Think about the last product you purchased. Did the label get your attention? Maybe eco-friendly packaging influenced your decision? Packaging plays a huge role in product marketing. But how do you market something you cannot wrap up in a brand-building package?
Unlike products, services such as healthcare are intangible. There is no packaging to create a memorable experience (think Tiffany‘s blue box) and no product to see, touch or smell. In particular, healthcare marketing requires a unique approach to optimize brand awareness, engagement and loyalty.
What Makes Healthcare Marketing Unique?
In the same way that hair care brands must differentiate their products from a sea of similar items, healthcare organizations need to build their brands to attract and retain consumers.
As with any marketing effort, research is the place to start. Who is the target audience? What information are they looking for? What problem do they want to solve? While any marketing professional might ask these questions, healthcare marketing comes with special considerations. The following is a look at several challenges.
1. Content creators must be field experts.
When can I get a booster? How can I take care of my mental health? How much sleep do I need? According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Google gets more than one billion health-related questions such as these every day.
Content marketing — articles, videos, infographics and other media — can be a powerful way to create and sustain relationships with healthcare consumers. For example, videos are a popular marketing tool, and for good reason. According to Hootsuite, YouTube has 1.7 billion unique monthly visitors. The platform streams 694,000 hours of video every minute.
Videos can be an effective way to reach healthcare consumers. However, as with all healthcare content, the standards must be higher than a YouTube channel on movie reviews, for example. Inaccurate medical information poses risks to the consumer and the healthcare organization. To guard against this and to promote trust, healthcare content must be created and verified by subject matter experts.
2. There are regulatory limitations.
Healthcare is one of the most regulated industries, which extends to marketing. Testimonials from thrilled customers in any industry, for example, can increase conversion rates. But in healthcare marketing, sharing patient testimonials may lead to costly HIPAA violations.
Targeting is another tricky area. As Forbes writer John Keehler explains, “privacy regulations often prohibit targeting medical conditions. In fact, some platforms have even prohibited remarketing ads to brands in healthcare due to privacy concerns.” Nevertheless, creative marketing professionals may see this as an opportunity to find more authentic ways to engage their audience.
3. Language must be accessible and digestible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.” Improved health literacy is linked to better patient outcomes and cost savings.
According to the CDC, nearly 90% of adults have difficulty understanding and using complex health information. Healthcare marketing professionals can play an important role in improving health literacy. Suggestions for helping individuals better understand health-related content include the following:
- Stick to clear, simple language.
- Avoid complex medical terminology, jargon and buzzwords. For example, a marketing campaign that aims to decrease the spread of “influenza” will reach a wider audience with “flu.”
- Use visuals such as images and infographics. As digital marketing expert Neil Patel points out, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. Visual aids also help reduce gaps in understanding for non-native English speakers.
Healthcare spending in the U.S. alone is expected to reach nearly $6.2 trillion by 2028. Marketing specialists play an important role in helping healthcare facilities and practitioners stand out from the competition.
Advanced Education Means an Advanced Career
The University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) offers Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Marketing that emphasizes services marketing across sectors, including healthcare. For example, UT Tyler’s course Healthcare Marketing in Contemporary Society explores current trends in healthcare with a focus on managed care.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, marketing managers earn a median annual salary of $127,150, with the highest 10% making more than $208,000. Pursuing a marketing career in healthcare offers the added incentive of making a difference for patients.