Healthcare Advertising

How to Choose a Healthcare Marketing Agency

even points to consider when selecting a healthcare marketing agency

Seven Points to Consider When Selecting a Healthcare Marketing Agency

Unless you’ve been lucky enough to escape downsizing, healthcare marketing departments often need to contract with outside agencies for tasks that your team cannot handle on its own. Consider these seven points before starting the search for .

1. Healthcare Marketing Experience.

An outside agency can add creativity and expertise to the in-house team. It also lends a third-party perspective that sometimes leverages more weight with the C-suite. However, ensure that the agency has healthcare marketing experience and proven results to back up dazzling visuals and lofty recommendations.

Healthcare industry experience is necessary due to standards and regulations that physicians and hospitals are required to follow.  The account team must be familiar with HIPAA compliance, CMS, and FDA regulations to craft marketing messages.

2. Creative Capabilities.

Creative talent should be evident from the onset, starting with the marketing agency’s website and digital presence. It can also reveal their intangible personality.  The best way to discover what they can do is by getting to know them. Conduct initial research and select two or three agencies that interest you. Talk with them; invite them to visit; figure out if there’s chemistry.

Instead of the requisite “request for proposal,” issue a “request for partnership.” While many agencies won’t do spec creative, assign a project, even at a nominal fee, to a couple at the top of your list. This can provide a preview of their creativity. You want to see innovation and vision. Look for “wow” moments.

3. Mutually Beneficial Partnership.

A successful relationship between client and agency is a 50-50 partnership. Producing the desired marketing results requires collaboration, transparency, mutual respect and realistic expectations on each side’s part.

One healthcare marketing director recently shared his thoughts about forging a client-agency partnership, explaining that the client needs to have a level of trust and confidence in the agency. For their part, the agency must have the skills and expertise to prove their worth to the client.

4. Financial Discussion.

The quickest way for relationships to break down is over money. During the review process, ask about billing, fees, retainers, up charges and rate sheets. Open and transparent discussions at the beginning can prevent misunderstandings later.

Before work starts on your account, define the process for authorizations, approvals and change orders so both sides share the same expectations. Failure to have these discussions can lead to loss of trust later.

5. Measurable Goals.

When reviewing a healthcare marketing agency’s portfolio, ask about results and case studies that include quantified measures of success. Just as with talks about money, work openly with the agency to establish performance criteria at the onset.

Beware of results that seem too good to be true—those probably can’t be proven. In the age of digital marketing, analytics are readily accessible to both client and agency to help direct the marketing spend and move the needle.

6. Relationships and Responsiveness.

Like all interpersonal relationships, people usually work best with people they like. We measure our own client relationships not just by the longevity of the account but those that produced lasting friendships.  Chemistry is the number factor in a successful agency-client relatioinship.

Ask about the team, along with bios, likely to be assigned to your account. You want experienced marketing professionals with proven credentials and core values that align with your own.

Talk to some of their current clients to discover how they interact with the agency and their responsiveness.

Establishing a successful relationship with your account services team depends, in part, on flexibility, responsiveness and willingness to listen. With the right chemistry, they can become an extension of your marketing team.

Evaluation of healthcare marketing agencies includes their research capabilities, knowledge of trends in the healthcare industry and familiarity of the local market.

Research and data should drive the development of any campaign. Review qualitative and quantitative research processes. With the myriad changes in the marketplace knowledge of trends within the marketing industry and familiarity with current media options and effectiveness is essential.

Even if an agency hasn’t worked with other local clients, their ability to learn the market and assimilate into the community can help increase your brand awareness.

Checking off these points makes the process of selecting a healthcare marketing agency easier.

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us to explore if we might be a good fit for your organization.

Online Directories: A Necessary Evil of Hospital Marketing

If we suggested you use a portion of your healthcare marketing budget to take an ad out in the Yellow Pages, you’d think we were crazy—and we would be. After all, the Yellow Pages are no more! But business directories still exist—this time digitally—and they’re just as important to your hospital marketing efforts today as those massive yellow tomes.

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Managing Your Hospital’s Reputation

Why Reputation Management Is Key for Hospital Marketing

At the doctor's office, a female doctor is performing a checkup on a young girl.

