I'll admit it. I work in an industry that's known for being "old school" in its marketing. Healthcare traditionally loves print pieces. We've adored billboards, even for inexplicable marketing strategies. A freeway billboard for neurosurgery? Yup, it's been done.
But changes are coming, actually more quickly than they have in decades. Healthcare reform, the rise of healthcare consumerism, and just the general agreement among some very talented marketers that it's time to make important shifts in strategy and resources are all in play.
For healthcare, as well as other changing industries, it's time to rethink marketing—and that starts with flipping our media plans on their heads.
Until we perfect that mind-meld with all our target audiences, there is no better strategy than investing in digital marketing and making it the foundation of our media plans. That means resources go first to these elements:
- Paid search: Why would you not invest in a service that requires payment only when an interested party responds to your ad? I've never met a print ad salesperson who'd make the same promise. Paid search also helps reach highly targeted audiences, so there's very little waste.
- Remarketing: Remarketing is a powerful tool for increasing awareness, ensuring new business, and pulling in customers who may prove greatly loyal over time. Remarketing is also efficient. You're gently nudging people who are genuinely interested in your product or service. Some people just need that little push before they're ready to trust. It's logical buying behavior.
- Targeted mobile advertising: It's hard to travel around with a billboard in your pocket or even a print publication. But a mobile phone? It's practically glued to most peoples' fingertips. If you truly want to go to where your market lives, use mobile advertising. Just make sure that your ads are well targeted to your intended audience.
Once you've invested in the basics and ensured a robust foundation for marketing, you can proceed to Level II media, using this level for those products and services that merit more marketing push.
This level is where content marketing, social media, and public relations all help your story come to life:
- Content marketing: Tell your story through the many avenues open to you: blogging, podcasts, videos, e-books, whitepapers, social media, presentations, and webinars. Invest in serious brand journalism that becomes a reliable source of information both for your customers and for reporters.
- Public relations: Speaking of reporters, getting that all-important third-party validation should never be underrated. Telling your story through interesting media pitches is a good marketing investment that never diminishes. And despite my skepticism about investing heavily in print advertising, that skepticism doesn't apply to print journalists: Print content still sets the agenda for broadcast and other media, so it's important to nurture your relationships with print journalists.
- Social media: Make sure your social media postings have purpose; also make sure they are related to your overall marketing strategy. The best way to ensure that is to establish an editorial calendar for all your content marketing efforts. Products such as Divvy HQ bring better organization to your marketing department and help internal editors and copywriters write to company strategy.
Susan Solomon is a healthcare marketing vice-president in Southern California and a marketing instructor at four universities. She was a Fulbright scholar and she has written extensively on marketing, branding, and social media for more than a decade.
LinkedIn: Susan Solomon