Healthcare organizations face tough marketing challenges


Despite the fact that there are more ways than ever to target and reach audiences, marketers face numerous challenges. And perhaps few face the number of challenges that confront healthcare marketers. Healthcare organizations must capitalize on the latest advancements in the marketing industry to create a strong brand image and appeal to a diverse base of potential and existing patients. Also, many healthcare organizations are large, complex institutions with a variety of different audiences and customers.

We sat down with Jen Roberts from Schoppechio Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky to hear how branding and marketing strategies are tailored for different initiatives. In this issue, we explore strategies for consumer-focused and provider-focused initiatives. Next month, we’ll learn about community focused initiatives, such as attracting new customers by offering services to the community.

Jen Roberts

Jen Roberts

Medical News: How do branding and marketing initiatives differ for consumer based and provider based initiatives?

Jen Roberts: When people use the term branding, generally they are thinking in graphic standards (i.e. the McDonald’s arches will never be blue, the Green Giant will never be orange). Graphic standards are a part of the brand playbook – but it’s not the only part of branding. A brand is truly a promise – not a simply a logo.

It is the role of marketing to protect and enhance the brand experience for all audiences, and as mentioned above, that experience changes by audience. It is vital to understand the decision-making journey for each audience. For example, patients select healthcare based on multiple brand touch points such as clinical expertise, patient experience, billing/payments, and so on.

We must go a step further within that category of patients–a decision for bariatric surgery is a different process than where to receive cancer treatments. And even a step further, we must assess the impact of family in healthcare decisions. Depending on the marketing objective, it may make sense to do a digital campaign for Alzheimer’s, not because the patient is technologically-savvy, but because their children (and decision-makers) are.

This same decision journey relates to recruitment of new clinicians as well as earning those physician referrals. Blending a channel and message strategy based in sound data will lead to successful branding across all audiences.

MN: What trends do you see in marketing that have not been adopted in the healthcare space, but should?

JR: Digital. Digital. Digital. We are living in a time of remarkable patient care advances. Robotic surgery, diagnostics, advanced molecular therapies – and yet we are notoriously slow to jump into the digital world. Digital communication is not a fad; it is a fundamental shift is how people communicate with each other and with organizations. Healthcare must embrace this shift and adjust marketing efforts and dollars accordingly.

MN: How is marketing in the healthcare space different than marketing to other audiences?

JR: It’s personal and it’s tough to measure. Healthcare is inherently personal, and messaging and tactics must strike a balance of informing and educating versus insulting. It’s a delicate balance.

Marketers endure the constant battle to prove ROI to CEOs, CFOs and Boards of Directors. For healthcare marketers, the math isn’t as simple as we see in retail. For example, run a promotion for widgets = sales increase = marketing worked. Healthcare marketing analytics are far more complex. The good news is we can prove the effectiveness of healthcare campaigns measured against solid key performance indicators and ultimately prove ROI.

MN: How should healthcare companies use content marketing to grow their business?

JR: It is simple, yet robust: Be engaged. Content marketing doesn’t equal original research. It can take on many shapes, such as promotion of an upcoming seminar, a blog post about a new therapy or easy-to-find FAQ’s on your web site or links to and from social media.

The key to using content marketing to grow a business is to be clear on the objectives of the strategy. Identify up front if your content marketing strategy will be used to grow brand awareness and preference, engage with an existing audience for organic growth or acquire new consumers. The objective should drive the strategy. Always.

MN: Do healthcare companies benefit from telling their value story as part of their overall brand story?

JR: Absolutely! Value propositions deliver the answers to important consumer questions. Why is this relevant? What are the benefits? Why should I get services here? Every organization, in any industry, no matter what, should have their value proposition at the ready – at all times!


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