Will Your Practice Be Competing With Costco Soon?

I was cleaning out a day’s worth of emails (all 500 of them) – when the headline of one email in particular jumped out at me: “Get Your Mortgage Through Costco And Save!”

And there you have it.  Another industry Costco’s going after with a vengeance, to undercut the little guys. They already offer funeral caskets, plumbing and carpeting services and travel. They even offer home, car and health insurance – oh, and small business printing services.  These add-on services are of course in addition to their bulk wholesale goods business.

My guess is that real estate services will be following very shortly, and then – well, it wouldn’t be that much of a leap for them start getting into aesthetic services: “Would you like a Botox treatment or some sclerotherapy with that?”, the check-out person will blithely ask (like they do at McDonald’s when they ask if you’d like fries with that).

I’ve written about this “big box store” epidemic quite extensively in other blog posts. Reassuringly, however, it’s not all bad.  In fact, depending on which side of the fence you’re on, it could actually mean very good news for you and your practice. (I’ll explain why in a minute.)

Costco is certainly not alone.  Already, Sam’s Clubs around the country include full-service hearing aid and optician’s clinics. Given the explosive growth of cosmetic and plastic surgery in recent years, you can be assured their business development teams are looking closely at your field of specialty.

And what would it mean for your practice if they did decide to add plastic surgery, vein treatments or cosmetic dermatology to their repertoire?

There’d be the inevitable price war. Sadly, the fall-out would be bloody and brutal.

Those practices who rely heavily on discounting their prices and under-cutting the competition to market themselves, will unfortunately go out of business.  Costco and Sam’s Club will always win the price war game. They can always go lower than you can.  Heck, they could even afford to run that part of their business at a loss if it brought new customers to their stores!

Just imagine: sclerotherapy treatments for $55, minimally-invasive lipo for $550 and Botox for $87…(ugh)

But here’s the good news.  Not everyone will flood to their stores simply because they’re the cheapest.

And here’s where the importance of marketing your practice the right way really comes into play.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone buys on price.  In fact, the majority of us choose NOT to buy based on price.  If we did, we’d all likely be driving second- or third-hand Kias and doing our grocery shopping at Wal-Mart.  Companies like Whole Foods, Audi, even Chrysler, would cease to exist.

The truth is, only a certain segment of the market buys based on price.  And frankly, that segment of the market is not one that you want your practice to be serving.  People who are extremely price-driven rarely appreciate your skill and expertise.  They’re more intent on hounding you for the biggest possible discount.  And when you do choose to treat them, they’re very rarely happy the results.

So let the “big boys” take care of this “bottom feeder” segment (as I call it), and position your practice to attract those people in your market who appreciate your long, hard years of study, your supreme level of skill and dedication to your chosen field

How can your medical marketing do this?  Here are 5 easy ways:

1)   Use a powerful marketing message other than one based on price, that powerfully resonates with your target market.

2)   Be careful about the media you choose to advertise in. Don’t advertise in a publication just because the ad rep is offering you a great rate.  Make sure your ad is getting in front of the right kinds of people.

3)   Offer your patients an exceptional experience from start to finish.  They’re used to being treated like just another file number by other medical practices.  Use your practice to showcase what real patient care actually means.

4)   Treat your existing patients at least as well as your new patients.  Create special offers that are available only to them.  Communicate with them often and using multiple media.

5)   Make marketing your practice a top priority.  Not just any kind of marketing – but the kind that positions you as the premier physician in your area of specialty. If you need more ideas, I recommend you read my new book, 67 Marketing Secrets to Ethically Attract New Patients & Grow Your Practice. (You can call our office to request a free copy or buy it on Amazon.)

Yes, it might seem daunting at first, to find your practice sitting in the path of the Big Box Store bulldozer. But you don’t have to stand there like a deer in the headlights! With a strategic medical marketing plan in place, you can re-position yourself completely outside of that danger, and even use it to your advantage!

photo credit wikimedia