Q: I am a plastic surgeon and one of four investors creating a videotape to help women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This is a high-quality video that includes interviews with experts and 3D animation. We expect to complete the video soon, but we need some marketing advice to get it into the hands of people who can benefit from it. This is a for-profit venture, with partial proceeds to be donated after expenses are met. Marketing suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Virgil Willard, MD
A: Your video sounds like a wonderful tool to help breast cancer patients. But before I can give you any specific advice, I need a little more information. For instance, do you intend to market this product nationwide, or are you looking at more of a regional effort? If you want national exposure via mass media, then you will need a fairly hefty budget and some help from a firm with expertise in that area. Also, are you looking at working with clinics, hospitals, individual physicians, insurance companies, rehab facilities, HMOs or PPOs, companies that sell undergarments for mastectomy patients, women's health magazines, health clubs, major corporations that cater to women's needs, etc.? In other words, you need to focus your efforts.
Keep in mind, as well, your ability to deliver the goods. How will you handle taking orders and fulfillment? Will you deal exclusively with one company that might want to sponsor the video as a value-added piece they provide, or will a magazine or journal advertise your product with you responsible for getting the video into the right hands? I suggest you decide who you want to deal with and then get some professional assistance from a reputable marketing firm to devise a suitable plan of action.
Q: I am a new physician in town, meeting many other physicians who could potentially refer clients to me. My problem is lack of small talk. I've run out of the usual "I moved from . . . , I trained in . . ." topics. Any advice?
Joel Vandersluis, MD
A: Networking and small talk are important parts of your professional growth, and if they are not done well, they can move you two steps back instead of one big step forward.
My two guiding principles when it comes to good conversation are these:
1. Be an excellent listener. Listening skills are your best asset in networking situations. To be a good listener, you have to pay attention. Focus on the speaker, respond with "uh-huh," "I see" or something similar, and do your best to look interested and friendly.
Part of this package also means you need to be prepared to ask good questions. Try to think of something out of the ordinary, or think of an original way to ask a common question. Also, come up with an original way to introduce yourself. Don't just say your name and your specialty; think of something that really singles you out and makes people want to know more about you and your business.
2. Be other-oriented. Talk for a short time, then move on to getting the other person to talk about himself or herself. Being other-oriented means gently drawing information from other people, being careful not to interrogate. Pay close attention to the things they say. People love it if you remember their name, spouse's name, children's names and so on. Jot down notes on the back of exchanged business cards, including anything that was unique about that person.
Above all, look for ways to connect with them. Work on volunteer projects, offer to lend a book or ask about trying a new restaurant. Keep up on current events and local issues. Don't overlook the obvious, either--sports, the arts, funny experiences, travel, great movies and so on.
Leann Anderson is the owner of Anderson Business Resources, a Greeley, Colorado, company specializing in customer service, marketing and business etiquette. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org