Message BEFORE Medium: The trick to reaching healthcare clients


“Digital marketing CAN and DOES work in the healthcare industry.” That’s the jumping off point for a recent blog post from Pyxl about the top marketing tips for healthcare providers. It’s a good read, outlining five strategies for marketing to patients in the digital world, including:

· Come Up With a Compelling Campaign — “Spend time brainstorming strategic campaigns that inspire users and you’re sure to stay ahead of the pack.”
· Create a Responsive Website — Addressing the “44 percent of patients who research hospitals on a mobile device (to) schedule an appointment with a site that’s responsive to any device and screen size, and you also build instant credibility.”
· Choose Value Over Volume — “Ask yourself: ‘Is this providing value to my audience?’ Make sure every bit of content you share educates, informs or delights your potential patients.”
· Create Easy-to-Understand Content — “’Doctorspeak is perfect for medical journals and internal communications, but it might go over the heads of patients. If you want your content to resonate with patients, you need to make it clear, concise and easy to digest.”

As specialists in healthcare marketing, Red Racer Advertising has a few things we’d like to add to this list. Where we have seen consistent success for our healthcare-related clients is in always approaching our campaigns by message before medium.

Automated processes, content management tools, and all the bells and whistles that come with digital marketing are exciting. But failing to create a well-thought-out message first can make all those tools worthless. Ultimately, Google AdWords, the blog, newsletter, social media post, or any other marketing tool you’re using to reach out to clients or customers is just a vehicle to deliver the message. So how do you create the message? In five key steps.

1. Ask how you are different?

Sounds easy, but it’s an oft-overlooked step. By taking time at the beginning of the marketing process to find out what how you stand apart from the competition, you can land on a key differentiator. There’s a sea of sameness in the medical world. Sometimes all it takes is one little detail—a hospital you’re linked to, a surgery that includes one additional step, your internal process that’s focused a bit differently—to give you an edge that will help you stand out when people are shopping for your product or service.

2. Take a field trip.

Has your marketing team ever witnessed one of your procedures? We have, and it’s one of the best tools there is to learn from the inside out, if you will, what makes the doctor or procedure special. Being fully immersed in the process can provide a spark that ignites an entire marketing campaign.

When we were developing a campaign for our client, Nicholson Clinic, everyone in the weight loss industry was talking about skinny jeans. We went out with messaging focused on the real reason you want to have weight loss surgery: to be able to play with with your kids. The idea arose out of a field trip Red Racer took, during which we interviewed former patients.

The result was a 215% increase in daily leads and a 52% increase in conversion rate. At the same time, cost per conversion dropped by 31% and unique visitors increased 133%.
3. Talk about goals.

We live in a culture of “more,” so it’s not unexpected to hear a doctor or a practice say that their goal is “more patients,” or “more procedures.”

But how do you quantify “more?” A conversation about goals has to be based on something real—Do you define success by 100 new leads this month, or a 70% sell-through rate after a period of time? The marketing team should lead this conversation, or at least manage expectations, since it is providing the expertise as well as an understanding of what’s doable, even with the most targeted campaign and a generous budget.

4. Define the target.

Who are we trying to sell to? Defining the target is a tremendously important step, and it’s one that requires human insight. The data may be able to tell you that the main target for a specific procedure is a person over 60. But what happens if you take it further? Identifying that the patient is really a person over 60 who wants to stay healthy to play with her grandkids is far more compelling and has the ability to lead to a marketing message with meaning.
5. Develop a purpose statement.

It’s important to know why you are doing this. This is a separate discussion from the goal, and is also a separate effort from developing a mission statement.

All businesses want to make money, but what is your purpose beyond profit? Do you want to help people live better lives, help them do the things they dream of when they retire, help them achieve their fitness goals in their 20s? Everyone’s is a little different, and your practice may have several depending on the doctors and procedures.

Mission statements are boring. They end up in a frame on the wall; purpose statements are something everyone can get behind. The importance of this step cannot be emphasized enough, because not only does it serve to kick off your campaign, but it’s also a rallying cry for everyone in your employ, from the person who’s answering the phone at your office, to your CEO.