Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | October 15, 2009

Marketing: It Works Both Ways

Seeing a new patient involves both of us getting to know each other. Not only do I have to take the medical history and get a sense of the new patient as a person, but the patient is also feeling me out and getting an idea about whether or not I’m someone they can work with as a doctor. Even if they’ve heard about me — quite a lot about me, sometimes — from family or friends, there’s still the transition from stranger to friend that forms the emotional backdrop of the visit.

One thing I do to help patients get a better sense of *me* is invite them to read this blog. This is where I let it all hang out, pull no punches, say what I really mean, and generally reveal my true self to the world (scary as that may be to all concerned). People who know me have commented that I do it well; that is, what you read is what you get, both on the blog and in the book.

That’s right: it turns out the book is just as good as the blog for getting to know me without actually meeting me. And that’s precisely what happened last week.

A new patient came in for an appointment. I introduced myself, escorted him back to the exam room, and began with my usual opening line, “What can I do for you today?” And here’s how he started:

I picked up your book in Barnes & Noble and really liked it. Then I looked at the back flap and saw that you were around here. I was looking for a new doctor anyway, so I looked you up. I really liked your philosophy, so here I am.

Actually, my head started spinning right after his first sentence. Here was someone I had never met, but who already knew me (after a fashion). That was unbelievably cool nice. The flip side, though, was that he already knew most of my stories. Whenever I started trying to tell him one, I stopped and realized that he’d already read about whatever it was I was about to tell him.

I must admit that I’ve been talking up the book like crazy to my patients — along with just about everyone else I meet; I just see more patients than strangers in an average week. Still, this was the first time that the book has netted me a new patient. It turns out that marketing works both ways.

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