As someone working in marketing for a hospital or healthcare organization, you’re busy. We know your time is valuable. Between managing campaigns, analyzing data, and collaborating with your providers, learning sometimes can end up on the back burner. But, investing in your own growth is essential for staying ahead of the curve. That’s why we’ve curated this list of the best healthcare marketing books.
The experts here at TBH Creative trolled their bookshelves and Kindles, identifying the resources with the most game-changing takeaways that you can use on the job to create marketing that:
- attracts new patients
- improves your health system or practice’s reputation
- helps your organization achieve its business goals
By taking the time to read (or stream) these helpful books about healthcare marketing, you can stay on top of best practices, get inspired, gain new perspectives, and become a more valuable asset to your coworkers.
So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or just getting started in healthcare marketing, keep reading to find out which books made our list of must-reads.
What do all of the best healthcare marketing books have in common?
Generally speaking, the best resources for healthcare marketing professionals include the following:
- real examples (e.g., they incorporate success stories and patient feedback)
- show results (e.g., they explain how different strategies can help you gain leads or hit business goals, etc.)
- provide clear strategies (e.g., they give you practical tips for how to implement different marketing tactics for your healthcare organization)
Books covering healthcare marketing vs. general marketing books
While a subset of marketing books tackles specific issues faced by professionals in the healthcare industry, the very best resources usually take a big-picture approach, so our list of the best healthcare marketing books includes both.
Many of the challenges medical marketers face—from building trust with patients and navigating complex regulations to working with limited budgets and needing buy-in from physician stakeholders—aren’t unique to the healthcare industry.
With the more general marketing books, it’s easy to apply—with minor customization—many of their concepts and strategies to different healthcare marketing scenarios.
That said, remember that healthcare marketing has some unique considerations, including patient privacy laws and regulations, as well as the ethics behind the sensitive nature of healthcare decisions. Make sure to always adapt any new marketing strategy in a way that is appropriate for your target audience.
Books with the best healthcare marketing takeaways
Which of the following books should you start with? Well, it depends.
Though our recommendations are listed in no specific order, we’ve included some basic info about each title to make it easier for you to prioritize what you put at the top of your healthcare marketing books reading list.
What’s Their Story? (2020)
Author: David McDonald
In this book, author McDonald explains the benefits of focusing on patient experience. He shares how to use patient concerns to craft a healthcare marketing strategy that considers real people’s needs so you can meet your target audience where they are.
Lastly, he also spends some time covering the benefits of stories. His take is that using a content-first approach can improve ROI because it can provide nurturing during critical points of the patient journey.
In Search Of Good Medicine (2014)
Author: Mark D. Shipley
Patients are powerful consumers. In this book, author Shipley describes how patients—now more than ever before—are self-diagnosing with help from the web. Then, taking what they learn online, many people seek healthcare providers. He also recommends ways you can use digital marketing to reach potential patients when promoting the services and treatments provided by your hospital, organization, or practice.
Authors: Clay Clark and Timothy Johnson
Written by a successful podcaster and physician, this book provides practical advice on the business aspects of healthcare marketing. Some of the topics he covers include:
- lead generation
- search engine optimization
- practice management
- team management
Essentials of Health Care Marketing (2021)
Author: Eric N. Berkowitz
This book is basically a graduate-level marketing course … presented in a traditional textbook format with chapters covering all the basics. It includes not only a comprehensive overview of current trends but also information about healthcare marketing best practices.
The book’s central theme is how the industry and target audiences shift over time. Based on this, the author explains in detail why your healthcare marketing strategy must change over time if you want to continue seeing results from your promotional efforts.
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (2021)
Author: Robert Cialdini
With this book, you’ll learn the six universal principles of persuasion and how they can be leveraged in marketing and sales efforts to ethically influence people’s decisions.
This healthcare marketing book is widely regarded as a seminal work in marketing. Researchers from many academic studies reference its findings and insights. It provides practical insights and examples that demonstrate how to effectively apply the principles of persuasion in marketing campaigns and initiatives.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (2007)
Authors: Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Made to Stick explains why some ideas and stories stick in people’s minds and become memorable. It also describes why others are quickly forgotten while providing a framework for creating ideas that are “sticky.”
