Crafting your core message

September 15, 2006

If you were on an elevator with your ideal prospective patient-one that would send you dozens of referrals, follow all your treatment recommendations, and pay promptly for your services-what would you say to introduce yourself?

Could you say it in 30 seconds or less? Or would your ideal prospective patient walk out of the elevator, unsure of who you were and how you could help?

For 98% of the doctors I talk with, there is no "sound bite," no clear message that can be communicated to the marketplace that will garner attention and make a lasting impression.

So why bother?

You need a core message that is so mesmerizing that someone listening to it while riding with you on an elevator would push every button to prolong the ride with you as long as possible.

Your core message must include these six components:

Take a 'bite' out of marketing

Do you ever hear movie stars talking about their latest box office offering? If you hear Vince Vaughn on Letterman one day and then on Leno the next promoting his new movie, chances are you'll hear exactly the same talking points. It's essentially the same interview.

In Hollywood, they call it a sound bite. It's a concise description of the reasons to see the movie. Politicians do the exact same thing when they're running for office. They rehearse the answers to key questions, so they are clearly understood when asked in public.

I'm recommending you do the same when someone asks you about your practice.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

"My name is Dr. David Zahaluk. I am a board-certified family physician 15 years in practice. I have an urgent care practice in Lewisville close to Vista Ridge mall and we're open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., no appointment needed.

"What's different about us is that patients are seen by the doctor within an hour of arrival or their visit is free. So we're faster and more convenient than the ER but we provide very high-quality care that many after-hours clinics don't. As a matter of fact, the Lewisville ER often refers patients to us when they are busy, I guess because they know we do a great job for our patients.

"Here's my card. On the back it explains how you can get a free information kit about our practice and a free visit."