When copy doesn’t matter, and when it will make all the difference in the world.
It doesn’t really matter what Budweiser says in their ads. They have a Path Dominant business model that allows their ad copy to coast along entertaining us with frogs or whatever. As long as it does no harm, they’ll continue to dominate their category because they have purchased shelf space at eye-level in every supermarket and made sure that their products are available on tap at your favorite restaurant.
Likewise, WalMart wasn’t built on the power of their advertising. They became a juggernaut through superior inventory management. End of story.
In the healthcare category, the business is called a “practice” because it usually offers custom, customer-intimate solutions to problems. They like to think that it is their surgeons, specialists and training that make all the difference. Most of the time, and stacked up against most of their competitors, they are correct.
But, there are two situations that will change the game, and if they aren’t prepared to respond with the right message, they’ll quickly find themselves marginalized and irrelevant.
Let’s take a look at the field of LASIK. Laser vision correction has been around for awhile now. In the early days, it was a pretty scary idea.
There are chains of LASIK shops which are bombarding us with spam and other ads offering vision correction for $299 per eye. These are the discount merchants of vision correction and most consumers won’t bother to investigate much further than price. They’ll be drawn in by the marketing only to find out that the price includes technology that the best ophthalmologists have relegated to museums. That’s right, if you want to get bargain-basement LASIK, your corneal flap will be cut with a steel blade instead of state-of-the-art computer-guided lasers. Guess what? Most patients opt for a higher-priced procedure using more modern equipment…but still not always state-of-the-art.
Most of the independant doctors are afraid to call the chain shops out on this bait-and-switch routine. They wring their hands and moan just like their old retail friends who were shut down years ago when WalMart moved to town. That’s the first situation.
Many of them have an ace in their sleeve that they also fail to play. If they’ve invested in the latest and greatest technology, they really can offer a better outcome for their patients. But, they think that patients just won’t be able to understand why their prices are so much higher than the chains. And, that’s just as bad as not responding to the bait message.
The simple truth is that the procedure is more expensive BECAUSE of the newer technology and the business model of the manufacturer. Using the old methods, the only incremental cost to the chain store is buying new blades and paying the surgeons. The state-of-the-art LASIK systems incur a royalty fee to the manufacturer each and every time the laser is used on a patient. This adds MORE than the cost of the cheap LASIK to the procedure BEFORE the doctor’s office has made a dime.
So, they’ll tell you that it’s safer. They’ll tell you that their doctors are smarter. They might be brave enough to tell you that the chain stores are some kind of assembly line. But, I haven’t found one yet that will tell you why it costs more. In fact, most of them avoid any mention of price on their sites.
Nobody does a very good of explaining what’s in it for the clinic…by way of outlining what’s in it for the developer of the laser equipment.
I’ve talked to insiders. I understand the procedures and the equipment. I’d never opt for anything but the newest technology, because it makes a difference.
So, these clinics have a Proprietary Product and yet they fail to take advantage of it. It’s like a BMW dealer refusing to mention the manufacturer of the luxury cars for sale at his business. It would be sheer folly for him to expect me to pay a premium price just because he’s a highly trained car dealer.
I’m not suggesting that you give up talking about the skills of your surgeons, but if you have a Proprietary Product, you should turn it into the big deal that it really is.
A number of us would like input from branding experts on the Lones Group recent lawsuit for branding infringement. You can see the bit I wrote at http://urbanconnectionrealty.com/2011/02/the-lones-group-files-law-suit-over-zebra-infringement/