Healthcare marketers today have a lot on their plates.  From updating COVID communications to promoting that new physician, and redesigning ad campaigns to managing social platforms, healthcare marketers find themselves pulled in multiple directions at once. It can be difficult to rise above the noise and do a strategic reset, reminding ourselves of some of the basic tenants of effective healthcare marketing. Here are some tips –reminders, hopefully – to help healthcare marketers think strategically about their plan to finish 2020 (good riddance!) and start strong in 2021.

Tip #1: Start with the patient

Some businesses sell “things,” but healthcare marketers sell quality of life. Your patients don’t want a knee surgery – they want to chase their kids around the yard pain-free. They don’t want a prescription for high cholesterol – they want to manage their health and live longer lives. Messaging and imagery should center around the patient perspective, focusing on the benefits they receive instead of the features of your service.

Also, remember that promotion represents just one of the “Five Ps” of marketing. Start with your patient in mind when shaping other facets of the marketing mix like distribution (telehealth, online services), price (new services/technology investments), and audience segmentation (patient/payer mix).

Tip #2: Target your efforts

Healthcare marketers often struggle with the balance between being a community resource for all and targeting patients most desirable to drive volume in a specialty or balance the payer mix. Segmenting, targeting, and customizing messages and tactics help attract the patients your organization needs to maintain the economic viability that ultimately funds the communitywide services.

Tip #3: Build a long-term patient relationship

Healthcare marketers want their organizations to remain the go-to resource for patients throughout their lives. Referring patients to additional in-system and sometimes outside-of-system resources ensures you maintain relationships and ultimately increase the lifetime value of a patient.  Your marketing plan should address the outreach, collateral, and training necessary to cultivate a robust referral network that helps your meet any patient need over a lifetime.

Tip #4: Go high-tech

Healthcare has been slower than many industries to adopt technology, fearing that patients would not respond favorably to the perception of less “personal” interactions that leverage technology to deliver care. However, COVID-19 pushed healthcare marketers (and patients) into the deep end of the water regarding technology. While a patient’s personal relationship with care providers is still key, there’s benefit in the convenience and safety afforded by technology. Promote initiatives and resources that deepen technology stacks and support patient adoption of tech tools.

Tip #5: Consider the source

Patients get their information from a variety of sources, and your marketing strategy needs to consider all of them. Pay attention to the messages you control (your marketing campaigns, ad buys, websites) as well as those you don’t (social media, review platforms). Marketers need to not just monitor, but actively manage, all these sources in a comprehensive marketing strategy.

These tips can serve as helpful reminders to align your efforts to reaching the right patient, at the right time, in the right way, with the right message. With 2020 continuing its curveballs, we could all benefit from taking a moment to think beyond the daily communication demands. To all our healthcare marketing friends – you’re doing great work, keep it up!