How to Develop a Healthcare Marketing Plan [2023]

March 14, 2023
by Joe Singh

As mentioned in a previous blog, healthcare remains one of the top industries to watch regarding growth potential in 2023. Where other industries contest with the challenges of inflation and a possible recession, healthcare marketing can help your business capture market share, while facilitating new avenues for business growth. 

What Is Healthcare Marketing?

Marketing in healthcare, also known as healthcare marketing, is a strategic methodology designed to attract, engage, and convert potential patrons of healthcare businesses such as hospitals, drug treatment centers, managed healthcare, recovery centers, and even hospice care centers. 

Healthcare marketing is different from marketing used for health and fitness businesses because building trust and authority online is a necessity for organizations in the healthcare space. Although patients often do not research online for an emergency, healthcare marketing gives patients a reason to become long-term advocates for the healthcare facility. 

Additionally, the healthcare industry is highly regulated. As a result, marketing for healthcare requires patient and treatment confidentiality – limiting certain types of advertising and service advertising channels.  

Why Is Healthcare Marketing Important? 

In 2023, nearly one million businesses exist in the healthcare space. Meaning that although the industry expands year after year, so do competition and options for patients in the healthcare space. By 2025, the profit for healthcare businesses is expected to exceed $696 billion. However, a lion’s share of this business will be capitalized upon by industry giants who have spent years unifying their brand image and creating long-term relationships with their patients. 

Healthcare-Marketing-Blog-Designs-16x9-3

As a result, the only way to compete with these industry leaders who have already developed their authority is to build your own through healthcare marketing. As the old Chinese proverb states, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Healthcare marketing enables your business to grow as an authority in your niche or space. Through time-tested strategies and the use of modern tactics, you can accelerate your authority-building and take market share — as well as new business opportunities — from those who don’t proactively cater to their patients’ needs. 

The Three Points of Emphasis in Healthcare Marketing 

In healthcare marketing, there are three specific focal points that you need to plan around. These three points of emphasis can be the difference maker between having a patient that is an advocate and a patient that never returns to your healthcare facility.

1. Patient Experience

The patient experience should be vital when creating your healthcare marketing plan. In 2023, patients are more empowered than ever to leave feedback, receive individualized care, or shop around for healthcare providers that best match their needs and style.

If you do not know what patients think of your services and treatment, how can you expect to improve? Repeatedly delivering positive experiences in the long term can help you increase the number of patients who become brand advocates. If you do not currently have a system in place to audit the patient experience, consider developing one. 

2. Brand Reputation

What does your healthcare business stand for? Does your response to that question feel a bit too vague or difficult to put into words? Don’t worry. Many healthcare businesses do not have a clear understanding of what they want to be known for, so they instead leave their reputation in the hands of the public. 

While that may be commendable in certain regards, it can be confusing when you want to actually be known for your mission. Consider solidifying your purpose, vision, and mission into concrete statements. Following that, consider integrating your brand goals into how your healthcare organization is run. 

If you’re clear on this mission, both internal and external stakeholders can understand what is most important to your organization, and you can address when there are shortcomings in matching your brand’s reputation. In turn, your marketing plans can complement your vision. 

3. Service Authority 

When was the last time that you went to a business or bought a service without looking it up online? Probably rarely, if ever. In the Internet Age, we are conditioned to do our own research and are only satisfied once we are fully informed. That means if someone goes to your healthcare website and you have not produced enough content to appear as an authority on the service, they will continue to scroll to businesses that match their research conditions. 

Becoming an authority on your relevant topics is not only a necessity for long-term business success — it also helps to solidify a patient’s trust in their healthcare provider. From topics that are socially relevant to authority building for SEO-relevant searches, your healthcare marketing plan should emphasize thought leadership on any and all of your relevant service lines and niche topics.

Chart with the "rule of 7" explained

The marketing “Rule of 7” should serve as a guiding light for any content creator

How to Develop a Healthcare Marketing Plan 

Now that we understand the points of emphasis any healthcare organization needs to understand to become successful, we can identify the specific steps you need to increase your reach and build your authority. 

