AMS revamps brand, positions as go-to resource for doctors

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Compared to industry leaders in the medical coding, billing, transcription and practice management services field, Durham, N.C.-based Applied Medical Services (AMS) was considered a smaller player despite 25 years of experience serving physicians. "We had deep industry experience but low market awareness," said AMS President Michelle Durner. "Meanwhile, the bigger players were eating up more than 75% of the market share."

Durner knew that the company had to step up its marketing efforts, or fall further behind. In June of 2004, AMS looked outside its business to get help with the task, and turned to 919 Marketing Co., a nearby Research Triangle marketing communications agency, with a number of goals in mind: increase its number of qualified leads, make AMS top of mind for physicians, increase the visibility of the company and streamline its three distinct client lists into one unified list.

One of the challenges to be met was that AMS had originally been marketing as two separate companies-AMS and Fast Chart, its transcription business-and prospects found this confusing. "The decision-making process for this market is complex and political, and includes a team of business, medical and technology partners," said David Chapman, 919 Marketing's president-CEO. "The challenge was to find a way to reach all of them with a unified message that resonates."

919 Marketing merged the two separate entities under the AMS name and developed a tagline, "Profit from our experience" that better conveyed AMS' selling proposition. This marked the beginning of a complete rebranding for the company.

In practical terms, 919 Marketing's efforts included the development of a new logo and a complete overhaul of AMS' Web site. "We created a second-generation Web site that projects AMS as a large, successful and innovative player," Chapman said. "We also strategically reworked site copy for search engine optimization so that AMS ranks high when physicians go looking for information."

Additionally, the agency established a business development program that encompassed integrated direct marketing materials with multiple touch points such as newsletters, direct mail and scripted phone calls. It also created new sales materials, including brochures, insert sheets and trade show booths.

Media relations played an integral role in the rebranding efforts and helped position AMS executives as thought leaders in the medical industry, Chapman said. "Direct marketing is absolutely necessary to achieving results, but there is no substitute for validation from respected, third-party journalists," he said. "Ads certainly help with awareness, but only in conjunction with powerful PR."

AMS has been thrilled with the results of the rebranding and ongoing direct marketing efforts. "So far, we have generated more than 300 qualified sales leads," Durner said. "Direct marketing and media relations have helped increase awareness and engage these and other prospects. We can compete with the big boys now." 

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