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 together

Running 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.

This challenge is particularly seen in suburban or rural areas where community hospitals are going up against urban medical centers in larger nearby cities. Standing out can be hard, but it is possible to carve out a competitive advantage and stand out in a crowded market dominated by larger competitors.

The means to this outcome is a well-crafted hospital marketing strategy built around the natural benefits of being a community hospital.

Finding Advantages You Can Claim

The main advantage a smaller hospital has versus a larger hospital is simple: smaller hospitals mean doctors have fewer patients on average, thus improving patient relations and creating a more personable feel.

We see this all the time in the retail and service industries. You may not get the same selection in a smaller store as a larger one, but you’ll probably get better customer service than going with a larger chain. For example, if you’re using a plumber who knows you by name, you’ll probably get more prompt attention than going with a larger, more corporate plumbing company.

Caring comes naturally to thing caregiver who is helping an elderly patient

The same logic applies to hospitals. No patient wants to feel like they’re just one face out of thousands who make their way through the larger hospital, almost like an assembly line. Patients in, patients out. That’s the image of a large metro hospital that you want to portray. Your contrasting image is one where doctors and nurses have the time to get to know the members of their community and give them more direct attention.

Another major advantage is proximity. No one wants to travel 45-60 minutes each way to visit someone in the hospital, or go to see a doctor for a checkup. Community hospitals have a big advantage in that they are in their patient’s own backyard. You’re only a short drive away, and in emergency situations, that can be invaluable.

Finally, a big advantage is wait time. Wait times at large urban hospitals are almost always longer than they are in smaller, rural ones because of the sheer volume of patients they have to process. The message here is this: “Go to a place where you won’t spend more time waiting than you will actually being seen by a doctor.”

Hospital Marketing Methods to Capitalize on Advantages

Business People Meeting using laptop computer, calculator, notebook, stock market chart paper for analysis Plans to improve quality next month. Conference Discussion Corporate Concept

Hospital marketing is all about creating perceptions. You want to paint a perception through your ad campaign that large hospitals are just too big. They’re impersonal, overcrowded, and inefficient. They can’t possibly care more about you as an individual as a community hospital does, because we’re your neighbors. Those are the perceptions you’re working to create.

Painting this picture with a traditional ad campaign is one way to differentiate yourself. Having an active social media presence is another. You can probably be more responsive to patients and their families online than a bigger hospital can, even if they have more resources. Capitalize on that.

Make sure you are creating a cohesive message across all of your marketing channels, traditional and digital. A campaign-style format is best because you are working with a central theme and everything synergizes well with everything else.

A smaller, rural community hospital can compete with larger, big city hospitals. It’s all about playing to your strengths and creating brand perceptions that favor you.

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.

Healthcare Marketing: The Age of Celebrity Endorsements Over?

Red CarpetThe brand is more important than the endorser. 

In recent months, we’ve seen the passing of several high profile celebrity endorsers. With it, perhaps an era of celebrity endorsement is passing too. Within just a few days prolific and long time product endorser, Ed McMahon, the beautiful and sexy starlet, Farrah Fawcett and the king of pop, Michael Jackson passed away. Even Karl Malden left home without it. And even though more of a pitchman than an endorser, Billy Mays also died. Instead of pitching products because he was famous, Mays became famous because of his product pitching.

Each of these leave behind memories of on camera time endorsing and pitching an array of products. Who benefited the most? The celebrity or the product? It’s hard to say. The research is conflicted.

Some studies indicate the right match between celebrity and product can be effective. Other research indicates the celebrity is remembered but not the brand. Several studies have indicated that a strong majority of consumers state that celebrities do not influence their purchasing decisions. But we know consumers don’t always tell or even know the truth when responding to surveys.

Hospitals have sometimes used celebrities to promote their brand. Pat Summerall, former NFL payer and broadcaster, has a separate business that aggressively seeks hospitals to pay a rather large sum of money for him to endorse a hospital.

