As hospital marketing transforms itself to adapt to the quickly changing face of healthcare insurance and the constantly increasing digital demands of consumers/patients, hospital marketers need to become more adept than ever at negotiating the murky waters between conventional and modern-day techniques. Some “old faithful” advertising strategies may need to be abandoned in favor of newer, more effective marketing methodologies. To help marketers successfully make this transition, here are five questions to ask about your hospital marketing plan:
- Is our website getting the job done? Your website is not there for the benefit of the Board of Directors. It is there to inform and educate patients/consumers about what your hospital offers, explain how you treat patients, and to provide helpful education regarding current medical issues and patient health. If your website contains more “we” than “you” statements, it is probably time to make some changes.
- Can our hospital be found online? The number of consumers who look for medical information online is increasing dramatically every day. If you have not included search engine optimization (SEO) into your marketing plan, your hospital will be less likely to make the list when they are searching for information. A few may come directly to your website, but the vast majority will go through the search engine process first.
- Do we stand out from our competition? It may be hard to think of medical care as being in a competitive environment but the reality is changing constantly. Ambulatory care facilities, off-site surgery suites, and expanded medical offices are all trying to take business away from the traditional hospital mindset. Each hospital needs to have a unique branding message that quickly creates a picture in patients’ minds of why they should utilize its medical services. If you don’t know why patients should come to your hospital first, neither will they.
- Have we included the physicians? Few patients make a choice of where to receive hospital services entirely on their own. Most involve a family physician at some point in the decision-making process. A successful hospital marketing plan must include an outreach component to local physicians to build a favorable impression of the hospital and further motivate service endorsements.
- Are we social? Social media is the new communications vehicle for modern-day consumers. Blogs can be used to communicate vital medical information to various target audiences, while Facebook posts and LinkedIn updates can support a constant stream of “touch marketing” in order to stay top-of-mind. These communication forums are frequently two-way so it will be necessary to monitor and respond when information or clarification is requested.
A transformation like this cannot be made overnight. It will take careful planning and a strategic rollout of the various communication components. As elements are brought online they will need to be tracked and analyzed for effectiveness, so that changes can be made as needed. Perhaps the most important question to ask about your hospital marketing plan is - Is it working?