Healthcare marketers in this postpandemic period face a unique set of challenges. For hospitals and long-term-care organizations, those marketing challenges can be even more acute.
In many respects, hospitals and nursing homes were ground zero for the coronavirus. The pandemic exacerbated caregiver shortages the industry has been grappling with for years. Factor in issues like salary inflation, travel nursing, the Great Resignation, remote work options in other sectors, vaccine mandates and stagnant reimbursements, and it’s easy to see why healthcare marketers are increasingly turning to more creative, out-of-the-box ways to get results.
Whether your organization needs to build its brand reputation, expand service lines, improve recruitment marketing—or all of the above, here are three idea-starters that we hope will get your creative juices flowing.
1. What’s on your wall?
We’ve all heard the pitch from that major credit card brand: “What’s in your wallet?” Think of this first idea as: What’s on your wall?
Most organizations have core values. They are likely posted on the walls in your organization—but are they reflected in your marketing messages? If not, consider the potential for leveraging your core values in your marketing efforts.
Marketing messages that make a genuine and lasting connection with audiences—what we call Brand as Friend™—are almost always grounded in a brand’s core values. Core values are a useful go/no-go test when evaluating new marketing campaigns, recruitment messaging, sponsorships and even internal employee communications.
For Catholic Health System in western New York, the campaign tagline, “The Right Way to Care,” was a synthesis of their core values of reverence, compassion and integrity. Our recruitment TV campaign showcases how the organization honors the inherent dignity and uniqueness of each person.
If you haven’t revisited your values in several years, start by reexamining and reinvigorating them. This act alone often yields new thinking and new strategies for marketing, staff recruitment and retention, and patient experience.
2. My kingdom for an insight.
Most marketers today are flooded with data. But insights are usually much harder to grab hold of. At Mower, we define an insight as a consumer truth that is yet to be leveraged. And we’ll take one real, relevant consumer insight over slide decks filled with data any day.
When we helped a large hospital association develop a statewide recruitment campaign for frontline caregivers, our research uncovered the fact that the happiest, most loyal nurses all have something in common: a deep, innate desire to be helpful to others. Care and compassion are practically in their DNA. That simple insight led us to create the Caring Gene® brand recruitment campaign, which resonated with thousands of prospective recruits who identified with that innate call to care.
Just as data is everywhere, insights can come from almost anywhere, too. But most often, insights are sourced directly from the mouths of the very people we hope to influence. Smartly crafted consumer research—from one-on-one interviews and focus groups to intercepts and quantitative studies—can be a wealth of insight and inspiration.
3. Be real.
Healthcare marketers often put trust at the top of their list of core messages, and rightly so. Trust is built on honesty, and honesty is rooted in being real, transparent and authentic. Is your brand really walking the talk when it comes to trust?
The vast majority of healthcare marketing imagery looks the same. But even more to the point, much of it actually looks far from real—which doesn’t help earn points for trust and authenticity.
When brands go down the stock imagery path, they often arrive someplace they never intend to go: nowhere—a place that doesn’t exist with people that don’t exist. Perhaps this seems harsh, but when we see the proverbial attractive, fit, silver-haired, perfectly coiffed, 75-going-on-45 stock image in advertising, it’s just a complete miss. Our mothers, our grandmothers and their friends are beautiful, but they don’t look like that!
Recently, Mower helped Loretto, a major elder care provider, develop a campaign to raise awareness of their home health services. We created a character, “Loretta,” a feisty, young-at-heart, 80-something patient. In a series of TV and social media videos, Loretta comes across as incredibly relatable. We’re always hearing comments like, “She’s so spunky, she reminds me of my mother, grandma, aunt, etc.”
That’s because she’s real, and we all know real when we see it.