South Florida Hospital News
Friday December 6, 2019
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December 2011 - Volume 8 - Issue 6

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Successful Strategies in Healthcare Marketing

Consumers today are bombarded with marketing messages, with advertisers willing to try just about any strategy or tactic to get their attention. For healthcare marketers, this means having to be highly targeted to break through the clutter and extend often finite resources. While patients count on physicians and hospitals to help them and their loved ones feel better, more often than not, healthcare marketers are promoting a service that consumers may not immediately need or much less want to consider having.
 
Over the past few years, the web has brought forth tremendous change to our industry. Consumers today have instant access to health information 24 hours a day. Social media has changed the way we connect and communicate with our friends and family and how healthcare providers connect with patients and the community at large. Despite the influence and effects of the internet, effective marketing still requires planning, research, and focus.
 
Before you venture into developing a single ad, be sure to chart your path by drafting a marketing plan. It’s important to decide which services you are going to promote and when. If you plan to promote a specific service line, be sure you have capacity to accommodate new patients. The worst thing you can do is market a product or service you can’t deliver on. This is especially true in healthcare. How can a patient trust a facility with their medical needs, for example, if they can’t get someone on the phone to book an appointment? Word of mouth works both ways, and making promises you can’t deliver on can have detrimental consequences.
 
In order for an ad to be effective, it must be geared towards the right audience and it must be true to your brand. In other words, don’t pretend to be something or someone you are not. Slick ads are great, but you must be able back them up. Make sure your ads are relevant, engaging, and focused to the target audience.
Social media has created new opportunities to reach consumers in ways we could not have imagined just a few years ago. Like traditional media, e-marketing initiatives need to be thought out in advance. While establishing a presence on these sites is cost-free, pages must be updated with relevant content in order to generate interest and followers. In addition, healthcare marketers must consider the pros and cons of allowing folks to comment on their institution’s page, such as on Facebook. Allowing such comments opens the door to more communication which can be positive, but may also require constant oversight so potential concerns can be addressed on the spot.
 
While most hospital workers will tell you that the ER is the front door of their institution, the reality is more and more consumers are forming opinions and perceptions based on an institution’s website – the new front door. The need for an interactive website that provides relevant information is no longer a luxury, it’s a requirement. Patients are more informed and willing to take the time to research information on and about your hospital or medical practice. Be sure to include relevant information and easy access to physician profiles and medical services offered. Contact information should be evident throughout.
 
Any good marketing plan will also include public relations efforts such as community outreach and earned media placements. While health reporters are hard to find these days, don’t underestimate the power of a good article or TV news story. A reporter’s word often carries more value than an ad and is a highly effective way to reach consumers.
 
The last few years have brought a lot of change to the healthcare marketing arena and more can be expected as healthcare reform takes shape and new electronic communication tools emerge. All aspects of the industry are evolving, however, basic marketing principles remain true - effective marketing requires invaluable research, extensive planning, intended focus and long term commitment.
 
 
 
Robert Alonso is the president-elect of the Florida Society for Healthcare Public Relations and Marketing and the director of marketing at Mount Sinai Medical Center. He can be reached at (305) 674-2600 or Robert.alonso@msmc.com.
 
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