A Twist on the Traditional Imaging Marketing Strategy

August 1, 2013

Here’s how one imaging facility took a less traditional approach to market its practice with bold and creative brochures.

MINNEAPOLIS - You’re on a first date, and it’s going well. To get that second date, you hand over a brochure about yourself, along with a business card and a referral pad.

No? Doesn’t sound right?

According to Martin Farrell, the founder of Arista Medical Imaging, an open MRI facility, if that’s not what you would do to win over a love interest, it’s not what a medical imaging company should do to score referrals.

“We get so caught up in the technology side of things,” said Farrell, speaking this week at the AHRA 2013 annual meeting. “We oftentimes forget we’re dealing with people. So we need a meaningful way to engage in conversation with a referring office and patients.”

The way to do that, he said, is simple: Ask questions. Get clients talking about themselves. And eventually they’ll start asking questions about your organization.

Farrell said he still sees the value in entering a referring office with marketing materials in hand. He likened it to holding a drink on a dance floor: It may not make much sense, but it helps to fit in and it provides a sense of security. So he worked with his team to figure out a way to create a handout that would spark a conversation, but still give his sales representatives the security of having a physical document to reference.

And the documents are a little out of the ordinary. The idea came about when Farrell heard that an employee at one of his referring offices said his facility had “the weakest magnet in the marketplace.” He was watching Mad Men at the time, and inspired by the character Don Draper’s quote, “If you don’t like what’s being said, then change the conversation,” he decided to do just that.

He contracted with a design firm and created his first in a series of monthly brochures. This one said “The Weakest Magnet in the Valley,” in a big, bold typeface on the front cover. He said he was going for shock value. He wanted to get people talking. The tongue-in-cheek brochure then went on to explain the misconceptions surrounding MRIs in smaller text.

Farrell loved it. But his sales reps wouldn’t hand them out. “I, as the leader, hadn’t engaged my own staff in my focus,” he said.

The next time around, he involved his staff in the creative development of the marketing materials, and he said his employees got on board with the strategy. The results he’s seeing now, Farrell said, include increased sales activity and better conversations with patients and referring offices.

The brochures still have splashy text on the front cover, but now they each have a theme that ties in with the current month - think love in February, New Years resolutions in January, the beach in July. The insides of the handouts feature quizzes and infographics related to the theme: What’s your love language? What kind of beach are you? A “chilly beach”? A “diva beach”? Farrell said his team distributes about half of the brochures to referring offices and the other half to patients. Then they keep records of their clients’ answers to the quizzes on file.

“Now we know who these people are and it helps us better have a conversation with them,” he said.