By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
There are dozens of compelling reasons to include community marketing ideas, activities and outreach events in your plan. For any hospital or provider practice, working with the local public—down home at the grassroots level—is engaging, rewarding…and usually, a lot of fun.
Community marketing engages and attracts prospective customers on a local level through their cities or even neighborhoods. And participation and interactivity increases awareness and provides a personal familiarity.
Taking the high-altitude view of these engaging activities is fuel for the healing arts. Consider, for example, the benefits of sponsoring career interest seminars for students. This would be an early touchpoint and guidance for individuals–perhaps as young as middle- or junior high school–who want more information about opportunities in the healthcare industry.
Our earlier podcast interview and article, Community Marketing Guide to Engaging Your Neighborhood, identified more key benefits, including:
- Grows Loyalty – Provides a sense of belonging for consumers to foster a continuing relationship;
- Maintains Authenticity – Community outreach demonstrates a genuine concern and involvement with the local public; and
- Affordability – Costs that are generally modest will nearly always find space in a marketing plan.
This article provides a big basketful of idea starters to jumpstart your creative juices and allow you to invent something unique. Community marketing ideas and events:
- Bring providers, staff and employees together with neighbors and friends
- Communicate a hands-on branding message and experience
- Demonstrate good community and corporate citizenship
- Inspire friends and family, patient- and self-referrals
- Present, communicate or educate health and healthy living information
- Spotlights facility or practice visibility and public relations in the local neighborhood
Community marketing inspiration, in random order…
A classic VENUE for community marketing, in addition to hospital facilities and medical offices, includes sponsorship or participation, via:
- A local health fair, kids health fair or multi-purpose family event
- Community room at library, assisted living facility, fire station, senior center
- Cross-promoted activities at or with the local YMCA, YWCA, Red Cross
- Hospital foundation fundraising events
- Hospital or practice open house or new office “grand opening”
- Patient appreciation day, week or month
And here are springboard ideas for your original and unique idea, activity or event. Of course, some of these ideas will overlap, some can be combined with others, and finally, please add your inspirational ideas to this list. For your consideration:
- Assist with immunization events
- Annual Kids & Parents Fun Picnic with food, games, prizes, entertainment and activities.
- Baby & Me for Siblings-to-Be
- Breastfeeding moms and babies instruction
- Childrens’ art classes and Art of Healing displays
- Classes for parents, parenting, parents to be
- Community run or running event; annual family fun run, 5k, or similar events
- Create a distinguished speakers’ bureau for civic groups and churches
- Cross-promote with local health food stores
- Display or booth at the local, county or state fair
- Daily Doggie Run to inspire a healthy habit with man’s best friend
- Facilitate student athlete or sports clinics; high school, college; exercise, physical exams
- Facilitate tobacco cessation programs
- Fitness activities with bicycle or wheelchair sports groups
- Healthy weight and wellness series
- Heartsaver CPR and First Aid skills check
- Instruction for low-impact, non-injury exercise
- Introduction to spider vein patient information
- Join national awareness campaigns; Heart Association, Eating Disorders, Cancer, etc.
- Lead by example Wear Red Day for women’s heart month
- Look good & feel better workshops
- Prevention, “ab attack” fitness, exercise classes for sports groups, 50-plus.
- Promote health literacy via “lunch & learn” with seniors, parents, civic leaders
- Provide qualified/certified instructors for YMCA fitness classes
- Public park walking, exercise and fitness trail
- Senior strength, balance and fitness
- Sponsor support groups; diabetes, hypertension, glaucoma, Alzheimer caregivers, etc.
- Talk with the Doc or seminars on healthy living, lifestyle changes, etc.
- Underwrite at-risk groups (rural, low-income, migrant workers); education or screenings
- Workplace safety, health and injury prevention seminars
Free health-related screenings with medical professionals and literature for:
- Asthma, allergy symptoms
- Blood pressure
- Blood sugar evaluation
- Breast, cervical, HPV
- Colorectal cancer
- Early breast cancer detection
- Eyes and vision check
- High cholesterol
- Nutrition and fitness
- Oral health check
- Osteoporosis, bone density
- Vascular disease risk
- Weight, body mass index
Add extra pizzazz or promotional spice…
- Ask a local radio station to do a remote broadcast
- Include appropriate free giveaways from local sponsors, retailers, restaurants
- Invite a high school marching band
- Have an advance preview of your activity for VIPs, thought leaders, referring doctors
- Joint sponsor and promotion with car club, sports team, civic clubs
- Spotlight a local celebrity, musician or athlete
Take a page from retail world examples…
Consider, for example, how local Family Video rental location spotlights their activities with a COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT page on their website. Consider creating a webpage to promote your activities, encourage public involvement…and allow for a little recognition for your ongoing ideas.
Family Video, for example, sponsors or participates as a member of the community. Some of their programs include family fun days, movie donations days for US military troops and food drives for those in need. In addition:
- Customers round up transactions to the nearest dollar, where donations support research and education at the University of Chicago Medicine’s Comprehensive Cancer Center. Donations are also collected from local businesses and grassroots events (raffle prizes, bake sales, and other in-store activities).
- In June, Family Video gives a FREE overnight movie or game rental to students for every A grade they receive on their report card.
- Every year, Family Video donates thousands of turkeys and hams to local families who need assistance throughout the holiday season. Family Video employees have the opportunity to personally deliver these in the community.
BONUS IDEAS: More inspiration is included in these earlier Healthcare Success articles:
- Two Hospital Community Relations Programs that Get Out and About
- 4 Hospital Promotions That Get Down with the Community
- Barbershops and Blood Pressure: Community Health Screening Idea You Can Use
- Building Credibility with the Hispanic Community [Podcast Series]
- Kids’ Bike Rodeo and Free Helmets Help Teach Safe Riding Skills