One of the biggest lessons of 2020 was learning to pivot. Change is now the normal in healthcare. This makes creating long-term marketing plans challenging. Instead, it’s more efficient to implement short-term plans and revisit strategy, goals and objectives mid-year to determine what’s working and what’s not.
With the calendar year more than halfway over, two marketing tactics on everyone’s minds are artificial intelligence (AI) and Threads. If you haven’t already, give both a try. With 100 million users joining Meta’s Threads app in less than five days, it’s the fastest-growing social media platform in history. While no one is predicting Twitter to disappear anytime soon, the competition might bring order to its chaos.
No technology since the launch of the internet has generated as much excitement as generative AI. In two months, ChatGPT also had 100 million users. Instead of fearing it, become familiar with its capabilities. Use it to kickstart a revised marketing plan. As the adage goes, “You won’t be replaced by AI; you’ll be replaced by someone using AI.”
While fine-tuning plans, consider four primary audiences and their expectations:
- External audiences—patients/consumers
- Internal audiences—employees/physicians
- Marketing team
What Consumers Want
According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, consumers overwhelmingly distrust government, media and institutional leaders. However, trust in healthcare remains stable at 70%.
Healthcare marketers can strengthen that trust, primarily by listening to patients. Understand what they want and expect at different stages of their care journey. Conduct surveys, hold focus groups and monitor online conversations. Ask for consumer input and then deliver on the feedback.
Convenience and customer service expectations also remain high with consumers. Industry statistics show that customers who experience excellent customer service are three times more likely to recommend that brand to others. However, 66% of consumers say a bad interaction with customer support can ruin their day, and 73% of them are likely to switch to a competitor.
The pandemic prompted people to seek social interactions where they feel safe and comfortable—like Norm walking into Cheers “where everyone knows your name.” Review where you can increase personalized experiences. Customize content, emails and campaigns to individuals. Audit touch points to ensure that you’re responding quickly to requests and implement convenient one-click processes wherever possible.
What Employees Want
Few workforces have been hit harder than healthcare over the past three years. Weathering shortages, burnout, the great resignation and quiet quitting, hospital leaders increasingly look to marketing departments to help reengage employees. In a recent survey of 500 human resource leaders, 52% want marketing involved in employee experience programs to help drive market perception.
Communication departments can help create clear, targeted messages that resonate with internal groups. Analyze messages carefully to deliver what audiences want to hear. Just as asking for patient input, ask for feedback from internal audiences. Listening to employees has dual benefits—they can also tell you what customers want and how to get there.
Use internal marketing campaigns to promote employee benefits such as on-site wellness rooms, mental health resources, recognition programs, additional PTO or other initiatives that prioritize their well-being.
What the Media Wants
The importance of trusted public health communication has never been more critical. The newest pandemic is disinformation, which could become a bigger challenge with misuse of AI. For communications teams, building partnerships with the media is beneficial for both sides and particularly for the public.
Journalists want to hear from communications professionals. According to the 2023 Cision State of the Media report, they believe the most trusted sources of information are major newswires and press releases.
Maintaining credibility as a trusted news source is among their top priorities, as is ensuring accurate content and addressing issues in the community.
Here are some tips for maintaining productive relationships with media contacts:
- Position physicians, hospital leadership and other spokespersons as credible experts.
- Leverage market data—original research, trends, polls, surveys—to make yourself indispensable to them.
- Monitor social media for trending topics that you can localize; they’re using social listening as well.
- Email pitches and releases; don’t pitch on their social channels.
- Know reporters’ beats and audience; irrelevant pitches get you blocked as does aggressive outreach and follow-up—once is enough.
What the Marketing Team Wants
As with other target audiences, monitor the needs and expectations of your own marketing department. There are lots of shiny objects bouncing around. Pick one or two major priorities and concentrate on improving marketing efforts in that area.
Not surprisingly, research shows that 80% of marketing professionals want to improve and streamline internal operations. Does your current budget include project management platforms and automation to do this? If not, spend time with the team to review recommendations for tools that benefit everyone. Otherwise, segmented platforms that make one person’s job easier can negatively impact others’ workload.
Producing marketing content faster, larger staffs, bigger budgets and managing expectations typically top the wish list of every healthcare marketing department. In the meantime, while heading into the last part of the calendar year, revisit strategy, goals and objectives to make sure marketing efforts connect with the healthcare system’s mission, vision and goals. There’s always next year to ask for more budget.
TotalCom is a full-service marketing agency helping brands like yours tell their story to the right audiences. Email Lori Moore or call TotalCom Marketing Communications at 205.345.7363 to see how TotalCom may be the right fit for you.