The unique value proposition in medical tourism… What’s yours?

How important is having a unique value proposition in medical tourism? And what are the most common marketing mistakes made?

In the medical tourism business, are there any hospitals and clinics that have a clear idea what a unique value proposition (UVP) is? How many have identified what their UVP is AND communicate this to their target audience?

According to Vivek Shukla, “Lack of a UVP is one of the most common shortcomings in medical tourism marketing.”

At the recent IMTJ Medical Travel Summit in Croatia, I was required to fill in for Vivek who was unable to secure his visa from Dubai in time to attend. Vivek’s topic was “Creating and delivering your unique value proposition”. It’s a subject that doesn’t get enough attention in our business sector. Marketing in medical travel is usually focused on advertising and promotion. But to get it right, you have to get back to marketing basics.

So… what is a unique value proposition?

Your unique value proposition:

  1. explains how you solve a problem or meet a customer need.
  2. highlights specific benefits of your product or service offering.
  3. tells the potential customer why they should buy from you.
  4. communicates how you are different from/better than your competition.

Your UVP is the sweet spot between – what you can offer, what others are not offering and what your customers need.. So, what’s yours?

Take a few minutes to write it down.

Now score it against the four statements above. Do you score 4 out of 4? What’s missing?

Common mistakes in creating a unique value proposition

In my presentation in Croatia, I selected at random four web sites that might be found by a patient considering dental tourism in Budapest, Hungary. Here are the ones I selected:

  • Smile Savers Hungary
  • Kreativ Dental
  • BBDent – BestBudapestDentist
  • DareToSmile

Ask yourself what is the UVP of each of these dental tourism providers?

Interestingly, the home page for DareToSmile has changed since I showed it in Croatia. In my opinion, it’s actually taken a step backward in terms of communicating its UVP. Here’s what it used to look like

As Vivek suggests, a common failure made in medical tourism marketing is not communicating a clear and differentiated UVP. Here are the most frequent mistakes:

It’s about me, not you

Most of the examples tell the customer. “this is what we do” not this is what we can do for you. They don’t focus on customer benefits. They focus on the provider’s products and services.

It’s not unique

In medical tourism, nearly everyone sells the same thing… price and quality. There’s little differentiation between agencies, facilitators and clinics. A prospective patient knows that they’re going to save money and get decent quality dentistry in Budapest. That’s why they have come to the web site. So, what makes one provider different or better than their competitors? Why should the patient choose your clinic/service?

Of the examples provided above, only one (the previous version of the DareToSmile web site) has a clear differentiation in terms of its main message and what is something close to a UVP:

“Get teeth like you never had before in 5 days”.

It’s confused

The BBDent site is an example of trying to get a multitude of messages across. “Save money”, Save time”, “Smile”, “best dental specialists”. Hidden away is something that could become their UVP – “individual attention”. The business is run by two dental travel coordinators. Could they focus on the “personal touch” as their UVP?

It doesn’t say what I will get

The customer is the focus of successful marketing. It’s not about you, your clinic, or your doctors. It’s about how you will meet the customer’s need. Never forget that, and always focus on what you will deliver that meets that need.

How to discover your UVP

To create your UVP, you really need to understand your customers and what they are looking for. So, here is a simple suggestion to help you to think like a customer.

Go out in to your clinic waiting area. Go and chat to a few of your customers, and ask them to complete the following sentences in their own words:

  • I came to your clinic because…
  • The things I value most about your service are…
  • You’re better than competing hospitals and clinics because…

You may be surprised by what they say.

And their responses may give you some insight into what your unique value proposition should be.

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As Editor in Chief of International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) and a Healthcare Consultant for LaingBuisson, Keith Pollard is one of Europe’s leading experts on private healthcare, medical tourism and cross border healthcare, providing consultancy and research services, and attending and contributing to major conferences across the world on the subject. He has been involved in private healthcare, medical travel and cross border healthcare since the 1990s. His career has embraced the management of private hospitals in the UK, research and feasibility studies for healthcare ventures, the marketing and business development aspects of healthcare and medical travel and publishing, research and consultancy on cross border healthcare.