Posted: February 2, 2017

Remember when “Mad Men” came out and everyone with a creative bone in their bodies suddenly decided advertising was cool again. We wanted to be the genius who came up with the “Carousel” campaign for Kodak’s slide projector, to brainstorm ideas for Lucky Strikes and women’s hosiery while lounging on a mid-century couch in our sock feet – never mind the lying and cheating and substance problems. Mad Men made creative thinking cool, and we got a glimpse into the advertising process that dominated our buying decisions for so long.

But in waltzes digital marketing, and suddenly the game has turned inside out. We can’t just push splashy ads in front of our consumers to get their attention, we have to engage our buyers and lead them through the sales process, even in healthcare. Even the way your healthcare organization spends its marketing dollars has changed significantly in the last 10 years because of this shift. Gone are the days of fixed quarterly advertising budgets and simple campaign sign-offs based on, “We’ve done it every year.”

Now, marketing spend is all about results, and one way to get results is to generate leads. When it comes to lead generation expenditures, the question you should be asking is this: If I spend X on this marketing tactic, what should I expect in return? Unfortunately, way too much of the marketing spend for healthcare organizations – in both dollars and time – is being poorly allocated and failing to yield results.

Talking about “qualified leads” in healthcare seems counterintuitive, but just like any other business, your organization relies on selling a product to qualified individuals. Your hospital’s product, what you are selling, is your treatment services, physicians, and facilities.

When you’re ready to grow your business, there are three important strategies you need to follow. Everything you do in healthcare marketing should be viewed through the lens of these concepts. You can also use these strategies to help you avoid any marketing or business development tactics that don’t effectively help you to maintain or grow your organization’s revenue goals.

Three ways for healthcare marketers to achieve revenue growth goals


1. Increase the number of qualified leads (Identify & Find)

a. Create a definition of an ideal patient (persona) for your organization overall, for a specific service line, specialty, procedure, or even location. Understand what a qualified lead really is.

  • Who are they and where are they located?
  • What are their needs?
  • Understand when they need your services.

b. Understand how many potential targets you have available in your market.

  • Use third-party list sources, market research, and customer relationship management (CRM) databases to identify qualified people.

2. Increase the effectiveness of touchpoints with your target audience (Reach & Engage)

a. Communicate with your new leads through direct outreach (social media marketing, email, mail), semi-direct outreach (seminars), and broad outreach (search engine optimization, paid search).

b. Boost your brand recognition efforts (e.g. sponsor community events).

c. Improve messaging, differentiation, and communicate your value proposition (e.g. revamp website content to illustrate the benefits of being treated by your doctors at your facilities).

d. Boost the number of referrals (e.g. provide incentives for referrals).

e. Use lead capturing, qualification, and conversion tactics (e.g. a website form to register for a seminar or event, a newsletter signup).

f. Create brand affinity by providing a great customer experience (e.g. ask for feedback with every patient experience and improve operations based on feedback).

g. Provide a new set of offers for current patients that expands to other specialty areas (e.g. a female heart patient sees a sponsored ad on Facebook promoting a mammogram).

h. Harness the power of stepping-stone promotional offers (e.g. $99 mammogram screenings, free health risk assessments).

i. Recognize and improve cross-selling and upselling opportunities. Promote related services, physicians, and facilities to each and every patient. There are many advantages of cross-selling to both the patient and the healthcare organization. The patient receives education they may not have otherwise received, and the organization receives exposure to a pre-qualified audience.

3. Increase your revenue per patient and overall (Measure & Improve)

The only way to connect downstream revenue to your marketing efforts is to measure, and the best way to measure is to also do so continually, during campaigns, so you can adjust and improve as you go. When you first start a campaign, you’ll have the opportunity to monitor things like your A/B testing for effectiveness and switch out elements, adjust spend, or pause variations that aren’t performing well to focus on ones that are. This is an ongoing process, and you can apply what you learn to continually improve. The second part of measurement is to measure the return downstream. You’ll want to connect each element to its corresponding ROI, whether that’s appointments scheduled, signups, or actual dollars. This is big picture accountability, and you use the smaller scale measurement engine and learning process to fuel the end result measurement and improvement for growth.

If this seems overwhelming, pace yourself, prioritize, and follow this simple formula:

Identify & Find + Reach & Engage + Measure & Improve = Growth

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