Is Precision Marketing the New Strategy for Hospital Marketing?

Many buzzwords are thrown around in the marketing field.

One of the newer ones is precision marketing, a term to describe a data-driven, individualized approach to marketing that seeks to create loyal customers through highly targeted campaigns based on customer segmentation. Its goal is to retain existing customers rather than acquire new ones.

This makes sense, given that creating a new customer costs five to 10 times as much as selling to a customer you already have. In hospital marketing, your customers are patients, and you want them to return to your providers for years of treatment rather than go elsewhere.

Is precision marketing a viable strategy for hospital marketing? Or, is it yet another new buzzword with few practical implications?

Examining Precision Marketing in Detail

The major foundation of precision marketing is using data to help drive desired patient retention outcomes. For this reason, precision marketing is most often executed using digital marketing campaigns.

Digital marketing gives a hospital access to technology that can not only reach a large number of people in a small amount of time (using a smaller percentage of a marketing budget), but can also segment these individuals and target demographics with a laser focus.

For example, a hospital that seeks to retain obstetrics patients know that the typical customer for that department is female aged 20 to 35. Using social media and digital ad buys, a hospital can focus on that demographic and spread the message about the obstetrics practice. A hospital can also use a combination of surveys, social media, email marketing, and ad retargeting to directly target and illicit data from current and previous patients to not only learn more about their behaviors, but also build loyalty through repeated outreach and touchpoints.

The idea is that a personalized approach using data is preferable to mass-market appeals, especially with such a personalized and emotional field like healthcare. Customers are getting turned off and desensitized to marketing messages, which necessitates a more personalized approach.

Incorporating Precision Marketing into a Hospital Marketing Strategy

How does a hospital take advantage of this marketing method?

A hospital must first invest in a digital strategy. Precision marketing is best used in conjunction with a fully involved, multi faceted digital marketing campaign. Only digital provides the tools to combine data collection with coordinated, personalized reach to the individual.

Additionally, a hospital must invest in data collection and analysis. There must be a more concerted effort to build in-depth profiles about typical patients and demographics. Profiles should be as precise as possible. This allows the marketing department to build customized and personalized messages to be distributed via social, email, ads, direct mail, and more.

Furthermore, a hospital should invest in technology that allows advertising dollars to be spent in a more targeted manner, instead of a mass-market approach. For example, banner ads can be useful, but what is more useful is ad retargeting – ads that target visitors to a hospital’s website and then follow them around on the Internet for up to 120 days or beyond. These are more effective in connecting with current or previous patients and encourage visitors to revisit a website – which dramatically increases their chances of seeking the hospital for services in the future.

Taking the hospital marketing game to the next level means learning to adopt what works from precision marketing and using it to fill out a hospital’s digital efforts. Adopting the approach of data collection, analysis, market segmentation, and personalized approaches using a digital framework of message delivery could be a potent combination for hospitals in today’s age.

Contact TotalCom to learn more about precision marketing in hospital marketing campaigns.

The Growing Need to Market Primary Care in Hospital Marketing

The rise of alternative ways to access primary care – namely through the advent of primary care services offered by pharmacies, such as flu shots, medication management, and health/wellness advice – poses a challenge for hospitals that traditionally have relied on the strength of their primary care physicians to attract new patients.

Now, in today’s world, patients are turning to sources outside of hospitals to find primary care providers and are turning to hospitals either for specialty services or for emergencies – leaving a hole in a facility’s patient-acquisition funnel.

This leaves contemporary hospitals with a hospital marketing challenge: attracting new patients to a system for primary care versus only conducting service-oriented marketing campaigns that emphasize a specialty.

While there is still a place for specialty service oriented hospital marketing, the time is now for hospitals to take seriously the task of promoting their primary care physicians to the public.

The Role of a PCP as a Care Manager

These days, patients look to PCPs to serve as overall care managers instead of merely being care providers.

Patients aren’t going to PCPs so much for routine care as they are advice and guidance with managing everything from prescriptions to specialty care. In this way, a PCP is a gateway provider to a wide range of specialty services that a hospital provides. The PCP, in this respect, has become the main source of referrals to more specialized services – a source that, as time as gone by, has gotten away from hospitals and into the realm of private practice and non-hospital, non-clinic providers (like major pharmacies).

