Healthcare Marketing Sin One: Confusing Marketing with Advertising

Animated light bulb with a neon number seven inside against dark blue background [First in a Series: How to Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Healthcare Marketing] Deadly Sin # 1: Confusing Marketing with Advertising. From the Healthcare Success Educational library]

Marketing a healthcare organization can be challenging—even painful—if you don’t approach it with the right knowledge, tools and guidance.

The truth is, there are more than seven ways for well-intended providers, hospitals and medical facilities to fail at marketing. In our educational White Paper, we list seven of the most common—and perhaps the most deadly—of mistakes (and what to do instead).

What’s more, our popular report, which has been downloaded over 40-thousand times, delivers even more…with five additional “deadly sins” (a total of 12) to help you avoid trouble. Plus, we’ve included a tool to get you started with your own Marketing Audit. [Request the full “7 Sins” White Paper here and we’ll send it pronto. It’s free.]

In this first installment of supplemental articles, we take a closer look at “Sin #1,” with more posts to follow in coming weeks.

Deadly Sin # 1: Confusing Marketing with Advertising.

It may seem elementary, but it is a frighteningly common mistake to use “marketing” and “advertising” interchangeably. They’re close relatives, but not the same. Understanding the distinction is important because (a) we encounter this faux pas frequently, (b) clarity will help with understanding all the other points in this list, and (c) misunderstanding can be painful, if not deadly.

Avoiding this mistake is a matter of understanding. Here are the basic definitions:

  • Marketing is a systematic plan of many business activities that collectively work to attract and retain individuals who are in need of your services or products. Marketing is just about everything that you do to reach and influence the prospective buyers in the marketplace. A key success factor is having an intimate awareness of your target audiences (plural), understanding their needs and interests, and identifying the best means to reach them.
  • Advertising is one of many communications tools within—and a function of—marketing; typically a persuasive message that targets, reaches and persuades one or more specific audience. Advertising includes all of the media channels that bridge you and the audience, such as print, broadcast and Internet.

In general use of the terms, “marketing” most often refers to the strategic, whereas “advertising” often refers to a tactical means to achieve a marketing goal.

It’s not as daunting as you might think…

There are six, and only six, fundamental building blocks to successful healthcare marketing:

  • Branding
  • External Marketing
  • Internal Marketing
  • Internet Marketing
  • Professional Referral Marketing
  • Public Relations

We hope you’ll draw on our experience in working with hospitals and healthcare organizations across the nation and thus avoid the pitfalls of others. Click through to the reference articles linked above. And for more on this topic, see An Intelligent Approach to Creating a Durable Marketing Plan.

Request your copy of our free White Paper: How to Avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Healthcare Marketing. And see our Infographic of the same name here.

Lonnie Hirsch

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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