Changing marketing strategies for changing times

2020 has brought unprecedented changes to rural healthcare, your marketing strategy needs to keep pace.

So much has changed, your marketing strategy needs to change too

The year 2020 has certainly brought us a lot of shocks and surprises and it’s only half done! COVID-19 has changed the landscape in ways we scarcely could have imagined this time last year. Everyone is scrambling and struggling to cope with the changes it’s brought. Marketing for rural healthcare can’t remain the same, we must adapt and meet the challenge of change.

So how can we successfully rise to the challenge?

Step back and look at what happened

Start with the positives. Where were you most successful in 2020? Was there a piece of your marketing strategy that just seemed to click? What messages seem to stick? What got the most positive response in social media? Look for both sudden spikes of success as well as slower trends in the right direction. Think carefully about what you can do to replicate or sustain these efforts.

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 difficult but realizing that not all of the same tactics will work in today’s market is important. Changing your program is essential to adapting your marketing plan to the new realities of 2020.

Make patients the priority—and identify their needs

Patient satisfaction is what sets rural hospitals apart and improving their customer service experience is one of the most effective ways to creative positive feedback in the community. Make sure that 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.

Right now, many patients are scared, tired, and looking for guidance. Try to think about what they want, and how you can meet those needs, both in terms of services, and emotional support and guidance. Think about how the situation can change and try to anticipate shifts in public attitudes that result. Being ready for the future is the best way succeed in business.

Identify and prioritize your marketing targets

There is no one-size-fits-all approach in rural healthcare marketing. Trying to force a too-broad strategy often creates a confusing message. Clearly, rural 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 program. Show that you know your patients and are ready to address their specific needs.

Integration is always essential

Is your online strategy working in harmony with your offline marketing? Online marketing is a must these days, especially for rural 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, including Facebook, needs to be your primary focus for outreach. Customer service is your primary focus for retention.

Don’t get overwhelmed—start today.

I’ve been working with healthcare professionals for more than 30 years, and I’ve seen a lot of them wait far to long to adapt to the rapid changes happening around them. Guess what usually happens—they do the same thing they did before. It doesn’t work in the long run. 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 Marketing Communications 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.