Hospital Marketing: 8 Risks of Playing it Safe

One of the biggest challenges of healthcare and hospital marketing is creating a brand based on a differentiation that’s meaningful to consumers. The usual path is the safe route. Here are some of the biggest offenses:

  1. Envision your hospital as a conglomeration of separate companies, or rogue states, e.g. radiology, oncology, ER, orthopedics, and our favorite, “The Open MRI Toaster.”
  2. Show lots of doctors in your ads. Doctors with their arms folded. Doctors with patients. Doctors with other doctors. Doctors with weird medical devices or doctors in scrubs. All available to you and your competitors on the nearest cheapo stock photo site.
  3. Use a safe tagline or positioning theme. Typical keywords and phrases include: caring, extraordinary, we care more, our docs are smarter, excellence, (blank) for life, patients come first, your health comes first, we’re number one, blah, blah, blah
  4. Assume it’s marketing’s job to sell whatever products they’re given. Refuse to act on consumer research, or don’t perform any at all, and don’t let you rag tag bunch of marketers into the boardroom where real decisions are made.
  5. Position your hospital as the experts in a single field: The baby hospital. The heart hospital. The largest colon hospital. You’ll feel good until your niche positioning collapses like a house of cards when your competitors pull ahead when some magazine (usually not related to medicine) ranks them higher than you.
  6. Ignore social media because you can’t control it. Pssst, your doctors and employees are already tweeting it up, so you might as well listen and join the conversation.
  7. Pander to internal constituencies rather than serve the huge healthcare information needs of your patients.
  8. Ignore the fact that patients are smarter than they used to be. They have Web M.D., access to doctor and institutional reviews, drug interactions, and morbidity rates for various procedures and doctors.

That should do it.

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