strategic marketing plan

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.

Hospital Marketing: Strategy First, Social Media Second

Social media is not the answer to marketing woes. But a strong, strategic plan is.    

“TGIF” – that’s Twitter, Google, the Internet and Facebook. And listening to some people you might get the impression the answer to every marketing problem is one or all of the above.  We just need to use these four tools, use them more often, invest more money and resources in them and we will become the market leader.  There is no doubt these four revolutionary developments have forever changed how we market products and services.  But are they the answer to all our marketing issues?

I think not!  As powerful and effective as these mediums can be, they are not at the core of what makes brands strong.  The most important thing is an effective marketing strategy. Without it, no combination of TGIF can resurrect a bad brand or sustain a good one.  Al Ries, chairman of Ries & Ries effectively made this very point in an article in Ad Age.  He emphasized that better strategies, not better weapons, win wars. And he gave some compelling examples.

Linen N Things didn’t go bankrupt because it didn’t effectively use Twitter. It went bankrupt because it was a knock off of Bed Bath & Beyond and never differentiated itself from the market leader.

DHL didn’t pull out of the U.S. market because it didn’t buy enough AdWords from Google but because it was the No. 3 brand in a category dominated by UPS and FedEx.

Kmart didn’t go bankrupt because it couldn’t figure out how to use the internet to promote the brand. Rather it went bankrupt because it was caught in no man’s land between low cost Wal-Mart and the high end Target.

Coca-Cola didn’t fail in 3 attempts to build a leading energy drink brand (KMX, Full Throttle and Tab) because it didn’t have a Facebook page but because it waited too long after the launch of Red Bull.

The point is obvious.  While TGIF are useful, effective and should be important elements in most marketing campaigns, they will not compensate for a bad marketing strategy. As Ries states, “what wins wars are better strategies.”   We sometimes spend a lot of time analyzing and utilizing Twitter, Google, the Internet and Facebook and not nearly enough time developing a strong effective strategy.  Without a good strategy, no medium will be effective.  With an effective strategy, just about every medium can be effective.

Let’s do the hard work.  Let’s focus on our brand strategy.  Then we will be prepared to choose the appropriate tactics to win the brand wars.


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