Have you ever gone to the gym and seen an advertisement for a new surgical procedure? You may have wondered: “Why in the world is this here?”, but this is a prime example of a gym smartly engaging in partner marketing — or a mutually beneficial promotional campaign — with a nearby physician.
Other types of local partner marketing you may have seen include health fairs held in a gym’s spacious lobby, where vendors promote everything from fancy granola bars and health drinks to physical therapy and chiropractic services.
There also may be on-site health and wellness talks from local healthcare providers on topics like diabetes, fitness, nutrition, and more. Healthcare providers gain access to an audience of potential patients, while their panels are a value-add which engages gym members.
If you’re not engaging in partner marketing, start thinking about it! Although it takes some work to get started, the benefits can be enormous, primarily in exposure to new patient populations that might have been difficult to reach otherwise. The right partnerships can also be great brand-boosters, showcasing your expert knowledge and commitment to public health within the community.
Here are some basic things to consider when mulling over a potential partnership:
1. What are your goals?
What would you like your partnership to provide? For example, are you more interested in providing a public service, perhaps to the ill or less fortunate, or are you primarily looking for a platform through which to increase revenues and profits? Each could lead to better recognition and a growing practice, but it’s up to you to decide where your true passions lie.
2. Who are good potential partners?
If you are a pediatrician, perhaps you will try to partner with a leading daycare provider and spearhead important health screenings or parent information sessions. If you are a chiropractor, you might partner with an orthopedist and agree to make referrals to one another. Or, if you are passionate about a particular health cause, you could raise awareness or fundraise on their behalf, and, simultaneously, promote your brand. For example, you could participate in a cancer walk as a corporate sponsor, and get your practice name on water bottles or t-shirts.
3. Where is the need?
As an informed healthcare provider, you may be aware of charitable causes that could benefit from your expertise. Have you ever researched volunteer opportunities online or through your professional associations or connections? Perhaps a blood drive needs nurses or a clinic for the uninsured needs medical volunteers. Look for win-win situations where you can lend your expertise and skills in exchange for publicity and self-fulfillment.
4. Who will participate?
Are you looking to work on this partnership solo or do you have colleagues willing and able to help you establish and work on the project? This answer will help you decide the scope and scale of possible projects and partners.
Once you have narrowed down your focus, you need to think about how to select an appropriate partner. Here are some things to consider to focus your search and make the right decision for you and your business. Of course, simple networking at industry events, social events, or your gym or religious community could serve to land the right type of partnership right in your lap.
1. Company Culture
A cultural match for partnership companies is absolutely essential for initiating a successful deal. If you pride yourself on running an ethical, fair, and compassionate practice, your potential partners should also share these values to give your partnership the best odds for success. Don’t hold back from starting a frank discussion about this difficult topic.
2. Partnership Goals
You and your potential partners should openly discuss goals for the project(s) you are thinking of undertaking. For example, are you trying to attract more clients, improve your brand image, help the community, or achieve some combination of these? Specify your expectations for roles and responsibilities up-front.
A common question is whether you need to put the partnership agreement in writing — particularly if you already have acknowledged mutual values like trust and integrity. The answer is yes, yes and yes! Don’t invite future headaches if for any reason your partnership does not work out as planned and needs to be dissolved. Have all the answers on paper before you begin working together.
Design a way to measure your success both for your own practice and as a partnership. It may be a good idea to design a set of metrics, such as the cost of acquiring a new patient through the project, or the number of new patients garnered through a referral arrangement. You and your partner(s) should have periodic follow-up meetings to review your progress toward your stated objectives.
Developing partnerships can be a great way to expand your reach and bring new patients on board easily and efficiently. Before moving forward, however, take some time to think about what you’re looking for and an equal amount of time carefully planning out your approach. The more attention you provide beforehand, the more likely it is your approach will succeed. After all, you may not want a six-foot picture of yourself advertising some very intimate services in a gym — but the guy or gal next to you just might.