3 Marketing Secrets Top Hospital Marketing Programs Know

Hospital marketing programs across the country often do things differently. After all, what works for one system will not necessarily work for another. With that being said, there are systems that have the most robust and effective hospital marketing programs in the nation, and they all seem to incorporate the same fundamentals and tricks of the trade. (more…)

female businesswoman talking with senior doctor in hospital - creating better hospital marketing strategies

Grow Your Patient Base With These 3 Hospital Marketing Strategies

Every hospital and health system wants to grow its patient base. That is the job of hospital marketing: to increase brand awareness and build positive relationships between the hospital and potential patients.

There are a lot of methods that hospitals currently use to market themselves. From buying billboards to airing TV commercials, creating a Facebook page, and even sending out direct mail, marketing strategies can work together to create a total-package approach that targets a patient from multiple angles. (more…)

woman painting wall - DIY research for your organization

Do it Yourself Primary Research for Healthcare Marketers: Another Favorite Session from SHSMD ’18

Whether it is budget, time, or both, many healthcare marketers do not have the opportunity to attend SHSMD Connections (Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference).  We are fortunate at TotalCom Marketing that we get to attend most years, so I thought I would share highlights from several of the presentations. (more…)

Favorite Sessions from SHSMD Connections ’18: How to Use Facebook Live for Your Hospital

Smiling businesswoman talking on camera - marketing your hospital on Facebook Live videoI realize there are many healthcare marketers that do not have the opportunity to attend SHSMD Connections (Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference). Sometimes it is budget, sometimes it is time away (and sometimes both). We are fortunate at TotalCom Marketing that we get to attend most years, so I thought I would share some of the highlights from several of the presentations at SHSMD Connections ‘18 held in Seattle this month. There were several that were really helpful, so this will be a multi-part series.

The first session I attended on day one was a “how to” for using Facebook Live. It was presented by the communications team at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. They have been successfully using Facebook Live since it launched and offered some helpful insight for getting started or just doing it better.

About Facebook Live

Facebook Live is a marketing tool that can prove quite helpful in meeting your organization’s social media objectives (and more). It is immediate, authentic, interactive and a great way to connect and engage with your audience.

Reasons Why You Should Consider Using Facebook Live

  • For now, at least, the Facebook algorithm favors Facebook Live. We have all seen a decline in engagement with our posts, Facebook Live is a way to help overcome this. Facebook will even send your page followers a notification when start or schedule.
  • You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make Facebook Live work for your organization.
  • Facebook Live is another way to connect with patients where they are spending considerable amounts of time each day – on Facebook.

Get Started with Facebook Live

  • woman in headphones sat laptop - engaging with audience by answering Facebook live questionsYou don’t have to have a special video camera, an iPhone works great.
  • Polish up your efforts with a few extra items including a camera mount, tripod, lapel mics to isolate sound and simple lighting. Also, Mevo (“a tv studio in your pocket”) is an app (and more) that allows you to look like you’ve got multiple cameras, allows for on-the-fly editing, is easy to use, requires no video editing experience and can really take your live stream to the next level. Learn more at getmevo.com.

Tips for Best Results

  • Always have two people to manage the live stream as it is more than one person can do alone, especially if you get a lot of engagement on your video.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection. VERY IMPORTANT.
  • Promote your live stream in advance. Promote not only on Facebook but Instagram and any other social channels you use. Ask your audience to sign up for a reminder.
  • As per social media best practices, don’t use Facebook Live to sell, but rather to establish your organization or employee as a thought leader and a resource to the community you serve.
  • Keep your production authentic. It is ok that your Facebook Live stream is not Spielberg quality.
  • Strategy first and tactics next. Use Facebook Live for the benefit of the audience, not just because it is fun and cool.
  • Engage with your audience. If people comment questions, answer them in your live video. After the video is over, respond to all of the comment questions so others have the answers, too.
  • Have a lengthy event? Don’t just “set it and forget it”. Best to break up the event into manageable snippets, do interviews in between highlights. Remember to announce often where you are and what you are doing for those who tune in later.
  • Lunch is a good time to go live, as are evenings. However, the majority of the engagement is AFTER the fact.
  • Look outside of healthcare at organizations and brands that are successfully using Facebook Live. Here are a few brands effectively using Facebook Live.
  • Practice, practice, practice… Use Facebook Live personally to learn how. But no worries, you can change the settings for Facebook Live so no one else sees it, in the “Select Privacy” mode, choose “Only me”.
  • Be sure to use Facebook analytics to provide insight and learn how you can fine tune and improve your Facebook Live efforts.
  • Facebook also offers these tips for using Facebook Live

 

Ways to Use Facebook Live

  • Use in place of, or in addition to a press release. News departments are short staffed and they can’t always cover events. For media outlets not able to attend, send them a link to the stream. They can then use some of the footage and include your event in their news report.
  • Interview physicians or demonstrate new technology and procedures.
  • Boost the value of your sponsorships so that you get more than just your logo on a flyer or t-shirt.
  • Appeal to your audience’s curiosity. The examples the presenters gave was about taking a tour of the electrophysiology lab or showcase a renovation.
  • Promote events at your hospital. But always ask, “Is this important to our audience? Is it relevant?” Don’t go live just for the sake of it.

