Health Care Marketing
Objective: The objective of the paper is to have a clear understanding of the marketing tools involved when trying to market a health care organization. Methods: Secondary data that had already been collected previously in other studies was used. Results: Marketing healthcare can be achieved through some ways that make sure that information reaches the required target population.
Health care marketing can be described as the combination of the marketing strategies with the scientific strategies of health promotion, ways of prevention, and protection of health. Traditionally, health care was afforded to those who went in search for it. In the past, when someone needed information about a specific ailment, he or she had to go to the health centers to get the information they needed. Nowadays, health care is now marketed in a bid to make sure that countries are disease free. The art of health care has been combined with the various marketing strategies in the business world so that the information regarding disease management reaches the public. In the business world, there are some marketing strategies that are used to reach the public far and wide. The marketing strategies to be used in the business world mainly depend on the target population that is being aimed at by the business. The same applies to the health care sector because there are different ailments that need different treatments. When marketing health care, the target population should be identified clearly and targeted using the correct strategies.
For a healthcare organization to achieve its already set out marketing goals, it has to have a clear structure on the strategies and the tactics to be used to achieve them. When a firm has well laid out strategies and tactics, the achievement of the goals is usually very simple. In the healthcare market, the best strategy to achieve the laid out goals would be dependent on the number of players in the market. A blend of different strategies and tactics should be used to complement each other so that the best results can be achieved. Some of the strategies that can be used include:
On the outside, healthcare advertising and marketing appears confusing, daunting and complex. However, several fundamental building blocks lead to success in the healthcare advertising and marketing. One of the fundamental elements is branding. Under branding, a healthcare organization needs to come up with ways that will ensure that it stands out from the rest. Imperatively, a differentiating and powerful brand creates a strong brand. With this in mind, healthcare organizations need to create a brand that people can identify and relate with. For instance, people want a healthcare organization that caters to their needs and tries to its level best to assist them. In the past, there have been the notion that healthcare organizations are just concerned about reaping money from people because of the high cost of medical care. With this in mind, a healthcare organization can use this notion to its advantage by coming up with measures that prove to people that it is not only concerned with getting money from them but also their healthcare and wellness. Creating a good image in the eyes of the public is one of the ways that healthcare organizations can create good brand names for themselves. However, the in place policies in a particular organization to a large extent determines the kind of brand name it creates for itself. For instance, a healthcare organization might decide to hire workers with a certain set of values that they transmit to the patients. It is with this values that the workers possess that people from the outside relate with.
External marketing is the other fundamental strategy that can help a healthcare organization market themselves. Through external marketing tools, such as print media and advertising, healthcare marketing can reach out to potential patients. It is worth noting that external marketing strategy helps sell the brand name to people. It is through the external marketing strategy that people get to realize the presence of a particular healthcare organization. The first step of healthcare advertising is making people aware of the existence of the healthcare organization, something that is achieved through external marketing. There are numerous tools and avenues through which a healthcare organization can be able to perform external marketing. Through television, radio and newspaper adverts, healthcare organizations can reach out to prospective patients, regardless of their locality. Television adverts reach out to many people across the globe and; thus, for the healthcare organizations that use them, it is easy to assume that the message of their existence and the services that they offer to people is received in many parts of the world. In today’s advanced technology, healthcare organizations should use the online advertising platform. Through the numerous social media sites that are in existence today, a healthcare organization can be able to reach out to more people. The amazing thing about online advertising is that it is free to open up the various social media sites to be used in promoting the brand name. For instance, there is no money required to set up and manage a Twitter account or Facebook account. Through the Twitter account, a healthcare organization can be able to sell its product and services to other Twitter users. The other advantage that healthcare organizations get from using online advertising is that they can be able to reach a wider range of people. Lastly, using the online advertising platform gives healthcare organizations the chance and opportunity of establishing a close relationship with their existing and potential patients. Through their websites or Twitter account, healthcare organizations can communicate directly with their existing and potential patients. Through the communication that takes place between patients and healthcare organizations in the social media sites, a closer working relationship is developed between the two parties.
Under the public relations strategy, healthcare organizations can generate a good relation with its existing and potential patients. To ensure that there are good public relations, healthcare organizations need to create free press, in that people should access any information that they want from these healthcare organizations. It is important that healthcare organizations present themselves to the public as good since it helps them in gaining the public trust. People, particularly patients, are more confident working with an organization that they feel they can trust and the one that they relate with much more easily. In most cases, patients go to the healthcare organizations that have the feel-good factor about them. Patients tend to go for the healthcare organizations that they believe can help them deal with the problems that they face.
