Sunday, January 28, 2018

Hospital Marketing Appears Random and Unconnected, Says the Insured Healthcare Consumer

The eye rolls commence from across the industry at the sight of the headline with everyone thinking; I have a marketing plan. We are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media channels. We even have the annual wellness calendar telling us when it’s time be doing things.  And on and on.

I don’t know about you, but I consider myself an insured healthcare consumer.

So, what has this got to do with anything in the headline?

A lot.

Because to the insured healthcare consumer, it’s all random noise that is not connected. And it is random in part because there is no sustainable or continuous market presence.

For example, the other day I received a direct mail newsletter from a hospital. Well, saying “I received” is probably misleading. Whomever the person that lives here named Resident is the one who received the mail. It was the first time I had heard from that provider in years.


Out of the blue comes a direct mail piece. Which by the way, though nicely produced, did not engage me in any meaningful way? Oh, you do surgery and have a new shiny MRI? Big deal, so does all the other hospitals. I am supposed to choose you because of that?  Hmm, try again.

The random advertisement is running once or twice. The cable TV spot on a couple of channels. The occasional update on the Facebook page. Look, there’s a billboard. Heard that sports radio program sponsorship.  But none of it is connected or sustained.


The insured healthcare consumer is omnichannel. The insured healthcare consumer is wired to the omnichannel Internet of Things. The insured healthcare consumer expects to be communicated with on their terms in a meaningful way that engages them on a personal level. The insured healthcare consumer expects that it is all about them and not all about the hospital.

It’s not about the hospital marketing plan and showing the activity of doing random things that appear coherent on paper. It’s about how you consistently use those activities and channels with a sustainable market presence to bring measurable value that engages the insured healthcare consumer.

And you can’t engage or demonstrate a meaningful value proposition to the insured healthcare consumer when your marketing is so random in appearance to the consumer.

Healthcare changed in a way unimaginable from a few years ago, but hospitals seem to be living in a bubble in many ways acting like the consumer healthcare market hasn’t changed.  I know that this isn’t easy but my goodness, at some point hospitals must get their go to market strategy figured out and start meeting the insured healthcare consumer on their terms.

The insured healthcare consumer understands that they only need a hospital for three things, emergency care, intensive care and care for acute complex medical conditions. 

Even though marketing budgets are constrained, it is the responsibility of marketers for figuring out the strategy for a continuous and sustainable market presence in an omnichannel world. Senior leadership and Boards need to come to grips with this reality as well. It’s not about you anymore, and it hasn’t been for a very long time.

And your first step is to bring the marketing voice back to the senior leadership table as a vice president position reporting to the CEO.  Without that voice at the table and the respect that comes along with it, not much changes. 

Your hospital marketing is random and unconnected to the healthcare consumer. Stay that way, and it will be like a crime scene, move along, nothing to see here.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Post opinions are my own.

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

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