Healthcare marketing is complex today, but it's not complicated.
As new solutions emerge to help practitioners and organizations increase efficiency with testing, analysis, and record keeping among other things, the task of marketing and selling them has gotten more challenging.
The best way to create a strong marketing plan is to take a step back and rediscover what motivates buyers to take action, and then create a strategy that focuses on helping them rather than selling to them.
You cannot build a strong foundation for growth without first understanding how your target buyers make purchasing decisions.
The greatest mistake marketers make is creating a buyer profile where they put useless demographic information, like age and gender, income, education degrees, and what a “day in the life” looks like. None of this information gives you any insight into how or why buyers make the decisions they do.
Only by conducting one-on-one interviews with people who have recently evaluated a solution like yours can your company gain a real understanding of the buyer's expectations. Then, you can create resources to market your services to practitioners and other healthcare organizations with a whole new level of accuracy.
We use the Buyer Persona Institute’s methodology for persona research, conducting journalist-style interviews to uncover the following insights:
After interviewing at least ten people who have evaluated a solution like yours, you will see patterns in the buying insights outlined above. The next step is to distill that information and create an impactful persona profile that enables sales, marketing, and product development teams to get their strategies aligned with buyer expectations.
Keep in mind this approach works best with high consideration B2B purchases. Medical devices, ERM platforms, and lab testing solutions are all examples where buyer persona research is critical. If, on the other hand, you are a practitioner that’s trying to acquire new patients, I would not recommend investing in this type of research.
Some people will disagree, but I’m going to say it: most advertising is a waste of money in 2019.
With few exceptions, ads are practically invisible today. Society has taken strenuous efforts to free us from them using tools like streaming TV apps, satellite radio, and ad blockers on internet browsers. And with every new tactic companies use to force unwanted messaging on buyers, you can bet people will find a way to block or ignore it.
Even if your ad does break through the noise once in a while, buyers are unlikely to believe what you say. Research shows that trust in brands has sunk to an all-time low, making ROI increasingly difficult to achieve from advertising alone.
There are exceptions, of course. Creative ad campaigns that focus on helping people rather than selling services to them often get more attention. Search-based PPC campaigns, like Google Ads, and social media amplification investments can be productive as well.
But throughout my career, I have seen companies pour thousands of dollars into banner ads online, targeting them based on demographic attributes, job descriptions, and hobbies and interests. The result? An average .04-.08% click-thru rate with almost no trackable conversions or purchases to show for it.
Healthcare marketers can do better by shifting the budget to creating content buyers actually want. Using insights from your buyer persona research, your company can create helpful, niche-targeted content in your areas of expertise.
Most healthcare brands are creating content to grow their businesses today – that’s the good news. The bad news is the internet is so saturated with great content that brands are struggling to get traction with it.
Strategic exploration of niche topics that are highly relevant to your service offerings will help you reach fewer people, but with far greater impact than casting a wide net.
For instance, “emr software” gets an average of 1,900 searches a month online – sounds great, right? -- but it has a “difficulty of ranking” score of 70.45 (out of 100). That means it’s going to be difficult, if not impossible, for a newcomer to dominate that space in organic search engine results.
But some quick research shows “surgery emr software” has a difficulty score of 56.83. You would still face stiff competition for that key phrase, but assuming your website has some domain authority already, you could gain considerable traffic by doubling down on that topic.
This is why focusing your content on a subset of your customer base can be so rewarding. It opens doors and allows you to drill down into pain points you uncovered in your persona research and create real thought leadership in a niche space.
If your brand is not using a marketing automation platform like HubSpot or Marketo, you are probably struggling to demonstrate ROI to senior leadership.
Many healthcare companies out there are taking a “Frankenstein approach” to campaign analytics by cobbling together various apps – MailChimp for email, WordPress for blogging, Unbounce for landing pages, Buffer for social media – and trying to make it all work in harmony. It’s really hard to pull together a cohesive view of your campaign performance this way.
A professional marketing platform gives you much greater insight into how well your efforts are producing qualified leads and sales. Using advanced analytics and automation, you will be able to nurture interested buyers and gather insights about them that help your sales reps have a better introductory conversation with them.
This software really is a must today. Without it, you will not have an easy, reliable way to show results to your employer. Marketers have enough challenges today without that!
Marketing is changing at an incredible pace, but one thing that will never change is the necessity of understanding buyers and finding the most unobtrusive way possible to help them on their journey. There are no shortcuts. You have to earn their attention, and then their trust, before you can earn their business. By approaching people with a sincere desire to serve them, you will find the right partners and grow.