As a hospital marketer, you have a big job. Not only are you marketing an overall hospital brand, but you’re marketing the individual service lines, providers, events, specialties, and offerings that make up that hospital system. And your marketing has to not only reach prospective patients, but connect with them and stand out in the saturated healthcare marketplace.
We understand the unique challenges that come along with marketing a hospital brand and the hurdles you have to jump over to present a cohesive and effective hospital marketing strategy.
Here are the top hospital marketing challenges we’ve heard from marketers in the industry and how to overcome them.
The Rise in Healthcare Consumerism & the Shift in the Modern Consumer
In the world of healthcare, consumerism is here to stay. Consumers are more informed and more involved in their healthcare decision-making than ever before. And with so many choices for healthcare, it’s the job of the healthcare marketer to connect with prospective patients throughout their decision-making process – which begins before they have any contact with your hospital – to win them over as a patient.
But in order to connect with them, you have to understand who they are, how they shop for healthcare, and what works best to build a connection with them.
In the past, healthcare marketers segmented their consumer groups largely by their demographic information: age, zip code, income, etc. But, that one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t account for the way consumers are actually looking for and engaging with healthcare brands. Nor does it take into account the different healthcare concerns consumers can experience regardless of those demographic identifiers.
So, the approach to understanding the modern consumer has now shifted to life events. Instead of demographics, in order to build a personal connection, you really have to understand how to meet consumers where they are at in their healthcare journey. One way to approach this is by looking at life events and how those events might alter the journey your potential patients are on. Then as a brand, you have to determine, "how can I be the most helpful to that person based upon where they are at in their life?"
We know that a lot of this depends on what the actual event is. Let’s say, for example, a couple is about to have their first baby. They’re in for a world of change, and they will likely have a lot of questions beyond looking for healthcare providers or a hospital at which to give birth – they're going to want to know things like what foods the mother needs to avoid, when to start packing their hospital bag and what should be in it, what they need for after the baby arrives, and much, much more.
These questions are going to be very different than, say, a couple who is about to become empty nesters and may want to understand the way their health will be changing in the coming years.
So, this is where it becomes important to understand how consumers are searching and the type of information they’re looking for to orient your marketing around.
It also increases the complexity because you’re duplicating this exercise for your hospitals’ various service lines and offerings, tailoring each strategy to the consumer journey for that individual service line.
Changes in Consumer Trends & Technology
Hospital marketers are constantly analyzing consumer trends and behavior as well as marketing trends to create the most effective and cutting-edge hospital marketing strategy.
Hospitals previously relied on radio, TV, and billboards to build awareness for their brand, and while those tactics still work to build awareness, there are so many more tactics to incorporate that allow you to target consumers and build a true connection with them.
And, in our ever-digital world, you need to be targeting consumers and building that connection to stand out.
For example, 68% of consumers want to connect with their healthcare brands on an emotional level. Additionally, one report found that 63% of consumers expect personalization when it comes to how brands are marketing to them. Radio and billboard ads aren’t going to give you any type of personalization when it comes to how prospective patients are seeing you. Targeting them with content that informs and builds trust will go a lot further in establishing the emotional connection consumers crave.
Technology also plays a role in developing an effective hospital marketing strategy. Consumers are utilizing voice search for healthcare-based queries, with 50% of them saying they’ll use voice search for healthcare queries this year. So if your hospital isn’t incorporating local SEO tactics into its strategy, you could fall behind in this area.
Hospital brands are also embracing emerging technologies like VR and AR to engage with consumers and create an experience that draws them in.
Humanizing Your Strategy
Once healthcare marketers have taken into account consumer behavior, marketing trends, and emerging technology, they’re tasked with actually creating their hospital marketing strategy.
So much goes into crafting a strategy that gets your brand found while building your brand, connecting with consumers, and considering all your service lines. It’s a lot to think about.
But, again, it’s all about putting the patient first and understanding where they’re searching, what they’re looking for, and what they want to see.
A lot of that boils down to a content marketing strategy that incorporates advertising tactics to get in front of these consumers. Content marketing positions your hospital brand and your providers as experts in the field and can help your brand become a true resource for prospective patients.
Consider this: You’re searching for information on the best SPF to use on your upcoming vacation to prevent skin cancer. You run across an article from a dermatologist associated with a nearby hospital system. Then, a few weeks later on your vacation, you’re searching for how to treat a jellyfish sting – you see an article from a different provider with that same hospital. When you perform your next healthcare-related search, you might go directly to that hospital system to see what resources they have.
And, who do you think you’ll call when you need a new doctor for your son? You guessed it: The same hospital system that’s been such a great resource for you on healthcare issues.
There’s a lot more than content marketing that goes into a great hospital marketing strategy, and we cover it in more detail here.
Getting Stakeholders on Board
Another common hospital marketing challenge many marketers face is getting their stakeholders on board with their strategy or with a new idea. An impactful marketing strategy comprises multiple tactics that work together to influence consumers throughout their healthcare buying journey, which means that one tactic may seem like it’s not pulling its weight, when, in reality, it’s contributing to overall ROI.
There are several ways you can get your stakeholders on board. Using data can be one of the best and most effective ways to help stakeholders visualize how marketing is working throughout the consumer journey.
You can find this data through Google Analytics by setting up goals and tracking the various touch points a single consumer has had with your marketing and with your website.
How We can Help
At LOCALiQ, we understand these challenges because we’re helping hospital marketers achieve their unique goals every day. We partner with healthcare systems across North America to help them develop and implement effective hospital marketing strategies and then provide transparent and accurate reporting they can take back to their stakeholders.
Our team also has access to a wealth of data and analytics from our healthcare campaigns as well as from our over 125 million consumers in the USA TODAY NETWORK. This data coupled with our expert technology and cutting-edge solutions empowers our teams to deliver results for healthcare marketers.
We’d love to talk with you to find out how we can partner for success. Contact us today to get in touch with one of our healthcare marketing experts.