Are you using Facebook Live for your hospital or healthcare organization? We would love to see how you are doing it. Share with us, won’t you?

Blog post written by Lori Moore, Senior Account Manager for TotalCom Marketing Communications. Reach Lori Moore by email or phone at 205.345.7363.

hospital marketing plan with multiple factors

Creating a Hospital Marketing Plan that Works

A sound hospital marketing plan is the difference between success and failure when it comes to marketing a hospital system.

Competition is fierce, and there’s no margin for error. Trying to promote a hospital without a proven, well-structured strategy can result in a lot of wasted money and patients lost to other providers.

Things to Consider when Crafting a Hospital Marketing Plan

Marketing for hospitals can be quite unlike marketing for other organizations in other industries – or even within healthcare.

Hospitals, for starters, have a lot of different and diverse stakeholders. Hospital marketing teams have to market the hospital itself, any associated facilities in the system, plus every practice and specialty area the hospital offers – from cardiology to orthopedic surgery, OB/GYN, and the like. The larger the hospital system, the more difficult the balancing act becomes.

Hospitals also have to market before there’s a need. That’s because it’s impossible to predict when someone will need to go to the emergency room or see a primary care provider, etc. Patients choose hospitals in reaction to health issues, except for when they are either looking for a PCP (because they just moved there or have not had one) or are changing providers.

In both cases, brand recognition and awareness is extremely important, which presents a unique challenge to a marketing team.

A plan has to consider these things but also needs to be quantifiable, especially with tight budgets. A hospital marketing plan has to be carefully aligned with quantified business outcomes. Put another way, it has to be able to generate real, verifiable return in order to justify itself and the marketing team that executes it.

Hospitals these days cannot afford to waste marketing dollars. The plan has to be scientific in design to increase the chances that it will do its job and generate revenue for the hospital.

Key Components of a Successful Marketing Plan

There are a few key components that every successful hospital marketing plan has:

  1. Strategic, metric-bound goals: The hospital’s tangible, quantifiable objectives become the goals of the marketing plan. There need to be metrics in place by which progress toward these goals can be measured.
  2. Clear definition of stakeholders and target audiences: The plan needs to clarify who the plan is intended to market and market to, for stakeholders and potential patients, respectively.
  3. Analytical system to measure results: The plan needs to define how progress will be analyzed and tracked.
  4. Outline of target channels: A plan can use a variety of channels and methods to achieve its goals. Which ones are chosen should depend on the goals and target audience analysis contained within the plan.
  5. Concrete, yet flexible processes: A plan should define the processes that will be used to execute the plan. These could include anything from how content is conceptualized and created to an advertising calendar. The processes should be clearly defined yet flexible because the field is constantly changing.

If structured correctly – based on goals, a deep understanding of one’s audience, and the best way to reach them – a hospital marketing plan can be tremendously successful. This will give the system the best chance at competing in a tight market.

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.

telemedicine conference call with doctor - hospital marketing trends

The 3 Hospital Marketing Trends You Need to Know

Hospital marketing is competitive. Only in rural areas do you have only one hospital provider, and even those systems have to compete with private practice. So, in all markets, hospital marketing is essential – and yet it can be difficult to differentiate.

By understanding the latest trends, you can outperform your competition that may not be following those same trends. There is a lot going on in the marketing industry now that is exciting and effective – and your hospital needs to take notice.

Live Video Is Becoming King

Video has long been a major player in marketing. Video creates more engagement than any other format and creates positive associations between a brand and viewers.

The latest trend in video comes in the form of live, real-time, streaming video. Whether you see it on Facebook, YouTube, or an individual website, live video is dominating because it generates a lot of engagement.

Hospitals can take advantage by streaming health-related content, which is enormously popular. Just look at the fact that WebMD is the 129th most popular website in the country. Video can be better at communicating information because it naturally captivates people and catches – and holds – their interest better than text alone.

Consider the health experts you have at your disposal. Find personable, relatable, camera-friendly personnel to go live and present the latest findings and tips in medicine to help your target audience.

Telemedicine Is Becoming More Popular

For years, hospitals shrank away from telemedicine because it was expensive and limited. Now, those barriers have fallen away, and telemedicine has become more accessible to hospitals – and more in demand from patients.