The rise of the Internet has also caused the role of the PCP to change. Patients are becoming more accustomed to self-diagnosing online and contacting a PCP only for a referral to a specialist. When viewed in this context, a PCP is no longer the frontline provider but instead is a portal to other services.

Since patients are looking for PCPs to be care managers, it’s important that hospital marketing campaigns portray them as such, and promote a PCPs as trusted, reliable resources for overall health and wellness for patients, especially since our population is aging.

Hospital Marketing Campaigns for Primary Care

To remain competitive, and to be a top-of-mind choice for initial care, hospitals need to do a better job of marketing their primary care physicians and promoting them to potential patients who are always in need of medical consultation and information.

Paid Search Advertising

One direct way to reach potential customers is to use paid search ads to promote individual physicians. These days, it appears that most marketing budgets go toward specialty care, leaving individual doctors behind. But even PCPs need concerted marketing support, and paid search can offer that in the form of clicks to individual doctors’ websites from people who are searching either for PCPs themselves (such as “family doctors in _____”) or information.

Content Marketing

Each PCP on staff should also be actively involved in content marketing, in the form of contributing to bylined blogs and articles.

Since patients are searching for this information, having a PCP deliver it in a trustworthy, reliable format (that is also easy to read) is enticing to a typical patient or parent who is choosing a PCP for the family. Content ideally should come from the doctors themselves and should be informative, educational, and engaging – offering advice and consultation for health and wellness that most patients will find useful.

Social Media Advertising

Promoting PCPs on social media is also effective, especially when coupled with social media advertising targeted toward those searching for providers online. Facebook in particular is a powerful platform for promoting posts featuring content from a highlighted doctor or for creating ads specifically designed to either promote a piece of content on the website (and by extension, the doctor whose name appears on it) or the physicians themselves.

The goal in all of these channels is to promote a hospital’s primary care physicians as the first-recourse resources. The benefits of taking a primary care centered approach are numerous, but most hospitals still shy away from emphasizing primary care in their hospital marketing campaigns.

Contact TotalCom for more information on how you can forge a new hospital marketing campaign that places the spotlight on primary care and opens the gates for new patients.

 

 

 

The Challenge of Being Transparent in Hospital Marketing

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Hospital marketing professionals have a range of inordinate challenges before them when it comes to promoting a facility or system in an effective way.

These challenges stem from a variety of causes: healthcare, in today’s world, has become increasingly political and polarizing; consumers largely view healthcare as a commodity and facilities as interchangeable; consumers feel detached from the healthcare process beyond self-diagnosis and choosing a doctor; the labyrinth that is medical billing overwhelms, confuses, and discourages patients.

Transparent communication in hospital marketing can alleviate many of these problems, but that poses a challenge in and of itself. How can hospital marketing pros be more transparent in their communications to earn the trust of their target audience and communicate differentiating quality?

The Obstacles to Transparency

Being transparent and clear about a hospital’s benefits and offerings can be difficult for facilities for a few reasons:

  • Many hospitals don’t want to “pull back the curtain,” so to speak, on medical billings, including cost of services
  • Healthcare in general has become politicized
  • Hospitals offer a wide range of services to a wide range of people
  • Consumers aren’t always willing to talk about their health
  • Costs become difficult to comprehend, especially when insurance companies are in the discussion
  • All services and physicians are not created equal

 

There are also many different stakeholders in the process. It’s not just the patient; it’s the patient’s family, insurance company, physicians and employers. These agents can interfere with clear, open communication.

Creating Transparent Communication

The most effective hospital marketing strategies overcome transparency issues and offer differentiation when it comes to their competition – even if they operate as a de facto monopoly in a given area.

One suggestion for perhaps being more transparent is being open with statistics and conveying them in a direct, easy-to-understand manner. For example, be honest about infection rates, medication error rates, and any other statistic about healthcare that your target audience would be interested in. Do so in a clear way without using jargon. Saying, “A typical post-surgery infection rate is one in 1,000” is acceptable, but it’s not quite as good as saying, “One out of every 1,000 patients who undergo surgery will get an infection.”

One might think that being forward with such knowledge could be negative, but the opposite may be  true; it is a positive way to establish trust and differentiate a facility from the rest.

