Americans are more and more tech-savvy these days, and that spills over to the healthcare industry.
It makes good financial sense for healthcare businesses to reach that audience through a robust marketing strategy with an emphasis on branding for healthcare businesses.
So here are our top four tips.
1. Research, Research, Research
Your patients are researching you, so it makes for you to research them. You won’t research patients individually, but you will need to do a deep dive into the healthcare landscape in your community.
This exercise will give you important insight into your company, your customers and your competition. Think of this as the holistic guide to market research. It’s similar to the concept behind holistic medicine in that you’ll look at the healthcare space as a whole.
You’ll want to start with a comprehensive examination of your healthcare business. Key questions to ask at this stage include the following:
- What services does your business provide? The more specific you can be, the better. You might specialize in women’s care or pediatrics, for example.
- What sets you apart from every other healthcare business? Identify what you provide to your patients that they can’t get anywhere else.
- What are your personal and business values? These are the intangibles that extend far beyond the regulations mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). You might value personal service where patients don’t have to navigate a phone tree when they call your office. You might value time spent with patients where their visits can last an hour or more.
Next, you’ll research your customers. You may have heard the term “buyer persona” that’s used in market research. Your “buyer” is your patient.
This is vital to your branding strategy because you need to know who your target customers are. Everything you do from both a healthcare and a marketing approach will be geared toward reaching those customers. You’ll want to identify some key characteristics, including:
- How old are they?
- Do they typically have insurance?
- How do they shop for healthcare information? (Over 40 percent of people look for a health care provider online. They want to make their appointments online, too.)
Finally, you’ll research the competition. It’s important to understand what services are readily available in your community and where the gaps are. This will help you create a marketing strategy that reaches an under-served demographic.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re a pediatrician in an area that’s already saturated with pediatricians. You might decide to specialize in telehealth as a way to reach busy parents who don’t want to make an appointment every time their child comes down with a cold.
2. Create a User-Friendly Website
We know the majority of patients look for healthcare information online, so you need to operate in that space to reach them. Your website is often the first contact patients will have with your business.
These days, a basic website with your business name, phone number and address won’t lead to financial success. Everybody has a website, and customers are sophisticated enough to want a lot more information than just your office location.
A successful healthcare business will offer a website that allows patients to read about the doctors, nurses and physicians assistants who work with you. Everyone who interacts with patients should have a photo and bio on your website.
This is a great opportunity for you to establish an emotional connection with your patients. As Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Any doctor can throw a resume up on a website. This is another chance for you to engage with your customers. Let them know why you became a doctor, what you do in your free time and why they should see you.
You’ll also want to establish a portal where patients can log in to schedule appointments, download forms and review their test results. You can also create a place for them to leave reviews, which will help your practice build a strong reputation in your market.
3. Branding for Healthcare Includes Social Media
79 percent of Americans use social media to connect with friends and family, follow the news, share information and do their shopping. As we’ve discussed, that also includes researching healthcare information and providers.
Facebook continues to be the most widely-used channel. Over 2.23 billion people log on to the platform every month! It makes good business sense for you to have a Facebook page and engage with your patients and their caregivers.
Engagement is the key here. Social media users want more than just static information. They expect to hear back from you if they ask a question. You’ll want to offer them the opportunity to book an appointment from your Facebook page and read the reviews of your business.
4. Content Creation
Patients look for information online, both on your website and your social media channels. This is the perfect opportunity for you to establish yourself as the expert in your field and someone who can be trusted.
A comprehensive content library will put healthcare information in the hands of your patients. You might create short videos where you talk directly to your patients about issues that affect them.
You can start a blog and post short articles about trends in the healthcare industry, hot topics they may have seen on the news or even answers to common concerns that parents will find helpful.
Content marketing costs approximately 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads. The idea is that by providing trustworthy content, you encourage customers to take the next step by contacting you directly for an appointment.
Content can include videos, blogs, infographics, white papers and personal essays. It’s a critical step in establishing your brand—who you are and what you stand for. It also establishes you and your healthcare business as the trusted expert in your market.
The key element in all of the branding for healthcare strategies we’ve discussed is authenticity. Patients want to do business with doctors they trust, so it’s critical to provide information that is relevant, accurate and timely in a way they can access and easily understand.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions you have about building and marketing a healthcare business.