A new year, a new start

We have seen many changes in the healthcare market over the past few years. Many of the most-effective healthcare marketing strategies of 2016 were virtually unheard of 10 years ago. As the market continues to change, so should your marketing strategy.

From learning new tools to getting serious about patient satisfaction, planning for 2017 starts with an admission that we can’t keep doing the same things over and over again.

So what can we do to make 2017 successful?

Take a look back

Let’s start with the positives. Where were you strongest in 2016? Was there a piece of your marketing strategy that just seemed to click?

Maybe it was the monthly nutrition seminar or a certain type of article you posted on social media that got people talking. Make note of what worked this year, and think about how to incorporate these strategies into your 2017 plan.

What didn’t work? Maybe it was something new you tried that just didn’t really pan out the way you expected. That’s ok. Experimenting is good, and there’s no need to be too hard on yourself for trying something that flopped.

What is more difficult is admitting that something that used to work just isn’t cutting it anymore. Letting go of something that has become a habit is not easy, and realizing that not all of the same old tricks work in today’s market are important parts of adapting your marketing plan to new realities.

Make patients the priority—and identify their needs

Patient satisfaction sets small hospitals apart, and improving their customer service is one of the most effective ways to ensure that patients are happy with the service you provide and to prevent them from seeking care at competitors in the big city.

Do the research so that you and everyone on your staff have a better understanding of patients’ expectations. Patients demand a higher level of service than ever, and healthcare facilities need to be able to respond.

Prioritize and streamline

There is no one-size-fits-all approach in healthcare marketing, and trying to force a too-broad strategy often creates a confusing message. Small hospitals have limited resources, so they can’t reach every single person.

Knowing who your audience is and which segments of the market are going to give you the most return on your investment is crucial when budgeting for your marketing materials. For example, promoting prenatal care is not likely to help a clinic in a community composed mostly of seniors. Show that you know your patients and are ready to address their specific needs.

Strategic integration

Is your online strategy working in harmony with your offline marketing? Online marketing is a must these days, especially for small hospitals. As more people seek information about their health and local health resources by using computers and smartphones, having a comprehensive, mobile-ready Web presence is a no-brainer.

These days, your online strategy needs to be treated with the same importance as your other marketing approaches.

Don’t get overwhelmed—start today.

I’ve been working with healthcare professionals for more than 25 years, and I’ve seen a lot of them wait until the last minute to start preparing a marketing strategy for the year. Guess what usually happens—they do the same thing they did the year before.

If you want to get serious about increasing awareness and planning an effective marketing plan, start early and spend some time at it.

If you are ready for professional advice, give SRJ a call. We work with rural hospitals to develop targeted, cost-effective marketing strategies that use the latest tools to reach the right audience.

With tailor-made approaches and market-proven strategies, SRJ can help your hospital communicate more effectively with your local community and increase patient satisfaction. To learn more, please call 214-528-7557.