Coordinate All Service Line Marketing To Increase Patient Volume

March 16, 2010

A common and destructive hospital marketing problem – which is very easily solved – is when every service line has autonomous marketing and budgeting.

At best, this means needless expense from uncoordinated media purchases. At worst, it means that the health system has a fragmented brand reputation that inhibits driving patient volumes.

A real life example:

I recently met with a $2 billion+ dozen-hospital system. They were very proud of their creative and beautiful marketing campaigns all running at the same time:

  1. their OB/maternity program had a pink-and-blue-cute-fat-baby campaign
  2. the heart program had a valentine red heart campaign featuring doctors and great outcomes
  3. a sports medicine program used colorful inspirational scenes of athletes in action
  4. their cancer center featured a documentary style doctors-doing-research-to-cure-cancer motif

All these campaigns are good individually, but together their marketing is a hot mess. They don’t realize they are just confusing people.

How could they fix this quickly?

1st: The system brand promise, visual identity and tone should be the same for each campaign.

This increases consumer message retention, and most importantly, every service line communication also builds every other service line. For example, during a CV campaign it is common that patient volume also increases in cancer and ortho simultaneously – and vice versa.

2nd: A marketing calendar and coordinated media plan should be instituted.

This eliminates competing messages in the market place from within your own organization and clarifies the brand messages in physicians’ and consumers’ minds. It also minimizes media expenses.

These changes are relatively easy to make compared to some of your bigger challenges in hospital marketing, but these changes will have an immediate and profitable effect.