Beyond Default Healthcare Marketing Strategy: "Close To Home"
Posted on November 15, 2017
When creating a healthcare marketing strategy, we often are confronted with the question: "Why should anyone care?" As a healthcare marketing agency, our challenge is to produce a response that answers the question in a compelling way.
The point is not to be crass, but rather, focused and effective. All too often in our work with rural healthcare leaders, we'll hear the need to let their community know the benefits of receiving care "close to home." I'm not arguing that proximity is a valid point, but it begs our perpetual question: "Why should they care?"
Take the "Close To Home" Message Further
In other words, why should the "close to home" message be meaningful? Yes, sure we all like to know that healthcare is minutes away and we don't need to drive an hour or more for care. But, we would argue, we must take this message much further.
"Close To Home" as a Supporting Message
"Close to home" can and should be a supporting message in your healthcare marketing strategy, but not the primary message. Otherwise, we're simply perpetuating the myth that rural health is, well, the best option if time doesn't allow you to go elsewhere. We'd never advocate promoting something that you're not, and certainly, rural facilities don't always have all the capabilities as their big-city competitors. But, oftentimes people are unaware of the breadth - and quality - of services that rural hospitals have to offer.
Would you rather that a patient selects your general surgery program because of its reputation for quality and service, or because it was the shortest drive? And conversely, if you're deciding on general surgery for you or a loved one, if you don't have the confidence in the local hospital, are you still going to go there anyway because it's closer? Of course not. Again, "close to home" is a strong supporting member of the cast, but it can't assume the lead role.
Make Your Audience Care That Your Hospital is Close
Maybe there are reasons for your audience to trust the general surgeon because of how you've promoted outcomes, or how you've involved the surgeon in the community. Or maybe you've fully marketed the surgeon to your primary care base and helped build that rapport and confidence. Or you've promoted specific reasons to select a surgeon: coping with that hernia issue, or that incessant heartburn, or whatever reason causes a response or action.
And beyond general surgery, maybe your facility has visiting specialists such as a urologist, gynecologist or orthopedic surgeon who does some outpatient procedures at your facility. But, the key here from a financial perspective is to give patients reasons to have their procedures performed locally, and not at the nearby city where the specialty physician may have a relationship.
For example, when promoting your urology services, demonstrate the ability of your organization to help a woman with incontinence. What does she want when considering your organization? For starters, she needs to know you've done the procedure before, you've had positive results, your physicians and staff are comforting, and you have all the needed equipment and technology.
Consumer research conducted on behalf of our clients repeatedly tells us that patients want to stay local, but you need to tell them why. Not just because it's convenient, but because of the quality care, the personal touch, the real-life patient stories - and yes, because it's also close to home.
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