When people hear the words “healthcare marketing specialist,” they seldom think about someone who studies and analyzes markets in order to develop strategies aimed at fulfilling the needs of patients. They usually think about ads and websites. While those indeed are part of marketing, a healthcare marketing specialist is an expert on connecting with patients, both domestically and internationally. We have learned that healthcare marketing materials and media won’t be effective if they aren’t adapted to the specific needs of your patients. Each patient has different needs and is looking for a specific service or solution. Reaching the right patient with the right message, at the right time is a perennial healthcare marketing challenge. Patients have many unspoken expectations as well, things that relate to culture, gender, language, nationality, etc. If you don’t present your services in the way that meets the expectations of the patient–both their conscious and unconscious expectations–the patient will simply look elsewhere.
This is why healthcare marketing professionals with experience delivering messages in “patient-friendly language” is invaluable. A healthcare marketing specialist will help you analyze your patient markets, detect areas of opportunity that your hospital or health center can maximize and plan an effective strategy to attract a bigger share of the market.
In order to know your market one must research the following aspects of patient target markets:
Age. How old are the patients you want to attract to your health center? There are many target audiences defined by age. For example: young women who want breast augmentation surgery, couples in their thirties looking for fertility support or baby boomers who are seeking knee or hip replacement. A marketing specialist knows where each of these types of customers looks for information, what procedures are popular with them and what makes them choose one hospital over another.
Gender. Is your market composed by mostly women? Mostly men? About the same ratio? Because of biological differences, there are some procedures that are aimed at just one gender. If that is who you want to attract it’s recommended that you adapt your media and materials, or parts of it, accordingly. It’s important that the images and language used convey the right message for the right audience. That may mean tailoring your marketing effort to generate maximum response from a specific gender.
Location. Where do your patients come from? Are they domestic? Are they foreign, and if so, from what countries or cities? If you want to attract medical tourism to your facility, you have to know what countries and cities offer the most promise for attracting new international patients. How will patients travel? How much will the travel and accommodations cost? Will they have to stay in your hospital or can they go to a local hotel? Patients will want to know the answers to these questions in advance so they can plan their trip. To make it easier or more inviting for patients, perhaps your healthcare or medical tourism marketing partner can work with you to create all-inclusive packages so that your patients will not have to worry about any arrangements.
Income. How much do your patients make? Are your procedures affordable? How much does a highly sought procedure cost? Are you reaching people that can afford the services you offer? For many patients, medical tourism is becoming a viable option precisely because it allows some to get health care that they can’t afford at home. One of the main advantages of a healthcare marketing specialist is that he knows what the current prices are around the world for the most popular procedures. He will also know how to balance the price to service conversation so that your services are never seen as cut-rate.
Competition. What other options are available to potential patients? What are your weaknesses and strengths compared with your competitors? How do your prices compare to those of your competitors? Is your facility closer to the patients? Is the quality of your services better? A good medical marketer will also analyze what is the PERCEIVED quality of your services and how it rates against the perceived quality of your competitors. By doing an analysis of your competition and your position in relationship to them, the healthcare marketer will allow you to make a better decisions and build relationships with patients looking for treatments.
Of course the analysis and strategic planning stages lead to execution of the marketing plan. And this is where you’ll find that a good healthcare marketing firm will outpace all others. They must deliver a full menu of both traditional and digital marketing services. This means that they provide clients with everything they need, from branding to web services. This allows them to control every aspect of your public image, to deliver materials quickly and to monitor the results they produce along the way. Most importantly, marketing pros understand that they are building a long-term relationship with you and your organization that will offer critical marketing expertise as you grow and navigate the ever-changing healthcare marketing landscape.