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Engaging Patients Like a Rock Star: Loyalty Lessons from Lady Gaga (of All People)

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer
Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

There’s something a bit institutional or simply conventional about how healthcare usually connects with patients. Hospitals and providers build many of their marketing and communications efforts around engaging slices of their target audience. While there’s nothing wrong with convention, creative and successful medical marketing lessons can be found in unconventional sources.

Objectives include communicating a strong and differentiating brand, inspiring patient loyalty, patient involvement (and referrals), attracting new business, facilitating patient-centered care and satisfaction…and much more.

That’s a tall order…especially with our healthcare delivery system constantly changing. Fortunately, providers and marketing professionals are open to inspiration and savvy business lessons to stand up to the competition.

Wildly popular Lady Gaga, for example, is...uh, wildly popular…in part because of her branding and marketing smarts. A hospital or provider would feel fortunate to have the level of engagement with patients or prospective patients that Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta’s Lady Gaga persona inspires with her millions of loyal fans. It doesn't happen by spontaneous good luck.

Notwithstanding Lady Gaga’s talent and entertainment experience, there are few performers who also excel at branding, loyalty marketing and customer cultivation. And whether you’re among her fans or not, your continuing professional education might include a new book by business author and loyalty authority Jackie Huba.

Admittedly, the business of a global mega-star seems well removed from the world of providers, practitioners and administrators. That apparent divergence is good because it’s a fresh perspective and resource. And in a business sense, success is all a matter of inspiring loyalty and engagement.

Titled Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gaga Turns Followers into Fanatics, Huba’s insightful book picks up on these rock-star loyalty-building principles, most of which can benefit healthcare marketers:

  • “Focus on Your One Percenters: Gaga spends most of her effort on just 1 percent of her audience, the highly engaged superfans who drive word of mouth;
  • Lead with Values: create an emotional connection with customers by showcasing what you believe in;
  • Build Community: connect your most loyal customers with each other to strengthen the bond with you;
  • Give Fans a Name: Gaga calls her fans her “Little Monsters.” A name gives customers a way to self-identify as part of the group;
  • Embrace Shared Symbols: shared symbols helps customers bond by creating a collective experience;
  • Make Them Feel Like Rock Stars: become a fan of your fans and find ways to make them feel special; and
  • Generate Something to Talk About: make your business word-of-mouth-worthy by continually giving your fans reasons to talk about you.”

Much of our work with medical organizations and professionals is educational. We admit that, over the years, no one has ever attended one of our marketing seminars wearing an over-the-top costume and bright green hair. (We would have noticed.)

But as unlikely as it seems, the Lady Gaga loyal-fan strategies are worth adapting for healthcare marketing success. Read more about author Jackie Huba here. And see our previous post: CRM in an ACO World: Hospital Marketing’s New Tools of Engagement.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

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