Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Health Care Marketing Today

Health care marketers today face an unusual dilemma. The dilemma is that fundamentally, there are two distinct markets to be served, and communicating with these two markets is very different.

The traditional market consists of consumers who still read newspapers, watch television, and read magazines. The new, non-traditional market, uses Facebook and Twitter, sends multiple text messages every day, and watches selected television programs and videos on their computer. For the most part, marketing to these two audiences requires two distinct strategies.

The good news is that with appropriate strategic thinking, you can be effective in reaching both target audiences. Due to the high cost of traditional marketing, and the fact that marketing budgets have become so fragmented, the need for great strategic thinking and execution has never been greater.

Strategic thinking begins with a clear definition of the audiences you want to reach. The strategy that “I want to reach everyone” or “I just want to get my name out there” doesn’t work anymore.

Successful health care marketers will take a two-pronged approach that targets each of these vital markets. Each approach needs its own strategic focus, yet must share a common thread for building the brand, establishing a consistent and distinct theme, and expanding the number of contacts of people within each target market.

Public relations, guerilla marketing, and engagement marketing tactics will play an expanding role in a successful marketing plan for health care marketers today. Each of these strategic components of the plan enable marketers to do more precise targeting, thus being able to communicate even down to a one-to-one basis with their prospects.

Hospitals, physicians, or other health care service providers can develop marketing programs that touch specific audiences in times other than when direct services are needed. Examples of these kinds of touches include seminars, newsletters, screenings, an interactive Web site and other engagement marketing techniques.

In every business, and particularly the health care business, consumers have more choices and are much more involved in the decisions they make regarding their own health care. Providers who deliver great customer service, provide educational information to their patients, and in general, position themselves as caring leaders in their business, will thrive.

The “we’ve always done it this way” strategy no longer works. Marketers have to be smarter, more targeted, more versatile and more caring to be successful today.

I encourage you to think non-traditionally, to think like your customer, and then communicate in ways that meet the needs of your savvy consumers.

Gary Nye
Nye & Associates

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