If you’re feeling like your healthcare company’s marketing plan could use an overhaul for the new year, now is the perfect time to start reassessing. With the pandemic putting the healthcare industry in a state of flux for the past few years, you might find that your marketing strategy moved off of center – and necessarily so – and now’s the time to recommit to executing on a growth trajectory.
Before diving in to tactical execution, make sure you’re speaking to the right people and delivering the messages that will make the most impact in 2023. Here’s how you can reassess your marketing plan and start the new year with a clean slate for a more effective strategy.
Define your audience
When taking a step back to reassess your marketing plan, the first task is to clearly define your target audience to make sure you have a clear view of who your patients really are. In recent years, health systems are increasingly moving away from broad, service-line based marketing and are instead focusing more on the patient journey by providing tailored content to specific patient populations. This approach to marketing relies heavily on having accurate market research and patient data for success.
A helpful exercise to identify who your patients are is to create patient profiles that describe the different types of common patients that interact with your company—their age ranges, how engaged they are in their own healthcare, what they like, what services they are likely to use, etc. You can use data from your existing patient database to look for these trends. If you need to grow beyond your existing patient type, conduct research within your service area to identify the different patient types nearby.
Establish your owned channels
Now that you have a clear picture of who your target patient audiences are, establish your owned communication channels in support of speaking directly to those audiences. This includes your website, blog, social media profiles, email and/or newsletter lists and apps. Start creating informative content that answers health questions patients are asking. Google reports that up to 7% of daily searches on its platform are health-related topics. That’s more than 1 billion health queries every day! With all these people looking for helpful health information, its crucial to position your company or health system as a trusted source of information. Plus, being the one with the answers can spark patient interest in your brand.
These strong content offerings will help boost your organic reach and can be destinations for your paid marketing campaigns. For this content to be the most successful, don’t gatekeep it all behind a patient portal. This blocks your valuable content from new leads and doesn’t offer SEO benefits for you.
A great example of a helpful content offer for your website is a health risk assessment. Give patients the opportunity to fill out a short, free health risk assessment and then give them the option to opt in to receiving follow up information from you. This is a great way to have your audience assign themselves into customer segments so you can better tailor content to their needs and concerns. You can also aggregate the data from this survey to get more information about what your patient population looks like as a whole.
Evaluate your media channels
The next step to evaluate your current marketing is to take a look at where you’re spending your advertising dollars. Ideally, you want to have a mixed media approach that utilizes a variety of channels. Remember, consumers can more easily recall your brand if they hear and see your message in multiple places. A good mixed media strategy would include both digital and traditional media.
In fact, in our digital world it can be tempting to discount traditional media, but we think that would be a mistake. Mass media outlets can be a great place to share overarching brand communications and some traditional channels even offer tools for better audience targeting than before. In TV and radio there are tools you can use to buy programming and get audience data to better plan mass campaigns for people who are in your patient population. For example, you could have your ads run during programming where the audience is known to over-index for using certain health systems, helping you target patients who are more likely to be in-network for the services you provide.
Think outside the box
Once your core marketing and advertising strategy has been re-evaluated, then you can start to look for new or less traditional ways to expand your company’s or health system’s reach.
Are you utilizing social responsibility marketing? This is the practice of sharing the way your brand is making a difference in the world. To help your organization be more active in aiding in local public health initiatives, have representation on a local healthcare alliance’s board. This will give you intimate knowledge of the public health challenges in your area so your brand’s philanthropic arm can be active in making a difference in the community you serve. Then you can share this effort with your followers on your owned channels to build brand goodwill.
Another way to think outside the box would be to look at your net promotor score (NPS) in new ways. Some healthcare companies compare their NPS numbers against brands from other industries like retail and consumer goods. This can help you identify new areas where you can improve the customer service experience for patients. For example, if you have online bill pay, compare your NPS in that area to Chase’s. The more you make your products on par with similar experiences consumers are having in other areas of their everyday lives, the more favorably patients will view their interactions with your brand.
If you want an agency partner on your side to help you objectively re-evaluate your marketing strategy, we can help. At B&Y, we have deep experience helping companies in the healthcare industry set themselves apart from the competition and build trust with patients. Reach out to start a conversation.