Medical Marketing and Stephen Covey’s Second Quadrant

Many years ago, I received much enlightenment and inspiration (as did many others) from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People. A mentor had gifted me a copy of this seminal work. As part of Covey’s third habit, “Put First Things First,” he instructs readers to organize all responsibilities into a four-quadrant matrix differentiating “Urgent vs. Not Urgent” on one axis and “Important vs. Not Important” on the other.

The point of the exercise quickly reveals itself: If we hope to be effective, we must first focus on those things that matter. We must stop distracting ourselves with frivolous activities. More to the point, we must find the discipline in ourselves to invest in vital long-term initiatives that aren’t necessarily pressing. These are things like planning, exercise, education/training, writing blogs, relationship- and team-building efforts, etc.

In Stephen Covey’s organizational vernacular, these important but not urgent matters are called Quadrant II activities.   

Successful people and businesses prioritize Quadrant II activities and have the discipline to routinely invest time in that area, while less successful enterprises spend all their energy on urgent and important matters without ever pivoting to less-urgent items. The least successful among us are frequently distracted by unproductive (unimportant) activities—urgent or not.  

So how does Stephen Covey’s Quadrant II relate to digital marketing in the medical space? Hopefully, the fog is already lifting, but to be clear: Competition to remain highly visible online is fierce for elective healthcare and medical practices, so effective digital marketing—the kind that actually delivers patient inquiries and doesn’t just look flashy—is vital. BUT, no one would argue that the exercises of building a new website or continuously promoting a practice online are urgent efforts if a practice is on fire, facing bankruptcy, or being flooded. In other words, effective digital marketing will produce long-term financial success that is real and visible, but it’s not urgent. Therefore, effective digital marketing is the classic example of a Quadrant II-type activity. 

Looking at the evolution of digital marketing in the realm of elective healthcare after a dozen years, the industry has fortunately evolved past the stage where some practices would deny (at least out loud) their need for a website. Those practices got beaten back and beaten down financially in the marketplace so that they had to change—or they ceased to exist. Now, practices have matured so that they “get it”: SEO, conversion, social media, and/or reputation management are all vital elements for financial success.

Imagine the frustration, however, when practices are aware of the need, become educated to the possibility of maximum ROI, and enlightened to the very tactics that will deliver said ROI … and then rather than act to win larger and longer-term gains, they remain motionless for months and years. Or worse, a practice squanders their time and money on unproductive or glitzy tactics while languishing online because they’ve chosen providers/services for short-term price considerations rather than long-term financial gain.  

As a reputable digital marketing company, MetaMed Marketing recommends and executes tactics with a proven track record to support beautiful and productive websites and other digital channels. We monitor the right performance metrics to prove ROI of the work, and then we continuously recommend and execute additional, ongoing digital tactics to further enhance SEO, online reputation, and conversion of digital marketing channels to produce even more ROI. In order to prove the extraordinary value of this approach with digital marketing, we have at times even constructed and provided conservative ROI models to demonstrate to practices the extraordinary reward of proper promotion vs. less financially proven approaches … and yet practices still won’t necessarily move forward towards the financially rewarding, Quadrant II activities of effective digital marketing.  

While the mentioned formula consistently produces more and better patient inquiries for practices, Web providers are—sadly—mostly powerless to overcome the ambivalence and inaction of some practice professionals who choose for years to procrastinate investing in these Quadrant II activities. We say “mostly” because conscientious Web providers will still attempt to surmount this hurdle through education, as we are doing with this post. Perhaps more than any other blog ever written by MetaMed Marketing, we would greatly welcome comments and feedback on what might overcome practice professionals’ inaction that risks their long-term financial success in competitive local marketplaces. Specifically, why do practices delay or ignore entirely proven digital marketing initiatives, even after they’ve learned of their overwhelming value? 


Brent Cavender

Brent Cavender is a co-founder of MetaMed Marketing. He heads up business development and marketing for MetaMed where he is the organization's chief practice educator and primary point of contact.

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