If you can create a telemedicine service, that gives you a huge advantage from a marketing standpoint. There is also a natural synergy between telemedicine and digital marketing. People who are prospects for one are natural users of the other. Put another way, if someone can be reached effectively through Facebook, Instagram, or mobile search, they are more likely to enjoy the benefits of telemedicine.

We encourage you to at least consider and evaluate telemedicine as a service option, not just for better patient satisfaction, but for more effective marketing options.

Location-Based Marketing Is More Important than Ever Before

Hospitals depend on geography for their patients. Patients tend to go to the closest hospital. That is not just dependent upon where they live, but where they are at that moment.

Location-based marketing, through geofencing, can deliver the right message at the right time to the right place. If someone is in a particular area, you can target them with your message and ads through their mobile device while they are on the move. You can also target them through other methods if they are in a home or office within your service area.

You can even target specific neighborhoods if you want to increase the number of patients you see from that neighborhood. A rigorous analytics approach at your hospital can tell you where your patients live – and where they don’t live. The same goes for where they work. You can then use geofencing to market accordingly.

What are some ways you can use these trends in a creative manner to get better results?

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.

Google Just Changed Its Online Review Terms. Here’s What That Means

Google online review on smartphone - TotalCom healthcare hospital marketing

Online reviews are extremely important for hospitals these days. The more good reviews you have, the more people will want to choose your hospital and your providers for their healthcare needs. The more negative reviews you have, the more people will want to stay away.

Online reviews also have a big influence on your website’s search engine results. That’s why hospitals want as many good reviews as they can get, and they’ll go to great lengths to achieve them.

Google, one of the main sources for online reviews, knows this and recently changed its review policies to regulate how, exactly, businesses solicit these reviews.

How the Review Game is Changing

Google thinks it’s perfectly okay to ask someone to leave a review. They want you to, in fact. But what they don’t want you to do is provide some kind of incentive for them to leave a positive one.

And they don’t want you to create something called a review funnel to get only good reviews.

A review funnel is pretty straightforward. You send an email or a link to a customer. They are asked to rate your business. If the rating is a good one, then they are sent to a place where they can leave the actual review, on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.

If the rating is a bad one, the reviewer is sent somewhere else, usually a screen that has a quick survey they can fill out to provide feedback. They are not sent to a place where they can leave a review, though.

The end result: by using a review funnel, you’re selecting for only positive reviews.

Google now says that is not allowed and has banned the use of review funnels in this way.

What Can You Do Now?

Review funnels are very effective – too effective, it seems, for Google’s liking. So what can you do instead to get more positive reviews?

You can actually still use a review funnel. You just need to give the negative rater an option to leave a review, just like everyone else.

“But won’t they just leave a negative review?” Probably, but here’s the thing: you need more reviews, a never-ending supply of reviews, and getting some bad ones here and there is just a risk you’ll have to take to keep up.

Besides, if you’re doing a good job servicing your patients, you won’t have to worry about the negative reviews because they’ll be few and far between.

One thing we want to make clear is that you shouldn’t let your fear of a few negative reviews keep you from trying to get more positive ones. If you don’t take that chance, you’ll miss out on the huge benefits of online reviews for your hospital.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. If you get a bad one, reach out and see what you can do to make it right. Emphasize patient service and taking care of your patients to the utmost of your ability so no one has a reason to rate you negatively.

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.

How Creative Are Your New Healthcare Campaigns Really?

You’ve heard the adage, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” It’s true! If you’re looking to create a new brand for your hospital, promote a new service line or procedure or gain market share, it may be time to think outside of the box. Consider these creative ways to send a new message.

 

Utility

How can your advertisements serve another purpose than getting your message to the masses? It can be easy to overlook an ad that is mostly fine print and technical jargon. Monash University created wristbands for an event that were used to identify who’s ID had been checked to allow them to purchase drinks, but they had a secondary use. The user could place a drop of their drink on a designated spot on the wristband to detect if common drugs had been used to spike their drink.

Consider the true message you want to send. Monash University wanted to make sure that those who were drinking were of age, but went even further to ensure that they were being safe while drinking. Think about how your message can reach further than the page, especially in print ads.

 

Use Your Staff

How often do you run a campaign that looks successful on your computer but didn’t seem to make as big of an impact as you wanted? Maybe the hospital’s staff isn’t being utilized to the fullest extent.

We know that doctors, nurses and administrative staff have a lot on their plates, but something as simple as wearing a button about a current campaign can have a significant effect. Many times, people see advertisements for a new service but can’t remember the name once they arrive at the doctor’s office. Or even worse, the staff members aren’t aware of the campaign and unable to answer any questions the patient may have. When prepared, your staff can have a remarkable impact on a campaign.