Whether you think celebrity endorsements are effective or not, one thing is true – it all goes back to how strong the brand is. A celebrity can endorse a hospital or healthcare service but if the brand does not deliver satisfactorily to the customer, then money and effort is wasted.  A celebrity cannot make a bad brand good. Neither can a celebrity make consumers like an inferior brand.   

Maybe in some cases a celebrity can bring attention to a product, but most importantly the brand experience must be positive and deliver. There is no substitute for a brand that delivers. If your brand doesn’t deliver, a celebrity can’t overcome the weakness.

 We have lost some very famous and memorable product endorsers recently. But there are other celebrities busy pitching all manner of products, including hospitals. What matters is whether your brand delivers a positive patient experience that will build credibility and loyalty.  If it does, then the brand becomes the true celebrity.


Hospital Advertising: Advertising That’s As Big As All Outdoors

Outdoor advertising billboardOutdoor advertising has increased its usefulness to healthcare marketers. Traditional media is struggling to maintain revenues and effectiveness. Print, radio and television are all under extreme pressure in a down economy and because of changing consumer media habits. But in the face of all this concern, outdoor advertising is seeing resurgence – a renaissance of the medium. Outdoor advertising is expected to see strong growth in the coming years. Behind only online advertising, outdoor has been the most dynamic media over the past five years. It is capturing market share from the other traditional mediums. So why is this happening?

Two primary reasons are causing outdoor to buck the trend.

1.  The first is the introduction of new technology. The digital billboard provides more visual impact and more flexibility than outdoor has ever had. To have several messages rotate on the board expands outdoor’s usefulness. And the ability to remove and/or insert new copy and designs in a matter of minutes has brought outdoor from a slow, long lead-time medium to an instant one. This has great advantages for hospital advertising. Instead of being locked into one message for the long haul or having to pay for costly changes, now a hospital can advertise several services at the same time and can change any message within minutes. For hospitals, outdoor provides flexibility that only radio and the internet can provide.  

2.  The second reason outdoor is growing market share is it’s cost efficiency. The average cost per thousand for outdoor has always been lower than practically ever other of medium. And in an economy that forces hospitals to stretch every penny and get the most of every dollar spent, outdoor delivers.

True, outdoor has its limitations.

  • The message  is very limited.
  • Outdoor competes with highway clutter.
  • And some view billboards as an eyesore that contributes to highway clutter and a community’s unattractiveness.

But despite these liabilities, in a media landscape where traditional advertising is taking hits, outdoor is a shining star. It’s big. It’s flexible.  It’s outdoors.


Hospital Marketing: Is it Recession Proof?

hospital_recession_090218_mnMore patients are choosing to postpone or delay healthcare procedures, increasing the pressures on hospital marketers.

Despite what some people say, healthcare is not immune to a down economy. On the surface, you might think healthcare isn’t affected by a bad economy. If you’re sick, you’re sick. And you have to seek treatment. But this is not necessarily the case.

In a recent study by Thomson Reuters, postponement, delay or cancellation of treatment increased sharply in 2009 with 26% of households cutting cost and citing it as the most important reason to delay treatment. In the past, lack of time was the number one reason to delay treatment, but the down economy has caused that to change. This change began to be felt beginning in June- July 2008 and has increased during the past year.

The study showed the increase in postponement of care increased in all groups with the smallest increase occurring in older households.   And it increased across all income levels.

As one might expect, physician visits took the biggest hit, followed by elective procedures and minor injuries or illnesses. But also, substantially down were lab/diagnostics, x-ray/imaging and non-elective procedures. And as you would expect, care for children was least likely of all services to be deferred.

Another finding that will impact hospitals’ bottom line is that within the past year the number of households dropping their health insurance coverage increased about 30%. So yes the downturn in the economy negatively affects the healthcare industry and hospitals, which in turn, increases the pressure on hospital marketers to grow market share in a declining market with fewer resources.

