Sunday, February 11, 2018

How Can Hospitals Make Their Marketing Stickier? Ten Steps.

Hospitals have a marketing problem. Their marketing is neither consistent or sustainable and appears random to the healthcare consumer. There are of course many reasons for this, most notable are resources – capital and human, as well as organizational barriers from lack of leadership marketing knowledge and an unwillingness to change the marketing practices of the past.

The economy has shifted from a product and service economy to an experience economy.  Think Amazon. Hospitals and health systems, any healthcare provider, are operating in that same experience and engagement economy.

To be successful then, in spite of the inconsistent and randomness of hospital marketing to the healthcare consumer or patient, requires the marketing becomes a sticker. It also means the use of nudge techniques to influence healthcare consumer choice and behavior.

Now what?

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 of the experience, and of the brand.  It is also the amplification of marketing that is sticky via nudges.

What the above all represents is how in an experience economy a consumer takes 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 ten new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier:

1.       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.
2.       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.
3.       Identify and work with key influencer’s.  Influencers need to ample your message through social media. Encourage user-generated content.
4.       Key content included testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and healthcare consumers.
5.       Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages and brand promise across all channels.
6.       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.
7.       Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms that consumer will use- desktop, 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.
8.       Traditional marketing needs to focus more on the outcome and experience to drive engagement.  No more pretty building, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment. 
9.       Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider.
10.   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 traditionalists will say this is just all nonsense.  That marketing 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, is 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.

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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