The healthcare industry is a dynamic one, with medical innovations, patient needs, financial obligations and changing regulations driving caregivers and administrators to consider new treatments and anticipate evolving threats and safety concerns over and over again. Indeed, advancements in technology — and, of course, science — make it difficult to anticipate what will or won’t work from one year to the next. The result: an industry that rarely looks or acts the same, especially when it comes to marketing healthcare products and services. The United States alone spends $300 billion each year on healthcare advertising, nearly double what it was just 20 years ago. And while the objectives of healthcare marketing are varied, from awareness campaigns meant to educate the public on health issues and disease to advertisements for specific products and services (and a lot in between), much of that spend has been a direct result of changes to an FDA mandate that made it easier for pharmaceutical companies to promote their drugs using television ads. Today, television is just one of many platforms used for healthcare marketing; savvy marketers are thinking outside the box, pushing the boundaries of traditional print and video ads and/or considering interactive and digital solutions that maximize modern tech advancements, as well as the public’s increasing reliance upon them. Take a look at some of the creative ways the healthcare industry is reaching out to patients, consumers and providers alike:
Some of the most effective marketing stems from good market research. And not just because the research process often produces relevant insight from specific audiences that can guide future decisions. When done correctly, the process itself serves as a notice within the healthcare community, announcing what a healthcare provider or manufacturer currently provides and showcasing that person or company’s commitment to transparency, customer engagement and product or service improvement via feedback from the actual people being served. A well-planned survey project, for instance, can act as a point of contact (i.e., “touchpoint”) between the healthcare industry and the consumer, paving the way for further meaningful interactions in the future.
Likewise, some healthcare providers are now using contests and giveaways to engage an audience. Especially when promoted through social media and/or other digital channels (such as email and text messaging apps), contests with provocative prizes (think useful, exclusive and relevant) and/or ones that require “liking,” commenting on, or sharing a post to strengthen an entry can quickly increase a company or provider’s exposure; as eager contestants vie for advantage, they spread the word and act a free advertisers. It’s a winning strategy for both consumers and the contest sponsor.
Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Search and Display Ads
Of course, many health industry leaders use paid digital advertising to market their products and services. With PPC advertising, a company (or provider) pays to run an ad among search engine results (called “search ads”) or on another website (called “display ads”). They bid to place their ad at the top of a list or on a page, and every time someone clicks on the ad, her or she is directed to the company’s website and the company is charged a fee (hence “pay-per-click”). Many social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, offer a similar ad platform (called “social ads”) that is quite effective at getting an ad in front of a particular audience, matching potential customers with certain interests and needs with an ad that specifically addresses them. Because many consumers use the Internet as an initial resource for their healthcare needs, paying to keep their online visibility at the top of a list or page means healthcare providers and suppliers are able to immediately capture consumer attention and interest, beating out the competition.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Content
SEO is similar to PPC advertising in that it seeks to keep links to a business at the top of a search engine results page. But unlike PPC, for which businesses compete to place their ads in certain positions and then pay every time a user clicks on them, SEO helps businesses create organic associations using certain keywords that drive their sites naturally to the top of search engine results. Because search engines use algorithms that involve specific words to rank the order of their search results, choosing the right keyword(s) helps a healthcare provider manipulate the search process and pushes its site to the top of a search results list. Keywords are placed into content, title tags and meta descriptions, both on a business’s own site, as well as other reputable ones, hopefully capturing the interest of searchers and increasing traffic. The more traffic a healthcare provider can get to its site, the more relevant and reputable the site becomes, encouraging the search engine to put (or keep) it at the top of the search results list. It’s a cycle that provides incentives for everyone involved!
Print and Video Marketing
Not unexpectedly, traditional marketing tactics haven’t been completely dismissed in today’s healthcare world. Many segments are still successfully using print and video ads to drive interest and sales. Indeed, print marketing is still a viable option, as is video marketing, especially when used in innovative and creative ways. For instance, some healthcare providers are integrating virtual and augmented reality systems and 360˚ storytelling into conventional video and print campaigns, thereby providing exciting opportunities for consumers to actually interact with healthcare products and services.
But even in an increasingly digital and high tech world, print materials can still be seen as more credible, offering a sense of permanency and demanding attention in ways that virtual ads can’t and don’t. When coupled with unusual features — some healthcare providers are using truck wraps and QR codes, as examples — print ads can be as unexpected and just as captivating as digital ones!