Why Healthcare Marketing is Different & How to Effectively Engage Patient Behavior
Different industries face their own set of challenges when it comes to marketing their products. But healthcare marketing presents a unique challenge because consumers are potentially patients in the future. The goal of a successful healthcare marketing campaign is to inform your audience about how to either improve their health status or understand how to manage their health, while persuading them to purchase your product or service.
Healthcare marketing campaigns work towards building a relationship of trust with your audience. Consumers are more likely to buy a product or service when they are emotionally involved with the issue that you are trying to solve. If you can create a message that will resonate with your consumer, then there is a better chance that they will buy from you than from your competitors.
Hospitals and health systems have been spending more on advertising in recent years, with an emphasis on educating patients and engaging them in their growing role as healthcare consumers. The average marketing budgets of U.S. healthcare companies remained consistent at 7.7 million U.S. dollars, while direct-to-consumer pharma advertising spending increased to 6.58 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.* In our Covid-centric healthcare environment, spending habits and priorities have shifted from brand strategy to crisis management and content-strategy marketing.
The cornerstone of your marketing content strategy for healthcare marketers should be to create behavior-specific messaging that speaks directly to the needs of their customers. (e.g., "Many studies show taking vitamins can protect your heart. Do you take vitamins daily?"). Using this approach, you can continue to talk with customers about the value of your products, while at the same time educating them about how they can improve their own health.
There are many opportunities in healthcare marketing that relate to prevention. Getting people interested in preventing disease is key to lowering healthcare costs, improving quality of care, and reducing treatment side effects. A research study by Deloitte found that companies that target preventative care stand to make significant revenue increases. Moreover, companies that align their brand with preventing disease can increase their appeal for customers who want to improve their health but may not be ready to purchase a product (e.g., weight loss.)
The average amount spent per person on healthcare is significant (about $8,000 annually) If you include pharmaceuticals and prescription drugs, the total cost of healthcare will often exceed $10,000 within just one year's time.
Health care professionals are another important channel for marketing healthcare products. According to Deloitte research, medical professionals are most open to new technological innovations that would improve their practice and workflows. Because patients trust their doctors as individuals, doctors can play a key role as authentic brand ambassadors for healthcare marketing campaigns.
Still, the main source of information for consumers about health issues is the internet, and if you want people to trust your brand, you need to connect them to sources where they can research and educate themselves. This ensures the likelihood that consumers will trust what you have to say about how your product or service, is relevant and of value to them.
Another opportunity for healthcare marketers to increase customer engagement, is to get their audience to talk about their products online. Keep in mind is that healthcare marketing is truly diverse and there's a need to understand where your audience lives online and how they prefer to make decisions. One of the best ways to do this is by adopting a consumer-centric mindset--becoming a patient and thinking like them.
• 88% of those searching for health information start with search engines – Google Complete Treatment Study
• 48% before booking, patients took over 2 weeks to research before booking an appointment**
• 57% of baby boomers have searched for healthcare and wellness information
The biggest influences patients consider when researching a doctor or medical practice are:
• 94%: reputation of the facility
• 90%: their insurance will be accepted by the facility
• 86%: when recommended by another physician
• 85%: the practice uses the latest technology
• 51%: when recommended by friends or family
Paid Search Behaviors:
• 26% conduct searches for more information
• 38% begin the research process
• 39% visit the website of the treatment center that they saw advertised
• 36% consider a treatment center that they saw advertised
· 43% complete their research and make purchasing decisions
· 93% of consumers understand that healthcare marketing is about promoting products and services. **
· 73% of people trust what a healthcare brand says about any healthcare service or product they offer***
In conclusion, the healthcare market is ripe with potential and holds copious opportunities for brands. Take advantage of these opportunities and focus on creating behavior-specific messaging that speaks directly to the needs of your target audience and avoid falling back on generic messages about your products or services.
About Brand Device, LLC:
Brand Device merges intelligent, strategic branding solutions with powerful, imaginative, and interactive creative driven by a team of leading healthcare marketing veterans with a rich history in promoting medical devices, hospital products, nutrition, health institutions, pharmaceuticals, direct-to-patient, and physician practices.
About Lisa Silverman: Silverman is principal of Brand-Device, LLC. As a senior account director, branding and content strategist for over 30 years, Silverman has stewarded regional and global brands with an unparalleled skill set and a proven record of success in team leadership, driving growth strategy, executing marketing communication plans, and creating billions of dollars in ROI for healthcare and financial clients.
*Google Complete Treatment Study ** Google Complete Hospital Study ***Deloitte