Posted: June 20, 2017

Healthcare marketers have seen their share of change in the last decade. Some changes have been positive, while others less so. The change most of my clients lament is the shift in their marketing budget. They’ve been asked to do much more with less. This is true in organizations of all sizes, in markets across the country. As I mentioned in my post about increasing hospital revenue with qualified leads, long gone are the days of quarterly ad spends or automatic sign-offs on billboard and TV spots because “we’ve done it every year.”

These days, hospitals must be focused on return on investment (ROI), asking how every dollar spent in marketing and other lead generation strategies gives back in measurable results. And while more and more healthcare organizations are making this leap forward, many marketing dollars and resources are still being wasted by these same organizations due to poor planning and implementation. Here are five of the most common pitfalls to avoid:

1. Vanity marketing: Spending on make-us-feel-good marketing activities that don’t produce ROI are empty exercises we help our clients resist. A perfect example is the website design project where the focus is on beautiful visual appeal, but it doesn’t meet the needs of the health consumer or help achieve real business goals.

2. Unrealistic expectations: All marketing tactics and channels are limited to the specific results they can deliver — there is no one silver bullet to achieve impactful, long-lasting success. Having unrealistically high expectations for any single tactic will lead to disappointment, which is why a balanced healthcare marketing strategy is always the best approach.

3. Inefficient decision-making: While decision-by-committee is the way things often work in healthcare, having marketing projects go through multiple approvers will lead to inefficiency or worse: no implementation! The solution is to always agree on a final decision-maker and/or tie breaker before embarking on any initiative.

4. Giving up too soon: Certain marketing campaigns work best over a sustained period, and thus require patience. Cutting a campaign short kills the gains already made and limits the effectiveness of your overall strategy implementation. I started by telling you to focus on marketing that produces ROI, which may feel counterintuitive when we’re talking about marketing tactics like content marketing, SEO, local search, or reputation management. These methods require an upfront investment, but they have some of the highest ROI because they yield long-lasting results. Knowing when to divert dollars to other marketing tactics or campaigns is important, but don’t bail too soon on marketing that may pay-off big time over the long haul.

5. Poor planning: Great marketing starts by mapping the steps your most valuable target customers will take, or you need them to take, to maximize revenue. If this isn’t planned, your most qualified leads will undoubtedly meet roadblocks in their consumer journey and veer straight toward the competition.

The good news is that all of the above can be avoided with a comprehensive and meticulously executed marketing strategy. Treat patients like consumers to drive revenue, and use the many marketing tactics available to reach, engage and convert those consumers.

Want to make sure you’re delivering an optimal health consumer experience? Download our Consumer Experience checklist to see how you stack up.