The Tricky Business of Hospital Marketing
Marketing a hospital can be tricky business. I should know: I was an in-house member of the marketing team for a 500-bed Level 1 trauma center for several years.
Marketing a hospital isn’t tricky because it’s uncharted or rare or painful. It’s tricky because hospitals are not your typical “destination”:
- Very few – if any – people actually want to go to a hospital. Generally, a trip to a hospital means either you, or someone you care about, is ill and in some state of distress.
- Hospitals, by necessity, are highly restricted areas. Patient privacy, sterile conditions, the presence radioactive materials and biohazardous waste, and the challenge of maintaining a calm, healing environment all require hospital personnel to permit very limited access to most areas.
- And though hospitals are the site where most all modern-day lives are first celebrated and introduced to the world, they are also a common location for our heavenly departure. Grief, stress, physical pain and trauma are frequent ghosts in the halls of most hospitals.
(Surely all you mall marketers and steak house promoters are feeling pretty good about your jobs right now).
Beyond the building and the beds and the machines, the people that make a hospital are its most important – and perhaps, most marketable – asset.
Hospitals are full of caring, well-educated professionals who are experts in their field. Physicians most obviously fit this bill, but hospitals and other healthcare providers have numerous clinically trained and licensed professionals providing care in their facilities every day. Nurses, dietitians, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, infection control professionals, wound care specialists – to name just a few – are all deep wells of knowledge for information-hungry consumers (and potential patients). Harnessing that knowledge, and promoting it to a hospital’s current and potential customers, should be a key element of any hospital marketing program.
Easy to understand health articles can be a simple and cost-effective way to market a hospital (and a recent report from the Pew Research Center indicates that interest in health information is at an all-time high). Editors realize that readers and subscribers are eager for health information – and who better to supply that information than the local hospital?
Now that you are on board with the idea to indirectly promote your hospital through the dissemination of consumer-friendly health information, what do you write about and how do you get it to the community?
Here are some ideas on what to write about:
- new procedures of interest to potential patients;
- new physicians, especially if they bring a new specialty or expertise to the area;
- preventative medical advice;
- timely health topics (such as MRSA or Swine Flu)
- seasonal health concerns (sun burn, snow sport injury, holiday depression)
- national health awareness days/weeks/months.
And how do you provide health information to members of the community?
- through local newspapers;
- in hospital newsletters;
- in community publications (such as Chamber newsletters);
- through local television or radio programming;
- on your hospital’s website;
- as flyers to inpatients, outpatients and visitors;
- in handouts at local health fairs, libraries or community centers.
So what’s stopping you? Click here to see just a few samples of bylined health articles (on topics like asthma, cervical cancer, MRSA and sprains) that Lovell Communications has helped clients produce and place.