A billboard touting a local, highly ranked hospital. Radio ads promoting mammograms during Breast Cancer Awareness month. A blog explaining types of headaches from a clinic. These are all examples of marketing that healthcare organizations use to spread awareness and attract and retain patients.
What is Healthcare Marketing?
Healthcare marketing helps providers increase their connections with patients and nurture a long-term customer base. This can include creating, communicating and delivering health information using both customer and science-based strategies to protect and promote the health of different populations, as defined by the CDC.
Healthcare marketing must focus on understanding a patient’s attitudes and preferences about different brands that lead them to make judgments about a supplier or provider. In other words, the marketing strategy is supposed to let the potential patient know why they should choose them over the competition through various tactics. These tactics can include a strong social media presence, digital advertisement and customer satisfaction representation.
What is a Healthcare Marketing Plan?
A healthcare marketing plan refers to a cost-effective strategy to drive specific key performance indicators. A marketing plan is like a blueprint that healthcare organizations use to achieve measurable objectives that are in line with the organization’s overall goals of a given year.
Questions that could be answered in a healthcare marketing plan include:
- How does the brand provide value and customer service?
- Who is the target consumer?
- What problems is the plan solving?
- What processes are currently being used to attract leads?
- Should the strategy include social, inbound, print or all channels?
If a healthcare organization is interested in promoting a new cardiology center, for example, it would rely on a marketing team to make it happen.
What Does a Healthcare Marketer Do?
Healthcare marketers are responsible for delivering positive customer experiences to patients across devices and platforms. They have the same obstacles and issues as other marketers and must follow brand guidelines and even stricter federal regulations due to the industry. From social media to blogging, healthcare marketers need to come up with strategies to deliver valuable content to an organization’s target audience.
Healthcare marketers usually do the following:
- Plan promotional and advertising campaigns
- Develop marketing plans
- Initiate market research studies and analyze the findings
- Identify potential patient referrals
- Plan and oversee advertising and promotional activities
- Review and analyze marketing performance indicators
Alison Pondo, MPH, CPH, Services Line Marketing Manager at Tampa General Hospital, says that there is “truly no ‘typical’ day” in healthcare marketing:
“In one single day I may have a meeting with the leaders of our neuroscience program talking through results of our latest campaign, then jump to a meeting talking through the events and activities for our National Patient Safety Week events, followed by a brainstorming session about optimizing our social strategy that includes a review of the next patient video story our social team created.”
How to Get Started in Healthcare Marketing
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*, people interested in getting a position as a healthcare marketer typically earn their BA in Marketing or have experience in advertising, marketing, promotions or sales. To gain more skills and experience in the field, people can choose to pursue a more specialized degree an MBA in Marketing or even an MBA in Healthcare Management. Although healthcare management degrees focus on the managerial aspects of the industry, they also offer specialization courses that cover marketing research and planning concepts.
How Much Does a Healthcare Marketer Earn?
The BLS* states that employment for advertising, promotions and marketing managers is projected to grow 8% from 2018 to 2028. Salaries vary for marketing jobs depend on skills, company size and the industry. In addition, the median annual salary for advertising, promotions and marketing managers was $117,130 in 2018 according to the BLS*.
Why is Healthcare Marketing Important?
Unlike other industries, healthcare is not a simple commodity; it’s a necessity. At the core of healthcare marketing strategies lies the truth of the quality of services.
Moreover, the number of options that healthcare consumers have now combined with costs and desires for a higher quality of life require healthcare businesses to compete more deliberately against each other.
A 2019 article published in The Journal of Medical Life proposes that successful healthcare marketing strategies have the following characteristics:
- Superior value over the competition
- Relevancy to a targeted audience
- Memorability and impact
- An authenticity that’s hard to copy
The significance of current marketing strategies can also speak through numbers. According to a 2019 study published by JAMA, from 1997 to 2016, spending on healthcare marketing increased from $17.7 to $29.9 billion.
Rather than launching a traditional message of guaranteed health, facilities are adopting more patient-focused strategies to ensure their growth. “Direct-to-consumer” (DTC) advertising saw the most rapid growth and reached a total spending of $9.6 billion in 2016. DTC turns out to be the most popular strategy to date, according to the report.
According to Dr. Laurie Shanderson, a Florida Tech faculty member and Healthcare Management instructor, there are three distinct ways that healthcare marketing can succeed:
“Increasing patient volume, building brand and increasing prestige are all possible reasons for healthcare marketing to work.”
Shanderson, who teaches the Healthcare Marketing course online, explains that the rise of the healthcare markets contributes to the following:
- Solidify patient value
- Attract medical and administrative staff
- Serve as an information resource (e.g., community centers)
- Influence consumer decision making
- Offset other competitive marketing efforts
- Demonstrate community involvement
The field of healthcare marketing is an essential component for the success of any healthcare business. Products and services need promotions and targeted consumers. Through marketing, professionals in the field of care not only have an idea of how many people they serve but how many people think their service is valuable and necessary in their lives.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Advertising, Promotions and Marketing Managers, on the internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm (accessed January 23, 2020).
National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth. Information provided is not intended to represent a complete list of hiring companies or job titles, and program options do not guarantee career or salary outcomes. Students should conduct independent research for specific employment information.