How to Prioritize Your Healthcare Marketing Plan with Limited Resources

by | Jun 11, 2020 | Healthcare Industry Insights

The demands on healthcare marketers have never been greater: differentiate the brand in an increasingly competitive market and guide consumers on their healthcare journey—all while driving volume and likely with limited budgets at their disposal. Here’s how to build a healthcare marketing plan that focuses on initiatives with the greatest impact.

The word “unprece­dent­ed” gets thrown around a lot these days, with the label giv­en to every­thing from the demand for water to inter­est in cyber­crime. The descrip­tion is arguably most apt when applied to the finan­cial pres­sures faced by hos­pi­tals and health systems—and those pres­sures are mount­ing in mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions departments.

Even before the pan­dem­ic, mar­com teams were jug­gling com­pet­ing pri­or­i­ties and divid­ing time between myr­i­ad dis­ci­plines. In the lat­est By the Num­bers report from the Soci­ety for Health­care Strat­e­gy and Mar­ket Devel­op­ment released in 2017, at least 50% of mar­keters sur­veyed were respon­si­ble for 19 dis­parate job func­tions rang­ing from media/public rela­tions and brand strat­e­gy to mar­ket research and com­mu­ni­ty education.

The New Normal for Healthcare Marketing

The glob­al health cri­sis has only mag­ni­fied these chal­lenges, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly reshuf­fling pri­or­i­ties for the fore­see­able future. A Grey­stone sur­vey of hos­pi­tal and health­care sys­tem mar­keters con­duct­ed in ear­ly April found near­ly 60% are mar­ket­ing ser­vices relat­ed to COVID-19 only, and most feel it will be either “a few weeks” or “up to a month” after the cri­sis dimin­ish­es before hos­pi­tal mar­ket­ing activ­i­ties large­ly return to normal.

Despite these head­winds, health­care mar­keters are a linch­pin to lever­ag­ing the height­ened appre­ci­a­tion for health­care providers and advanc­ing rebound and recov­ery strate­gies for their orga­ni­za­tions. Mar­ket­ing has the clear­est line of sight to brand pri­or­i­ties, mar­ket dynam­ics, con­sumer needs and com­pet­i­tive pres­sures; how­ev­er, devel­op­ing and deploy­ing effec­tive mar­ket­ing strate­gies now requires a sig­nif­i­cant piv­ot from the plans in place before the pandemic.

If you’re strug­gling to decide which mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tives to main­tain, shift or shelve, here are a few crit­i­cal ques­tions to ask while re-eval­u­at­ing your health­care mar­ket­ing plan in light of COVID-19. Tak­ing an objec­tive look through these three lens­es can nar­row your focus and guide your pri­or­i­ti­za­tion efforts.

Will this initiative deliver value to the organization?

The first step in re-eval­u­at­ing plans and estab­lish­ing pri­or­i­ties is to align with lead­er­ship on the def­i­n­i­tion of value—and for most in the C‑suite, finan­cial recov­ery is para­mount.

While mis­sion-mind­ed ini­tia­tives that sup­port com­mu­ni­ty edu­ca­tion and pop­u­la­tion health are impor­tant, the trans­for­ma­tion of mar­ket­ing from cost cen­ter to rev­enue driver—and ulti­mate­ly find­ing cus­tomers—is essen­tial for long-term success.

To achieve this goal, mar­ket lead­ers are shift­ing pri­or­i­ties from COVID-focused com­mu­ni­ca­tions to build­ing a pipeline of can­di­dates for high-val­ue ser­vices. By bal­anc­ing patient edu­ca­tion and engage­ment strate­gies with cam­paigns designed to cap­i­tal­ize on pent-up demand and dri­ve rev­enue growth, mar­keters can have a last­ing impact on the health of their com­mu­ni­ties and organizations.

