In the healthcare world especially, marketing professionals live and die by micro-moment decisions occurring online at rapid speeds. These days, the question upon which hospitals and private practices must focus is no longer ‘where are patients looking?’ But instead, ‘what do patients need to see?’
Last week, a post popped up in my Facebook news feed from an acquaintance I hadn’t spoken with in years. It was a PSA to get a skin cancer screening, as she had recently been diagnosed with early stage melanoma.
My first thought? Yikes, how scary! We both have young children; what would I do if this were me? My second thought? Wait, what if this IS me? Commence internal hysteria over a hypothetical medical condition of which I have zero symptoms, but YOU NEVER KNOW.
Within 10 minutes I had Googled ‘Dermatologist Roanoke VA,’ weeded my way through the first five options, looked at websites to determine credibility, made the call, and set up an appointment. In a flash, I identified a need, did my research, made a decision, and acted upon it.
Injecting your practice into those healthcare micro-moments seems simple enough, yet healthcare marketing teams still find it challenging to effectively capture and engage patients at these critical decision-making moments. Hospitals provide necessary services and not too long ago, it was simply enough just to be a presence. But today’s consumers are empowered in ways they didn’t use to be and patients no longer choose a hospital because of where they have to go, but because of where they want to. I think that’s been a challenging mental leap for some healthcare marketers to make.
So, what to do? Topping the search rankings is an obvious necessity, but it’s not enough. There are myriad other considerations to take into account and effective healthcare marketing strategies do the following:
Heavily Incorporate Video for Visual Storytelling
Not all videos are created equal. Most hospitals and health systems have incorporated video into their strategies, but the creativity can be really lacking. If your strategy is to shoot video of Dr. Awesome talking at the camera in medical jargon, you’re missing huge opportunities.
Yes, showcasing your physicians’ expertise is a valuable tactic – patients are looking for the best, after all – but we’re living in a visual world and we’re all quickly losing the opportunity and capacity to process heavy amounts of information at once (unfortunately). Finding a creative way to explain a process or showcase your latest technology through storytelling will help you cut through the clutter AND endear you to consumers who will reward your efforts to explain things in terms everyone can understand.
Tap Into Emotion for Service Line Marketing
Medically, hospitals are clear on what drives patients to seek their services. But focusing marketing messaging only on the actual problem to be solved fails to take into account the emotional turmoil patients may be dealing with. Weight loss surgery patients, for example, still feel incredibly stigmatized despite a fairly broad acceptance of bariatric surgical procedures.
No patient wants to just be another number; they want to know their doctor of choice sees them as an individual and will treat their specific condition.
Embrace Their Brand
The healthcare world is a constant game of one-upping the competition. It’s easy to get bogged down in the nuances (Do we have as many da Vincis as they do?) and spin your marketing wheels focusing on points of parity without identifying truly unique points of distinction. (Our nurses care so much!) If all else is equal, these things won’t make a dime of difference in whether a patient choses your hospital or the one down the street.
What is important is the WHY – embrace why you do things the way you do, and your true brand will rise to the surface and be fully embraced by your team and the consumers you are trying to reach. If you’re unsure about your why, bringing in a third party to help you navigate that discovery process from an impartial viewpoint can be the difference you need to stand out in the micro-moment decision-making process that healthcare consumers engage in every day.