( By Vivek Shukla )

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Seven Deadly Marketing Sins

Marketing is a simple phenomenon. You find out what is required by people and you give it to them [of course at a price]. Technical language for this is - ?find the felt needs of the target market and find ways to satisfy those needs at an appropriate price.?

Sometimes people don?t know that they want some service/product. In this case the marketer first makes them realize that they need the product/service. After the people find out that they need it, they start asking for it. The jargon for this is ? ?find the latent needs of the target market and provide ways to satisfy those needs once they become felt needs, at an appropriate price.?

Simple laws of marketing like the ones describes above are ignored by entrepreneurs. They commit, what I call marketing sins and then they pay for sins by losing business and money. I have attempted to highlight the 7 deadly sins of marketing below with an intention that people are enlightened about what not to do while marketing their hospitals/services.

  1. Arrogance. This seems to be the most common of all marketing sins. People are arrogant enough to enter a market with a service and not even care whether the service is required in that market or not. They seem to tell the world- ?this is what I have, take it or leave it.? Well, the world doesn?t care. They give a damn about what you have. Everybody is obsessed with what they want. If you?ve got what they want, you?ve got a chance of surviving. A smart way of doing business is finding out what they want and how they want it. Thereafter, telling them in their language that you have all that they want and may be even more. If they want it, they can have it at price. Gone are the days when Henry Ford said, ?Give them any colour of the car as long as it is black.?

  2. Injustice. I am so surprised at the amount of effort and money people put into marketing their services and in training their employees. Building a hospital, clinic takes a lot of money. In addition to that, installing machines, studying to get a degree, etc also costs a lot. How come, when so much is spent on building a product, there is hardly anything spent on promoting it? This is an era of competition and marketing. Millions are being spent in many industries to market the products and services. Products are being packaged, priced and promoted in many attractive ways. There are teams of people who are dedicated to marketing only. In my opinion, building a world class product is useless if it remains the best kept secret in town.

  3. Ignorance. Lets face it, if you are ignoring the image building exercises of your product, you loosing out on an opportunity to rule the thoughts of people. Every business has an image in the minds of the people. This image can be either created consciously or it gets created by default. Pro-active marketers create the image for their product by putting in well designed efforts and by using various vehicles to reach the people. They know that if they don?t do it, people will themselves create an image for their product. If Deccan Airways doesn?t create an image of a ?no frills cost effective? airline, people may say ?it is a cheap, poor quality carrier.? It is therefore smart to create a positioning in the minds of people rather than leave the job of creation to the them.

  4. Counterfeiting. Becoming a copy cat is an expensive proposition. As I always say, ?Who will go for a cheap imitation, when the original is already available?? lack of confidence prompts people to copy a successful business model. It kills the opportunity to be unique and creative. They want to be similar. Not a good idea though. A genuine person is favoured for his originality and a fake is always shunned.

  5. Impatience. How much time have we thought that a free camp did not yield results and therefore free medical camps are a waste of time? We want instant results. This is a period in the world where fast food and instant coffee rule. So why wait for results in work scenario? Well, the old and have always said, ?Good things happen to those with patience.? Perseverance is a virtue every entrepreneur should learn. It takes years to build a brand before enjoying its fruits. Preparation and execution of marketing plans, day after day, month after month and year after year is the only way out. In any case doesn?t the Bhagvad Gita say ?To action alone thy has a right and not to its fruits??

  6. Fighting the wrong battle. To attack a competitor where he is already strong is never a good idea. If the competitor hospital is known for its emergency services with the target market, you must know that the ?emergency services? place is already taken. No matter how hard you try to prove yourself better, it will be next to impossible to dislodge the position from the minds of the prospects. A bright strategy will be to find out is the competitor is perceived as weak in some area that the prospects want. For example if the same competitor is known for long hospital stay for patients, that is where you can create a place for yourself. They may be good for emergency services but they make the customers wait a long time before sending them back home. Our emergency service are also good, moreover the average stay of a patient in our hospital is 20% less than others. Attack the weakness and not the strength.

  7. Getting distracted. Losing focus of ones core competencies is very easy. An orthopaedic set up can easily fall into the trap of adding other specialties just because orthopaedics had seen success in the recent past. It is a far better idea to improve upon the existing specialty rather than create a new department altogether. The biggest harm done by line-extension is the dilution of the brand image. People already have a certain perception of your brand. Now, trying to mess with that perception causes dissonance in the minds of the target market. They start getting confused about your identity. If you had started off as a multi specialty set up in the first place, then there would have been no problems. So, stay focused and keep improving upon what you are already known for.

The lord forgives the sins of humans. After all, to err is human. Regrettably, the sins of marketing prove very costly. The jungle [market] is unforgiving. Only the fittest survive here. It makes sure you pay for your sins in this lifetime itself.

-Vivek Shukla

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