How to Create a Strong Hospital Brand that Attracts the Modern Consumer

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Healthcare consumerism has changed the way we do marketing for hospitals.

Why? Because the patient is now the modern consumer. They demand more, and this demand has caused hospitals to develop consumer-friendly services and processes.

While the previous patient was fine waiting in line, today’s consumer wants it now. The patient of the past took orders from the healthcare provider, while the modern healthcare consumer makes their own decisions. And with this shift, marketing comes along to help hospitals create, communicate, and provide value to their target consumers.

Since they actively participate in their health and well-being, today’s consumer expects the basics along this journey. They want effective communication, transparency, and proper delivery of promised services. They also anticipate hospitals to improve services based on their feedback and expectations.

We know it’s a lot. But instead of being overwhelmed, we listened and responded accordingly.

We’ve talked a lot about healthcare consumerism and what this means for marketing.

To get insight into some of today’s most effective hospital marketing strategies, I sat down with our Healthcare Success Managing Director, Robert Miller, our in-house hospital marketing expert. Our conversation spawned five powerful ways hospitals can leverage consumerism to build strong, effective, and dominant brands.

5 Ways to Leverage Healthcare Consumerism to Reach Your Target Patients

Before we dive in, it’s important to note that branding isn’t marketing. But branding is one of the main pillars for attracting and retaining healthcare consumers.

Understand who you are

Healthcare consumers are savvy about brand purpose, vision, and mission. They want to know your core values and the actions you take to bring your vision to life. And your brand, or who you are, must be apparent by your brand identity or the designed visuals that bring your brand to life. Your brand affects your hospital marketing strategies, from design and logos to messaging, website content and social media posts. If you haven’t already, create a plan that clarifies who you are for your consumers.

Do you need a rebranding strategy?

As you examine your core identity as a brand, you might find that it doesn’t align with who you are. We sometimes find that hospitals and healthcare practices require a rebranding campaign to develop a brand identity that better fits who they are today.

Understand your target audience with patient personas

Today’s healthcare consumer expects hospitals to know their needs and expectations. A top-rated hospital understands the patients’ perceptions and offers memorable experiences to patients. With your brand strategy in place, you can do the work to understand this modern healthcare consumer and what they need. Identifying your target audience switches the marketing mindset from: “This is what we think you need” to “This is what you are interested in.”

Apart from market research and data, hospitals have a few other ways they can get to know the modern healthcare consumer:

  • Talk to real people

Whether it’s via patient comment cards, email, or chat, patient surveys improve the patient experience. But what if you used the data to gain persona information? You can also go through surveys or online feedback already submitted. The point is to get as much information as you can about your patients to develop the most accurate personas. With consumer personas, you can improve your hospital marketing strategies with messaging that reflects their wants and needs.

Discover how consumers use the internet to find hospital departments

Today’s modern healthcare consumer is looking for medical information online. As they search for a hospital, they find information on other hospitals, hospital services, and patient reviews.

What phrases or questions are they using to find you? You can find out by organic search data, including keyword research using various SEO and marketing tools. Then, using this information, you can empower your online messaging to include the information people want to learn and know before choosing your hospital over another. It’s also important to consider how consumers use smart devices to search for hospitals online.

Communicate your brand consistently online

Once you know your brand identity, your target audience, and how they search for you online, you can begin crafting your brand messaging. Consistent brand messaging is how you convey your value proposition to your current and potential clients.

However, most hospital marketing strategies fail to communicate their brand consistently in online channels. Whether it’s your website, social media, or a TV commercial, it’s essential to tell a consistent brand story.

  • What is your tagline?
  • What is your value proposition?
  • What are some of your brand messaging pillars?

Use the answer to these questions to develop your brand messaging, and then make sure it is in your brand guidelines. It’s crucial to build your messaging and produce content aligned with your brand.

Maximize your content reach

Finally, you want to make sure that today’s consumer finds your hospital in all the places they are online. Since you’ve done the persona work and know who you’re trying to reach, make sure you understand the best channels where today’s patients are most likely to consume information. We recommend publishing content on your channels first. Owned channels include your website and social media platforms. And don’t forget to optimize for SEO.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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