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What is Integrated Marketing and Why It’s Crucial for Healthcare Brands

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Business leaders in every industry understand that morale starts at the top. 

When the C-suite is aligned and shares a unified, consistent message throughout the entire organization, it instills loyalty, trust, and confidence in your brand, mission, and goals. 

Ideally, marketing relays this message to your consumers. 

But since marketing happens in many channels, or forms of media, many brands have a hard time producing a consistent message across these channels. 

The result? Marketing with mixed messages, a disconnected voice, and inconsistent branding. 

So, how do you ensure you’re telling the same message on every channel for a consistent consumer experience with your organization?

With integrated marketing

Also called multichannel marketing, integrated marketing makes it possible for your brand to achieve your marketing goals while also staying consistent no matter where you market. 

In this blog post, I share the importance of creating a streamlined, reliable, and consistent customer journey using an integrated marketing approach and six ways your healthcare organization can start doing just that.

What is Integrated Marketing?

In short: Integrated marketing is a multichannel marketing strategy for delivering a unified message across every platform your business uses:

  • Branding (e.g., tone, voice, message)
  • Traditional advertising (e.g., print, radio, TV)
  • Public relations
  • Digital (e.g., SEO, social media, email)
  • Word-of-mouth

Layering online and offline marketing tactics create multiple impressions of your brand across several touchpoints and weave consumers through a seamless brand journey. 

So why is this approach so crucial for your business and brand image? Why can’t you let your social media team stay independent of your website marketing team? Why does your email marketing manager need to communicate with your marketing team that handles your billboards and radio ads?

Because the siloed approach erodes consumer trust and reduces the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. 

Here’s what I mean:

The Benefits of an Integrated Versus a Siloed Approach

There are several major benefits of employing an integrated marketing approach for your hospital or multilocation practice.

Here are my top three:

  1. It delivers a holistic brand experience.
    Crafting a holistic brand experience increases brand awareness, facilitates deeper connections, and entices audiences to take the desired action.
  2. It positions your brand as a thought leader.
    Thought leadership reinforces trustworthiness, competence, and credibility and helps healthcare organizations stay competitive.
  3. It helps increase sales.
    When you launch an integrated marketing campaign, your brand gets more exposure. More exposure means a wider audience. And if your strategy is effective, a wider audience means more revenue.

Why Integrated Marketing is Crucial for Healthcare Brands 

As healthcare consumerism takes a firm grasp on the patient experience and the ongoing pandemic pushes healthcare into the digital age faster than ever before, it’s crucial for healthcare brands to meet these changing needs and expectations and promote them with clear, concise messaging everywhere consumers are.

By integrating marketing communications across all viable online and offline channels, your business can:

1.     Deliver a consistent consumer experience

Hospitals and health systems have more opportunities than ever to interact with consumers because of an increasing number of touchpoints (anywhere a consumer comes in contact with your brand). In 2017, 95% of customers used a minimum of three channels to connect with a company in a single service interaction.

Delivering a consistent and positive consumer experience is essential for companies that want to deepen their customer relationships and drive more brand loyalty.

2.     Reach all target audience segments

An integrated marketing approach allows organizations to meet their customers where they are, making their total reach not only larger but more effective. If an addiction center launches an advertising campaign to attract new patients strictly on subway car posters, they’ll miss audiences that drive to work by overlooking radio advertising or billboard ads.

Using more (and a combination of) online and offline channels to communicate a holistic brand message increases the number of people they can reach and the number of times they can reach them—no matter where they are in the customer journey.

3.     Improve marketing campaign performance

Integrated marketing means you’re constantly supporting traditional marketing with digital and social media marketing or vice versa.

This approach increases the number of brand impressions across multiple channels, keeps your brand top-of-mind, and delivers a consistent, cohesive brand story that pushes consumers further down the marketing funnel.

4.     Save time and money

As a healthcare executive, you understand the importance of reducing unnecessary costs and streamlining business processes. If you’re still not convinced, here are two bottom-line reasons you should consider implementing an integrated marketing campaign:

    • Time
      Integrating your marketing strategy saves your marketing department time, which can be reallocated toward creating higher quality video, blog, social media, or website content to boost your visibility and drive sales.
    • Money
      Integrated campaigns reduce graphic design, copywriting, and photography costs because they repurpose the same or similar assets across your marketing platforms.