Step 1: Understand Your Goals 

Before you get too far into creating a healthcare marketing plan, it’s important for you to understand your goals. You can and should have more than one — both short-term and long-term goals are essential to developing your marketing strategy

You can often understand your short-term goals by understanding what you want to achieve in the long term. Want to become the go-to authority for oncology in your city? Define what that means and what’s going to lead you there. Determine the key performance indicators, or KPIs, that will quantify your idea of success. Then outline the types of campaigns you want to pursue to hit those KPIs and work towards actionable, measurable change using SMART goals.

SMART Goals poster

SMART goals are an essential element of ensuring your marketing strategies are implemented as tactics

SMART goals can be both short- and long-term, but shorter SMART goals should feed into larger ones. Let’s return to our above example and say you want to become an authority in oncology. What does that look like, and how would you do that? Break it down into achievable pieces that you can mark off on a to-do list.

Step 2: Conduct a SWOT Analysis

To compete in any industry, you also need to understand what those around you are doing. One method of fully understanding what works and what doesn’t is conducting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. Through this analysis, you can understand internal strengths and weaknesses as well as external opportunities and threats.

Chart explaining a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis is an essential step in understanding your business’s landscape

Armed with a SWOT analysis, you can get a fuller understanding of your competition, your capabilities, and how to plan for successful short- and long-term marketing plans. The analysis also forces you to define variables that may change and account for mitigating factors. 

Continuing with the oncology example, you may find that your competitor has fully fleshed out a billboard advertising and print campaign to capture market share with a much higher budget than you have. However, through the SWOT, many businesses discover that their online presence is lackluster, and no one has created any type of content cluster around the three major areas of treatment: medical oncology, radiation oncology, and surgical oncology. 

Here, you’ve found your opportunity. 

Step 3: Create Your Buyer Persona

You may have found your opportunity, but finding out how your audience buys is the next essential step for long-term success. A buyer persona can help you get your new avenue of opportunity over the finish line by revealing who will see your message and where. 

In healthcare, buyer personas are somewhat already predefined for you. For example, those who are looking for oncology services have probably been referred by a doctor and are looking for additional information. 

While scare tactics may work, we highly advise against exploiting a vulnerable group. Instead, map out your buyer’s marketing cycle and offer educational content along their journey to help them reach informed decisions that build long-term trust. 

Step 4: Determine Effective Channels for Reach 

Armed with your goals and audience insights, you now must decide how you plan to connect with potential customers. Different channels will put your messaging in front of different people, so try to find those with the biggest overlap with your audience. For example, when leveraging social media to connect with an older audience, you’ll probably have better luck on Facebook than on channels that skew younger, like Snapchat. In this case, you want to focus your time and energy on the channels with the highest likelihood of return.

Once you’ve narrowed down your channels for communication, all you have to do is ensure the pieces of content you’re delivering are informative and be there for a potential patient when they do want to reach out. 

Step 5: Implement Your Marketing Plan

Don’t just create your marketing plan. Research, develop, and execute your strategies. A healthcare marketing plan helps your healthcare business understand where to find potential for growth and how to build your authority in a highly competitive industry. 

Healthcare marketing shows no sign of slowing down. While the giants of the industry spend their time building cohesive authority, improving the patient experience, or solidifying brand reputation, many healthcare organizations remain stagnant in their approach. Though these healthcare organizations still believe ad-hoc solutions are enough, you can instead increase your revenue potential with a comprehensive healthcare marketing plan. 

Collaborate with Joseph Studios to Implement an Effective Marketing Plan

You can write a great plan, but wouldn’t it be better to have industry experts to help you implement your strategies? Instead of limiting your bandwidth, work collaboratively with Joseph Studios to capture market share, increase your authority, and become a healthcare industry leader. 

Don’t know where to start? Schedule your free expert consultation.

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