The Responsible Health Services Marketer

This is a tale about emotional and functional value―two pillars of a brand’s value proposition.

Market functional value alone, and your consumer targets might lack the emotional connection to relate with and return to your brand. Market emotional value alone, and your customers might not have the information they need to make practical purchase decisions.

When setting your marketing strategy for hospital or other health services, it is important to connect both emotional and functional values. Why? Because being a healthcare consumer can be overwhelming, frustrating and expensive, especially when the service you get is different than the service you were expecting.

Yes, we want warm, supportive care environments with great reputations. But we need those functional things: someone to answer the phone and talk to us when we call; appointments without significant wait times; access to the latest techniques and procedures; opportunities to easily view our medical information; and answers to our financial questions.

Healthcare service providers need to function the way their marketing says, and a great healthcare marketer will assume some responsibility for making sure that this occurs. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Begin by defining your target. Keep in mind that your marketing messages should be tailored to the audience, whether patients or physicians. In fact, you don’t always need to market to both. Sometimes just informing referring physicians will do the trick, as they will pass the right message along to patients. Think critically about who you really need to be reaching, why and with what information.
  • Communicate what makes you different. Healthcare service providers talk about their value propositions all the time, but they often struggle to differentiate themselves. Think carefully about how to puzzle together the emotional and functional values you have to offer, and you might just come up with something that really sets you apart.
  • Keep your administration and operations colleagues on speed dial. As a marketer, if you’re not regularly in touch with these departments, there may be a gap between what your facility says it does, and what it actually does. There’s often pressure to quickly get the word out about new services, so you may feel inclined to launch campaigns before a new service is fully operational. But, in some cases, it can be damaging to promote something before it is ready. Administration and operations colleagues are often in the best position to decide when it’s ready to press go.
  • Make sure your physicians hear it first, and take the time to understand what referring physicians need to know. Be proactive in sharing information with your physician colleagues, and get their perspective on the emotional and functional values that will be communicated in marketing campaigns. Never forget that these are the people who are interacting with patients and other physicians in the community every day. It is important that they believe in and are ready to be champions for your campaign. Also, make sure that referring physicians are one of the first external parties to know about new marketing campaigns. Treat them like VIPs, and do everything you can to make their lives easier. This includes providing access to the evidence that supports your emotional and functional value statements.

What are you doing to be a responsible health services marketer? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo credit: Sasha Dunaevski, Free Images

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