The New Year is here and that means it’s time to revisit marketing budgets and decide how to deploy those precious advertising dollars. Here are five key campaigns you should prioritize when rolling out your 2018 marketing strategy:
- Primary Care: Primary care doctors are the concierges of medical care, directing patients to specialists and other healthcare institutions when additional care is needed. That means they have a major influence over patients’ decisions about where to go for care. Interestingly, marketing toward PCPs is often overlooked when establishing a hospital marketing budget – and that’s unfortunate when you consider they are among the most important drivers for a hospital’s business growth. Ideally, you need to dedicate some of your marketing budget to helping local primary care providers understand your brand, mission and quality measures so they can feel confident recommending your hospital to their own patients.
- New Movers: Yes, longtime community residents are important for your hospital’s bottom line as well as its future growth, but many have developed some loyalty to your competitors and “wooing” them away can be difficult. You’ll have more success building market share by reaching out to people who’ve just moved into your community and have not yet developed strong connections to local healthcare providers. Making a special effort to attract them to your hospital and its providers can deliver a much higher ROI for your marketing dollars.
- Top Service Line: Much of your positive reputation is driven by the quality care provided by your top one or two specialties. Not only do these service lines generate a considerable portion of your facility’s revenue, they also help build up the institution as a whole, conferring a certain status that helps build brand and attract community support. Directing a dedicated portion of your marketing resources toward promoting these service lines means an enhanced reputation and continued growth.
- Employee Recruitment: Just like last year, 2018 is expected to be a year of tremendous staffing shortages at all levels of healthcare. Developing a compelling and targeted campaign to attract workforce candidates should be at the top of your marketing to-do list. From effective digital strategies to job fairs, identifying and targeting the best prospects and then engaging them through the hiring process can be a time-consuming and costly exercise. Keeping the existing staff engaged (see below) and happy means less turnover – and that means major savings.
- Internal Audiences: Truly successful organizational branding requires “buy in” from all levels of staff as well as key stakeholders. It’s a problem area when you consider that Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace report shows that “just 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their jobs.” When your staff and board are excited about the organization and the work it’s doing, there’s a “trickle down” effect that builds momentum and drives future growth. Internal branding promotes greater satisfaction and loyalty among employees while also creating word-of-mouth promotion that builds positive community awareness. The goal here is to align your core objectives with the goals of your staff and stakeholders to activate the brand on a more personal and emotional level. Truly invest in activities that help your key personnel understand and feel motivated by your hospital’s mission and objectives.
2018 is poised to be a year of increased competition for healthcare facilities across the U.S. To build your hospital’s bottom line and fuel its future growth, you need to start early and plan well.
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Healthcare marketers face the unique challenge of working in a highly-regulated, conservative industry that has been slow to invest appropriately in digital marketing. That mindset is changing because health-related searches are among the top three online activities in the world and healthcare marketers who don’t keep up will be quickly left behind. Consider these messaging on web pages to help guide prospective patients to the appropriate action. A recent case study by St. Thomas Health showed that over 50% of their new patient revenue came from strategically placed web graphics on their hospital website.
The Skinny: It’s easy to get caught up in the glamour of various digital marketing channels when kicking off a new campaign, but the fact is the hospital website is the fundamental digital platform. It is important to understand the path of the healthcare consumer as it relates to the current website (both mobile and desktop traffic). In most cases, it is already seeing an extremely high volume of brand driven patient prospects who are seeking healthcare services. Optimize that path before setting out to drive more traffic to and from other platforms.
How good is your content?
The Strategy: Evergreen content will help organic Google listings, and sponsoring it will get it in front of highly targeted audiences based on age, gender, location, historical search behavior and interest. According to Forrester Research, 81 percent of people find their desired destination through a search engine. This demonstrates an appetite for helpful content from reliable sources.
The Skinny: According to Pew internet Research, 72 percent of U.S. internet users have looked online for health information in the past year (2015). Content is indeed still king and, if done correctly, will help fuel your marketing machine for years to come. Below are some tips for content production:
Quality is king: With so much content available today, it is more important than ever to ensure that your content is relevant to your target audience. Target your content around what sets your company apart from the local competition.
Context is king: Ensure your “voice” is appropriate for the platform. Not every piece of content needs to be a blog post or article. Every social network has its own rules, so be sure to know those rules so you are taking part in the conversation and not shouting over everyone else in the room.
Micro moments: Google’s research of how consumers use mobile as part of their buying decision is important in understanding today’s “on the go” audience. This concept of “Be there, be useful and be quick” is a great roadmap to winning the mobile web.
How will you measure success?
The Strategy: Align marketing channels with the patient sales funnel to help track the customer journey and successes along the way. In some cases, educated math can be done in order to establish value when certain financial data is not available for marketing measurement purposes.
The Skinny: When asked about marketing ROI, Paul Matsen, CMO at the Cleveland Clinic said “CMOs have long struggled with the best ways to identify a single `silver bullet’ measure, such as return on investment, to judge marketing performance. ROI is a powerful indicator, but it’s difficult to measure every social media program, advertising campaign or media story.”
To his point, it takes varying levels of brand building and direct response to efficiently market a healthcare product or service over the lifecycle of the patient-hospital relationship. Brand awareness channels are still an important part of the marketing mix and cannot necessarily be justified by lead generation or direct response data.
Any marketing mix must be agile enough to adapt to new opportunities over time. Use campaign data as a roadmap and test new ideas in small batches. The healthcare industry has been slow to adapt to digital marketing as pointed out in a recent article by EVR President Jeff Eisenberg, but a well communicated plan should help healthcare CMO’s grow their brands effectively.