Tell me what an advertisement promoting a doctor looks like.
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Having issues trying to visualize one? You’re not alone. Singapore’s Ministry of Health is notorious for having one of the strictest, most draconian sets of medical marketing regulations in the world. Compared to the glitzy streets of Seoul where brightly lit displays of plastic surgeons and their jaw-dropping before and after photos are commonplace, Singapore’s districts remain a completely barren wasteland in terms of medical advertising.
Above – an unsubtle deluge of advertisements promoting plastic surgery in Seoul
Singapore’s guidelines are so incredibly strict to the point that a doctor can’t even use any form of laudatory language on themselves in any form of public collateral or press. Yes, anything that even suggests they might have an edge over any of their competitors isn’t kosher. You’d imagine for a traditional marketing agency, these shackles on marketing jargon and nomenclature pose several problems.
Enter Healthmark, Singapore’s only bespoke medical marketing agency. While there might be some local agencies fluent enough with medical regulations to consider themselves competent in marketing doctors, Healthmark takes it a step further; bespoke marketing with a different plan for each and every one of their clients.
Founded by Nate Wang and Alvin Tang in 2016, Healthmark may be relatively young but their impact as bespoke medical marketing specialists has been nothing short of impressive. They’ve designed marketing campaigns for some of the top plastic surgeons, aesthetic doctors and even specialists practising in Singapore.
“We don’t use templates.” says Mr Wang, “The patient experience that every doctor gives is incredibly unique. The clinic, the staff and the entire experience from consultation to treatment offer different challenges that we believe has important implications in how we market and present a doctor. It’s also the case that for every medical niche has very different strategies for what works and what doesn’t in terms of marketing.”
“Doctors practising in Singapore face a unique set of challenges.” Mr Tang adds, “They’re providing a highly specialized, high premium service, yet doctors generally don’t think like ruthless, bottom-line driven businessmen. At the end of the day, they’ve got a Hippocratic commitment to their patients. When we design campaigns for our doctors, a lot of it isn’t about just churning revenue but also retaining the medical ideals espoused by that doctor.”
Two of the pillars of Healthmark’s overall marketing strategy is nothing new to the industry: a strong concerted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effort for carefully curated industry keywords and an aggressive Google Adwords campaign. Consulting is the third, essential one. “The medical industry is in constant flux,” Nate explains. “Newfangled technologies, outdated procedures falling out of vogue, social trends like what look is popular at the moment; the list goes on. Without being deeply ingrained and tuned in to the medical scene, we wouldn’t be able to provide proper advice on the direction that our doctors need to take.”
Healthmark takes a counterintuitive and almost bizarre approach towards marketing their services to potential clients; a glance at their corporate website, www.healthmark.sg, reveals that they brand themselves as having “premium prices”. Yes, that wasn’t a typo. On top of that, they boast an extremely exclusive client list that remains highly discreet.
“As you’d imagine, we have a highly limited number of spots. The front page of Google only has 10 spots. For Google Adwords, there are only three ads per keyword. As professionals, we can’t in good conscience get our clients to spend money waging war against themselves. Hence, we only work with an exclusive and selective clientele. I’d go so far as to say every one of our clients are elites in their own medical niche.”
It remains to be seen whether or not other agencies are going to adopt this unique, high-powered approach towards medical marketing, but as it is, the people at Healthmark are definitely ahead of the curve and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.