Does the thought of marketing your healthcare services fill you with dread?
If so, it is time "to get over it". Present day healthcare marketing, after all, is not about you. Consumers are now front and centre in a digital health strategy.
One in 20 Google searches are for health related information (source: Google) and 72% of internet users have searched online for health information in the past year (source: Pew Research).
The majority of these searches evolve around:
- symptoms & conditions
- healthcare institutions, treatment centres and healthcare professionals
Most consumers start their search with the conditions or diseases. Once they have gathered sufficient information their search focuses more on brands and specific doctors.
In many cases these "online patient journeys" extend over a period of time (days, weeks or even months) before the consumer takes definitive action by contacting a healthcare professional.
With this in mind there are opportunities for professionals to "meet and guide" consumers throughout their decision-making journey. All in way that is helpful rather than pushy.
#1 Be helpful
So how can you be helpful online? Well presuming you do have a website, it isn't a big stretch to think you may also have a blog (if not, then get onto creating one). A blog is the most straightforward way for you to start publishing to the web. But before you start, it pays to put some thought into your content direction.
First consider who your "ideal patient" and create your ideal patient (or buyer) profile. From there, make an overview of topics and frequently asked questions. This can be your starting point to building a blog filled with relevant articles.
Remember that your target reader is looking to solve a problem so ask yourself:
- Am I writing this article with my ideal patient in mind?
- Why would he or she find this helpful?
- Am I explaining this thought or idea clearly and thoroughly?
- Am I using the type of words and phrases they understand.
- Could I replace some medical terms with ones that are more easy to comprehend by a lay person.
- Am I giving them all the information they need?
#2 Be Human
Healthcare professionals understand the importance of empathy and this should come through in the way you write as it would if you were to sit across the desk from your patient.
But by being human I don't just mean being emphatic.
Technology enables us to be human regardless of the channel we are communicating through. Chat functionality has made it possible to have a 1:1 conversation with your prospective buyers.
Similarly healthcare marketers can make use of technology to monitor social media channels and participate in conversations.
This human approach is the key to building trust and making the consumer feel supported throughout their decision-making journey. Moreover the increased trust will help develop long-term customer relationships.
#3 Be Holistic
In the words of Hubspot's Founder Brian Halligan:
"Leverage data to create a gorgeous end-to-end experience for your customer from marketing, when they find you, through to sales, when they become a customer, through to service, and then back to marketing."
To me this sums up being holistic in your marketing approach. It isn't just about being helpful and human in that early stage during which you are trying to build trust with your prospect. The kind of healthcare marketing that I am talking about here must pervade your entire practice culture and extend to how you delight and service your existing customer base as well.
The type of marketing I prefer to practice and which I have described is based on the Inbound Marketing Philosophy. It is a customer centric method that feels natural. We are not trying to push someone into a sale or purchase decision. Our focus is on being authentically helpful and guiding the consumer through the decision-making journey. By doing so we build trust and establish ourselves as trusted expert.
My experience is that this type of marketing is a very natural fit for professionals in the healthcare and wellness sector. Theirs are typically high trust relationships and so this type of marketing is aligned with the customer's expectation of you.