True North Custom partners with hundreds of healthcare organizations and interviews dozens of renowned marketing leaders for our podcast, video series and industry publication. Based on our experience and insights gleaned, here are five healthcare marketing ideas to consider when planning your consumer and B2B growth strategies.
There’s no lack of advice for today’s marketers. From Twitter pundits and podcasts to the wealth of webinars, we’re all drinking from the proverbial firehose. To help you swim against the current of conventional wisdom, we’ve synthesized insights from hundreds of conversations with clients and esteemed thought leaders to bring you five big healthcare marketing ideas that will keep your brand zigging while everyone else zags.
The big idea: Borrow ideas from a variety of consumer brands.
In an increasingly competitive space where consumers are choosing between a hospital or Walmart for care, it’s time to start borrowing playbooks from various consumer brands in your market—rather than only direct competitors. According to Dr. Zeev Neuwirth, a physician executive, author, speaker and podcast host, healthcare marketers must come to grips with the fact that new entrants are often much better equipped to engage consumers.
“Mega-corporations like Walmart know how to attract and retain customers, and they’ve been in the marketing game a lot longer and with more sophistication than traditional healthcare providers,” he says. “This is the new competition.”
Dr. Neuwirth suggests marketers start by focusing on differentiating capabilities. Once your unique value proposition is established, revisit every touch point from your consumer’s perspective and remove friction throughout that journey.
Northwell Health Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Ramon Soto reinforced this reality in our recent interview:
“Healthcare needs to be a student of other consumer-centric industries and how they navigate interactions with consumers.” To achieve this requires a “conversion mindset” and wise investments in talent and tools to facilitate a more personalized, meaningful interaction.
The big idea: A well-designed website and email strategy are (still) critical.
While typically not on the list of trends or novel healthcare marketing ideas, your website and email marketing plan are still (and likely will be for the foreseeable future) the most important tools for a modern healthcare marketing leader. Summit Health Chief Marketing Officer Matt Gove underscored the importance of your primary digital presence in our recent conversation when he said, “It sounds trite but for any healthcare marketer, your website is probably the most important tool you have. That’s where every single potential customer comes to validate what they’ve been told by a doctor, a friend or family member. That couldn’t be more important, but websites continue to get short shrift as everyone pursues the most sophisticated digital advertising approaches.”
In the same way, email is an often-overlooked channel for achieving marketing goals. Unlike what he calls the “rented land” of social media and PR, Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi says email marketing allows greater control over the outcomes.
“People are finally realizing that social media channels are rented land—we don’t control our connections, our followers or our data on those channels,” he says. “If you’ve built an audience on a social media channel like Instagram, you have to have a rent-to-own mentality where you can move that audience over to something that gets you an email address.”
The big idea: Content needs to be infused with commerce.
Full disclosure: We stole this quote from ZoomCare Chief Product and Marketing Officer Beth Gumm, whom we recently interviewed for our 3 Key Insights video series. In her words, “When people have made the effort to come to your website to learn more, keep content fused into the commerce type of experience. For us, that’s ultimately about getting you to schedule a visit.”
We believe Beth is exactly right. Contrary to popular opinion, an effective content strategy should generate revenue growth by creating a path to conversion. This means meeting your audience where they are and adding value to their experience—whether that’s searching for a specific health topic online, flipping through a community publication or scanning your email newsletter.
This conversion-focused approach applies to all service lines and delivers benefits to both the brand and consumer. Cancer Treatment Centers of America Chief Marketing Officer calls content “a core part of our marketing” and highlighted the value of engaging both patients and providers in our recent conversation with him:
“Cancer patients want information about their treatment options, their choices, their diagnosis and what their cancer journey looks like. Content is also core to our business-to-business strategy and allows us to be a resource to physicians who refer patients to us by helping them understand the ways CTCA treats patients holistically.”
The big idea: Use social media as a conversation tool, not a news ticker.
With organic social posts now reaching less than 2% of your audience, leaders are shifting from a “reach and frequency” strategy to one that fosters meaningful interactions with highly engaged followers.
This and other healthcare marketing ideas were illustrated in our podcast interview with CommonSpirit Health System Manager of Social Media Julie Rose, who said this “engagement breeds engagement” philosophy increased the system’s response rate by 50% year over year.
When someone interacts with your brand on social media, she says it’s a “golden opportunity” to humanize the brand and build a long-term relationship.
“The more you’re there as a brand listening to your people, the more engagement you’ll get as a result,” she says. “It goes back to human psychology: We want to be heard, we want to be noticed for our contributions.”
The big idea: High-impact direct mail can move the needle on physician referrals.
With email inboxes overflowing, algorithms filtering digital content and text still not an appropriate way to sell anything, print remains an effective tool to make an impression. Don’t just take our word for it: Gove—one of the most digitally savvy marketers you’ll meet— is a proponent of B2B direct mail for these exact reasons.
The key to effective direct mail is thinking beyond the postcard. Consider ways to make your direct mail pieces unique through more succinct and actionable copy, engaging creative that reflects the aspirations of your audience, less-traditional formats and even adhesives like magnets that make your program sticky (literally).
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