Growth-Focused Strategies for Promoting National Health Observances

by | Sep 11, 2020 | Healthcare Industry Insights | 0 comments

The discipline of healthcare marketing continues to progress at a rapid pace. This is perhaps best illustrated by strategic plans and budgets that increasingly reflect lower (or no) investments in legacy tactics, which often create high visibility but low actual value to the organization or community—like national health observances.

The chal­lenges health­care mar­keters have been faced with the last few months have dri­ven a more defin­i­tive shift in strat­e­gy, leav­ing dis­parate email blasts, local radio adver­tis­ing and oth­er ves­tiges of a bygone era behind as we head into the next decade.

Today, an aligned strate­gic mar­ket­ing approach focus­es on reduc­ing fric­tion, pro­mot­ing access across dig­i­tal chan­nels and using the appro­pri­ate tra­di­tion­al out­lets that dri­ve engage­ment. That bal­ance is becom­ing crit­i­cal to success. 

Yet, there is still a sacred cow that has remained sta­t­ic on the mar­ket­ing plan for most health­care orga­ni­za­tions: pro­mot­ing nation­al health obser­vances.

From month-long cel­e­bra­tions of heart health in Feb­ru­ary to dia­betes sem­i­nars and screen­ings in November—and events tied to dozens of events in between—national health obser­vances often com­mand an out­sized amount of time and resources com­pared to the rel­a­tive return on invest­ment. With COVID-19 accel­er­at­ing change in all areas of health­care, the time to reimag­ine how mar­keters approach nation­al health obser­vances to mean­ing­ful­ly engage patients and pro­mote pri­or­i­ty ser­vice lines is now.

In the wake of the pan­dem­ic, declin­ing ED vis­its and rev­enue short­falls are shift­ing mar­ket­ing pri­or­i­ties away from tac­tics pow­ered by iner­tia and toward growth-focused ini­tia­tives. Savvy mar­keters are chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo and let­ting com­mu­ni­ty needs and orga­ni­za­tion­al goals dri­ve mar­ket­ing priorities.

The imper­a­tive to gen­er­ate rev­enue applies to all planned ini­tia­tives and invest­ments, includ­ing the pro­mo­tion of nation­al health obser­vances. If you’re charged with build­ing vol­ume and boost­ing rev­enue, here’s how to embrace this chang­ing of the sea­sons and take a long-term, growth-focused approach to rais­ing aware­ness and moti­vat­ing action.

From Seasonal Campaigns to Long-Term Growth Strategies

A hall­mark of mod­ern health­care mar­ket­ing is the shift away from ad hoc, siloed cam­paigns reach­ing a wide audi­ence to hor­i­zon­tal­ly inte­grat­ed strate­gies tar­get­ing spe­cif­ic consumers.

To apply this mod­el to nation­al health obser­vances, mar­ket lead­ers are mov­ing away from dis­crete tac­tics or events tied to the sea­son­al aware­ness cal­en­dar and cre­at­ing a mar­ket­ing fly­wheel that gen­er­ates long-term growth for high-val­ue ser­vice lines. Defined as a “con­tin­u­ous­ly improv­ing set of repeat­able, tac­ti­cal invest­ments that scale with decreas­ing fric­tion,” a fly­wheel typ­i­cal­ly involves con­tent and search engine opti­miza­tion (SEO) com­bined with strate­gic calls to action to find, engage, nur­ture and con­vert ide­al prospects into cus­tomers and brand advocates.

Here’s an exam­ple of a mar­ket­ing flywheel:

  1. Grow and engage your audi­ence through paid search, social posts and email to grow your mar­ket­ing opt-in list.
  2. Refine the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence and con­tent effec­tive­ness through his­toric opti­miza­tion of blog posts and A/B test­ing for email.
  3. Mea­sure effec­tive­ness of key met­rics like traf­fic, engage­ment and conversions.
  4. Deploy a new mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive: social cam­paigns, series of blog posts or pod­casts, webi­na­rs, etc.
  5. Ampli­fy the reach of that ini­tia­tive through paid and organ­ic con­tent promotion.
  6. Repeat the cycle through tac­tics designed to grow and engage the audi­ence as out­lined in step 1.

To imple­ment this growth-focused approach to nation­al health obser­vances, there are com­mon threads that apply to each ser­vice line rep­re­sent­ed on the nation­al calendar.


Before: The pri­ma­ry objec­tive was rais­ing aware­ness of the health issue in focus dur­ing a par­tic­u­lar peri­od (e.g. Heart Month in February).

Now: Smart mar­keters are mov­ing con­sumers from aware­ness to actions that accel­er­ate the health jour­ney and dri­ve patient volume/revenue for pri­or­i­ty services.

Planning and Measurement

Before: Each nation­al health obser­vance was pro­mot­ed through indi­vid­ual cam­paigns and con­tent with defined start and end dates.

