AHRA: 7-step marketing plan propels breast imaging into spotlight
DALLAS—Radiology services marketing can be viewed as a seven-step process, explained Mike Suddendorf of Premier Radiology Marketing in Columbus, Ohio, at an educational session Aug. 14 at the annual meeting of the AHRA.

Marketing often presents a challenge for radiology departments as there is typically limited access to hospital marketing staff, shared Suddendorf. Despite the disconnect, imaging touches nearly every patient who comes to the hospital.

“There is an opportunity to leverage radiology as an expertise, not a commodity,” opined Suddendorf.

Suddendorf shared a seven-step plan and a case study, illustrating each step in action:
  1. Create the vision. Start with the current state and define the desired future state.
  2. Create the value proposition. Determine how the service meets customers’ needs.
  3. Identify key audiences.
  4. Define the key message. Determine what differentiates the practice from the competition.
  5. Prioritize tactics and the budgets. Identify which steps will maximize the marketing investment and what will resonate with the target audience.
  6. Create a timeline and accountability chart.
  7. Measure results and celebrate accomplishments.

Suddendorf applied the process as he created on ongoing breast imaging marketing plan for a 70-physician radiology practice.

Seven steps in action
In 2010, the current state of the practice was mixed. It had 12 breast imaging subspecialists, but at the same time, there was general confusion among women about the value of screening mammography after the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines were revised in November 2009.

The practice set a few goals: to establish a relationship with the Susan G. Komen Foundation, enhance its position as a breast imaging market leader, maintain or grow mammography value and position itself for a local philanthropic award.

The value of the project varied by the key audiences. For Komen, it provided assistance with the foundation’s mission. The project also was designed to provide education and awareness about screening mammography for women and referring physicians.

Key messages focused on the availability and importance of subspecialist expertise and included practice locations to steer women to the appropriate centers.

The primary tactic for the project centered on official sponsorship of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure event. Suddendorf extended the practice’s marketing budget by partnering with a local automobile dealership in marketing and sponsorship activities, engaging the hospital and staff in the project and collaborating with the Komen public relations team.

An internal advisory team assisted in the development of project goals and timeline.

The project achieved its desired outcome, according to Suddendorf. It established a relationship with the Komen Foundation, boosted breast imaging volume and increased its visibility in the community while raising awareness about the value of screening mammography in the local community.

In addition, the project garnered a silver award for cause-related marketing from the Radiology Business Management Association, and the Komen foundation awarded a grant for a mobile mammography unit.

Marketing, he continued, is an ongoing process. This year, the practice decided to focus on awareness and relationships. Tactics include expanding relationships and creating synergies to build the brand.

The practice focused on building relationships with local organizations including the Young Survival Coalition and Jewish Community Center. Once again, Suddendorf stretched marketing investment by leveraging the practice's relationship with a local orthopedic group in a collaborative marketing campaign.

The upshot? Marketing campaigns should be data-driven, goal-driven and measurable.

For more about breast imaging and marketing breast imaging, please read Health Imaging’s September cover story—“USPSTF Guidelines Two Years Later: The Fallout Continues.”