Another suggestion for transparency is to be clear and open about what the hospital truly excels at – the hospital’s competitive advantage. This is not to imply that a hospital is “bad” at other areas, per se, but it does state, clearly, that consumers have one main choice when it comes to quality care in this particular area. By focusing on strengths, a hospital can begin to set itself apart in a meaningful way.

Additionally, a hospital can be open about the process it uses to bill and charge patients for their services. Many hospitals are loath to reveal specific costs and pricing information, which is understandable. Even if that’s the case, though, finding a compromise or middle-of-the-road path can reap benefits. Consumers are far more likely to choose a hospital that at least makes an attempt at clarifying the billing process and revealing the nature of costs and prices for services.

Having that particular conversation is, in a word, frightening for many in the healthcare profession, but it needn’t be. Transparency ultimately wins the hearts and minds of a consumer, and the more transparent hospital marketing professionals are, the better their results will be.

Consult with a hospital marketing agency like TotalCom to learn more about how you can expand transparency and deliver more effective messages.

 

Creating a Sophisticated Hospital Social Media Strategy

 

 

Social media has become a pillar of hospital marketing – and its importance grows every year.

According to surveys, nearly 99 percent of all hospitals in the nation are on social media in some facet. But according to the same surveys, only 17 percent believe their social media efforts have been “very effective”.

The disparity comes in the level of sophistication of the social media strategies being implemented. Most providers’ social media efforts are rudimentary at best. These hospitals have social media accounts, but don’t maximize its effectiveness.

Common Mistakes with Hospital Social Media Strategies

This failure to properly implement social media is resulting in such a low satisfaction rate across the nation. (It must be said that those who are satisfied with social media have had great success with the channel, meaning that doing it well may very well be worth the effort.)

Common mistakes include:

  • Lacking a cohesive social media strategy: Many facilities have only a rough idea of what they’d like to accomplish, and haven’t defined goals, objectives, methods, metrics, or anything more specific than “We need to be on Facebook.”
  • Not creating a content calendar: One problem facilities run into is not knowing what to talk about. Creating a content calendar is an essential part of the process so a marketing department can know what to say, and when to say it.
  • Not sticking to a firm schedule: Most posting is haphazard. To be successful, content must be posted at a regular interval, at opportune times.
  • Leaving social media only to the marketing department. Sophisticated social media execution requires participation from all levels of the facility, not just the marketing department. Though it must be managed and overseen by the marketing department.
  • Not having a procedure for responding to visitors. Your patients will attempt to engage with the hospital online; not having a system for handling these comments and responses will hinder the success of the strategy.

These mistakes are preventing hospitals from the level of sophistication that is required for optimal results.

Essential Elements of a Viable Strategy

Creating a sophisticated strategy for a hospital marketing approach require a few essential elements, such as:

  • Who will be responsible?
  • What topics will be discussed?
  • Where will the hospital pull its information for content?
  • Who will create the content?
  • What processes are in place to involve doctors and other professionals?
  • How often will content be posted?
    What procedure will be in place to handle comments and responses?
  • What level of integration will there be with other marketing efforts and channels?
  • What budget does the hospital have for boosting posts and creating ads?
  • What are the demographics of the target audience for social media advertising?
  • What pages on the website will we want to send traffic to from social media platforms?

Answering those questions will go a long way toward creating a sophisticated social media strategy for a hospital that is looking to increase engagement, boost brand reputation, and enhance word-of-mouth marketing for new patients.

Contact TotalCom Hospital Marketing for a hospital marketing agency that understands social media and how to execute it with a layer of sophistication that gets results.

Adopting Cross-Channel Marketing

 

In today’s hospital marketing world, healthcare systems sometimes still adhere to old-fashioned marketing practices.

Traditionally, hospital marketing has been a siloed endeavor. Hospitals would identify key marketing channels, place each channel in a silo along its own, isolated track, and pursue each channel with its own separate marketing plan.

Now, though, traditional advertising and marketing channels have become diffused. Everything has begun to blend in with everything else, and lines have been blurred.

Plus, consumers get information from a variety of different sources, which means you can no longer rely on just one tried-and-tested channel to deliver positive impact like you could before.

