Patients today have more choices in their healthcare experience than in the past. According to a study by the International Journal of Health Policy and Management, patient choice is the future direction of health and public services. As such, every national healthcare marketing campaign requires you to focus on how your practice empowers patients.
Patients judge their providers on factors like quality, responsiveness, and equity. That means your healthcare practice must do more than provide quality care to be the top choice for potential patients. Showing how you can help patients in their quest to build better health is the goal of most healthcare marketing efforts.
But how can you find a healthcare marketing agency that understands your operations, specialties, and staff to authentically promote your practice to potential patients?
Keep reading to learn the biggest challenges in national healthcare marketing. Plus, find out how to find the right partner to help you overcome them.
National healthcare marketing challenges
Targeting the right patients
Healthcare marketing makes targeting difficult.
Respecting privacy laws is a significant concern for patients. However, that doesn’t stop some hospitals, doctor’s offices, and other healthcare providers from blurring the line of the appropriate use of patient data. However, that doesn’t mean the answer is to scrap a targeted marketing campaign altogether.
There are safe, secure, and private ways to market your healthcare practice and protect your existing and future patients.
Don’t risk a HIPAA violation in an earnest attempt to personalize a marketing campaign. Instead, keep your marketing simple and general. This is one of the few areas of marketing where appealing to a wide range of people will work out better for your marketing campaign.
To appeal to new patients, you can segment your campaign further without your patient’s data at risk. You can use information that potential patients are already looking for on the web to guide your healthcare marketing strategy.
Create campaigns for specific topics, keywords, and hashtags. This can get the right message in front of the right people without breaking any rules or laws.
Insurance-dependent business models
There are many opinions about how health insurance works. One thing is certain: patients and providers must consider insurance heavily in their healthcare decisions. The process can be tedious at best and unhelpful at worst for patients. This is where healthcare providers can stand out.
Work with your tailwinds rather than against your headwinds. Get ahead of your patients’ questions and concerns by identifying what treatments and services insurance will and won’t pay for.
Create pamphlets, social media posts, and conversation prompts for those treatments that are tricky to bill to insurance. Even if the patient’s plan doesn’t cover it, they’ll feel that your practice has their best interest in mind when it comes to their health and their wallet.
Adoption of digital technology
Studies show a gap between what patients want and what they actually do when it comes to digital technology. For example, 28% of patients want appointment reminders in the form of a text message, but only 9% actually use them.
Healthcare industry experts agree that the issue could be as simple as a lack of awareness of these tools. But fixing this awareness issue isn’t as straightforward as it seems—at least not without the help of a partner. Educating consumers on new digital technologies is a commitment. It takes time and resources to troubleshoot issues when they arise.
If your team is set up for the two-way engagement that comes from increasing awareness of new technologies, you’re in good shape. Otherwise, consider hiring a team to help implement this solution.
How to pick a national healthcare marketing partner
Healthcare marketing challenges don’t have to be an uphill battle. Getting through problems is easier when you have the right partner by your side at every step.
Here are the five essential steps to choosing a national healthcare marketing partner.
Identify your goals and establish your budget
Give your marketing efforts the best foundation by setting goals and establishing a budget before searching for a marketing partner.
You don’t necessarily need hard numbers at this stage, as every partner will have their own specialties and will price accordingly.
Allocate 5-10% of your annual revenue to marketing activities, so a portion of this would reasonably be earmarked for consulting firms, agencies, and partners.
Check if they have medical marketing experience
There are thousands of marketing agencies these days, but choosing one with in-depth experience in medical marketing is critical to the long-term success of your marketing efforts.
When looking at the websites of potential partners, look for these tell-tale signs of a great healthcare marketing partner:
- Certifications and compliance training
- Case studies of reputable healthcare organizations
- Testimonials from healthcare organizations
- Leadership team experience in healthcare marketing
- Core values that your patients would resonate with
Judge a potential partner’s portfolio by the results
Eye-catching creative, bold research, and feel-good copy can be net positives when looking at a potential partner’s portfolio, but your discernment shouldn’t stop there. Take the time to pinpoint the results each portfolio piece or case study achieved.
It’s likely that if there are great results for organizations like yours, you’ll be in good hands with this marketing partner, too.
Find out how they handle billing and payments
Every marketing partner is different when it comes to charging for their services. There are a few common ways a marketing partner may charge:
An hourly fee is standard for freelance workers who perform various tasks for a client. Individually, these tasks don’t take very long, so they can charge within a shorter increment of time.
Agencies and firms charge a project fee when working on a deliverable with a set start and end date and a few variables during the process.
For long-term, ongoing relationships between an agency and a client, a retainer may be the right solution. Deliverables in these agreements are typically variable over a long period, e.g., more than a year.
For complex projects (like brand redesigns) that require specific consulting services, a hybrid model may be used. Many marketing partners charge a monthly retainer fee. In these cases, when projects are outside the original scope, they may add extra project work à la carte and invoice that amount on top of the retainer fee.
Get an understanding of what it’s like to work with them
There are two ways to understand how your relationship will be with your new healthcare marketing partner: reading reviews and talking with them one-on-one.
Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook Reviews, and the Better Business Bureau are the industry leaders. Look at their reviews when deciding how well a partner runs its business and treats its clients.
Reading every review probably isn’t the best use of your time, but you can take a look at great, fair, and poor reviews to get a fair assessment of the agency. Look for themes of both positive and negative experiences rather than reading each review in a vacuum.
Talk to a national healthcare marketing agency
Once you’ve taken a look at what other clients have had to say, you’ll have a better idea of who might be a good fit for your health system. Then, schedule a call with one of their representatives to discuss starting a partnership.
Share the goals you created in step one and explain the timeframe in which you’d like the work completed. You can also ask specific questions about how the team executes its work.
You’ll get a sense of how your team will mesh with theirs to achieve the results of marketing your organization to existing and potential patients looking for a quality healthcare provider.
Transparency matters in a marketing partnership
Transparency is vital when choosing a marketing partner for your healthcare practice.
On your end, you’ll want to be upfront and candid about your goals and why your existing marketing efforts are struggling to meet them.
On the agency’s end, you can expect them to be upfront and honest about their expertise, bandwidth, and costs for the entire time you’ll be working together.
Keep your patients top of mind
Without both parties on the same page, the only people who suffer are your patients. Remember to keep them at the forefront of every decision you make.
Your practice is expected to be good stewards of their health and money, which means your marketing investment should follow suit.
Strategy-driven “silo-breakers” vs. trend-following “code-talkers”
Transparency extends to the leadership and stakeholders within your organization. Choose an agency partner that understands the language the people in these roles speak.
They should be able to translate the tactical marketing efforts to the strategic minds of your executive team. This includes reporting the ROI of the tactics they’re using, whether these tactics are compliant, and what roadblocks they’re facing.
Speaking the language of your leadership is a hallmark of a quality marketing partner you can trust to market your healthcare practice.
Creating national healthcare marketing that stands out
Sharing the most credible healthcare information with your patients and showing them exactly why your organization is their best choice to help them reach their healthcare goals is the goal of using a healthcare marketing partner.
Now, you’ve got a firm grasp on the challenges of healthcare marketing and how to choose a partner to help you get started.
Consider these tips and best practices in your search for the best national healthcare marketing partner. Your patients deserve it.