Marketing strategies are never a “one size fits all” approach. This is especially true in the healthcare industry where you can’t simply focus on selling a product.
Medical sales and marketing departments have a lot more restrictions on what they can say and do due to strict regulations. This, of course, helps to protect the integrity of the system but inevitably leads to challenges for marketers.
18 to 24 year olds are more than 2x as likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions.-Source Advertising Health
In other sectors, it is common practice to respond to complaints within 3 working days. However, when it comes to digital marketing for healthcare organizations, you are expected to reply within 24 hours. Why does this differ? Because a complaint about a medical service could mean an immediate need for assessment, so booking an appointment to follow up this complaint is imperative.
Medically related complaints need to be addressed quickly and go through a well-structured process:
Patient Engagement: Customers must be able to send their suggestions, doubts or complaints to you. This can be either on the phone, email or chat room and should be accessible in search results or on medical landing pages.
Technical investigation: This has two parts, a documentation-based investigation where you look into health records, and a laboratory analysis phase.
Corrective actions: You must be able to show you have considered all feedback, which includes replying to comments left online. When done so, it may also serve as damage control and could improve your chance of prospective patients in the long term.
Monthly reports and trend analysis should be measured to ensure that this problem was thoroughly resolved.
Persuasive advertising while used in many other industries is not suitable for the medical industry.
Understandably, the healthcare industry is a sensitive one which means that every piece of promotional material or advertising needs to go through rigorous checks through the MHRA. Any claim made in the promotion of a medical product needs to be sufficiently backed up with evidence and all product information must be included.
Here are some non-persuasive techniques to keep in mind for your healthcare advertising:
Focus on people over products - you want to start a conversation between patients and healthcare professionals
Make sure your wording is clear and is proofed by a legal expert. It’s important to be transparent with your prospect audience.
Always think about the literal meanings of words and images
You must have evidence for every claim you make
Video marketing can help to explain complex or legal processes, and may help tool up new patients who visit your healthcare website.
YouTube traffic to hospital sites has increased 119% year-over-year.-Source Think with Google
Traditionally, healthcare organisations have not been keen on marketing as the belief was that it commercialises the practice of medicine and negatively impacts the integrity of the profession. Furthermore, strict rules and regulations cause many to become intimidated and avoid marketing altogether.
The result is physicians and medical societies missing out on the benefits of marketing. It’s important to keep in mind that the main premise of these guidelines is to ensure you are being ethical and legal in your marketing.
To this end, here are some advertising guidelines to keep in mind when considering advertising within the healthcare world:
It is ethical for physicians to market their practices, however, you must always consider the intent of any advertisement and clearly identify that it is paid advertising.
Specific outcomes should rarely be advertised as success rates depend on each patient in the context of their individual care.
Discriminatory language should be avoided.
Vulnerable groups must be carefully considered when creating a marketing plan/strategy that targets them.
The most accessed online resources for health related information are: 56% searched WebMD, 31% on Wikipedia, 29% on health magazine websites, 17% used Facebook, 15% used YouTube, 13% used a blog or multiple blogs, 12% used patient communities, 6% used Twitter and 27% used none of the above.-Source Mashable
Medical marketing encompasses many elements:
Internal restructuring. This could involve aligning your current sales and marketing teams to create a winning strategy, or creating a communications plan to roll out new information.
Clear labeling of your products so that they comply with your country’s regulations
A more efficient website. Maybe you specialise in a demographic who need an easier to use website? Maybe your website design is fine, however, it isn’t visible to search engines and you’re worried you’re missing out on a possible revenue stream.
A pair of creative eyes on a technical marketing campaign. Medical information can be difficult to convey. Using a healthcare agency that can bridge the gap between consumer and the business may help you deliver long term results.
Although there are many rules and regulations when it comes to healthcare marketing, it is still possible to achieve it in an ethical and professional manner. A good healthcare marketing agency will have a plethora of case studies and a willing team to help you with your next healthcare marketing strategy. If you’re thinking about marketing for your healthcare organisation, feel free to get in touch for a no obligation chat.
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