To say the least, hospital marketing is complicated. You just can’t get patients to visit the hospital. However, it is important that you increase your customer base in order to do justice to all of the investments you have made in your hospital. The solution: market your hospital in a subtle but effective way.
Recent research from Capstrat into hospital buying trends shows that the way today’s customer’s research and purchase medical services does not match marketing strategies designed to reach them. From how they reach their target audience, how they brand their products and services, and their networks to connect with potential patients, hospital marketers need a new approach.
Hospital marketing should not be limited to branding or sales support.
It is about creating a positive connection with patients, on their conditions.
If your hospital’s marketing program focuses on any of the following, it’s time to rethink your branding strategies and the way you want to present yourself to your patients:
- Non-care focus: Hospitals that focus on luxury misunderstand why patients choose medical facilities. Patients select hospitals based on specific treatment expertise and online error-free or minimum-error medical histories.
- Overusing outbound strategies: While many hospitals still use electronic means such as TV advertising, radio, and direct email to capture their patients’ attention, the marketing world has shifted away from strategies. Instead, according to HubSpot, nearly 92% of businesses using incoming techniques like blogging, search engine optimization (SEO), and social media have noticed an increase in page traffic. their website and generate leads.
- Short-range focus: Medical marketing needs patience. Since most patients do not need immediate care, hospital marketing should focus on the long-term nature of the industry. One of your potential patients may see an ad for your hospital but not need medical services for months or even years. Persistence and patience are essential for hospital marketers trying to attract more patients.
New rules for hospital marketing
Hospital marketing has taken an unexpected turn. Some medical facilities use hotel facilities to attract and pamper potential patients. However, these luxuries do not lessen concerns about high healthcare costs. Here are some new marketing rules you need to follow to attract more patients while building a strong, health-first brand.
1.Know your product
As a medical marketer, you spend most of your time thinking about your product. How to improve it, sell it, talk about it, whom to sell it to – this is what you are paid to dwell on. But here’s what you need to know: Customers rarely evaluate your product solely against other products in the same category. They have limited money to spend but have a lot of options. And if your products are deemed less important than others in the same category, beating out your competitors may not help you win the sale.
You need to understand how your target audience perceives your product portfolio to fully understand the environment in which you operate. One of the easiest ways to get started is to make a few calls to existing patients. Just ask them what product selections they have available today and what they are considering when finalizing your product. Of course, a formal investigation would be better. Also, a survey will give you reasons to contact current and potential patients about things other than your product or service, which is a good idea.
How much of your marketing budget do you spend listening to and telling your story? Most marketers spend the majority of their budget on advertising. However, recent research has revealed surprising information about what customers value most when they buy a product. To the question “What advice would you give to marketers trying to win your business?” Empathy appears at the top of the list. So if you understand what your customers need and the challenges they face, your chances of success can increase. Listen to your patients and hear what they have to say. Don’t just assume that your product will meet everyone’s needs. So are you listening?
It is about time you introduced some fresh elements into the marketing mix. To begin with, you can design a questionnaire. If you have tried almost every “telling” strategy under the sun, why not borrow a page from the political playbook and go on a listening tour? You can consider visiting current and potential patients, without any “promotional” agenda, and try to gather intelligence and build interpersonal relationships. However, if in-person visits do not sound like a good idea with your customer list or budget, you can plan a similar survey in a virtual environment.
3.Focus on after-sales
Skilled marketers focus on making the sale, but great ones know that what happens after the sale is just as critical. This is an important lesson for marketers. In most organizations, marketers focus most of their energy on the lead-up to the sale. This is because, essentially, salespeople and marketers are judged on sales numbers and their sales pipeline. Identifying potential clients, contacting them with the right message through the right channel, closing the deal. That is a typical sales routine. However, what happens after the sale is just as important.
Imagine replicating this scenario on hospital marketing teams and patients. Why? Because most potential patients depend heavily on word-of-mouth. They call their family and friends and look up online reviews in order to learn more about your hospital. And in those environments, what you did before attracting the patient to your hospital is not important at all. They want to know what happened after a patient visits your hospital. The real story is about the patient’s experience and his or her overall journey. If you are unable to shape that story, you are likely to miss the boat.
It is essential to map out your marketing strategies based on every touchpoint in the patient journey. If you don’t spend a significant part of your total effort to what happens after a patient visit to the hospital, you have a lot of work to do. Surveys are certainly an effective way to stay in touch with patients after a consultation, and they can provide valuable feedback. Whichever strategy you choose, your goal should be to provide existing patients with the information they need to help market your services to family and friends. Turn your patients into brand ambassadors.
4.Prioritize social media
As compared to other industries, hospitals have been slow to adopt social media. Most medical facilities have only a vague idea of what they would like to accomplish, but no defined goals, objectives or methods. They just “want to be on Facebook.” Many healthcare facilities understand the value of social media but are unsure of how to get the ball rolling or get their feet wet. Having a robust social media presence that supports all facets of your marketing strategies and engages your patients cannot be implemented overnight.
For healthcare marketers, social media is an opportunity to connect with potential and existing patients, discover partnership opportunities and seek professional advice. However, as medical professionals, you must keep in mind HIPAA guidelines when promoting your hospital and services on social media. Also, some social networks indulge in data-mining practices, which may turn off some of your patients. Having said that, most social media platforms provide benefits along with the much-needed security demanded by medical marketers. Design a social media strategy and start engaging with your patients. You can provide general healthcare advice and customer support and create brand awareness. Do not discount the power of hashtags and relevant images. With the right social media strategy, your marketing reach can get an incredible boost.
5.Strengthen the content marketing
The biggest mistake in content marketing is creating content that your target audience may not connect with or describe your hospital as intended. Most content writers focus on creating sales and promotional content. Such content provides little or no value to your patients. Remember, your target audience is smart enough to identify and separate promotional content from informational content. Therefore, your efforts to sell services and honor your hospital’s brand may drive potential patients away from your website.
How to fix this problem?
Whether a hospital wants to increase its email marketing conversion rate or improve the click-through on its website, content is the key. All you need to do is to create unique, useful, and engaging content for your target audience. When a valuable piece of content is created, your readership will grow. This will gradually increase your viewership. Effective content marketing programs take time to stabilize. Do not expect a new blog to drive 100 new patients the first day. However, rest assured, if you consistently create useful and informative content, you will notice an increase in your marketing ROI.
Get the first-mover advantage
Traditionally, hospitals have been viewed as caregivers integrated into the “build and the patients” approach. Marketing and branding are not always a priority because it is important to keep costs low.
While some of the modern hospital marketing rules are playing to the strengths of online communications, traditional media continues to play a role. However, because the technology has shrunk the desktop to pocket size, greater personalization and patient engagement is the way to go. You must evaluate if your hospital is falling short and then follow these modern rules for hospital marketing. Your patients and your bottom line will thank you.
The hospital marketing rules discussed in this article can help build strong, sustainable marketing campaigns that will foster brand awareness, expand your patient base, improve your online reputation, and help you deliver on your promises.