Reputation is everything in business. It’s even more important for hospital marketing because a hospital’s reputation is its most important asset.

Without a strong reputation, your hospital’s patient intake will suffer. After all, people don’t want to entrust their health to a hospital that has a poor reputation. (more…)

Make Your Community Hospital Standout with Hospital Marketing

How to Make Your Community Hospital Stand Out with Hospital Marketing

Medical staff and patients with hands togetherRunning a community hospital in an area dominated by larger hospitals with more brand recognition and bigger budgets can be very difficult. It’s hard to stand out unless you have a convincing brand value proposition, a competitive advantage to exploit, and a smart hospital marketing strategy to gain market awareness. (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…)

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.

iPhone X Facial Recognition

Could the iPhone X Change Digital Advertising?

You took the plunge about the iPhone X and you’re not even sure if you’re supposed to say iPhone X or iPhone ten.

But what’s the big difference between this model and the one you had before collecting a new monthly payment added to your stack of bills?

Facial recognition is the big difference. Are you unlocking your phone or is it unlocking you? This could bring in a new era for marketers. Since the announcement of the iPhone X, facial recognition has quickly become the topic of dinner conversations everywhere. Facial recognition used to be reserved for top secret labs or something you saw the President use in a movie. But now we have access to it as well (celebrities, they’re just like us!)

While this feature is marketed as a security function for unlocking your phone, a consumer device used by the masses is a seriously powerful technology.

It is said 90% of personal communications is nonverbal. Every day there are instances where we don’t understand the nonverbal cues of the person on the other end of our screens. We use emojis and GIFs to try and share emotion within our digital interactions.

For all of us in the communications business, we know good experiences lead to trust and loyalty while bad experiences lead to brand rejection. So what could we do as marketers if we were able to obtain real-time reactions from a consumers? Imagine a world where we have access to consumer’s facial expressions and emotional cues in reaction to products and brands?

If we could access the facial cues from patients waiting for an extended time in the emergency room? The excitement on someone’s face when they try out a restaurant’s new dish. Or the skepticism on your face when you’re indulging in a purchase you shouldn’t be.

Currently, Apple is keeping detailed facial recognition data local on the phone and not storing it on its servers. App makers can use the iPhone X, with the user’s permission, to read a rough map of a stream of facial expressions. While Apple may never store this information for public use, it’s interesting to think about a world where we design advertisements based on the most unique human feature. This technology would tell us more about our consumers than we’ve ever known before.

Digital advertising can be hard to keep up with, let us do the work for you. Contact TotalCom today.

healthcare budget

Healthcare Marketing: Why You Should Increase Your Paid Social Budget

These days, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are changing the way patients interact with their healthcare providers. Social media is certainly something that you can’t afford to ignore.

Paid social is having a banner year in 2017. Analysts from HootSuite predicted that social ad spending will top $35 billion this year.  Judging by the past several years, which have each seen consistent growth, that growth will continue into the future.

As long as you do it right – paid social is an excellent investment in your healthcare marketing plan. Here are 3 reasons why.

Paid social is a necessity if you want your brand to be seen on social media.

When you post something on social media, you’re competing with what feels like 1,999,999 other healthcare businesses- and we’re just talking about ones that are advertising. Realistically, there’s no way that your posts are going to get engagement from more than a few people unless you pay to promote them. With social media algorithms becoming more and more complicated, it makes it even harder for current and potential patients to see your content.

Organic social is still important, but if you want your posts to be seen, it’s time to set aside some budget for paid social ads. 

Paid social allows you to target users with incredible specificity.

It’s really amazing how specific you can get with your ad targeting these days.

Look at Facebook, for example. You can customize your audience by everything from level of education and field of study, to online activities, to simple demographics.

This ultra-targeting means that you’re a lot less likely to be wasting your ad dollars. Instead of showing your ad to people who almost certainly aren’t going to buy what you’re selling anyway – men and gynecologists, for example. Through targeting, you won’t be annoying people with ads they would never be interested in and you’re cultivating an audience that may eventually lead to a loyal customer.

It’s highly resource- and cost-effective.

