Here’s Why Your Marketing Strategy Isn’t Working

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

marketing strategy doesn't workSometimes, a marketing campaign doesn’t work out. It happens, and it stinks. But just because one marketing effort doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean marketing doesn’t work in healthcare.

When you begin trying new marketing campaigns, you might be dismayed to find the results aren’t quite what you hoped for or expected. However, that doesn’t mean you should quit spending money altogether. Here’s what you might be doing wrong.

Allocating Too Little to Your Marketing Budget

Too many healthcare organizations are afraid to spend money on marketing. But that’s how the most successful businesses see a return. It would be great if you could simply spend a few bucks to make people aware of your brand and see a huge ROI. However, in today’s competitive market, this just isn’t possible.

Your top competitors are using aggressive marketing to reach your current patients. If your competitors are listed at the top of the search engines, have advertisements all over town, and a great website that brings in patients, it’s because they invest. Advertising is a revenue center, not a cost center, and it should be treated as such. For smaller practices that means about 10-15% of revenue, and larger practices and hospitals still spend about 5% of their revenue.

Not Having a Strategy

Without a strategy, you end up with what I like to call “spaghetti marketing”—throwing ideas against the wall and hoping they stick. It’s one thing to try new things for the sake of adding variation to your marketing strategy. But it’s another thing entirely to simply throw out ideas without any strategy in place.

You have to give your marketing time to work before abandoning that idea and moving on to something else. Most importantly, you should be basing your marketing strategy decisions on data. Are you choosing keywords for your website and PPC ads because you think that’s what people are searching? Are you using images and designs that are proven to convert? Or are you picking things that look and sound good to you?

Data-driven marketing is key to finding a strategy that actually works. Remember, you are not your target audience.

Forgetting Your Audience

When you look at your latest medical marketing campaign, everything looks great. But if it doesn’t bring in patients, then your audience doesn’t feel the same way.

Is the phrasing simple to understand? You may be familiar with the jargon in your field, but again, you are not your target audience. To be a good marketer, you have to put yourself in the mind of the consumer. What type of phrasing would a patient use to describe the issue they’re having or the services they need?

Your audience cares about things like imagery and ease-of-use. Are there before-and-afters that your target patient identifies with? Do you use pictures of real people that match your target demographics? Is it easy to fill out a contact form and navigate through your site? Put yourself in a patient’s shoes to determine if your marketing works better for you or for your prospective patients.

Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again

We’ve all heard the saying: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” In a sense, medical research is founded on this idea—of reworking processes to develop new innovations. And the same can be said for developing the best marketing campaigns.

If you’re not getting new business from the same pamphlet you’ve been using for years, maybe it’s time for a new pamphlet. Heck, it’s probably time to try a new TV ad, or to invest in your digital strategy.

Digital advertising, when done right, is a constant experiment. The best digital marketers constantly readjust and perform A/B testing to determine which strategy is most effective based on the data. They make changes to target keywords, site design, and other elements over and over again.

Expecting Immediate Results

Occasionally, we get this question from a client a couple of days after launching a campaign: “Why haven’t I gotten any new patients?”

Unfortunately, most marketing efforts don’t deliver immediate results. You shouldn’t expect to start seeing new patients moments after launching your campaign. But some marketing strategies work better than others.

When all you’ve done is change your website, update your social media, or work to improve SEO, it’s going to take a while for those changes to make a difference (if they end up doing so at all). You will get faster results if you invest in paid advertising, such as paid social media or digital ads. Television ads can also be effective for faster results.

Failing to Follow Through

Remember that marketing doesn’t end with a single good advertisement. You should follow up with people who clicked on your advertisements with retargeting on social media. You should do whatever you can to get in front of customers at every point in the decision-making process.

Follow-through continues at your office, where everyone should be informed of the marketing campaigns currently in place. They should be working to convert callers into patients every time they pick up the phone. This likely requires extra training for your staff to ensure consistency, but it’s one of the best ways to keep from losing patients.

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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