3 “Hot” Topics from Hospital Marketing National 2017

Last week I had the benefit of attending the 4th Annual Hospital Marketing National (HMN) Conference in Atlanta. The 3-day event attracted marketing professionals from advertising agencies, PR firms and healthcare providers across the country and sought to educate attendees on best practices in marketing hospitals and/or healthcare providers to prospective patients.

As a first-time HMN attendee, my objective was simple: Listen and learn. Well, and promote some of the agency’s recent creative work in the healthcare space. (Why should the presenters have all the fun?) What I found was that while there were some examples of quality work being done by hospitals and their agency partners, healthcare marketing is still behind the curve in many respects. There’s a great deal that can be learned and applied from other industries in terms of marketing technology, digital strategy and planning, customer journey mapping and more — to achieve better, more measurable results for healthcare clients. That said, here are a few of the key topics discussed at HMN 2017:

1. Prove it to the Boardroom

Being able to accurately measure campaign ROI and marketing attribution was the hottest subject matter at the conference. And for good reason. Generating awareness is undoubtedly critical to any hospital or healthcare provider brand’s short-term and long-term success. Driving traffic to your website is important, as is the number of attendees to your hospital’s Grand Opening. But if your marketing campaign doesn’t generate revenue, then you don’t have ROI in the traditional sense. So how do you keep your CEO happy?

For starters, you may want to invest in a CRM platform that allows you to target specific audience groups based on your service lines, and conveniently manage lead and revenue acquisition data. Filling that lead funnel with new patients is the endgame, but you’ll need to develop a mechanism that helps you track the success of each marketing campaign (billboard, newspaper ad, mailer, etc.). One approach would be to drive prospective patient engagement through a set of CTAs by campaign. How about offering free event registration for a limited time? Or discounted rates on new products? Being able to identify which campaigns are most effective in driving new patients through your front door will help you determine where to invest your money, which is key to the success of your hospital marketing efforts.

2. KISSS (Keep It Simple, Smart and Social)

Your hospital marketing messaging should be simple and smart so people can easily connect, but more importantly, remember. Talk with patients, not at them by using plain, relevant language that they can easily understand and relate to. Marsha Tapscott, Director of Marketing at North Mississippi Health Services, Inc., explained that many consumers have difficulty fully understanding some of the complex messaging conveyed by hospitals to the public. This means that key components and benefits are not resonating with target audiences.

One method to combat that is to engage with consumers through social media. By giving your brand a unique “voice,” you can interact with your audience in a way that promotes patient discussion in real time, and gives you a forum to share news and noteworthy breakthroughs, feature specific programs, and communicate the value of your hospital in a smart and simple manner that patients can understand.

3. Understand the Patient Decision Journey

Consumers today not only have access to endless information at their fingertips, but they also demand that marketing efforts cater to their individual needs, preferences and personalities. Hospitals should understand that patients are no different and develop campaigns that target and appeal to their audience at every touchpoint of the consumer decision journey. By aligning multiple elements of a hospital’s marketing efforts (strategy, messaging, spending, etc.) with the process that a patient follows in order to make purchasing decisions, hospitals can reach their audience with targeted messaging in the right place at the right time.

Given the complexities and ever-changing nature of the healthcare industry, it’s no wonder that some of these challenges are a bit fundamental compared to today’s broader marketing landscape. But hospital marketing is evolving. It will be interesting to see how these topics that garnered so much attention from agencies, hospitals and healthcare providers alike at HMN 2017 change over time.

Have questions on any of these topics? Want to share some of your own key takeaways from Hospital Marketing National? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Jeb Emami is a Marketing Strategist at RP3 Agency with an affinity for building commercial relationships that help organizations realize and capitalize on their product and service differentiators.

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