Unlike beer drinkers, who drink when things are good to celebrate, they also drink when things are bad to forget how bad things are, healthcare consumers will postpone or delay needed heath care services. So it’s imperative for healthcare marketers to get the most out of every dollar spent. And make sure the message resonates with the consumer.

It’s certainly not an easy task. But in a declining market, it’s imperative we’re on the top of our game. 


Healthcare Marketing: It’s About the Patient

hospitalbedG100706_228x228The current trend in hospital marketing is to emphasize “patient experience.” In a consumer driven market it has to be.

Gone are the days when the healthcare industry provided clinical competency and didn’t put much emphasis on the patient experience. We are indeed living in the age of consumer driven, consumer-controlled marketing. The consumer is in charge. The consumer has choices and he or she is choosing the services that provide a higher level of service and attention to their needs. And now this is becoming more and more true in healthcare.

The buzzword within healthcare marketing is now “positive patient experience.” And it should be.

More and more consumers are taking control of the healthcare decisions rather than just following doctor’s order. A recent Massachusetts survey indicated that only 24% trust their doctor completely to make the right choices on where to go for healthcare services. Consumers are taking control and making decisions based on convenience and service. And that’s a changing paradigm for many hospitals.

But it’s happening. In the latest HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey of senior healthcare executives, 88% of the respondents ranked patient experience among their top five priorities. This is up from 25% of CEOs who put consumer satisfaction among their top three priorities in last year’s survey. The shift to an emphasis on the patient is happening. And rightfully so. It’s what consumers are demanding and it’s what’s right. What has long been the emphasis in most service industries is now reaching into healthcare.

Not only is this the proper emphasis in our consumer-is-in-control economy, it also provides great opportunities for healthcare marketing. It provides real tangibles to market. It makes healthcare services something more than a commodity. It provides some real uniqueness to take to the marketplace.

It’s all about the consumer! For healthcare marketing, that creates substantial challenges, but also great opportunities.


Internal Marketing is the Heartbeat of External Marketing Success

Internal marketing is a potent tool often overlooked in ensuring brand consistency. While crafting digital campaigns, strategic advertisements, and emotionally resonant messages is crucial for brand awareness, it’s the alignment of these external promises with internal realities that truly cements a brand’s position in a consumer’s mind.

Marketing professionals spend so much energy and time to establish a brand by creating advertising that is emotional and beautiful and that effectively speaks to the consumer in just the right tone and style. But is the brand promise delivered when the consumer responds to our advertising messages?

It’s not enough to create great ads. To effectively build a brand, the brand promise and the brand essence must be embraced internally.

Why? Because every brand’s heartbeat is its people. When the entire team—from administrative staff to the professionals providing healthcare—lives and breathes the brand’s essence, it ensures that each consumer interaction is authentic and reliable.

To achieve this harmony between internal ethos and external perception, consider the following strategies:

  1. Internal Ownership: Every member of the organization should feel a personal connection to, and responsibility for, the brand. This involves comprehending its core values and ensuring all interactions align with them.
  2. Ongoing Training and Communication: Workshops and training sessions that instill the brand’s essence among employees are invaluable. Ensuring open and clear communication channels means everyone remains aligned, minimizing the risk of mixed or inconsistent messages reaching consumers.
  3. Feedback Mechanisms: Establish channels where staff can voice insights or concerns about brand representation. This approach not only fosters involvement but can also spotlight potential areas for enhancement.
  4. Celebrate Successes: Acknowledging moments when team members exemplify the brand can inspire pride and motivate others to consistently represent the brand in similar ways.

While external marketing strategies are crucial in attracting potential consumers, it’s the power of internal marketing that solidifies their trust and loyalty. By ensuring that brand messages resonate deeply within, healthcare organizations can guarantee they’re genuinely felt and experienced by all. After all, the journey towards successful external brand representation begins internally.

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.