Could YOU Be the Next Dr. Oz? (Harnessing the Power of Celebrity)

It’s not hard to understand what makes Dr. Oz so popular. Named “America’s Favorite Doctor”, syndicated talk-show host Mehmet Oz speaks in a way anyone can understand. Medicine may be complex, but Dr. Oz (wearing blue scrubs and talking to millions of viewers about “miracles” and “revolutionary” breakthroughs) reduces it into language they can understand. He even makes it fun. And people can’t get enough. “I haven’t seen a doctor in eight years,” the New Yorker quoted one viewer telling Oz. “I’m scared. You’re the only one I trust.

And there you have it. One of the scarcest words in the English language — TRUST. Particularly when it comes to matters of our health. Whether it’s Gwyneth Paltrow promoting food-sensitivity testing, Katie Couric raising the alarm about the safety of HPV vaccines or Dr. Oz telling 4 million TV viewers that a (dubious) supplement offers a “magic” and “revolutionary” way of losing weight, people — like sheep — all too often follow the advice of celebrities without doing any critical thinking for themselves.

As we marketers well know, fame gives many celebrities a “halo of trust and credibility” that out-shines their counterparts who may have considerably more skill and expertise in a certain area — like cosmetic medicine, for example. Place two plastic surgeons side-by-side. One may have 25 years of experience, may have written numerous academic articles and may be considered by his peers to be among the best of the best. The other, with a mere 6 years in private practice and still wet around the years, has invested in marketing that positions him as a celebrity. He has “written” several books for his patients (has had ghost-authored, actually), and regularly appears on local news, Oprah Radio, CNBC and a host of other well-known media. Which physician do you think the public is more likely to flock to?

I know it’s not fair. Experience, reputation and track record should win out. Particularly in the area of medicine. But in our celebrity-obsessed world, that’s simply not how it works. Sure, you can work your guts out for 25 years and hope that enough people start to notice your great work. But that’s an incredibly slow way to build your practice. And while you’ve got your head down working yourself into the ground, those young up-start residents are putting the finishing touches on their practices and looking for ways to circumvent you and claim your market for themselves.

Now, it is true that if physicians aren’t actually good at what they do, there’s no amount of marketing or celebrity positioning that can help them longer term. As the saying goes, “You can put lipstick on a pig but at the end of the day, it’s still a pig.”

Yet if you’re reading this, and you are highly skilled at what you do, and you treat your patients (and team) with great care and concern — then why wouldn’t you also harness the power of celebrity in your marketing? I’m not talking about having to turn yourself into a Brad Pitt-level celebrity (although it certainly would be great for business). I’m talking about becoming a local-based celebrity in your local market. It is the single fastest way to propel your practice to the top of your market and make your competition irrelevant.

I remember when my first business book was published. It was a small run by a virtually unknown publisher, but when I went to the next Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting, there was a line of people all the way down the hall wanting my autograph for their copy. If I had tried to pitch my services to each of those people individually — it would have fallen on deaf ears and they likely wouldn’t have given me the time of day. But get a copy of my book into their hands and all of a sudden I’m somebody who they have to (want to!) wait in line to see.

Here are 3 of the top ways we help our private clients become celebrities in their own markets, which you might want to consider doing for your own practice:

  1. Get a ghost-written book created and published for yourself (at least one) — not an academic book, but a book to attract patients and highlight your expertise. Being a published author is the ultimate form of credibility — being found on Amazon and on a bookshelf at any number of bookstores says “expert” louder than any front page ad you could place.
  2. Get “expert publicity” — that places you on well-recognized media channels, even if they’re not in your own market.
  3. Get quoted in local media and be visible at high profile events. Consider sponsoring events in your local market — but make sure they are a fit with your own branding and practice!

By selling trust, you win prospective patients’ attention, and even eagerness! They will gladly pay more for your expertise and become oblivious to the siren song of your competitors. In other words, if you start selling trust, you can charge more and make your competition irrelevant.