Navigating strategies at the intersection of performance marketing, brand equity and consumer influence in healthcare

The evolving healthcare marketing landscape requires that organizations pay increasing attention to their brand equity and ensure a healthy balance between brand-building and performance marketing.

During a March Becker's Hospital Review podcast sponsored by NRC Health, Kayla Evans, customer success manager at NRC Health, and Matt Hollenkamp, vice president of marketing and PR at St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Northern Kentucky, discussed key considerations for hospitals and health systems as they seek to achieve such balance.

Three key insights were:

1. A good marketing strategy must drive performance while elevating brand equity. The performance-oriented part must be rooted in the key services an organization provides to the community it serves. To execute the part of the marketing strategy that emphasizes performance, St. Elizabeth uses a three-pronged approach: 

  • Striving for clarity on who its key audiences and users are. 
  • Determining what are the right messages to communicate to its audiences and users. 
  • Delivering those key messages in a way that drives action (e.g., booking appointments).

Then there's the brand-building part, which requires applying a longer-term strategic approach to marketing that is rooted in the brand's purpose.

"The performance side of marketing is typically more measurable; it's the kind of thing that marketers can hang their hats on," Mr. Hollenkamp said. "The trick is to balance both parts and make sure that both deliver results."

2. Provider organizations can use these four core elements to measure brand equity. While measuring brand equity is more elusive than tracking performance-related goals, there are four elements that can help organizations assess the strength of their brand. Those elements are:

1. Familiarity with the brand among consumers. 

2. Regard how consumers rate the quality of the brand. 

3. Meaning in terms of providing services patients need and seek.

4. Uniqueness within an otherwise crowded industry space.

"As we look at the measurement of those four components, we have seen really nice growth over the last four years and, in some cases, statistically significant differences," Mr. Hollenkamp said. NRC Health has been supporting St. Elizabeth in measuring those elements in the health system's marketing strategy.

"Not only can we give a snapshot of how systems are doing on these four key areas, but we can track that over time," Ms. Evans noted.

3. Including the patient voice in marketing initiatives is essential. As provider organizations step up their marketing campaigns to strengthen brand equity, they must make sure to include the patient voice. This involves actively seeking out feedback to better understand what users appreciate or dislike about their brand, what specific information they are looking for in the context of different service lines and by what methods they prefer to hear from their health system. Such insights are valuable because they can inform all of an organization's strategies.

"At NRC Health, we can identify the patient voices in our data to see what they're saying about the brand and how they think about it ... We have over 200 metrics in our portal to understand that of consumers," Ms. Evans said.

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