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Developing an Effective Healthcare Marketing Strategy, Part 1: Analysis

Marketing in healthcare is no different than in other industries. Organizations are using big data to develop marketing plans, evaluate outcomes and measure results and their impact on ROI. Therefore, taking the time to develop a detailed strategy is strongly recommended.

One could argue that all stages of a healthcare marketing strategy are equally important – analysis, goal setting and tactical implementation, and evaluation – and I do agree. However, it’s hard to know where you’re going without a clear starting point. For that reason, I suggest taking the time to determine your target market and ideal customers and conduct a SWOT analysis before doing anything else. These steps will lay a solid foundation you can build upon.

Determining Target Market

Depending on who you are – an agency, physician practice, medical device company, hospital or healthcare system, or a health insurer – will factor into who makes up your target market. Think about who you need to reach. For example, are they patients living with certain illnesses, people living within a specific geographic area or even doctors? Your target market may be very specific: males of a certain age who need a knee replacement living within 10 miles of your hospital.

No matter what type of organization you are, you can determine who your target market is and learn how to reach them by considering:

Demographics: gender, occupation, age, education level and household income

Psychographics: personality, values and habits

Their geographic location can be determined by zip code but to take it a step further, where can you find them virtually? Which social media platforms do they frequent? It would be helpful to know so you can reach out to them where they are. This will help make it as easy as possible for them to receive your message.

Once you determine who you want to reach and where to find them, take it a step further by creating customer personas.

Create Customers/Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are representations of your ideal customers. When creating them, base them on your research and think about their needs and challenges. For example, an African American woman who is living with diabetes has different needs than a Caucasian woman with psoriasis. If one of your buyer personas is a foot surgeon his or her needs will be very different than a primary care physician. Kissmetrics provides advice on creating buyer persona maps that can be used in any industry, including healthcare. Based on that advice, here is an example of a buyer persona in healthcare.

Example of a healthcare buyer persona

So, you can see Mary is a 40-year-old woman who has a Master’s Degree and suffers from anxiety. She is happy, outgoing and health-conscious, and she is an educator. Her concerns are based around her newly diagnosed anxiety and how it may affect her while teaching. Now you know a lot about Mary. You can use this process –  electronically, on a white board or the old-fashioned way on paper – for all your buyer personas. Once you figure out your customers’ needs and fears you can tailor your messages, content and modes of delivery.

SWOT Analysis

Another important piece of strategic planning is the SWOT matrix. You can use it to objectively assess your organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. By doing so, you will be able to understand the marketplace better and discover new growth opportunities. The Healthcare Success website lists seven rules for a successful SWOT analysis:

  • Be specific
  • Be objective
  • Be realistic
  • Apply context
  • Contrast and compare
  • Short and simple
  • Update your marketing plan and goals

Once you have completed these steps you’re ready to think about budgeting, content creation, goal setting and development of tactics, all of which will be covered in the next installment. So, stay tuned!

McKinley Marketing Partners specializes in placing marketing and creative talent in multiple industries, including healthcare. To find someone with the expertise you need, contact us today.


Vicki VanArsdale, Content Marketer

Vicki VanArsdale is a seasoned writer and content marketing expert who will graduate from Boston University in May with a Master of Science in Health Communication. McKinley Marketing Partners is proud to count her among its stellar group of marketing and creative consultants. 


by McKinley Marketing Partners