Developing an Effective Healthcare Marketing Strategy, Part 2: Strategy, Budgeting, and Content Creation
It’s important for all organizations to have a marketing plan in place that ties to its overall business goals and objectives. As we highlighted in Part 1 of this series, the first step to creating a healthcare marketing plan is to conduct an analysis of your target market and to determine who your ideal customers are. For example, you could be a large healthcare system trying to recruit physicians or a local hospital that needs to raise awareness about its services to the local community. Once you determine what needs to be done, you can develop your plan, allocate your budget, and start creating engaging and educational content for your target customers.
Setting Goals and Objectives
By being involved in an organization’s strategic planning process, a healthcare marketing manager can then develop a departmental strategy that supports overall business goals and objectives. Doing so is important because marketing plays a significant role in revenue growth and, with digital marketing tools and metrics, it’s easier than ever to measure marketing’s return on investment (ROI).
Setting goals and objectives is an important task in any marketing department because, without a set plan, it will be difficult to know where you’re going and nearly impossible to measure results.
The best goals are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant to the target audience and time-bound. For example, if you’re a large healthcare system one of your goals may be to recruit more practitioners, and ultimately, increase revenue. The measurable objectives related to this goal could be to recruit 20 general practitioners and 10 specialists by a specific date. You can even get more specific by breaking down the specialists by area: orthopedic, palliative care, OB-GYN, oncology.
Your strategy could include using your internal recruiters or hiring a recruitment firm and developing a social media marketing program aimed at these healthcare practitioners. In this scenario, some of the tactics would be to use the organization’s LinkedIn presence to reach out to physicians who may be actively or passively looking for new opportunities or to start campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.
A common method for assigning marketing budgets is as a percentage of revenue. The rationale behind doing so is to follow industry standards and measure performance against benchmarks. While industry and company size do influence budget allocation, our recent study of marketing hiring trends showed companies with revenue less than $100 million invest roughly 12 percent in marketing. While smaller companies, those with revenue less than $25 million, invest slightly more.
Once you know how much money you have to work with, you can determine what your marketing needs are in relation to each product or service offering. Keeping your target audience in mind, drill deeper into what kind of marketing will be most effective for each segment.
Did you add a state-of-the-art MRI machine that would benefit patients who have claustrophobia issues? Or, did you open a neonatal intensive care unit that needs to be marketed to local parents? Which marketing channels will be most effective in reaching these specific audiences? And what kinds of resources will be used? For example, if you decide to print brochures about that new MRI machine and leave them in doctor’s offices at your hospital you will need to hire outside vendors to design and print the brochure. These considerations factor into your overall department budget.
Your budget should include line items for:
- Website development and hosting
- Marketing collateral (printed materials)
- Printing, mailing and shipping
- Web and graphic design
- Traditional advertising (print/TV/radio)
- Paid search/ads on social media
- Marketing automation and email marketing tools
- Networking and events/conferences
Please note this list is just a starting point. You will need to assess your department’s needs and adjust accordingly.
No matter what your healthcare marketing goals are, you will need content to engage your audience.
As defined by the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
Simply stated, content is anything read, viewed, or shared and it can be educational or entertaining. You’re probably familiar with most of these:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
- White papers
- Slideshow presentations
- Case studies
Content marketing, therefore, should be part of every healthcare marketing strategy because it helps generate brand awareness and keep you on top of mind when someone may need your services. Also, by providing extra value to your audience, you can build trust and enhance your reputation.
Remember to always keep the end user in mind when creating content. By picturing your ideal customers, you will automatically stay focused on what matters to them, what problems need to be solved, and what types of information they may be looking for. For example, do they need to know what hours your healthcare facility is open? Or will they be seeking information about a specific test or treatment you offer?
Keeping with the example of physician recruitment above, we know that primary care physicians and specialists such as those who work in orthopedics, palliative care, OB-GYN, or oncology are the target audience. Therefore, you would craft messages that address the needs, wants, and pain points of each persona. For example, you could create a short corporate video about your physician practices or a video that shows what it’s like to work in a specific department at your facility. You could also write a related blog post and cross promote it on your social media channels to capture their interest. By putting the audience’s needs first, you’ll be one step closer to reaching your healthcare marketing goals.
You may have someone in-house who can create all the content, or you made need to hire freelancers to fill in the gaps. You could also hire an agency that specializes in healthcare marketing. No matter how you do it, it’s important to set up an editorial calendar and establish content workflows. Using a calendar or online collaboration software will help keep you on time and within budget. Also, it’s best to plan no longer than three months out, so your content is fresh and relevant. With an agile content workflow process, you can adjust on the fly if something else comes up.
Now it’s time to reap (and report) the fruits of your labor! In the final part of our healthcare series, we’ll tackle how to measure the success of your content marketing program, including which channels to track and which metrics to analyze. So, be sure to check back in June.
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 is a writer and content marketing expert who has a Master of Science in Health Communication from Boston University. McKinley Marketing Partners is proud to count her among its stellar group of marketing and creative consultants.