Aligning Marketing and Physician Outreach Leads to Market Share Growth

“We’d like to be the market leader in our service line.” “We SHOULD be the market leader in our service line.I heard these phrases, and more, time and time again in my role at a top medical center. The data, if available, told a different story. We decided to connect our marketing and physician outreach efforts and align our strategies to achieve our service line KPIs.

And, once we did, we achieved a three percent increase in MARKET SHARE in one fiscal year!

A move that was significant after the market share had been stagnant for at least five years.

Leveraging Internal Dynamics and Opportunities

Growing business within a healthcare system is a cross-functional team effort. As a marketing strategist, I was responsible for growing business in dedicated service lines. I shared that responsibility with the service line executives, physicians, my counterparts in physician outreach, patient experience, the call center, data analytics, and more. We began by developing a clear understanding of the respective contributions marketing and other relevant functions could make, and, above all, a shared set of revenue and related goals we hoped to collaboratively achieve with the resources provided.   

While I spent most of my research, thinking, and planning on one-to-many marketing – driven by consumer segmentation, my counterpart in physician outreach was laser-focused on individual relationship development; mainly 1:1 conversations either in person or virtually. Engaging in transparent conversations required that she worked physician outreach work tirelessly to understand what referring physicians needed, referral patterns in the data, and referral decision factors. We both had to gain trust and ensure alignment among service line executives and physicians, which can be a challenge, but necessary to achieve our goals. 

With that in mind, we needed our collective focuses to build the most robust and successful plan to move market share. Physician outreach had vital relationships and an understanding of physician needs and wants, and I had the marketing background and team of resources to help enable our success. We needed to understand and exploit that B2B and B2C marketing efforts are intertwined for referring physicians as they see marketing messages in the community from my efforts, so we needed to coordinate our work. “Physicians are consumers too, and in many ways, their expectations align with those of patients,” says John McKeever, Executive Vice President, Chief Growth Officer in a recent article on Consumerism in Healthcare. I couldn’t agree more. So, what did we do? 

What Were the Keys to Growing Our Referrals?
  • Marketing and outreach became a united team. We wrote our annual strategic plan together and aligned our messages in market. 
  • We met with service line executives and physicians on a regular basis driving the conversations around the plan, operational readiness, changing priorities, etc. We brought our expertise and knowledge from the market – consumers and physicians – to these conversations. Together, we combined our expertise on B2B and B2C marketing. We elevated referring physician concerns to leadership for next steps.  
  • We remained transparent with each other and, through daily conversations, shared all that was happening never assuming that a change didn’t have an impact to the other’s work.  
  • We built processes and systems to enable a more efficient and effective way to get creative work from the Marketing team. When possible, we looked to use consumer materials for referring physicians or to see if a slight variation could be made to maximize the budget.  
  • We spoke to the call center leadership team and operational teams throughout the year to understand any operational issues that could impact referring physicians experience with our organization and would work to proactively communicate and set expectations.   

And, after a year of consistently working as a united team we looked at the data. It told a new story – a three percent increase in market share – a business goal that we built upon the next year.  


Melinda Sommerfeld BASA

Marketing Advisor

Melinda is a resourceful virtual leader with 20 years of experience in strategic planning, marketing, advertising, communications, project management and client relations management. She has exceptional communication skills and a recognized ability to create and manage cohesive productive virtual and co-located work teams across various industries including healthcare services and software products.

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