In an exploration of the characteristics that make ideas easy to understand and memorable, the book provides a roadmap for creating ideas that are more likely to resonate with the patients you’re trying to reach. The authors cover topics from the importance of simplicity and surprise to the role of emotions and patient stories in healthcare marketing efforts.
Contagious: How to Build Word of Mouth in the Digital Age (2013)
Author: Jonah Berger
Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful marketing tool.
The book discusses the science behind why certain products, ideas, and behaviors become viral and offers strategies for creating contagious content that can spread quickly and drive success for businesses.
Berger’s book is a comprehensive guide to understanding the mechanisms behind word-of-mouth and how to create content that people will naturally want to share with others. He covers many topics, from the role of emotions and social influence in creating viral content to practical tips for crafting messages that resonate with potential patients.
Marketing Management (2014)
Authors: Philip Kotler and Kevin Lane Keller
Effective marketing requires a deep understanding of consumer behavior, market research, and the various elements of the marketing mix (product, price, place, and promotion) and how they work together.
Marketing Management is considered one of the best books about running a marketing department. That’s why it’s often used as a textbook in MBA programs nationwide. The authors cover various topics, from understanding consumer behavior and market research to product development and branding, pricing, and distribution.
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind (2001)
Authors: Al Ries and Jack Trout
Successful branding starts with understanding how consumers perceive your brand relative to your competitors.
Positioning is a classic in the marketing world and is widely regarded as a groundbreaking work in marketing. Whether you’re a marketer, business leader, or student of marketing, this book offers valuable insights and practical strategies for creating a distinctive and memorable image in the minds of consumers.
The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation (2011)
Author: Brent Adamson
To succeed in growing your patient base, you must challenge the status quo with people who are unsatisfied with the care they’re receiving from their current provider but feel stuck. Marketing, when done right, can help them see the need for change.
The book explores this concept of the “challenger customer,” or someone who isn’t happy. The authors argue that there’s an opportunity for healthcare organizations to engage and win over those patients. And these groups who do this are more likely to grow faster than their competition.
Related: The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results (2015). Written by Adamson with Matthew Dixon, and Nicholas Toman, the authors explore how patients rely on hidden influencers when deciding who to trust for their medical care.
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (2011)
Author: Eric Ries
Test, measure, and iterate quickly to find a successful business model.
The book introduces the “lean startup” methodology, a process for creating and launching successful new businesses emphasizing rapid experimentation and continuous learning. The author argues that traditional approaches to growth are often slow and bureaucratic.
He provides a framework for embracing uncertainty, even if you’re risk-averse. Plus, the book includes pointers on how to iterate quickly to build successful hospitals and healthcare organizations.
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t (2001)
Author: Jim Collins
Finally, there’s Good to Great.
In this well-known book, the author’s thesis is this: Great companies always have visionary leadership, a clear sense of purpose and direction, and a focus on execution and discipline.
Accordingly, the book presents the results of a five-year research project to understand why some companies leap from being “okay” to “exceptional” … while others do not. The author identifies several key factors that distinguish the companies that made the leap. Specifically, he posits that they all have inspiring leadership, a clear sense of purpose and direction, and a focus on execution and discipline.
Many critics have praised Good to Great for its rigorous research and insightful findings. As a result, it’s a long-standing best-seller in business and management.
After reading the book, you’ll feel empowered to create a roadmap to help your health system go from being good to great.
What can we learn from books about healthcare marketing?
The nice thing about a book is that it’s a cohesive experience. Authors typically break down topics into digestible sections. Although you can access more helpful tips (e.g., from blog articles and LinkedIn posts), there’s nothing like an engaging book for a deep dive.
Subsequently, good healthcare marketing books will give you real-life examples and case studies, example campaign tactics and performance analysis, and clear strategies and recommendations you can implement ASAP.
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Our award-winning marketing team has a proven record. We have the experience needed to generate patient personas, develop brand stories, and use data to build campaigns that get results. Let us create an effective healthcare marketing plan that will optimize your ROI.