The healthcare landscape gets more competitive every day, which means marketing is no longer a “nice-to-have” for hospitals.
While hospital marketing may not have a direct impact on patient care, a well-executed marketing strategy is just as important to the success and growth of a hospital as the human resources and accounting departments.
Here are three steps you should follow to create a superior hospital marketing strategy.
Start with a Strong Marketing Plan
Building an effective hospital marketing plan starts with knowing the following:
- Your Audience
- Your Strengths
- Your Weaknesses
- Your Goals
Before launching a promotional campaign, the most important task is to understand your audience. This includes determining not only demographics but also your audience’s wants and needs. What matters most to them? What kind of health concerns do they have? What treatments are they looking for? Don’t get caught up in what your hospital feels are the most valuable services and procedures it offers — think about what is most important to your community.
You should also keep in mind your audience isn’t only made up of patients but physicians as well. Therefore, your hospital marketing should also highlight the ways your organization is improving healthcare, such as your investment in research, innovative procedures or cutting-edge healthcare technology.
Once you determine your audience, you must look internally and evaluate your organization and how it is run. Consider performing a SWOT analysis to identify your hospital's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. A SWOT analysis arms you with the data you need to be objective about your hospital and determine the best way to approach your marketing. It also gives insight into potential issues before they arise so you can be proactive and prepared.
Consider these three factors when choosing a focus for your services: 1) potential for market share growth, 2) contribution to the hospital’s bottom line and 3) the number of referring physicians. Your hospital marketing goals should be based on promoting the services that will most impact your revenue and your physician relationships. Use the information from the SWOT analysis to help guide you as you define your organization’s goals.
Once you have a strong marketing plan in place, you need to get the word out.
Concentrate on Content
Where does the majority of your audience search first for information? The internet. This means your main priority should be building an online presence that is user-friendly and full of useful information both patients and healthcare providers will find helpful.
You don’t necessarily have to create lengthy reports full of clinical terminology to establish your hospital as an industry leader. Instead, create more short-form content such as blog posts and expert Q&A’s to attract more casual visitors. You can still have longer content pieces on your site aimed at attracting clinicians — just don’t focus all of your energy there.
Interviewing your top physicians and nurses about their professional and personal lives allows your hospital to showcase the expertise and personalities of the individuals who work there. You can transcribe the conversation and upload it as a blog post, record the conversation and post it as a video on your site or both.
You should also use social media to share articles about the latest in healthcare tips and advice, interesting videos and news about the hospital. Both patients and providers browse Facebook and Twitter for information, so it’s in your hospital’s best interest to promote the organization on these channels.
Offer Community Health Programs
In addition to providing a positive experience when your audience is online, you should also go out into the community and provide a positive in-person experience via community health programs.
By giving your audience more convenient access to care and offering preventive services on their schedule, you’re showing the community your hospital cares about them. This will encourage patients to seek out your organization when they are in need of treatment. When you offer free assessments and screenings as well as literature on enhancing wellness, it inspires patients to take control of their health and actively seek out providers like those at your hospital to help them improve their well-being.
Building effective hospital marketing campaigns will undoubtedly require a sizable investment but you shouldn’t let that be a deterrent. As Henry Ford said, “A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”
Another way to improve the success of your hospital is to ensure your organization is investing in the right medical devices. Read our free guide, The Hospital Administrator’s Handbook to Understanding Medical Device Approvals, and get the information you need to make the best decision for your facility.