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 to be doing things. And on and on.
I don’t know about you, but I consider myself a healthcare consumer.
So, what has this got to do with anything in the headline?
To the 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? I enjoyed the fine print from the academic medical center with the tiny check with your insurer first. Really? 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 that 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.
Consumers are omnichannel, and they expect to be communicated with on their terms in a meaningful way that engages them on a personal level. The 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 consumer.
And you can’t engage or demonstrate a meaningful value proposition when your marketing is so random in appearance to the consumer.
Healthcare continues to change in unimaginable ways now price transparency bringing heightened accountability and more sleepless nights for provider leadership. One can’t live in a bubble anymore and wait for Modern Healthcare to tell you what to do or for the myriad of lawsuits to stop the price transparency from failing. I know that this isn’t easy, but at some point, hospitals must get their go-to-market strategy figured out and start meeting the consumer on their terms.
Consumers understand that they only need a hospital for three things, emergency care, intensive care, and care for acute complex medical conditions. If a family, then maybe a PICU or NICU on occasion needs to be included.
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 consumer. Stay that way, and it will be like a crime scene, move along, nothing to see here.