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Maximize Medical Reviews to Market Your Hospital

When it comes to healthcare, patients are consumers, just like with any other industry. Consumers like to share reviews on how their experiences went with a provider, and healthcare is no different.

In a day and age where the average adult spends over 20 hours a week online, with 28% of that time on social media sites, it’s impossible to ignore the potential of internet marketing and management.

It’s imperative to understand the clout of online patient reviews.

One in four new patients report having chosen a physician based on a website reviews. Furthermore, the power of influence is growing, with some insurance companies even linking patients back to these sites. While posts on medical review sites (such as Healthgrades, Yelp, Vitals, etc.) are anonymous, there are tactics that can be used to elevate the good and combat the bad, overall boosting a hospital’s online reputation.

Visibility

With around 80% of customers searching the Internet for information on doctors, it’s important your healthcare facility is visible on all of the most important medical review sites.

Studies have shown that Healthgrades® is the most searched medical review site, with Yelp following close behind. Placing your hospital on these sites gives consumers an enormous amount of confidence in the brand. It is greatly advised that you do not discourage patients from critique with tactics such as a contractual agreement that prohibits a patient from public reviews. Many hospitals and practices have such tactics in place and are building a relationship of mistrust, suspicion, and hostility.

That being said, too much visibility can negatively affect your online reputation just as easily. Be sure to have a policy in place that advises all of your staff to have private social media accounts for socializing, and public/professional accounts for engaging in medical groups and gaining public trust.

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Positioning yourself online, in any platform, makes your hospital open to extreme criticism. There are a few tactics one can take to encourage positive reviews and dissuade the bad from emerging.

As each new generation enters the age where they are seeking health care without parental supervision, the Internet savvy of hospital consumers increases. Newer patients searching for online medical reviews can tell the difference between an authentic and fake review. When requesting reviews, ask your patients directly. Do not rely on family and friends to boost your positive feedback. Advise physicians to ask their patients they have a strong relationship with to take a moment to review their work and the hospital. Not all patients will oblige, but some will.

Another tactic to generate positive commentary is to give surveys to recurring patients while they wait for their scheduled appointment. Linking to an online review site at the end of a survey could generate traffic. You can also link to review sites through a follow-up email. Think of your follow-up emails as a medical thank you card. Kindness goes a long way with patients, and sending a thank you card encourages a strong bedside manner.

Want to discourage consumers from ranting and raving their negative experiences online for the world to see? Presenting complaint cards to patients provides the consumer a chance to get their anger out before going public, declining the likelihood of taking it online.

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Once placed on any medical review website, commentary on your services (good and bad) will begin to appear. It’s important to do a consistent scan of these sites for new reviews. It is highly likely that more than a few patients will be disappointed in the outcome of their treatment and say so online.

Respond to these reviews in a timely and conscientious manner. With a proper response, other patients may even come to your defense. Acknowledge the person’s complaint, show a commitment to improving your service, and encourage the distressed patient to contact you directly in order to discuss their complaint and come to a resolution.

Utilize the power of medical review websites! Not only do they encourage more patients to use your healthcare facilityl, with enough positive reviews, you can boost your credibility with Google and receive a higher ranking on search engine results!

Want to learn more tips to market your hospital online? Check out this blog for more information!

Need help marketing your healthcare facility? Contact Jimmy Warren today.


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 all 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!

How Guerrilla Marketing Lessons Make Hospital Marketing Better

Hospital marketing is becoming crucial, and as the world becomes more digital, so is the need to be seen. How do you stand out?

Exploring non-traditional marketing techniques, like guerrilla marketing, could be the answer. Hospital marketing services everywhere are overlooking this technique. Let’s talk more about how we can learn valuable lessons from guerrilla marketing that can be applied to more traditional marketing efforts.

Defining Guerilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing hasn’t ever been fully defined. Most marketers view it as a method of grabbing attention for a brand in a bold, unexpected, and low-cost way.

But, there is more to guerrilla marketing than just being cheap and surprising. An effective guerrilla marketing campaign also produces an emotional connection. It must captivate an audience by affecting its mood through humor, empathy, fear, etc.

Guerrilla marketing tactics must also be beneficial to the customer. Customers enjoy being a part of something bigger than themselves. Guerrilla marketing tends to lend itself to that, but it takes highly innovative hospital marketing services team to create such a campaign.

You Have To Get Creative

As with any marketing strategy, guerrilla marketing requires a fully fleshed-out plan.

First, you must have a strong understanding of your target audience. With a deep understanding you can create a campaign that is more likely to produce an emotional reaction from your audience. Step inside their shoes to know what they are looking for.

Second, you must dig deep into your creative mind. The most essential part of guerrilla marketing is innovation. In the day and age where YouTube videos are going viral daily, it can be difficult to produce such a campaign. Focus on capturing attention, and then providing something that an audience feels benefits them.