To help you fill the fun­nel for high-val­ue ser­vices, we host­ed a webi­nar on What You Can Do Now to Dri­ve Rev­enue Growth while oper­at­ing dur­ing the COVID-19 era. Get high­lights from the pre­sen­ta­tion and watch the record­ing here.

Will this initiative deliver value to the communities served?

Once mar­ket­ing is aligned with lead­er­ship on goals and desired out­comes, the next step is pin­point­ing the ide­al audi­ence and solv­ing their unique needs. Many con­sumers are expe­ri­enc­ing “peak pan­dem­ic adver­tis­ing” from the crush of COVID-focused mes­sag­ing. A com­mit­ment to cus­tomer-cen­tric mar­ket­ing is essen­tial for mak­ing an authen­tic con­nec­tion that moti­vates action.

One of the pri­ma­ry needs dri­ven by the pan­dem­ic is for time­ly, accu­rate health­care con­tent that guides deci­sions and allays fears in return­ing to care. To find clar­i­ty, con­sumers are look­ing to hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems as trust­ed sources of infor­ma­tion, with many con­sid­er­ing local providers even more cred­i­ble than the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and nation­al news outlets.

This increased demand for health­care con­tent applies across all demo­graph­ics, espe­cial­ly young adults. Near­ly 8 in 10 (78%) of Mil­len­ni­al and Gen Z respon­dents in a sur­vey titled “Youth in Pan­dem­ic” want to con­sume coro­n­avirus-relat­ed con­tent online and 50% said that updates on their social feeds “make them capa­ble of get­ting through this.”

So how can mar­keters find, engage and con­vert the right com­mu­ni­ties to dri­ve results?

In the words of Cleve­land Clin­ic Senior Direc­tor of Con­tent and Cre­ative Ser­vices Aman­da Todor­ovich, “Make your audi­ence your uni­verse.” That sen­ti­ment reflects the dri­ving force behind the hospital’s con­tent strat­e­gy—includ­ing the Health Essen­tials blog that gen­er­ates more than 8 mil­lion ses­sions each month. Their suc­cess is pred­i­cat­ed on fea­tur­ing the type of con­tent you’d find on a retail web­site, with top­ics like How to Work from Home and Still Be Pro­duc­tive and Cures for COVID-19 Cab­in Fever.

As their approach illus­trates, engag­ing today’s health­care con­sumers requires a sig­nif­i­cant shift in con­tent strat­e­gy. To guide your efforts, we’ve devel­oped an eBook that iden­ti­fies four piv­otal areas that can make or break your health­care mar­ket­ing plan dur­ing the pan­dem­ic and beyond.

Can this ini­tia­tive be more effec­tive if we part­ner with experts?

Final­ly, when estab­lish­ing pri­or­i­ties, it’s impor­tant to rec­og­nize the areas where your team is strong, and iden­ti­fy where guid­ance and sup­port from strate­gic part­ners can ampli­fy or accel­er­ate mar­ket­ing initiatives.

As not­ed above, mov­ing the rev­enue nee­dle is more impor­tant than ever. How­ev­er, it’s also more dif­fi­cult to find, engage and con­vert the ide­al patients and prospects due to media frag­men­ta­tion and the com­pet­i­tive land­scape. Over­com­ing these hur­dles requires exper­tise in mod­ern mar­ket­ing dis­ci­plines like web­site strat­e­gy and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, which were the areas where health­care mar­keters gave them­selves the low­est grades in the lat­est State of Dig­i­tal Health­care Mar­ket­ing Report.

While the incli­na­tion might be to place these ini­tia­tives on the back­burn­er, a bet­ter alter­na­tive is find­ing part­ners with proven exper­tise and a well-defined process. Iden­ti­fy­ing the right resources and involv­ing them ear­ly will ensure your COVID-era health­care mar­ket­ing plan—and most impor­tant­ly, your mar­ket­ing performance—is successful.

We’re Here to Help

Our team of health­care mar­ket­ing experts can deliv­er results for your pri­or­i­ty services.

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