Put simply, the days of isolated marketing channels – a hospital choosing broadcast, billboards, print, and digital, and erecting solid barriers between each and all – are numbered. For hospital marketers the future lies in cross-channel marketing adaptation.

Examining Cross-Channel Hospital Marketing

Cross-channel marketing is essentially telling the same story in multiple, different ways – but in a cohesive and coordinated manner in which all channels depend on each other for success.

For example, a cross-channel hospital marketing strategy could look something like this:

  • A website is created to act as the hub for the campaign
  • Google AdWords pay-per-click campaigns are created for the hospital targeting primary keywords
  • The PPC campaign leads to a landing page on the website that encourages viewers to fill out a contact form or make a phone call to schedule an appointment
  • Display ads are created and sent out through the internet, leading to landing pages
  • Blogs are written and published to the website on a regular basis
  • These blogs are then shared socially via the hospital’s social media channels
  • Social media channels drive traffic back to the website and to the landing pages
  • Print ads give a URL to a landing page, sending people back to the website
  • Email campaigns share blogs, news articles and social content, also driving traffic to the website
  • Broadcast ads prominently display the website URL

In this manner, each channel feeds into every other channel. The chances of a patient receiving a branded message from any of the above channel (and from more than one) is significantly increased, meaning the campaign gets more reach than it would if the hospital focused on just a few traditional channels and there was no interaction or overlap between them.

Using Coca-Cola as an Example

Coca-Cola is one example of a brand that has embraced cross-channel marketing to drive market share and brand recognition for one of its latest products, Coke Zero.

The company realized that Millennials as a whole aren’t drinking Coke Zero (only 15 percent have actually tried it). But those who do try it largely continue to drink it. Coca-Cola launched a cross-channel campaign that incorporated broadcast, digital retail, social media, and traditional media to create a seamless promotion directing customers from one channel to another – all in an effort to promote Coke Zero and get more people to try the drink.

The same principles apply for hospital marketing. Patients are far more likely to choose a hospital that they encounter time and time again, and cross-channel marketing accomplishes that. By using several different channels in a unified way, a healthcare organization can deliver messages to target audiences in a manner that encourages participation, builds brand authority, and increases brand engagement.

Adopting cross-channel hospital marketing is the next level of advertising and marketing. Leveraging all available channels – traditional and digital – and fusing them together in an interwoven approach is the foundation for success in today’s hyper-digital age.

Contact TotalCom to learn more about an organization can adopt cross-channel hospital marketing for their future campaigns.

Tips for Creating a Unified Hospital Marketing Brand

Take a look at all of your branded material online — your social media profiles, your website, the blogs you create, the emails you send out, your graphics, your display ads, and anything else that is associated with your brand.

If you were to remove the logos, would all those pieces look similar/related? Would there still be a unified, consistent look among all of those elements — or would you not be able to tell they even came from the same company?

If the latter, you may have a problem with brand consistency for your hospital marketing campaign.

Learn more about why brand consistency is important and how you can build a stronger, more unified brand for your hospital.

Why Brand Consistency Matters

People have an innate ability to recognize patterns. We also have an innate ability to recognize and associate with brands, in that we notice what makes a brand stand out and recognize those elements when we see them later — and also, we build positive or negative connections between a brand and our opinion of it.

For example, seeing a physical example of McDonald’s “Golden Arches” is commonplace. We all know what those arches mean, just as we know what it means when we read McDonald’s tagline, “I’m Lovin’ It” or see one of the company’s advertisements. You could remove the logo entirely from the restaurants and the company’s marketing materials and you’d still be able to tell from the company’s consistent use of various other brand elements that you were standing in a McDonald’s (or reading/viewing a McDonald’s advertisement). And of course, every time you notice one of these elements, you experience emotions and thoughts about the brand (good or bad).

Brand consistency matters because it’s these strong brand connections that ultimately drive business. This is especially important when it comes to hospital marketing. A hospital isn’t a place people go because they want to — they only go there when they need to. And since no one knows exactly when he or she is going to experience that need, it’s important to ensure that your brand is “top of mind” when the time comes. Otherwise, your customer could choose another provider.