Think about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. People all around the world were throwing buckets of ice over their heads to feel a part of a community, and more importantly, to feel like they were making a difference.

What did they get in return? A good feeling, a sense of community, and an opportunity to better the world.

It takes creativity, but when properly implemented, guerrilla marketing can be remarkably effective.

Non-traditional Hospital Marketing Services

Guerrilla marketing is out there. It represents something far from traditional marketing, but as marketing for hospitals grows more and more necessary, exploring more non-traditional techniques is important.

By learning from non-traditional methods like guerrilla marketing, you could set your hospital apart from the competition, gain new patients, and create a stronger sense of community within your current clientele.

Are you interested in taking lessons from non-traditional marketing styles and applying them to marketing for your hospital? Contact TotalCom Hospital Marketing today!

Hospital Marketing: Media Buying Negotiations

As any hospital marketing director knows, media buying is essential to the success of a marketing campaign. But one overlooked skill in buying media is negotiation.

Negotiating is key because ad budgets are limited, and the better the rates you can get for your placements, the more reach you can effectively generate. Also, advertising space is not unlimited, which creates a need for negotiating and being selective when choosing channels.

Here are tips for negotiating during your media buying process to get the best deals from your vendors.

Negotiating Radio and Broadcast

Generally, rates for radio are negotiable because there is a fixed amount of inventory. Competition drives prices for these rates up; a lack of competition pushes them down. Fortunately, there is usually a wealth of radio outlets in a given market (if it’s large enough), which means you will more than likely have several chances to reach your target audience. This helps you because you can play one station against another and get lower rates.

For broadcast, that same principle applies. Another principle is timing. Since many broadcast outlets publish their fall schedules in May, buying at that time can give you special deals and packages in an effort to convince you to pay early in the year.

Negotiating with Print

Print is a different animal than broadcast and radio because there are few opportunities to negotiate on rate. Rather, what you’re negotiating for is what comes with your buy i.e., other services they can include, such as additional ads, special positioning, reader response cards, free color, and so on.

Since many print outlets are now also digital outlets, there are even package deals with their online properties and ad networks that can be negotiated for. (Often this works in reverse, too; if you are placing ads digitally with them, they often offer special incentives to place ads in the print edition as well.)

Hiring a Hospital Marketing Agency

The best all-around negotiating advice is to leave it to the professionals who negotiate regularly with media buying representatives at outlets. Agencies are advantageous for hospitals because they not only have experience, but also have established relationships with outlets over the years that can be used to your advantage.

Managing media and ad buying is not easy. Hire an experienced hospital marketing agency to help you develop your marketing network and manage your media purchases. Learn how with Jimmy Warren at TotalCom Marketing today!

The Evolution of Hospital Marketing

Healthcare is an ever-changing field with new technological advancements and discoveries being made every day. Healthcare marketing is similarly constantly developing. For this reason, competition is fierce. Learn from a hospital marketing agency what is essential to carry your organization to success.

Identify Your Customer

Identifying the customer has evolved significantly in the healthcare marketing field. Formerly, the only differentiation was by geography. A hospital could target those who were in its general vicinity, but that was it. Now, however, the specialization of healthcare – mixed with new digital technology – allows us to go further, beyond those limitations.

For those of us in healthcare, it can often be challenging to explicitly establish a target audience. However, it is different for every type of organization.

Therefore, it is important that you know your audience in order to cater to their wants and needs. Does your consumer need immediate medication or do they want personalized bedside care? Do they need immediate emergency room services or do they want to lose weight and look better? Through a hospital marketing agency, your hospital can tailor your message accordingly.

Depending on your services, a hospital marketing agency can help you cater to specific demographics. You can target income, age, geographical location, even personal preferences. Creating health programs or incentives often drives consumer traffic. Beyond that, engagement online is critical.

Make Digital a Cornerstone of Your Strategy

Over the past decade, healthcare marketing has become more common and more digital. Practices, healthcare organizations, hospitals, and rehab facilities are all engaging with potential consumers online.

For your marketing efforts to be successful, your organization must comprehend the importance of engagement in healthcare marketing. Like with any relationship, communication is key and must work both ways. Establishing an online platform makes you responsible for proactively listening and responding to feedback from your customers.

Digital marketing is of crucial importance today. Boston Children’s Hospital, for example, grew net revenues from $1 billion to $1.4 billion largely on the back of a shift to digital marketing over a period of just one year.

Also, keep in mind, 84 percent of all patients turned to the Internet to choose doctors, specialists, and hospitals. A third of all patients use online reviews to make judgments on where they will receive treatment.

Combine your digital marketing strategy with traditional methods like radio, television, and print ads to truly see your ROI increase. Hire an experienced hospital marketing agency to help you develop your marketing strategy. Learn how with Jimmy Warren at TotalCom Marketing today.

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.