I’ve spoken at length about the dangers of relying on branding as the sole driver of customer acquisition marketing engines. And I stand by that. Branding alone isn’t sufficient to drive patient or customer acquisition at a cost that will help you scale your business.
That said, branding is not insignificant. Far from it.
Without a strong brand that customers can bond with and trust, there would be no foundation for the persuasive actions we take as direct response marketers.
In a true symbiotic manner, branding needs direct response, and direct response needs branding.
So, what are the best healthcare branding strategies to consider?
Healthcare Brand Identity
Creating a highly-effective brand identity doesn’t mean you need to call up Madison Avenue. But it does mean creating something that is congruent with your values and meaningful to the market you serve.
It comes down to ethos. Character.
Trust doesn’t come out of thin air. And for lack of a better word, it’s a byproduct of synergy.
The tone of voice you use in your marketing, the fonts & colors on your website and marketing materials, the cadence of how you speak, the level of formality?
These are all facets of your identity as a healthcare brand.
And for it to be effective, it should feel native to the world of your ideal customers, meaning that you wouldn’t target an audience of Zoomers with copy that reads like the Middle English of Shakespeare.
Nor would you market to seniors using jargon-heavy tech language.
Your brand identity is just as much about WHO you serve as what it is you do.
Positioning Your Healthcare Brand
What makes your company different?
Hundreds of millions of R&D dollars have been spent trying to crack the code on brand positioning.
There are a few questions you can ask yourself about your company to help generate thoughts around how you could approach positioning from a unique angle and emerge as one of the best healthcare brands.
Who: Who do you serve? Is that any different from other similar companies in your space?
What: Is there something unique about your product or service? This could be related to scarcity/availability, innovation, quality, deliverability, price – you name it.
When: Are you creating an offer that is accessible at a unique time or in a unique way that differs from the herd?
Where: Do you have a geographical area cornered in terms of the market? Being in a category of one can be an advantage. This could also describe differences in deliverability of services –– take telehealth for example.
How: Does your company have a unique process or methodology for doing certain things? Or do you have special technology that others do not?
Why: The guiding values of your business can be a positioning tool as well. Consider religiously affiliated hospitals, Doctors Without Borders, free clinics and more. All of these examples serve from a state of purposefulness.
Digital Marketing for Healthcare Brands
Within the context of a conversation about brand marketing, digital marketing can be effective for growing your brand’s footprint in a lot of the same ways you’d consider waging traditional advertising like out-of-home or print.
But it’s better.
Because you can measure every bit of it.
With billboards and even T.V. spots, it’s difficult-to-nearly-impossible to calculate a meaningful ROI number.
But with digital display ads, streaming video ads and other paid digital media, the data is on your side.
You can much more quickly test, iterate and optimize ad campaigns without investing an absurd amount of your marketing budget on a flimsy branding play that may or may not work.
The benefit here is the intentionality and specificity of digital marketing. You can market to the ideal customer at the ideal time and in the places they’ll be most likely to engage with you. That’s the beauty of it!
And as you’ll see below, there is no sign of distrust in digital ad spend –look at this year over year graph on digital marketing spend in healthcare – for 2021, eMarketer estimates the healthcare market will spend over $11 billion in digital advertising.
Creating Content in Healthcare
People like to say that “content is king,” but that does little more than ensure copywriters have a job. The important thing to keep in mind when it comes to content is that it IS a part of the marketing funnel.
If you don’t have content that lives at the top or middle of your funnel, then you are leaving money on the table.
Because people buy emotionally and then justify the purchase rationally.
And at the center of content is the magic key to unlocking a buyer’s emotions – storytelling.
Great content doesn’t just list symptoms and treatments for common ailments using a “good keyword list.”
Good content gets into people’s heads. It helps build the brand.
Without content, this idea of a brand’s unique voice just goes right out the window. Content gives the context and proof for the claims that marketers tend to make in their sales messaging and website themes.
Enhance Your Healthcare Brand’s Online Presence with Video Marketing
It’s not just written content that you should be focused on.
Video has gained huge steam in 2020 and shows no signs of slowing.
And if you aren’t creating video content, again, you’re leaving money on the table.
Because users expect it. Watching a video for many people is preferrable to reading an article. And considering that nearly half of the world’s population is reachable via digital video, that’s a big marketing opportunity.
Healthcare Customer Experience
You’ve probably heard the phrase “patient experience” about a million times by now. For years, healthcare brands have been failing at creating “acceptable” patient experiences. A few areas that traditionally fail to meet patient expectations when compared to retail experiences include:
- Pricing transparency
- Call handling
- Ease of booking an appointment
- Accurately estimating wait times
- Ease of making payments & dealing with insurance
So when you think about your healthcare brand, you should be thinking about how people interact with you.
How easy is it to reach a human on the phone? How easy is it to make an appointment? Are your prices accessible AND fair with respect to the market? Are people made to feel welcome in your offices?
This may feel oversimplified, but I can’t state this more plainly: treat people like valued customers who MATTER. This is branding.
Clients approach me with these kinds of questions over and over. And these are the things we’re seeing that work in the marketplace.
And remember, branding and customer experience are essential, but they don’t work from within a vacuum. You still need patient & customer acquisition marketing that relies on the power of direct response tactics to fuel your growth.