6 Elements of a Truly Integrated Marketing Campaign

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is integrated marketing,” let’s drill down to the next logical questions, “What is an integrated marketing campaign and how can I create one”?

An integrated marketing campaign is used to promote a product, or service consistently across different platforms to give consumers a branded experience.

Here are six elements you can use to create a truly integrated marketing campaign for your target audience:

1.     Complementary/Aligned Goals

Ensuring that cross-organizational goals are aligned, or complement one another, offers several benefits, including time savings, cost savings, and increased brand awareness (and perhaps brand loyalty, too). Your online and offline channels will not only deliver a holistic message, but will also streamline your marketing and give your staff more time to focus on content development and optimization. 

2.     A Strong Cross-Functional Team

To use a metaphor, you can conquer your competition every time if everyone in your organization is rowing simultaneously in the same direction. Instead of competing for resources, strong cross-functional teams that work synchronously can inform your marketing and deliver more effective content that supports sales and revenue goals.

3.     The Right Blend of the Right Marketing Channels

Not all marketing channels suit every organization. There are many factors to consider to avoid losing time, resources, and money—but it all starts with strategy. If you want to develop a high-impact and cost-effective marketing strategy, here are four things to consider:

a. Organizational goals
Identify and define what you’d like your marketing campaign to accomplish. Is it increased brand awareness? Or something more granular, like more online appointment submissions? While social media can be an excellent tool for driving specific actions, a billboard might be better for strengthening brand awareness.

b. Buyer personas
Identify your ideal consumer; their likes, dislikes, where they shop, which websites and apps they frequently visit and what words they’re searching for on Google. Knowing this allows healthcare organizations to target them where they already are. Understanding your consumer can also help move them to the next phase of their customer journey.

c. Competitors
Measuring hospital competition is vital for making informed decisions around your market and staying competitive. If you want to dominate your market or industry, it's important to identify your most successful competitors. Find out which marketing channels they're using and emulate their processes with better, more consistent marketing.

d. Analyze, optimize, and repeat
Marketing is never a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy. It needs to be constantly tested, optimized, and updated to stay relevant and effective.

4.     Aligned Messaging

Consistent messaging repeated across all online and offline touchpoints is integral to building a strong brand identity and customer loyalty. When you connect your hospital or health system to positive ideologies and values, your target audience will associate your brand with dependable, honest, and trustworthy words.

5.     Aligned/Consistent Branding

Consistent branding creates a unified, welcoming experience for existing and potential consumers. What’s in a brand? Everything from the logo, color palette, and fonts to the tone of voice, vocabulary, and imagery.

6.     Aligned/Consistent Branding

When you implement an integrated marketing campaign, it’s important to track and compare data across channels to:

    • Identify which channels are the most effective
    • Determine which channels are under-performing 
    • Improve messaging consistency as needed to optimize your campaign

Example of an Integrated Marketing Campaign 

When healthcare organizations drive people from one channel to another, they create opportunities to cross-promote their products and services. 

For example, a Facebook ad can drive website traffic. A QR code in a direct mail flyer can drive visits to social channels. 

Or, let’s say someone is searching for inpatient care services. 8 in 10 internet users search for healthcare information online in the United States alone. Consumers who are further down the marketing funnel may conduct a keyword search on Google, driving more clicks on a PPC ad to your website, microsite, or custom landing page.

However, billboard, radio, or TV ads are often more effective for those higher in the funnel. These initial touchpoints increase brand awareness and drive traffic to online resources or directly to your front office call queue and phone script.

While you have two different audiences at two points in their customer journey, the goal is the same: getting them to take a specific action that meets your campaign objective.

There are several ways consumers find healthcare organizations that meet their needs. However, one thing remains the same: they all move fluidly between offline and online touchpoints with your brand. That’s why it’s vital to have a consistent message, brand, and tone across all verbal and visual touchpoints. 

A well-executed integrated marketing campaign will position your healthcare organization as a thought leader in your space, boost brand awareness, build brand loyalty, and maximize growth. It will also help meet the rising demands of today’s healthcare consumer by delivering vital information, resources, and online services to a broader audience.

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