Could grassroots marketing be the key to radiology education?

The future of radiology education could lie in a more personal approach to marketing, three medical experts are suggesting in this month’s edition of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

“Radiology departments, now more than ever, need an effective marketing strategy to ensure future business and growth,” first author Chananda Lall, MD, MBA, and colleagues wrote in the editorial. “As a continuously evolving field, there is a need for timely communication of new services or capabilities and a vision for new imaging services lines.”

Traditional marketing methods typically mean big bucks, the authors wrote, but focusing on a simpler marketing strategy could save radiologists money while expanding the scope of their reach. Lall et al. suggested grassroots marketing—a back-to-the-basics method that involves conveying succinct, targeted messages to smaller groups through word of mouth and social media—as a way to produce better results with less effort.

Grassroots marketing allows radiologists to control their narrative and act as their own best media agent, the authors wrote. It also allows the physicians to establish local presence, network and flex their creative muscle when speaking with referring doctors, trainees and patients during the day.

“Radiologists can serve as a bridge for physicians, trainees and, perhaps most importantly, patients, and are called upon to find an opportunity and seize it,” Lall and co-authors said. 

Social sites like Facebook and Twitter are effective in this kind of marketing, but making a physical effort to reach out to colleagues and inform those around them of new imaging efforts and trends could help a radiologist most, the authors wrote. Sending out newsletters and using social media to promote radiology’s message and solidify its importance in the clinical setting can also work.

Grassroots marketing works because it’s not big media, Lall and colleagues said. Since messages are being conveyed by word of mouth rather than through newspapers or radio spotlights, radiologists have the opportunity to generate more excitement among their consumers and build personal relationships.

“Investing time and interest in marketing toward medical students benefits the field of radiology in the long term,” the authors wrote. “By educating students, we not only nurture them into becoming great physicians, but gain future allies for our specialty. Radiologists are encouraged to embrace grassroots marketing as they look to expand imaging service lines and add greater value to patient care.”