As a small hospital or clinic, can you truly say that people in your community know what you do? More to the point, are they driving by your facility and heading to a larger hospital for a service that you not only offer but excel at?
Sure, it would be great if – just as they were driving by your sign – they would know to say, “They do that there.” But in the heat of the moment, I would argue even that this reaction would not work. Typically, if you have not established in a potential patient’s mind. Prior to his or her need, that your organization can provide a service, your hospital probably won’t be considered a solution.
Raising awareness of your hospital’s unique and standard offerings must be included in your marketing plan. I am certain that your plan accounts for keeping your institution top of mind, for building trust in your name and letting your community know where you are. But if you develop an awareness of your unique and/or traditional offerings as well (notice that I did not say instead of), the chances are that people will not seek out your hospital themselves.
Remembering that we live in a society continually bombarded with information, simply posting your services on the Internet or placing an ad in the paper does not cut through the clutter. Yes, it reinforces a message, but it cannot be relied on as the only means to deliver the message. Your plan needs to actively target opportunities to raise the community’s awareness of your services.
How? One way – though not the only one – is to consider a mix of communication channels targeting your consumers. This mix could include press releases about patients who have thrived as a result of a procedure you offer, speaking engagements for local business and community groups about health issues that concern them, and marketing campaigns about your unique offerings that are directed to specific audiences.
I remember to this day an allergist who, more than 30 years ago in the city where I grew up, interacted with the local news to provide updates about seasonal allergy issues and remedies. This is by no means a new approach, but it is still every bit as effective.
By being proactive about what you have to offer the community you serve, you remain top of mind for the moment when they need your services. That way, those who would have driven right by your facility begin using their blinkers when they see your sign.
SRJ Marketing Communications develops integrated marketing plans for rural hospitals that are designed to build awareness about services provided and additional community benefits. Call 214.528.5775 to learn more about how SRJ can help generate awareness about you.