The healthcare environment has changed beyond recognition of the last decades. Not only is the sector more competitive than ever before but patients are increasingly demanding. They have also been bombarded with information from healthcare providers. In order to capture the imagination of consumers – and ensure their loyalty, many healthcare providers have resorted to dubious claims when it comes to their service provision.
However – the changing state of the healthcare sector has also meant that providers of quality healthcare options today have access to a variety of channels that simply did not exist a generation ago. So how do they leverage the new healthcare marketing opportunities?
The challenges for a variety of organizations within the wider healthcare environment may be slightly different depending on the services they provide. Healthcare providers, suppliers, insurance companies and even advocacy groups are now focused on attracting new patients, retaining existing patients and positioning their brand.
In order to effectively leverage marketing budgets, they are using a marketing mix that consists of old favorites combined with the power of one-to-one communication with their clients. This today often relies on the power of social media combined with traditional above the line approaches. When this mix is carefully balanced with the strategic requirements of the healthcare provider it can be tremendously powerful – but getting it wrong can have disastrous consequences.
The power of social media is twofold. it allows healthcare providers to form an intimate relationship with their target audience by supplying information and responding to questions and needs in a manner which is both focused and timed in its execution.
Done well it also relies on the power of the interaction between those who use social media to make recommendations to their peers and allows the organization to position itself as expert. however, the power of social media can be a double-edged sword – get the messaging wrong and often there is no going back. those same messages cannot be recalled – the viral nature of the messaging means that the key messages can spread like wildfire – and mistakes mean that it is often a case of going to crisis control in order to correct those mistakes. that is often a costly and time-consuming effort – and there is every possibility that damage control can in itself lead to even further problems that adversely affect the good standing of a healthcare brand.
The social media is an incredibly valuable resource that relies on the 21stcentury equivalent of word of mouth. That word of mouth transforms patients into company spokespeople – and there are very few marketing strategies that will carry as much weight as a personal recommendation. however the communication and marketing efforts need to be carefully thought out – and messaging needs to be consistent and take place on a regular basis.
The first step in ensuring that the healthcare marketing campaign will deliver is to audit the existing marketing strategy and the channels that are being employed to convey messages. The marketing campaign needs to take into account the communication needs of a wide variety of patients and potential patients. Demographic analysis is at the heart of developing a healthcare marketing campaign that reaches this diverse group at the right time and with the right messaging that services their unique requirements.
Once that in-depth analysis has been completed then your healthcare marketing agency’s team can begin to sculpt those essential key messages and choose which channels will be most effective at reaching the audience. once this planning has taken place the launch of the marketing campaign needs to be handled with care and ensure that messaging conforms to regulations governing what sort of marketing is allowed. Then the effectiveness of the campaign needs a constant program of evaluation.
There are numerous tools that are freely available that provide metrics to the marketing team which allow extremely quick and effective ‘tweaks’ to the campaign as it rolls out. The old saying that states ‘if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it’ is nowhere more true than when rolling out that all-important healthcare marketing plan.
It is important for the marketing team to realize that effective campaign will rely on both special media efforts and the ‘owned real estate’ of the company – in this case, the organization’s web site.
A professional website that supplies easy to understand information and leverages the power of search engine optimization is one of the foundations of any successful marketing campaign. This is especially important given the fact that the latest research indicates that over 75% of patients looking for a healthcare provider will make use of the Internet in order to help them make their choice (Pew Research Center – ‘Internet & American Life Project’).
So the guidelines to rolling out a successful healthcare marketing plan are at their core simple. Plan carefully, analyze your target audiences, develop effective key messaging- measure again and again. By following these core principles a healthcare provider will be able to differentiate their offerings from those of the competition – and ensure that the sales funnel keeps being fed.
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