Under the internal marketing strategy, healthcare organizations ensure that they establish a good relation with the patients that they already have. In today's competitive world, one of the things that organizations need to try to secure is customer loyalty, something that can be achieved through the internal marketing. Under the internal marketing strategy, healthcare organizations can give their existing patients full attention. One of the ways through which healthcare organizations can conduct internal marketing is providing extra services to their patients. For instance, healthcare organizations can come up with a program where a section of their staff members visit the homes of their patients on regular intervals to check up on them in order to monitor their progress. It would more beneficial to the healthcare organizations if the extra services that they give people are free. The other technique that healthcare organizations can use to achieve internal marketing is conducting the word-of-mouth form of advertising. The advantage of this form of advertising is that healthcare organizations can make an appeal to people while creating a personal relation with them at the same time. It is much easier to convince people and tap into their emotions when using the word-of-mouth advertising.
Marketing Plan in Healthcare Organizations
A key aspect of marketing in healthcare organizations is the marketing plan. The marketing plan usually dictates the way that the process of marketing will be undertaken. A marketing plan is crucial because without it, the process would be marred with confusion. The laying out of the process ensures that the steps involved are followed to the letter. A marketing plan is a strategic document that is designed to facilitate the achievement of specific marketing goals and objectives over a specific time period. The marketing plans in health care are usually set a period of about one year before the implementation of the plan is done. During this period, the plan is usually reassessed, modified, and at times, the whole plan could be reinvented.
A marketing plan needs to be constantly assessed by comparing the current performance with the expected outcomes at each and every step of the implementation. Assessment is usually carried out to ensure that adjustments can be made to improve the final yield of the plan. A marketing plan is very beneficial because it facilitates anticipation, assessment, preparation as well as the creation of a map to be followed.
For a marketing plan to be successful, it must incorporate the following elements; target marketing, competition analysis, SWOT analysis, SMART goals, strategies and tactics, and marketing budget.
For a healthcare marketing budget to be effective, the target market must be reached. Target marketing can be defined as the method that guarantees efficient patient access to the products being offered by a healthcare facility. Target marketing ensures that time and money are effectively used to help in the generation of additional revenues in a hospital. For target marketing to be effective, the health care provider must have an in-depth knowledge of the existing or prospective customers. The more one knows about their consumers, the better the decisions that will be made. When one a healthcare facility knows the target population well enough, communication and the connection with them becomes much easier. For easier identification of the target market, the person tasked with the marketing of health care services must focus on geographies, demographics, psychographics, and behaviors.
Focusing on Benefits
Focusing on the benefits of a particular medical product or service is fundamental in health care marketing. The main question is usually what the consumers will benefit when they consume the product. The articulation of the benefits of using the product is key to the marketing a product because people will be curious on the uses of the product. For example, when patients identify that a product will benefit them, they tend to be inclined towards that product. When a consumer buys a product, they want to be certain that they are not just buying surgery, dentistry or even physical therapy. In contrast, they will have an expectation that they will experience pain relief, productivity, confidence, peace of mind, good appearance, and good personal relationships.
Target Market Profiling
The target market profiling allows the healthcare providers to divide people into different groups so that they can be better understood and appropriate strategies of reaching them formulated. When profiling a target market, one must identify their geographics. Geographics mainly entails learning where the prospective customers live. Another aspect that has to be identified is the demographics. Demographics entail aspects, such as the marital status, age, education, income, or the number of children. Physiographics is another key area. Physiographics covers excitement over acceptance and use of innovative ideas, and how much people use additional resources to invest in safety and security issues. Behaviors are a key aspect in profiling the target consumers, especially in the health care setting. The aspects of behavior that are considered are whether the patients will look for the information about a medical service from the Internet, whether they are leaders in product selection, and whether they can vouch for the product. Target market profiling allows a health care institution to understand their target consumers and influence them in such a way that they can select their product at any given time.
It is key for healthcare marketers to identify different generational cohorts of their target population. A generational cohort can be defined as a group of people who go through the same event at the same period of time. When you group of individuals have the same characteristics, they will most likely have the same preferences on the medication that they prefer to have.
