Top 10 Hospital Marketing Strategies You Need to Follow
Having command of a hospital’s marketing wheelhouse is a challenging task… not unlike steering an oceangoing vessel. Be it a local community facility or a multi-campus institution, maintaining a true course requires constant attention to hospital marketing strategies that achieve your goals.
But the bigger the ship—to continue the seafaring analogy—the more time it takes to navigate a wide turn. The best approach is to plot a steady course and to steer with constant attention and regular adjustments.
To successfully reach your goals, here are the top 10 hospital marketing strategies that administrators, managers and communications professionals must have in mind at all times. The order of importance and emphasis may vary, but they are all vital checkpoints.
- BRAND DIFFERENTIATION – Create and maintain a branding message that is meaningful to the public you serve. The key concepts are that your branding clearly distinguishes “who you are and what you do,” and that it has impact with the audience (and not just your internal stakeholders.)
- PHYSICIAN LIAISON – Create, maintain and grow a powerful physician liaison program that generates and protects referrals and admissions. Physician Liaison and Physician Relationship Management (PRM) programs are increasingly vital to organizational planning and business development.
- BUDGET PRIORITIES – Marketing resources have their limits, and there’s never enough budget to do everything. The first and best use of resources will focus on those hospital service lines that have the organization’s top priority.
- APPLY THE R-O-I LITMUS TEST – Establishing budget priorities is, initially, half the battle; maintaining them is another thing entirely. Forces within any organization will continue to compete for scarce resources. When debating which marketing strategies to implement and which to decline, use the Return-on-Investment as your primary and most objective test.
- COMMUNICATE INTERNALLY – Unfortunately, marketing is something of a stepchild in many hospitals. The concept and purpose are often misunderstood by both opinion-leading doctors and executives. It is vital to constantly communicate with your internal audience and let them know what you are doing, why you are doing it and what results you are achieving. This is a larger issue than mere politics, career advancement or survival. For your marketing to have a chance to be effective, you have to have internal support.
- WEBSITE USER EXPERIENCE – High-priority prospective patients are the most important website audience. While your site has many audiences (vendors, employees, job applicants, etc.) make the user experience particularly effective for prospective patients who are doing due diligence on your hospital and your doctors. For example, if obstetrics is an important service line, ask if this visitor group can quickly and easily find exactly what they are looking for... and how can you deliver that.
- THE SEO AND PPC GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY – A huge and largely untapped marketing and business development opportunity for most hospitals is the effective use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) online advertising. The purpose is to drive visitor traffic to well-designed landing pages on your site, or in some instances to micro-sites. Simply having a website is not a silver bullet. Online marketing requires professional planning and execution.
- PATIENT EXPERIENCE AND SAFETY – Work closely with executive leadership to help optimize patient experience and to promote safety. These should be priorities for everyone in the hospital because (1) it’s the right thing to do, (2) they influence reimbursement, and (3) it creates a better product. Among the often-quoted 4Ps of Marketing (Product, Place, Price, Promotion), the first and most important “P” is not promotion, but product (or service). Identify your product/service, safety and experience “wins,” then communicate them internally and externally.
- LEVERAGE YOUR PATIENT BASE – Your best prospect is always a satisfied customer. Look for opportunities within your patient database, including family, friends and visitors. For example, one of our clients has tens of thousands of patients entering the front door every year, but they never considered many of these would be candidates for the LASIK procedures they were trying to promote. Internal signage, internal video, mailings and other tactics were excellent options to carry the message.
- KNOW WHAT’S WORKING – Identify (objectively) exactly what is—and isn't—working, and make regular and appropriate adjustments to push the winners. Avoid the temptation of doing only those things that you personally like but have little impact. For example, while we all love social media, if you have little to show for last year’s marketing efforts than a few extra Facebook likes, your marketing (and your job) may be in trouble.
There are six primary controls in every hospital marketing “wheelhouse.” Have clear goals and steer carefully via Professional Referrals, Internet Marketing, Branding, Internal Marketing, External Marketing and Public Relations. And use our list of top 10 hospital marketing strategies to navigate your course to success.