What Doctors can teach us about Marketing.

Posted by on January 26, 2010 in Blog, Uncategorized | 0 comments

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 Marketing hype today is all about so-called “viral marketing”.  If your budget is big enough, and you want to embrace internet technology, almost any viral marketing company will get you to throw some of your budget their way.  The truth is though that viral marketing is nothing new:  Doctors have been doing it for years, at a fraction of the cost. In fact we’ve been paying them to do it. Let me explain.


I’ve always wondered why anyone would bother making an appointment with their General Practitioner.  Let’s be honest!  You have a 12H30 appointment and when you arrive in good time, say at 12:15, the friendly receptionist asks your details and what time your appointment is.  At this point I’ve always wanted to reply with some sarcastic comment but I’ve ultimately resigned my self to the fact that she’s just doing her job.  Does any person actually arrive hours before their appointment?  If she doesn’t know you’re coming, why does she just happen to have your file on the desk?  And, isn’t the information in there confidential anyway?  I really don’t want her to know what the result of my last prostrate exam was!


It wasn’t long ago that my file wasn’t on her desk when I arrived, and while I waited for the receptionist’s assistant to find it (receptionists have assistants?!? So that’s where my money goes to!) a midget came in and announced himself to the receptionist.  “Good Morning Mr Jones.” She smiled.  Then she told to “please take a seat over there and be a little patient.”  I couldn’t contain myself!!


That’s the standard practice anyway.  You arrive early and then you wait…and wait…and wait.  Of course doctors try to make their waiting rooms (aptly named) as comfortable as possible.  They provide lush couches – I lie; they provide the narrowest, hardest chairs they can find.  Probably relics from a Russian Gulag.  They also provide you with stimulating reading material.  Anything you could possibly be interested in as long as its found in the Readers Digest, You or Huisgenoot.  Dating back to 1986… and this is where Viral Marketing got it’s humble beginnings/


You see, over the previous 24 months, hundreds of people have sat in that seat, sick as a dog, and flipped through the ancient magazine. Every one of them licking their finger and turning the top of the page. Touching the exact same spot you’ve just touched. Do I need to explain the concept of transference?


If researchers could find human excrement and semen on escalator handrails, imagine what bacteria and other dangerous stuff they could find on the magazines and arm rests of chairs in doctors’ rooms?


Transference could then very well result in you arriving at your doctor’s with flu, and leaving with swine flu or triple AIDS (disclaimer: the medical facts may be somewhat distorted to make a point – I’m not a doctor). All of which will conspire to get you back to the doctor within a couple of days or weeks for another check-up and more medication. This soon becomes a self-perpetuating vicious circle aimed at keeping you sick, your medical aid on the defensive and your doctor in his new German or Italian sports car, while his kids live it up at a Private School.


In a future article I’ll have a look at why doctors still call their place of work a “practice” and why studying for 15 years doesn’t appear to be much help.

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