Dealing with Competition
To achieve success, health care marketers should device ways of being competitive. It is important that the health care facilities stay ahead of competition at all times and; thus, they are encouraged not to ignore their competitors. To have a good view of the competitors, organizations are encouraged to conduct a good research on the various direct or indirect competitors that they faces.14 One of the tools that healthcare organizations can use in conducting a good research is the Internet. Through the internet, organizations can be able to view things like the services provided by the competitors. With the present day social media sites, healthcare organizations can gather important data about their competitors. Using technological tools such as Google Analytics, healthcare organizations can be able to conduct a comprehensive research on competing organizations and their growth trends. The Google results contain valuable information such as the location of that particular healthcare organization, the owners, and the new healthcare services that it offers to consumers.
The media can also be used by health care markers to identify the competition in a particular region. Some of the major sites that can be used to identify the competition in a certain region is the yellow pages advertising. Most healthcare providers have their advertisements in the yellow pages directories. The yellow pages give information on how the competitors try to position and differentiate themselves from the rest of the players in the market in an attempt of having a competitive advantage.
The yellow pages can have comprehensive information on the local ads that are being used by the competitors. When more attention is paid to the information in the yellow pages, the healthcare organizations will get exposure on the various strategies it can use to be more competitive in the market. For example, when a target population of a particular healthcare provider lives away from its location, it can form a group that includes employees or friends, which will be entrusted to make sure that it gets information about the competitors in that market. For this mechanism to work, the employees and the friends must be loyal to the organization.
Ear-to-the-ground competitive research can be used to deal with competition in health care marketing. This type of research is viewed to be the most effective form of research. Here, the organization can enlist a number of agents who are conditioned in such a way that they can have their ears on the ground in a way that they can easily learn about the competitors in the market. In the health care field, the most likely agents would be the loyal patients, the hospital staff, and employees in the hospital. Such agents will provide the information necessary for the organization to have a competitive advantage over the competitors. These agents can help the organization uncover a large deal of information.
Analyzing of Marketing Data
For a healthcare organization to have a competitive advantage over its competitors, it has to have the ability of analyzing data and coming up with the required solutions to the problems identified from the analysis. Data collected regarding patient’s preferences, spread of different patients, and income should be analyzed effectively and meaningful conclusions reached. In most cases, the leading healthcare organization have 80% market share and the rest of the competitors share about 20% of the market share.17 This competitive advantage can only be achieved through effective data analysis.
SWOT analysis is an acronym used to represent an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats within a market. In the health care market, the analysis of the market has to take into consideration the various environments so that they can strategize on the ways to have an effective market take over. The best SWOT analysis is carried out by external parties because they are free from bias. When the analysis is carried out without bias, it can be very effective in that the information collected will reflect the true picture of the situation in the market. The organization should be able to clearly identify these four aspects in the market so that they can have the ability to have a competitive advantage in the market.
Formation of Long Term and Short Term Goals
Most successful healthcare organizations have their marketing plans in such a way that they clearly identify the long term and short term goals. However, the marketing plans mostly focus on the short term goals. The short term goals are achieved within the first year or even less. For an organization that is new in the market, long term goals are key because they guide the way that the healthcare organization should operate. As the firm progresses, the short term goals will be key because the fulfillment of the short term goals eventually leads to the attainment of the long term goals.
It is essential for a healthcare organization to have a budget that mainly deals with costs of the marketing campaign. It is a key aspect because it is through marketing that the customer base expands or reduces. A firm that has a good budget for marketing practices will be able to attract more customers. In the health care market, the quality of health care is usually essential but in the long run, the ability to show the people that a company has the best quality of health care determines the profitability of the firm. For this reason, a firm should ensure that enough resources are allocated to cater for successful promotion of its products.
To conclude, healthcare marketing is a critical role in all healthcare organizations. It is for this reason that such organizations create healthcare strategies and techniques to manage their marketing campaigns. Some of the common strategies include branding, external marketing, public relations, and internal marketing. A marketing plan is a very crucial document that needs to be designed by all healthcare organizations if they want to successfully manage their marketing campaigns. In this plan, clear short term and long term goals need to be identified. In addition, the competitors, target market and marketing budget need to be defined clearly. If all these strategies are adopted by healthcare organizations, they will be able to increase their market share by reaching new patients.