The Medical Marketing blog focuses on how physicians can leverage the Internet to grow medical practices and apply technology to solve common business problems. The blog is led by Tony Mork, MD, an endoscopic spinal surgeon.

BLOG: What is the best ‘bang’ for your marketing dollar?

I want to emphasize the difference between a medical practice and a medical business, and remind you the business side supports the practice. Three legs support all businesses: administration, operations and marketing. For the most part, physicians live in the world of operations (no pun intended), but the most important part of any business is marketing because without new patients, there is no business. When you are not thinking of your patients, you should be thinking about the marketing of your practice.

Each new era of technology ushers in a new way for businesses to tell the world about its products and services. In the age of print, newspaper ads were the most popular for centuries. With the advent of radio, the next wave emerged, augmenting how one could communicate to prospective customers. The next medium to reach the public was television, which was a huge leap forward in our ability to reach people — combining audio and visual means of communication to create a level of vividness not seen before.

Everybody has a preferred manner in which they like to communicate and learn. Visual, as opposed to audio or kinesthetic, is the most common. When video was combined with auditory stimulation, message absorption became more powerful.

The effectiveness of television advertising is easily assessed by the costs that advertisers were willing to pay. A 30-second spot for Super Bowl XLIX set the record with a base price of $4.5 million. Although this is higher than the average ad, creating spots for TV is not inexpensive. In fact, the costs of filming, editing and running television commercials precluded all but well-resourced companies from promoting products with video. The bar to entry was a financial one and it was high.

In addition to high costs, it was hard to track results or return on investment. There were only educated guesses about how many viewers saw the ad and even less certainty about how many people bought the product after seeing the ad. This was general advertising that emphasized brand awareness as opposed to getting a direct response.

The little guy was completely excluded on a cost basis alone until YouTube arrived on the scene in 2005. Now, anyone with a camera can create compelling content and distribute it for next to nothing. Indeed, this platform may present the best possible bang for your marketing dollar for your medical practice when done properly.

Stay tuned next month to learn how YouTube can enhance your medical practice. I will also be talking about YouTube at Orthopedics Today Hawaii 2017 in Maui after the general session on Wednesday afternoon. See you there.

Tony Mork, MD, is a practicing endoscopic spinal surgeon and author of Medical Marketing Demystified, a book that teaches physicians how to leverage the internet to grow their medical practices. Mork also launched the Medical Website Academy, an educational website that highlights how to apply technology solutions to solve business problems. He can be reached at drtmork@gmail.com or www.tonymorkmd.com.