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A CEO's Guide to Hospital Marketing Strategies: 7 Wins You Should Expect from Your Investment

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
Female CEO posing for a photo with the office building and river behind her.

Hospital and health system CEOs must lead their teams to successfully deal with innumerable daily challenges. And we understand that there's more than marketing on your mind.

CEOs are responsible for delivering excellent healthcare to communities, patient experience, patient safety, physician relations, reimbursements, donors, employee relations, treating COVID-19 patients, vaccine distribution, capital investments, maintaining and growing the public's trust, community relations, and ultimately the vitality and financial health of the hospital.

But what if marketing can help you achieve these larger goals?

Having worked with countless hospitals and health systems over the years, we find CEO attitudes toward hospital marketing strategies vary widely. While some CEOs remain highly skeptical about marketing's value, others view it as an integral component to achieving the hospital's larger vision and goals. These CEOs expect a lot from their marketing teams and agencies.

We recognize that hospital marketing departments vary. Some have hundreds of people, while others have only a handful. Some hospitals use agencies, while others do not.

Regardless of your hospital's size, resources, and in-house capabilities, marketing can be a strategic investment rather than an expense. What's more, marketing can help you reach your larger hospital goals.

7 Ways Marketing Can Accomplish Your Larger Hospital Goals

1) Marketing can deliver a positive ROI.

When done correctly, marketing can deliver a positive and provable ROI. At a minimum, your hospital should have call recording along with call tracking and form tracking.

Call tracking is a feature that allows you to track phone numbers placed in ads, email, and digital ad campaigns. Using this feature, you can identify the source of potential patients and track the sources of your most valuable calls.

Ideally, you'll have call and form tracking data available in a 24-hour HIPAA-compliant dashboard. You can quickly determine your cost per inquiry in the dashboard by viewing attribution, reporting, and metrics, including cost per click, cost per impression, and cost per inquiry.

Advanced marketing software integrates this data with people who become patients. More sophisticated hospitals will combine these results with electronic health records and admission records to confirm actual admissions and determine accurate ROI.

While most people think of this approach for digital marketing, call tracking and recording are also used for traditional advertising.

2) Marketing helps develop and support a hospital brand.

A brand is more than a logo. It is the message and experience you want to provide for patients, donors, staff, doctors, and the larger community.

With proper alignment between brand and marketing, marketing can help to convey the right hospital personality, voice, and tone to all audiences.

When your brand strategy aligns with marketing, you can expect:

  • A brand that fits into your larger business strategy
  • Effective, consistent messaging
  • Scalable marketing campaigns

Despite the inherent expense and complexity associated with hospital and health system rebranding, ongoing mergers have made them quite common in recent years. Most hospital rebrands include hiring agencies with deep branding expertise. If you are considering a hospital rebrand, here are some of our latest posts on branding:

3) Marketing can help turn patient inquiries into new and returning patients.

Hospital marketing strategies must address new and returning patients. While it's essential to get inquiries, it's arguably more important to know how to turn inquiries into patients. Marketing should be part of the conversation that covers where those inquiries will go.

How are you going to answer new patient inquiries? It all comes down to how you structure your call center. Without a strategy, first-time callers might be sent to a department ill-equipped to convert inquiries into new patients. Instead, you might create a special department designed to handle these calls and provide them with a CTA, such as an appointment, webinar, a tour of the hospital, or watch a video.

Marketing can also help with strategies for nurturing patient relationships. When a surgery takes months, what is the follow-up system and sales process?

4) Marketing helps to improve the health of the overall community.

Along with bringing in patients for your hospital, you are helping the health of your community. Your hospital is in a unique position to help improve public health through education about nutrition, exercise, smoking, and COVID-19 vaccinations.

5) Marketing can help hospitals build doctor referrals.

Many hospitals receive admissions from a mix of employed doctors and private practices. In both cases, hospitals often seek to build relationships and referrals through physician liaisons. Marketing can support their efforts through marketing materials and ongoing digital marketing.

Along with the latest strategies for building doctor referrals, marketing can help physician liaisons by providing them with the materials and quality content they need to educate physicians and earn their trust.

6) Hospital marketing can support public relations and crisis management strategies.

Whether public relations is a part of marketing or independent, successful hospitals have alignment between departments.

Public relations is a broad field that includes many things, traditionally: positive press, avoiding the negative media, holding press conferences, arranging interviews, crisis management, community events, and corporate communications. In recent years, public relations is often also involved in social media.

While which department is responsible for which duties varies by hospital, alignment is key to a successful public relations strategy.

7) Marketing can support efforts with other stakeholders.

Hospitals have a lot of stakeholders, from doctors and staff to donors and the larger community. Marketing can provide support for each type of stakeholder.

When it comes to doctors, marketing can help carry out the hospital's vision through messaging and various campaigns. In this way, they can help get doctors excited and passionate about the hospital vision.

Are you concerned about donor relations? A common goal is to attract new donors and get existing donors to give in more significant amounts. Marketing can help support the efforts to make donors feel good about their donations and provide them with value for their giving.

When it comes to employees, marketing can help foster a healthy culture. They can help communicate a vision they are proud to join.

Finally, hospital marketing strategies can also help the broader community, as mentioned above.

At Healthcare Success, we've seen marketing play a vital role in a hospital's financial health and vitality. With alignment and harmony between brand, marketing, and staff, a hospital can successfully bring people together, cultivate community, and grow.

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