Healthcare organizations tend to have strong brand recognition, but weak brand differentiation. It’s difficult for patients to recognize what makes you different from competitors, or perhaps they simply don’t care. Just as often, for a given service line, there really isn’t much that actually makes an organization truly different.
As I wrote this time last year, “Think back to the classic definition of what marketing is – the four P’s – product, price, promotion and place. Healthcare marketers are deeply involved in promotion, but how often do you get to direct where your services are delivered or set what they cost? Marketers in healthcare rarely even have the opportunity to determine what services will be delivered.”
Healthcare marketers have a particularly tough job with differentiation. Fortunately, there are areas in which you do have control:
- Campaigns, marketing materials, employee communications
- Events (health fairs, foundation galas)
- Social media and other digital outreach
There is a great untapped opportunity to differentiate organizations through the Web. Consumers’ perceptions of healthcare organizations are mostly driven by the experiences they have. Because they are unable to assess clinical competency, their experiences craft their perceptions on healthcare quality.
So when you do great things online (an area marketers do control), it has an opportunity to change the patient experience (which patients value). You can use this to differentiate your organization in the marketplace.
Hospitals are using the Web to make it easier for patients to work with them and creating personalized, tailored experiences. When you do these things, are you promoting them?
For example, are you promoting your convenient online appointments in TV ads, putting your live ER wait times on billboards and getting detailed news coverage for your patient portal? Some online capabilities are differentiators on their own, and they should be promoted to strengthen and reinforce the brand in the marketplace. Other times, they’re a newsworthy discussion item that allows you to communicate about something else you are doing at the organization.
In each case, they’re opportunities to do something different and that is often a rare commodity. Healthcare organizations that are winning this game do so by seizing these opportunities and making the most of them.
Watch our webinar Tell Your Story and Promote Your Online Initiatives to learn how your organization can more effectively promote your online investments.