Now: Mar­ket lead­ers have advanced from one-off cam­paigns to iter­a­tive cal­en­dars that con­tin­u­ous­ly inte­grate and opti­mize ser­vice line con­tent across channels.


Before: Health aware­ness infor­ma­tion focused on ever­green, boil­er­plate con­tent designed to edu­cate con­sumers of signs, symp­toms and risks.

Now: Con­tent mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives are sim­ply tuned to pro­mote health obser­vances by pro­mot­ing rel­e­vant top­ics and tar­get­ing the right audi­ence based on goal conversion.

Trending Topics for Priority Service Lines

To shift from steady state to a fly­wheel, growth-focused approach to pro­mot­ing health obser­vances, start with research­ing the top­ics both your audi­ence cares about and that pro­mote a valu­able con­ver­sion. This is a proven mod­el employed by health­care lead­ers like Cleve­land Clinic—the #1 hos­pi­tal blog in Amer­i­ca with 10 mil­lion vis­i­tors per month—that effec­tive­ly lever­age con­tent and SEO to dri­ve con­sumers from engage­ment to con­ver­sion for high-val­ue ser­vice lines.

Based on both search research and con­ver­sion points that typ­i­cal­ly add val­ue, here are a few sug­gest­ed top­ics for engag­ing patients and prospects for high-val­ue ser­vice lines asso­ci­at­ed with promi­nent nation­al health observances:

Heart (February)

Trend­ing top­ics in heart health are tied to diet and exer­cise, as well as the impact of stress and men­tal health on car­dio­vas­cu­lar well­ness. Many health sys­tems focus on pre­ven­tive care and rou­tine screen­ings to build their car­dio­vas­cu­lar practice.

  • The sci­ence behind Omega‑3 fat­ty acids
  • Why walk­ing is the most under­rat­ed form of heart-healthy exercise
  • What does a car­diac stress test iden­ti­fy and what to expect
  • The link between heart dis­ease and stress
  • Break­ing down 5 of the trendi­est diets and their impact on heart health

Women’s Health (May)

Top top­ics relat­ed to women’s health reflect oppor­tu­ni­ties for health­care orga­ni­za­tions to offer guid­ance on stay­ing healthy while man­ag­ing fam­i­ly, career and oth­er pri­or­i­ty ser­vice line top­ics, par­tic­u­lar­ly for OB/GYN.

  • How menopause can cause heart health changes
  • What vit­a­mins should women take on a dai­ly basis at 40/50/60+
  • The safest ways for women to lose weight post-menopause
  • Your guide to los­ing weight and get­ting back in shape safe­ly post-baby
  • Most com­mon health prob­lems faced by work­ing women—and how to avoid them

Mental Health (May)

Men­tal health was a seri­ous prob­lem pri­or to the pan­dem­ic, and stres­sors asso­ci­at­ed with COVID-19—including fear of infec­tion, ris­ing unem­ploy­ment and iso­la­tion due to social distancing—have only mag­ni­fied these con­cerns. Con­tent pri­or­i­ties reflect the anx­i­ety, depres­sion and fear many Amer­i­cans are fac­ing in light of the pan­dem­ic. Con­tent often speaks to fam­i­ly and friends who would help a loved one pur­sue help.

  • Help­ing a child suf­fer­ing from anx­i­ety dis­or­der and/or pan­ic attacks
  • Men­tal health warn­ing signs to watch for in teen and young adult men
  • How to talk about your depres­sion with friends and family
  • How to address men­tal health con­cerns dur­ing COVID-19
  • Does health insur­ance cov­er men­tal health treatment?
  • Best ways to sup­port a loved one strug­gling with addiction

Breast Cancer (October)

Like oth­er cat­e­gories, top­ics tied to breast can­cer appeal to an inter­est in how lifestyle choic­es impact risk.

  • Does birth con­trol cause breast cancer?
  • The best diet to prevent—or beat—breast cancer
  • Can men get breast cancer?
  • Is there a cor­re­la­tion between hair dye and breast can­cer risk?
  • The link between breast can­cer and menopause

Diabetes (November)

Typ­i­cal­ly, health sys­tems pro­mote pre­ven­tion, edu­ca­tion and med­ica­tion man­age­ment when they run dia­betes cam­paigns. Today, coro­n­avirus news is impor­tant, too, as the link between dia­betes and COVID-19 risk and mor­bid­i­ty becomes increas­ing­ly clear.

  • Why COVID-19 is more dan­ger­ous for peo­ple with diabetes
  • The best pre­di­a­betes diet in 2020
  • Can you reverse type 2 diabetes?
  • Build­ing healthy habits in your chil­dren when dia­betes runs in the family
  • Is a veg­an diet right for man­ag­ing diabetes?

With these top­ics as a guide, your strat­e­gy for pro­mot­ing nation­al health obser­vances can shift from cal­en­dar-dri­ven tasks to an audi­ence-cen­tric mod­el that deliv­ers long-term val­ue for con­sumers and the organization.

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