Marketing for a healthcare organization is somewhat complicated – the marketing channels and mediums you will be utilizing are more or less the same as for any other business, you will need to tactfully shape existing strategies to fit your specific needs.
Generally, strategies for a healthcare practice will fit into seven categories:
Referral Marketing, Internet Marketing, Branding, Customer Marketing, Traditional Marketing, Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives and Public Relations.
This article will consider 16 different healthcare marketing strategies under these strategies.
People who have health needs in one area often have simultaneous health needs in other areas. One of the smartest strategies you can employ is getting your colleagues and complementary practices to send patients your way:
You can establish partnerships with other healthcare practitioners in the area, so that you may refer certain cases to them and vice versa. Typically, this sort of partnership exists between two healthcare organizations in related, but separate fields. For example, a medical practice might refer an accident patient in need of oral surgery to a particular dental practice.
A smart way to ensure a steady flow of referrals is to incentivize the source. Apart from reciprocating by sending patients their way, you can also offer discounts to patients referred from a particular source. This way, patients may be more likely to choose your partner healthcare organization simply because they will be getting a discount from you.
An important consideration here is that when a healthcare organization makes a referral, they are indirectly endorsing another organization, and this will require that the recipient organization be reliable and trustworthy. You will need to earn and maintain the confidence of your partners and this means being competent, consistent, and maintaining open lines of communication.
The internet is an economical yet highly effective channel for marketing and advertising; even with a modest budget, you can reach a targeted audience in need of your services. Here are some digital marketing strategies you can use:
Blogs are not just sets of articles published randomly – a planned content strategy can be extremely effective for any business and can really help you gain traction and grow your customer base. Blog posts allow you to communicate directly with your existing and potential customers for next-to-nothing in costs. With a well-planned and executed content marketing campaign:
- Your practice will increase in popularity
- Clients will begin to see you as an expert in your field
- You can successfully build an online community around your services
- Use paid advertising opportunities
These include paid ads on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, as well as search engines such as Google and Bing. Running an ad campaign is simple enough, but succeeding in creating a cost-effective funnel, which results in potential customers and leads, requires technical knowledge and marketing experience. If done properly, paid advertising can be well worth the money spent.
You can host live webinars to offer training, discuss certain procedures or services, or answer questions about medical or health-related issues. Setting up webinars is a cost-effective way of reaching out to potential and existing customers, delivering value and building your brand.
Both free and paid digital marketing channels can be used to promote your live webinars and get the maximum number of viewers to commit.
Having an effective call-to-action is one of the key steps in converting visitors into prospects. You should include a clear and bold call-to-action in all your marketing efforts, and particularly on your website. Though a call-to-action may seem like a small element, it requires a lot of input; from using the right colors to the right words and placement – everything matters.
In order to effectively build your brand, you need to determine what your values are, and then select the most suitable channels and tools to convey these to your client base. People generally prefer to patronize established brands because they represent quality, and in the case of healthcare organizations, it usually means they can be trusted. Here are some strategies you can employ to create a strong brand that stands out from the crowd:
Factors, such as being multilingual, or have participated in certain charitable events, could be great unique selling propositions, and may help convince prospects to give your practice a try. Ideally, you should identify a unique factor that relates to an area of strength for your healthcare organization and try to capitalize on it.
From the moment a patient walks through the doors of your practice, they should be exposed to your brand – you do not want to be just another gynecologist or dentist; you want your practice to be memorable. This can only happen if you take pride in your brand and ensure that customers identify it on cards, brochures, calendars and marketing collateral.
For healthcare organizations which offer services and sell a host of third-party products, there is a risk of brand dilution. If you must sell third-party products, you should associate yourself with stronger brands and look into potential white-labeling deals as your practice grows.
Customer marketing targets your existing customer base, aiming to improve retention and create advocates. Some customer marketing strategies include:
This strategy should not be confused with sourcing professional referrals from other healthcare organizations and practices. In this case, you will be seeking referrals from patients. You can offer rewards such as discounts for patients who refer others to you. You may also want to reward individual loyalty with free checkups after a certain period of time and so on.
When looking for a new healthcare organization, patients invariably ask around and get feedback from those who have had some experience. You can take advantage of this by having your patients put up testimonials and positive reviews for your service. Testimonials, when done right, are very powerful marketing tools.
This refers to the conventional methods of advertising used to reach audiences at large. Such methods include billboard advertising, radio, television, etc. As a healthcare provider, however, following in the footsteps of more commercial/consumer-oriented businesses may not be the best approach.
While some consider it distasteful for doctors to advertise, healthcare is more business-oriented today than ever. You can play it safe by going for a conservative message, or better still, simply focusing on your brand’s values. When it comes to traditional advertising, a picture really does speak louder than words, so for example, if you are general practitioner with a focus on families, a billboard portraying the same with a memorable copy would do the trick.
Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives
CSR projects are typically thought of as being the domain of big companies; however, this is not necessarily the case, and even smaller healthcare practices can take on a few CSR initiatives to great effect. Here are some ideas you can use:
People care about certain causes and they tend to connect with other people who feel the same way. You could show support for the fight against cancer, for example, by offering free cancer screening and consultation.
If your practice is not big enough to make an impact, you might want to consider entering into a strategic partnership with a bigger company, which has more PR exposure. For example, you could find a company in an unrelated field that would like to execute a medical/health based CSR initiative and has the funding but not the medical expertise. Your practice could provide this expertise for free and benefit from the publicity.
A lot of people confuse public relations with advertising. While public relations and advertising may frequently take the same forms, the former is about mutually beneficial promotion while the latter entails paid coverage. Here are some smart PR strategies you can employ for your healthcare practice:
You should try and connect with local media houses in your area, and let them know who you are and how you are contributing to the local community’s well being (refer to #13: support a cause). You can also highlight activities and developments such as expanding health care to different areas, offering a free service to veterans and so on. As with any other professional field, networking is a really important component of successful PR strategies.
Media people are always looking for a story to tell. You can leverage this by crafting a narrative worth coverage. Typically, stories which demonstrate major successes, highlight heroic/selfless actions or perhaps even feature celebrities, take off and can easily go viral.
As a healthcare business, you may feel that your marketing opportunities are limited, but as we discussed throughout this article, success lies in shaping existing strategies to fit your needs and requirements. At Cam Myers Marketing, we specialize in unconventional marketing strategies that deliver results, and would love to have a chat and discuss how we can help get you more exposure and strengthen your healthcare brand.