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In my previous healthcare marketing posts, I focused on two digital tactics including how physicians can leverage Facebook for their practices and the key features of a good medical practice website. But, although it may feel like it, your marketing strategy doesn’t begin and end with the Internet.
It can be challenging for medical organizations to present a clear message and identity to their community, but it can be done very effectively. From branding to public relations to digital and offline marketing, we’ll paint a picture of what an integrated marketing strategy looks like and demonstrate that taking the time to develop one benefits healthcare organizations, communities and patients.
What is marketing integration?
There are probably as many definitions of marketing integration as there are companies, but we like to keep things simple. Marketing integration is the process of unifying your company’s brand and messaging across all marketing and advertising channels.
There are four components to successful marketing integration:
- Brand consistency
- Messaging unification
- Established goals
- Technology (mainly tracking technology that lets you monitor all initiatives)
You’re much more likely to present a consistent brand identity – regardless of where or how you’re promoting your practice – when you have the above four components in place.
Marketing integration can be applied to a company as a whole (e.g., the creation of a new logo) and to specific initiatives such as the launch of a new product, service, or office location. We’re going to break down these components using some tangible examples from our portfolio to illustrate each component.
Keeping your practice’s brand consistent across multiple channels and advertising venues is the critical first step in a successful marketing integration strategy.
First and foremost, consistency starts with a strong logo. It takes about 10 seconds for customers to form an opinion about your brand’s logo, but 5-7 impressions (e.g., views) for your logo to stick in their memories. That’s why consistency across all marketing touchpoints is critical.
Your logo sets the tone for every single thing you do with your brand. Though it may not appear in all advertising materials, it should appear in as many places as possible. Since offline and online marketing tactics tend to be fragmented, it’s particularly helpful to have a strong logo to represent your business both online and offline.
Here are some unique logos we’ve created for our healthcare clients (some of them are not currently in use).
Health Alliance’s logo needed to convey the coming together of five separate community hospitals into one brand. A circle was used to demonstrate the unifying of each separate brand into one. The logo needed to look good on screen and off – it was used in print materials, on billboards, in commercials and on digital assets such as the company’s website.
Community Primary Care is a strong and thriving healthcare organization that lacked a cohesive visual identity to represent their brand. Upon entering their new facility you are met by a courteous and welcoming staff and their level of care is extremely high. Patients want their primary care provider to be the hub of their care network and our “shield” brand that linked all elements was able to convey to both patients and referral sources that Community Primary Care is that hub.
Hudson Valley Cancer Center (HVCC) needed a logo they could use on their website and across all their marketing materials. The goal was simple – create something that conveyed hope and positivity without being cliche or cookie cutter. We chose to use warm, neutral colors in a circle design, which is both unique and memorable.
A unified message is something that can help crystalize a brand in the minds of patients, prospective patients and the larger community. The message should be short, memorable, and easy to convey across multiple channels and platforms. Here are some examples of taglines or slogans that successfully convey these hospitals’ key messages.
- New York Presbyterian: “Amazing Things Are Happening Here”
- Memorial Sloan Kettering: “Cancer Care Is The Only Thing We Do”
- Albany Medical Center: “Known For Our expertise. Chosen For Our Care.”
- Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital: “All We Do. All For Kids.”
- Boston Medical Center: “When We All Look Out For One Another, We All Get Further”
Pairing a strong message with your logo creates the foundation for a clear brand identity which can be featured in all your marketing materials, online and offline.
You will likely have at least two types of goals when crafting a unified marketing integration strategy. The first involves long term, overarching business goals. These might include the following:
- Get more patients
- Retain existing patients/improve patient communication
- Recruit new physicians to the practice
- Attract new residents (for long term/assisted care facilities)
- Offer new services or specialities
- Upgrade equipment or facilities
The second kind of goal, while generally tied to one of the above long term goals, is usually focused on a specific shorter term goal or event. For example, attracting new patients may always be a goal for you, but maybe you’ve just recruited a new physician into the practice and you need to fill their schedule.
For this goal, you might create a landing page that highlights the new physician, promote their hire and expertise on social media channels, and launch a paid media campaign on radio, billboards and online to let the community know that your practice has a new resource that’s accepting new patients.
Your strong logo and brand message will help you when you launch these short-term initiatives by presenting a familiar identity to people who already know about you and leave a strong brand impression to those who don’t. In both instances you are building consumer awareness and confidence in your brand.
Technology ties it all together
The fourth and final piece of the marketing integration puzzle is one of the most critical – technology. Specifically, tracking and reporting technology that lets you monitor the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns.
Online and offline integration may fall by the wayside if you don’t have a method in place to track the effectiveness of each tactic. This is something we’re mildly obsessed with because our healthcare marketing campaigns almost always include both online and offline advertising channels – radio, print ads, digital ads, and billboards.
In order to make sure that advertising materials are consistent across all channels, we may do the following (as appropriate):
- Have an approved collection of images that can be used in all ads and on the website
- Create unique tracking phone numbers that enable us to monitor leads from different sources (e.g., print ads vs. search ads)
- Ensure that the logo and tagline are represented clearly on all media, where appropriate. If you don’t clearly identify who the message is from, you might as well run ads that say “compliments of a friend.”
- Align key messaging across all media – this requires working closely with our clients’ marketing team to make sure we represent their practice consistently in all ads and print materials
- Track website traffic to monitor user behavior, top referrers, and goals
- Review performance at least monthly (via the use of custom reports) and client meetings
If you’re not tracking each initiative, reviewing performance, and adjusting focus based on actual results, then your marketing isn’t truly integrated.
If you’re using different logos, taglines/slogans, and have multiple websites or social media accounts, then your marketing isn’t truly integrated.
If your digital marketing team (or agency) is operating separately from your traditional (offline) marketing team (or agency) then your marketing isn’t truly integrated.
Well, you get the picture.
In an ideal world, there should be only one key person or department that oversees all marketing and advertising initiatives. This helps reduce the kind of brand dilution that can inevitably happen when organizations grow and new marketing channels appear. The good news is that it’s fairly simple to present a strong, cohesive brand – even for very large medical organizations such as multi-hospital facilities – just by following the four basic steps we’ve outlined above.