Healthcare: It’s the largest single business sector in the US – and the world
Yet most of the players in the field have never really had to communicate with consumers through traditional marketing channels (except for Big Pharma). Hospitals and insurers are leading the charge but we can expect many more players on the field soon. Here are a handful of what we think are key guidelines for entering the space of healthcare marketing.
1. Health care is about being local
National brands like Humana, Aetna, and United Healthcare may have girth, but they still need to forge trust and build loyalty with customers. Any healthcare entity entering the marketplace should know that healthcare consumers need the reassurance of feeling that the brand they engage with has a steady, local presence. That means site content that’s sensitive to geography and demographics. It means advertising through geo-targeted networks. Hey, it could even mean sponsoring a Little League team.
2. Playing the numbers game
As the consumer marketplace for healthcare evolves, insurers, hospitals, and group practices will be marketing their performance with statistics. It’s not clear what federal agency (if any) will regulate this area, so marketers should stay strictly open and transparent about what they claim and how they substantiate it. Truth and transparency – especially in medical marketing – is a value consumers can build trust upon. It’s also the easiest thing to remember.
3. Build on your core
One thing we believe strongly is this: The NPS – or Net Promoter Score, which is based on the question “Would you recommend (X) to a freind?”- will be critical. Many resort and service clients use this as the gold standard of consumer loyalty, and it will likely be relevant in healthcare. The endorsement of a friend regarding a doctor, a hospital, a pharmaceutical, or a surgical procedure will carry significant weight. This is why marketers should not lose focus on their existing base of consumers.
4. Social Healthcare Marketing: 5 must-haves
We are all bracing for how healthcare marketing, fully unleashed, will operate in social media. Clients who believe the space is a viable platform for 2-way consumer communications need 5 things:
1. A policy in place that clearly defines rules of engagement – so everyone is on the same page.
2. An internal team structure for managing workload – allocate hours/week and designate decision makers.
3. A content strategy – rooted in reality (things of interest, news, advice, and what you can realistically source or author).
4. A content calendar – forecasting 12 months of enagement.
5. Pepto Bismol – for those difficult days.
Be prepared for low engagement at first, and cling to this cliché: What’s worthwhile is often difficult.
5. Sometimes it hurts
Before the Surpreme Court ruled on Obamacare, Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare committed to adhere to key provisions of the law, regardless of how the ruling turned out. It’s a good example of 2 things: Strong loyalty-building among consumers, and creating a powerful differentiator in the marketplace. We recognize those policies are business decisions. But they appear to be good marketing decisions too. Transparency and sacrifice come with a cost.
As always, we’re ready to discuss it over a healthy beverage!