Your hospital will live or die by its brand. What can help make your brand stronger? Here are five tips to improve your hospital’s brand.
Here are excerpts from an article from Becker’s Hospital Review by Lindsey Dunn after interviewing Steve Rivkin, founder, Rivkin & Associates, a healthcare branding and communications consultancy, and co-author of Repositioning: Marketing in an Era of Competition, Change and Crisis (McGraw-Hill, 2010).
1. Think of your brand as a promise. A hospital’s brand is a promise of what the consumer should expect and how the hospital will perform. Think about a brand in the same way as a person’s reputation. You earn a good reputation by doing the right thing, doing it well, and doing it consistently. And just like a reputation, a brand is a living entity — it evolves, and it is enriched or undermined by your actions.
2. Understand your strengths, weaknesses. Any hospital’s branding efforts should begin with an understanding of its market share, strengths, weaknesses and consumers’ perception and beliefs about its services. Consumer research should ask community members what they think is important when choosing a hospital, how the hospital is perceived and how it compares to competing facilities. This research will reveal if the hospital is preferred, and if it isn’t preferred, will give some indication of why it’s not preferred.
Mr. Rivkin notes that consumer perceptions don’t always match reality, but it’s perceptions that influence volume.
It’s action first, communications second. Eighty-five percent of changing a perception is what you actually do, and only 15 percent is what you say about it.
3. Differentiate. After identifying areas of strength and improvement, hospitals should determine what differentiates it from competitors and whether that point of differentiation is important to consumers. Potential differentiators include:
• The patient experience— for instance, best customer service/patient satisfaction scores in the market;
• Centers of excellence for specific service lines;
• Heritage/history in a community;
• Highest rated physicians;
• Industry awards received (top hospital lists, Magnet status, etc.);
• Newest technology/cutting-edge procedures; and
• Widest range of services in market area.
4. “Sell” the brand to employees first. After determining how a hospital will position itself, hospital leaders should sell that identity or brand first to its employees. “Your workforce is a critical part of a branding program. Everything starts with your own people. Don’t expect to persuade the folks outside about much of anything, unless the people inside believe it first.”
5. Market the brand and connect it to the bottom line. After gaining buy-in from employees, hospitals should take their branding messages to the public through public relations efforts, advertising, direct marketing and other methods. Hospital marketers should be careful to quantify the results of all efforts. Measuring return on investment will direct hospitals toward the most effective marketing tactics.
Your brand is one of your hospital’s most valuable assets. Great attention should be given to its care. The stronger the brand the more successful your hospital will be.