When you’re just starting out with paid social advertising, you don’t have to know it all. You can create relatively basic ads with a relatively basic audience and budget. You also don’t need a huge budget to begin with. Base your budget on factors including your company size, the number of people you want to see your ad, etc… This is especially helpful when your hospital is just starting out and not sure where to begin.

The key is to be patient and be proactive. Watch your analytics, stick to your goals, and don’t be afraid to experiment when needed.

Social media can be hard to navigate, to improve your chances of succeeding, allow TotalCom to help you.

A Guide to Keyword Research for Your Healthcare Facility

There’s no need for me to go on and on about why keyword research is essential for your hospital’s marketing success. It is important however, to note there is no universal approach to executing keyword research. It will vary based on:

  • Website (authority, number of pages, quality of content, etc);
  • Goals and objectives (branding, exposure, traffic, leads, sales);
  • Budget, resources and deadlines;
  • Industry and competitive landscape.

I am going to give you a keyword research framework that can easily be adjusted depending on the goals and resources of your healthcare facility.

  1. Evaluate top healthcare websites.

By doing this, you can identify the most common navigation items and categories on leading industry sites. Just by studying your niche well, you can discover some great keywords.

  1. Use advanced search operators.

While searching for top healthcare websites, you can use Google’s advanced search operators to dig even deeper. You have operators at your fingertips that can provide significant and useful information.

Example: Searching “related: health.com” will bring you to sites similar to health.com. From here you can find more content and common keywords on other sites in the same industry.

  1. Google Suggest

The best free tool for keyword research is Google itself, especially with all of the features it uses to help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for. Google Suggest, is the feature that drops down a list of suggestions from the search box as soon as you start typing. For example, Google “doctor” and don’t hit enter. Instead make note of the drop-down search suggestions.

  1. Google Keyword Planner

Using Google’s Keyword Planner, paste your saved keyword list from the steps above into the “Product or Service” category and then evaluate the average monthly searches and competition for your area. Keyword planner will also suggest keywords and phrases to use based on your categories. Remember high competition is not always a reason to give up on a keyword. It all comes down to the balance between the business value of that keyword.

 

Since it all begins with words type into a search box, keyword research is considered one of the most important, valuable, and high return activities in the digital marketing field. Ranking for the right keywords can make or break your healthcare website. By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can not only learn which terms and phrases to target with SEO, but also learn more about your customers as a whole.

 

Let us do the keyword research for you! Contact TotalCom to learn more about our healthcare marketing options.

Hospital Social Media Strategy Checklist

Are you satisfied with your hospital’s social media efforts?  Perhaps it is time to review and possibly revise your social media strategy. Here are some social media strategy DO’s and DONT’s for healthcare marketers.

Common Mistakes in Hospital Social Media Strategy

FIrst of all, taking a look at what “NOT” to do can be helpful. So here are a few of the “DONTs”.

  • Poor planning up front. “We need to be on Facebook” is not enough. Therefore, clearly define the goals, objectives, and metrics for measuring. After all, knowing what success looks like is important.
  • No content calendar. Creating a content calendar is an essential part of the process. In addition, the calendar needs to coincide with other hospital communication efforts, local events, and even the seasons.
  • No set schedule. Most posting is haphazard. Instead, post content at regular intervals, at opportune times.
  • Don’t leave it to marketing. Effective social media execution requires participation from all levels of the facility. Therefore, involve the service line managers, physicians, HR, and department heads.
  • No procedure for responding. Because patients and others in the community will attempt to engage with your hospital online, have a system for handling these comments and responses, ahead of time.

Essential Elements of an Effective Healthcare Social Media Strategy

In addition, your social media strategy should answer many of these questions.

  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • What does success look like? Furthermore, how will we measure success?
  • Who is responsible? In addition, who is on the team?
  • What are the priorities?
  • Who are the target audiences?
  • Where will the content come from? Also, what about photos?
  • How will we involve doctors and other professionals?
  • What is the posting schedule?
  • How and who will  handle comments and responses?
  • What level of integration will there be with other communication efforts and channels?
  • What about boosted posts? And if so, what about budget?

In conclusion,  if you are looking to improve your hospital’s social media efforts, a review of the basics may go a long way.


ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping many kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!