By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
Multicultural marketing is too often overlooked. You hope that your marketing message is reaching people of all cultures and ethnicities, but this assumption can lead you to miss out on a huge potential patient base.
As the experience of cultures in this country changes and evolves, so too should your marketing message. The state of multicultural marketing in 2018 is different than it was even just a few years ago, especially for hospitals and practices like yours.
Misconceptions about Modern Multicultural Marketing
The landscape of multicultural marketing in the last few years has changed, and your healthcare marketing strategy should adapt with it. Don’t let these misconceptions stand in the way.
“It’s not important if my practice doesn’t have a huge multicultural patient pool.”
17% of the US population is Hispanic, 12% is non-Hispanic Black, and 5.6% is Asian-American. If you don’t have a multicultural patient base, it’s probably because you’re missing opportunities to reach out.
“Traditional media is the best way to reach a multicultural audience.”
This was once a solid strategy, when traditional media was a primary entertainment source for most people. Advertising through Spanish-language programming like Univision and Telemundo can certainly reach a Hispanic audience, but you target an older generation, which may not be the primary decision maker.
Regardless of the type of practice you run, the decision maker in the family may be a lot younger. We call this the in-between generation, the key influencer often making all of the healthcare decisions for the household. About 1 in 3 Hispanics in this generation cares for an older relative in the home, making the primary financial decisions for parents, themselves, and their own children.
This is a newer generation of Hispanic Americans uninterested in traditional media. They are quick to adapt to new technology and social media sites and are 3 times more likely to use their smartphones to make healthcare decisions than others.
“Marketing messages targeted at Hispanic audiences should be in Spanish and English.”
If you don’t have a Spanish-speaking doctor on staff, or if your marketing messages are not all translated into Spanish in a largely Hispanic area, it’s okay! In the US, messaging in English tends to be trusted more, especially in favor of a poor translation.
Your target audience may not actually speak Spanish as their primary language. The majority of Hispanic Americans are bilingual, while many others speak both languages. Although 35% of Hispanics 55 and older in the US speak Spanish primarily, only 14% of adults younger than 35 do, and that number is only getting lower. It’s certainly helpful to let Spanish speakers find your practice, but all-Spanish messaging is not the most important thing.
Healthcare Fears and Anxieties in 2018
Look, healthcare in this country can be confusing and frustrating. Think about when you were first left on your own to figure out your healthcare plan and find your primary care physician. You probably had a lot of questions and had to learn a lot of new unfamiliar terms like PPO and HSA.
Now imagine you are a first or second-generation Hispanic American navigating your new healthcare plan with little or no guidance from family members, showing up to the doctor’s office and hoping for the best.
Imagine you’re fearful of something as serious as race relations or even deportation. You might wait to seek out help for a condition for a long time, and you’re worried about how you’ll be treated.
This is the reality for many patients in 2018. There are very real anxieties about things like…
- Navigating the healthcare system
- Receiving a lower standard of care due to immigration status
- Receiving a lower standard of care based on appearance, culture, or religion
Being able to acknowledge and address these concerns means a lot more to a patient than, say, having a Spanish-speaking doctor. The most important thing is to provide the level of care your patients need.
Building a Multicultural Marketing Strategy
So what can you do to make sure your message gets through to a multicultural audience? It’s not all about language. It’s about understanding what’s important to others and finding a message that links your level of care to a community who values family and connection above all else.
- Family Focus: Family is so important to the Hispanic community and many others. Consider leaning toward family-focused branding and imagery when crafting your advertising.
- Imagery: Showcasing diverse families on your website and advertising sends a multicultural message of acceptance.
- Establishing Trust: Use your branding and advertising messages to show that your practice or hospital puts the priorities of patients first and foremost.
- Care that Brings Patients Back: If someone has a good experience with your practice or hospital, they’re likely to tell their friends and family. One patient turns into five, and you’ve got a group of loyal patients who appreciate your care.
Provide Care First and Foremost
Here’s what it all comes down to: if you can’t treat someone well in English you won’t be able to do so in Spanish. You have to focus on care first and foremost, for every patient across every culture.
Part of that means training staff members on the basics. Unfortunately, a lot of practices don’t spend a lot of time on customer service, even though they’re dealing with people at their most vulnerable.
It also means learning the customs and family dynamics of other cultures so you are able to provide customized care. Ultimately, the way you treat people has no language barrier, and patients will remember the way they were treated and that their needs were put first and foremost.