The simple truth is, people choose whomever has the strongest, most memorable brand. But you can’t make your brand strong or memorable without also making it consistent, and ensuring that it delivers the same message, no matter where your audience sees it.

Creating Brand Consistency

First and foremost, your hospital should have a brand guide. This is a document that codifies all that the brand is — not just how it looks, but also the brand messages to be communicated. This guide is where you spell out slogans, taglines, core values, messages, talking points, and the like —anything, that is, that can be used to create a message that a potential patient will encounter.

Of course, how a brand looks does also matter, tremendously. That’s why a style guide should be a part of the brand guide. The style guide dictates, to the finest detail, how the brand will look — which is key to ensuring consistency in any graphic you create, whether it’s a Facebook page, a print ad, a display ad, a social media post, an infographic, or a logo for a TV commercial.

Your guide can get very specific in detailing brand directions for each medium. For example, if you run ads on television, your guide can dictate what branding elements will be in each commercial. If you post on social media and create images for the post, you can stipulate what each image must look like and contain.

Everyone on your team needs to have the brand guide and be on board with it. This is crucial for successful hospital marketing. Otherwise, you’ll have different people creating different things — applying brand elements inconsistently across marketing materials. And that lack of consistency dilutes your brand.

Periodically, check your brand and review it to make sure it’s:

  • Coherent
  • Clear
  • Concise
  • Cohesive
  • Convincing

All of these qualities need to be in place, especially the cohesive aspect. Your brand should have the same uniform appearance wherever it appears. Checking it on a regular basis — maybe once a quarter — not only gives you opportunities to revise it if needed, but also keeps everyone on the same page.

Get Better Hospital Marketing with TotalCom

If you’re interested in advancing your hospital marketing campaign with consistent branding across all media, contact TotalCom Marketing. We’d be more than happy to help create winning branding campaigns that improve recognition and build trust within your market.

Hospital Marketing in 2016: Three Trends

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Want to know what trends to expect in hospital marketing in 2016? Here are three trends we’ve identified that every hospital will need to follow.

Increase Content Quality 

Content marketing continues to remain a big part of hospital marketing and will only increase in importance as we move through 2016. Last year saw an increase in the quantity of content. This year, we’ll have to see a rise in the quality of the content we produce.

It’s not enough to mass-produce content in order to fill a quota of pieces for a blog. We’ll have to spend more time on each piece of content in order to make an impression. This is actually a positive, because it means we can be really creative and spend more time developing and polishing a few pieces of content – an article for a magazine, a white paper, a video – rather than just pumping out content that is merely okay.

Focus on Simple Scheduling

People in 2016 will value convenience more than they did before. Amazon now has one-click buying that allows you to buy in a snap. Other platforms have rolled out one-click buttons to shop and buy. Hospitals can take advantage of this trend by having simple, convenient scheduling with just one click of a button.

This changes things. Formerly, a hospital’s campaign would feature landing pages that ask the consumer to learn more. But they’ve probably already learned a lot by the time they get to the landing page. When they arrive there, the instinct for instant gratification kicks in, and they’ll probably want to just go ahead and schedule an appointment.

So, we’ll have to retool our landing pages to reflect that desire. Allow your patients to sign up for an appointment right then and there, and you’ll have more success translating marketing into action.

Take Advantage of Moments

Over the past few years, consumers online have started to experience more “moments”. A moment is a short amount of time in which people turn to the Internet to find something that they need at that moment.

For example, they may want to know something about symptoms of a condition or illness. They may want to go somewhere near them, which means they’re searching for a local provider. They may want to know how to do something, like create a healthy exercise plan or cook something tasty yet healthy.

A hospital can live in these moments by creating content that takes advantage of this inspired activity. If you want to get people who want to know things, produce content that shares information about symptoms and illnesses and other health items that may be in the news. You can market the hospital and your doctors with geo-targeted campaigns that zero in on zip codes. You can create how-to videos on healthy living.

Living in these moments with your potential patients will place you closer to them in the moments that they appear online.

Even though these are the trends, the challenge for many community hospitals is to have the resources to keep up with the trends. Limited personnel and limited resources for technology will continue to hinder some from taking full advantage of these emerging trends.

For more information on hospital marketing in 2016, talk to the experts at TotalCom Marketing.