With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offering more healthcare options to patients across the country, hospitals may find themselves having to compete for patients. For some this may be old hat, but others may not have much experience in this area at all.
With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) offering more healthcare options to patients across the country, hospitals may find themselves having to compete for patients. For some this may be old hat, but others may not have much experience in this area at all. Instead of simply waiting for patients to come in, hospitals are now in the unusual position of having to go out and actively search for patients.
Trying to develop, implement and test a whole new strategy can be complex and overwhelming for those hospitals which have not previously needed to conduct any type of marketing. Instead of trying to do everything at once, here are a few simple steps for creating a realistic hospital marketing plan.
- Focus on building an effective website: In today’s tech-savvy consumer society, an effective, healthcare website is the linchpin of any successful hospital marketing strategy. The website must be easy to understand and simple to navigate. It has to offer information which will be helpful to patients in making healthcare decisions. There should be an easy way to engage in a conversation, and there must be a call to action. On top of all this, the website needs to contain sufficient keywords and phrasing for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes so that it will appear at the top of search results. This can be a tall order, but it will be well worth the time and resources invested to have a website that can become a communication core.
- Think mobile: Don’t just build a beautiful website that only looks good on desktops and laptops. Think in terms of having a site that is easily viewable and navigable on all digital media.
- Develop your brand: Although we usually assume that most people know what a hospital does, it is still necessary to develop a branding statement that quickly summarizes what your hospital provides. This will form the nexus of all your communication messages, as they must serve to reinforce that brand in some way.
- Get social: Social media is perhaps the most effective way of engaging with prospective patients and building relationships. Use social media marketing to provide a constant stream of information, and be sure to have someone on staff that monitors and responds immediately to any inquiries made in the social universe.
Once you have these basics in place, you can consider adding search engine marketing or pay-per-click (PPC) tactics to your arsenal to further increase your outreach efforts. These steps will get your hospital marketing plan off to a good start, but marketing cannot just be completed once and then left alone while you go on to the next project. Effective marketing in this day and age requires constant monitoring and tracking. Similar to the care your hospital provides for its patients, an online marketing strategy must be performance-based. Find online marketing tactics that work best for your particular patient population and build on them, while eliminating practices that add nothing to the marketing pot.