5 marketing tactics for hospitals to manage their reputations and grow revenue

During the last two years, hospitals and COVID-19 have nearly become synonymous to the public. Hospital marketers have been whipsawed by the pandemic. Now it's time for marketers to turn attention back to repositioning the hospital's role in the community as a place of healing and refuge. 

During a February Becker's Hospital Review webinar sponsored by LiveWorld, Danny Flamberg, vice president of healthcare-professional strategy, and Rishi Kadiwar, vice president of direct-to-consumer strategy, both from LiveWorld, discussed five marketing tactics hospitals can use to manage their reputations and grow revenue.

The five tactics were:

1. Understanding and leveraging social media platforms can help hospitals curate customized content and target messages. Although hospitals are on three to five social media platforms on average, according to Mr. Flamberg, many fail to understand the audiences and nuances of each platform and how to optimize each platform. "You want to understand the attributes of each platform, both technically and psycho-demographically," Mr. Flamberg said. "For example, Facebook is overwhelmingly adults 25 to 34, and Twitter has the greatest number of college graduates. These are not homogeneous groups, so you can reach different segments, using these platforms, at different times with different content." Mr. Flamberg suggested creating targeted, relevant social media content highlighting key service lines. 

2. Instead of transactional relationships, hospitals want to build sustaining relationships. "In the past, patients only sought hospitals when they needed a point-of-care solution," Mr. Kadiwar said. "Now that relationship has shifted to always on; patients expect to reach hospitals on their own terms, 24/7, especially on the hospital-owned channels like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Hospitals need to position themselves as the go-to resource in the marketplace." Hospitals can build their reputation with online and offline outreach programs and consider a 360-degree approach to communication and building ongoing relationships that includes newsletters, MyChart messaging, online communities and more.

3. To provide a consumer-like experience, hospital leaders must become their consumer. To understand the consumer perspective, hospitals need to "invest in building a welcoming and frictionless consumer experience in as few clicks as possible," Mr. Kadiwar said. "And the magic number is three. If someone can't find the information they're looking for in three clicks, they'll take their business elsewhere." Hospitals must position their organization as "always on" and must be where patients are. This means targeting specific audiences with customized yet consistent communication and using text messages to create that experience can help.

4. Curating and sharing true stories shows humanity of both patients and medical staff. The stories you choose help communicate what you want patients to know about you. According to Mr. Kadiwar, video that showcases patient stories will almost always perform better on social media than static images. "Half of the best posts include two or more faces, like a patient and a caregiver or a mom and a child," he said. "Posts with a strong storytelling angle, like a behind- the-scenes point of view, always attract the most comments."

5. Engage influencers who are already speaking with prospective audiences you want to reach. "As a country, we are a nation of reviewers, critics and recommenders," Mr. Flamberg said. He recommends selecting influencers who are credible inside the organization's marketplace. "There's research that shows that the smaller the audience, the greater the influence. Micro communities and micro influencers are not only more affordable, but also more persuasive because they represent a tighter connection to the population you want to serve," Mr. Flamberg said.

The pandemic has forced hospital marketers to think out of the box, abandon tried and true tactics and creatively respond to limited horizons. These five tactics can help hospital marketers strengthen their reputations and grow revenue in the post-pandemic world.

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