Healthcare · Marketing Strategy

Who to target first when launching a marketplace?

Balal Ahmad Tech Entrepreneur, founder of a product based company - looking for businessy co-founder

July 26th, 2016

We have been working on development of a freelance market place for healthcare professionals.....idea is of on demand healthcare at patient's doorstep. The good old house calls of healthcare professionals (doctors, nurses, elderly care(geriatrics), child care professionals, physiotherapists etc etc)... the healthcare professionals are to register with us and patients to search and book their appointments online............ difference between this and the current on-demand house call portals (like pager in US) is that we don't hire doctors....We are basically uber x freelancer for healthcare professionals.

I am a single founder and I do have some constraints as well... with limitation of marketing budget the top of the list : ) obviously! Once I have gained some traction, I can always look for investment. But until that time I have to get maximum registrations in shortest time possible.

So we have a catch 22 here..... who should we target first ........... Healthcare professional registration or patient registration? 

The reason for posting it in discussion is to hear your thoughts on who to target first or better! How to target both while retaining them till it is grown to its full potential!

Sivaprakash Murugamalai Solution Architect | Project Manager | Agile Coach | Digital Commerce | SAP Technology Solutions

July 27th, 2016

Balal, you are adding value to healthcare professionals by providing them an additional channel to access new customers. As long as they don't have to share their existing customers with other healthcare professionals, they will welcome your site. So, you shouldn't have any friction or resistance from these providers. 

Some of them may not want to be part of your marketplace, as it may not be a channel that they want to engage with patients, for various branding and operational reasons. You should ignore such professionals and focus on the ones that are interested. Do not attempt to build a market for every professional and patient in the world. Your market/channel may add value only to certain type of patients and certain type of healthcare professionals. Find out this value by engaging with your providers and consumers, and focus on enhancing this value. 

There may be unanticipated barriers and frictions that exist in other channels, that may be resolved through your channel. For e.g., payment methods, payment fee, on demand access etc. Try to identify these barriers and explore if your channel can enhance its value to your target consumers and providers, by removing or reducing these barriers. 

One of the challenges in the running a market is the risk of letting the consumers and providers engage outside your channel, after they have got access to each other. That is, once a patient finds a healthcare professional who meets his or her needs, then he/she may begin to access the provider directly. When this happens, your channels value reduces. I used to get taxi through a local taxi company. But I liked the taxi driver who used to pick me up regularly. Over time, I started calling the taxi driver directly instead of the taxi company. I continue to use his taxi services even though he changed his taxi company a few times. I do this because I did not see anymore value in going through the taxi company. 

So, you need to focus on the value that your market/channel provides so that the consumers and providers choose to go through your channel. Try answering the question "why should I use your marketplace?" again and again and again.

Best wishes!

Jessica Alter Entrepreneur & Advisor

July 26th, 2016

Really helpful to do a search on FD first - this topic has been covered many times over

Rob G

July 26th, 2016

Balal,  forget trying to decide which side to target first.  Target both.  don't try to boil the ocean.  define a small, narrow, strategic subset of both providers and users (buyers and sellers) and capture both sides of this small, well-defined subset. Get really good at satisfying that first niche market then expand to related markets. 

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

July 27th, 2016

The answer depends on your goals. Anyone can suggest you direct your gaze at an attractive slice or side of your market, but you have missed telling us the vision for your company. Yes, you match HCPs with patients, but that's the mechanics of it. What are you actually trying to create, what's the experience like for the ideal customer? Are your most valuable customers really the HCPs or people who need HCPs? Guessing how to generate demand doesn't work when it's unclear how you want your business/service perceived.

We can't tell you which side to pursue quite yet because we don't know what kind of business you want to work in.

Joseph Wang Chief Science Officer at Bitquant Research Laboratories

July 27th, 2016

Before you do anything, you need user validation. Find one to three people who are potential users, and they get feedback from them. Do not sell them anything but rather listen to them carefully, and incorporate their feedback in your service.

You should also be prepared for the possibility that your business model simply will not work, and that you should be in a different business. It's better to figure out sooner than latter.

One thing about freelance marketplaces is that it is one of those things that is *MUCH* harder than it sounds. Setting up a marketplace involves complicated and pretty sophisticated social interactions, and trying to set up a marketplace without feedback from the people who are intended to use it is something that is doomed to failure.

Just some things to think about:

1) Do you have the right category?  For example would oncologists and dermatologists want to use the same site?  You may find that you have different businesses with different and incompatible needs.  Or not.

2) What are the legal, privacy, social factors that hit what you are doing.  For example are you subject to any rules requiring medical data.

3) Why hasn't someone done this before?  This is usually a good question to ask.  In some cases, someone has tried this before but failed, and you can learn from how they failed.

4) Are these two things fundamentally the same.  For example, you have Uber for HCP's.  Is this something that will work in the Uber model, or is that the wrong model.

5) How does that particularly industry work, and what are the pain points for people in that industry?  You'll usually find that there is a fascinating story about how things work.  If people mention a particular pain point, then you should design the system around that pain point.

Balal Ahmad Tech Entrepreneur, founder of a product based company - looking for businessy co-founder

July 27th, 2016

<this was written before reading your last comment>

Paul! you have raised a very interesting question!!!! Our focus is the patients as they are our main customers.....but we can't focus on them without focusing on healthcare professionals first.........atleast the way I am looking at it!!!!

But I got your point ...clever clever!! : ) ......Creating the demand through the portal by registration of patients might end up us having unsatisfied customers with the portal if they can't find what they are looking for!! That's so far my take on it!! ...however!!! Let me ponder over a way around it!!! Suggestions obviously more than welcome!! : )

Balal Ahmad Tech Entrepreneur, founder of a product based company - looking for businessy co-founder

July 26th, 2016

sorry Jessica for a topic that was discussed before however, i couldnt find the answers I was looking for hence, starting the thread with initially the same question as asked before.

and thanksSivaparkash, Renan, Molly andPrem for the useful feedback.

I am inclined towards taking the path you guys have suggested. However, I have two concerns in this regards!
1: We do intend to do qualification checks by means of verification from the professional bodies of respective healthcare professional in their country of registration. However, won't this "pending" period while we doing the checks put the healthcare professionals off ? I am assuming some would appreciate, but if we start asking for degree certificates etc. from everyone to verify it (which we eventually would do), not slow our registration process..... should we just stick to a basic healthcare professional registration check with professional body atthisstage ?

2: sorry! I couldnt think of the right word right now to describe it...but politely put... do you think healthcare professionals might feel reluctant in signing up like a freelancer in fear of sounding desperate for a job ??

Cathryn Imperato Nurse Practitioner at UC Berkeley

July 26th, 2016

Balal - 

Healthcare providers expect for their license and qualifications to be verified before being allowed to practice, so I can't imagine that a verification process would be considered off-putting by anyone you want working for your service. :)


July 26th, 2016

If you register patients and doctors aren't there, what's the use? 
And if doctors register and they don't get patients, what's the point?
What you need is a marketing strategy, segmentation, branding, etc etc that can populate your platform. Everything else are just tools or ideas

Platforms that connect consumers with service providers have very specific strategic approach. It's too comprehensive to be listed here. But in a nutshell and for the sake of this discussion: narrow down on a geographic area and let it grow from there. Basically, you need a solid beta program that brings in both the patients and care providers. 

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

July 27th, 2016

Thanks Neil, I was not particularly seeking advice myself. Suggested answers in this discussion are provided for Balal's benefit. I'm sure he will consider all responses. You asked him about what his customers want. I asked him about what kind of business he wants to work in. The observation is different.