Sunday, August 16, 2015

Is it time to make hospital marketing stickier?

With all the things that hospital leadership and healthcare marketing executives have on their plates and keeping them up at night, here’s a new one.  And unfortunately, it’s out of one’s control and no exceptions are allowed.

The economy has shifted from a product and service economy to an experience economy. Hospitals and health systems, any healthcare provider really, are operating in an economy that is radically different then the past.

Being paid for the production of care in fee-for-service model is a product and service approach to healthcare. Marketing to drive utilization to do more things is product and service marketing focused on feature and claims but not necessarily benefits. And with all the healthcare providers taking product marketing features approach, it’s no wonder then, that little differentiation exists in the market resulting in provider marketing that is not sticky.

Nobody remembers the advertisements.  But the healthcare and patient remembers what they saw on social media or the Internet. The healthcare consumer is talking and searching for healthcare information to learn and make choices.  But is the hospital or health system listening?

Welcome to the experience economy, where the experience of care trumps the products and services of care.

“In an experience economy, it’s not about what you do, but more about how you do it.”, Grant Leboff, Sticker Marketing- How To Win Customers In A Digital Age.
Now what?

Time for change.

To grow and thrive in the experience economy while all else is in flames around the hospital or health system, it means moving from traditional marketing, to experiential marketing that addresses  needs of and meets the experience expectations of the healthcare consumer and patient.

Making provider marketing sticky is all about the care experience and engagement of the person on a very personal level. And given the multitude of ways, one of the most effective will be social media.

Social media is about amplification. Amplification of the experience. Amplification of the brand messaging. Amplification of marketing that is sticky. 

Time to go where the healthcare consumer and patient can be found:

59 percent of adults look online for health information
39 percent use the Internet to figure out their diagnosis
53 percent discuss the information and their diagnosis they found online with a clinician
41 percent of consumer online diagnoses are confirmed by the clinician
41 percent say social media would influence their choice of hospital or doctor
Source: AIS Media, Social Media For Medical Marketing Webinar, August 12, 2015

What the above all represents is how in an experience economy consumers take action.  Not necessarily responding to traditional marketing, they are looking for the experience of what you do, not how you do it with technology, bricks and mortar or smiling physicians accepting new patients.

Here are 10 new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier:

  • Understand fully and completely the healthcare consumer and person experience. With over 147 touch-points for consumer and patient experience with a hospital. It’s vital in the experience economy that marketing understands what information they are seeking, and deliver it to them at the right experience touch-point with the right call-to-action.
  •  Content is king. Make it memorable. It’s how you drive engagement through effective and compelling storytelling around the experience of care, not the how of the care.  From the web site to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope etc, focus on the experience. Be visual. Be compelling.
  • Identify and work with key influencers.  They need to ample your message through social media. Encourage user generated content.
  • Testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and healthcare consumers.
  • Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages and brand promise across all channels.
  • Use social media and SEO to amplify your message. Influencer’s and patients providing testimonials need to complete online reviews to raise your placement in Google and other search engine results.
  • Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms that consumer will use- desk top, smartphone or tablet for a seamless experience. No disconnects. The healthcare consumer moves freely between all three devices expecting the same experience across all three.
  • Traditional marketing needs to focus more on the price, outcomes, experience and drive engagement.  No more pretty building, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment. 
  • Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider.
  • Teach the healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.


Many traditional healthcare consultants and firms will say this is just all nonsense.  That marketing really makes has no place in the experience or engagement management process.  But then when you look at that advice, have any real, tangible, and measurable results been accomplished outside of hearing what one desires to be told? Or, it just treading water until the next healthcare market move slaps one upside the head?

There is no escaping or slowing down the experience economy as it overtakes healthcare.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

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