compelling reason customers should choose you over others? Equally important, do you effectively communicate that difference to your prospective customers/patients?

While you may know how you stand out against others in your market, customers have come to expect more than the category status quo in their experience with you. The bar has been raised for every business, in every category, by the likes of Amazon, Apple and Starbucks.

Marketing-led work to identify and communicate a provider’s unique identity to the marketplace may be anathema to some who want the business to focus on delivering care. Still, we need only look to Rochester, Minnesota — home of the Mayo Clinic — for proof of how marketing can shape market perception and build a successful business.

Lessons for all from Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic (which now extends across multiple states and two continents) was an early innovator in provider marketing. They identified a differentiator on which they could deliver — excellence in diagnosis and results — and marketed that brand experience directly to consumers with spectacular success.

That original differentiator, though, has been matched by many competitors
(in their marketing claims, at least), so even the world-famous Mayo Clinic had to evolve its messaging strategies over the years to remain in front — for example, during the height of the pandemic, by emphasizing its leadership in telehealth. Differentiation requires vigilant monitoring of what’s currently essential to customers.

Most recently, Mayo Clinic launched a national TV campaign with the tagline “We are doing what’s never been done.” So, while they began their consumer-marketing journey differentiating with an unrivaled diagnosis and treatment practice, they acknowledged that’s now just table stakes and moved forward to a message that will keep them out front.

Notably, Mayo Clinic maintains a balance in its messaging. More than one thing matters to customers. So, Mayo includes with their medical-innovation message meaningful statements such as “You come first.” The Mayo Clinic website states, “Treatment at Mayo Clinic is a truly human experience. You’re cared for as a person first.”

Mayo Clinic identifies other messages that matter to consumers and uses them strategically in marketing. But the lead message — “We are doing what’s never been done” — differentiates them.

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