 

Provide Inspiration

It’s true – people have access to a wealth of knowledge online with just one search. When it comes to big topics like cancer, how can your organization stand out in the middle of all of these long, technical terms and a potentially bleak outlook?

After they’ve found the information on their issue or diagnosis, they need tend to look for something else – hope. Providing these patients with a community of people that have been in their shoes is comforting when a diagnosis, treatment and every day can be shocking. If you give them access to testimonials and inspiration, it can be much more compelling than information that can look the same from site to site.

 

If you are ready to send a new message or strengthen your current message within the healthcare industry, contact TotalCom Marketing!

digital healthcare marketing resolutions

Digital Healthcare Marketing Resolutions for 2018

We’re at the beginning of a new year.

Now is the perfect time to take a step back, analyze the what you did over the past 12 months, and build a strong plan for 2018.

This may seem like a daunting task. That’s why you should start planning now. We’re giving you a checklist of the most important things you should do in the coming weeks.

  • Ensure business listings are accurate

If you’re not already on top of this, potential customers may end up someplace other than your healthcare facility. Don’t let old phone numbers or former street addresses drive your customers to the wrong hospital or clinic. Fix whatever data errors you can this year, and make a New Year’s Resolution to keep an eye on it during 2018.

  • Add special hours to Google My Business

With the end of one year and beginning of a new one, hours can change. Maybe your clinic is changing hours in the new year. Either way, add your new or extended hours to your Google My Business page. No customer wants to show up at your clinic and find you are closed for the day when Google says differently. Negative brand impressions lead to negative reviews of your healthcare business, so check these hours twice.

  • Social media ready to go

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Pinterest that your customers rely on most, start brainstorming ideas for healthcare content in the new year. Don’t leave it to last-minute scrambles to think of something to say. Make a spreadsheet and schedule days and content for your posts.

  • Website pages updated

Been putting off updating your site’s blog or adding that new employee to the site? Get on it now to ensure everything is crossed of your list when January rolls around. Customers like a completed, up-to-date site, and you will too.

While many people are cherishing this time of year and in the jolliest of moods, there will still be unhappy reviews coming in. Be prepared for reviews, both good and bad, in 2018. Come up with a strategic plan on how to handle and respond reviews about your facility in a timely manner. Make sure everyone in your company who handles reviews is well versed in the plan as well.

The start of a new year is a great time to get started on these healthcare marketing resolutions. But get ahead of your digital resolutions now so they don’t get pushed aside until 2019. If this list seems too daunting to handle on your own, let TotalCom help! Contact us today.

creating a hospital marketing plan with the right ingredients is important - how will you best help your audience?

3 Ways to Craft an Outstanding Hospital Marketing Campaign

Hospital marketing is competitive, especially if you’re in an urban setting where there are multiple hospitals to choose from – and a wealth of private practitioners, too.

Structuring your campaign the right way goes a long way toward capturing market share and increasing your patient flow.

Here are three key ways you can prepare a top-notch hospital marketing campaign, no matter your competitive situation.

Understand Your Market Well

A lot of marketing campaigns are built on intuition and going by your gut. A precious few are based on solid, tangible market knowledge.

The best way to understand your market is through market research. Market research lets you get inside the minds of potential patients. You’ll learn what they value in a doctor or a hospital, their key decision-making factors, and how they emotionally react to messages, branding elements, and the like.

You can use this research to create patient personas that help you pinpoint the demographic and psychographic elements of a typical patient, so you can better tailor your key messages.

You’ll also learn more about where your patients are and how to reach them, which lets you choose your channels wisely.

understanding your market is a balancing act

Prioritize Your Objectives

A hospital marketing campaign needs to be well-structured. But, this can be challenging since structure implies prioritization – given limited resources – and yet there are so many service lines to consider.

Since you have a limited budget, you’ll need to figure out a priority list. That list could shift and change as the year progresses, which is fine, but you need some idea of how you’ll allocate your limited resources.

Some of this is a business decision the hospital administration will have to make based on their patient growth targets. Other portions will be based on revenue goals; some service lines may have more revenue potential or higher profit margin than others.

You’ll have to determine which objectives are most important so you can structure your campaign appropriately.

Tie Everything Together

No matter what you do – post on social media, run PPC ads, buy billboards, take out print ads, run commercials on TV and radio – you’ll benefit from tying these various tactics together.

This is where the campaign-style format works best. A campaign ties everything around a central theme. The theme is replicated in each channel with each tactic, so there’s a unified message. This is much better than a person seeing 10 different messages from 10 different touch-points for your hospital.

Choosing the campaign-style format for your marketing strategy will help you better organize and allocate your resources. It’ll also make your efforts more successful.

Following these three pieces of advice will help create a more robust hospital marketing strategy that can carve out competitive advantages and win patients.

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information or view our previous work and see what stories we can tell for you.