An Introduction to Effective Service Line Marketing

Effective Service Line Marketing

Executing Effective Service Line Marketing Campaigns

Redefining Marketing Strategies for Growing Patient Volume

The world of Healthcare has changed dramatically.

As a result of healthcare reform and “accountable” care, some hospitals and healthcare facilities are shifting their strategies to a more collaborative service line (or specialty service) orientation in order to stay competitive. Add to this the “retailization” of healthcare and a more educated and value-oriented patient base, and healthcare marketers are left with a need to transform the way they approach their business.

Taking a Step Back: Why We Need to Redefine Our Marketing Strategies

It’s a different world. Patients today are far more educated. They’re more proactive. When it comes to their health management, they’re interested in the whole package. But, they have specific requirements. Beyond seeking an “excellent facility,” they want to have confidence in each step of their journey. In light of this, as marketers, we too must redefine our strategies and speak to these new pain points.

Many marketers have executed healthcare service lines and hospital service lines Service Line campaigns with direct benefit to their bottom line. While it’s true that most hospitals are now promoting individual service lines, when we refer to this tactic, we must consider a much deeper level of service line marketing strategy and planning.

But before we dive into strategy, we need to recognize the palpable link between hospital reputation and customer preference. We need to take a step back to consider what the marketing objectives would be under this newly defined orientation.

Marketing Goals for Health System and Hospital Service Lines

  • Increase foot traffic – increase patient volume
  • Satisfy physician expectations for patient traffic
  • Actively direct patients to profitable lines of business
  • Build trust in the brand
  • Ultimately increase revenue

With that said, how do you begin to make this fundamental shift, develop new patient-centric strategies and align with these new goals of a service line (or specialty service) model?

Getting Started: The Advantages of Healthcare Service Line Campaigns

To start, these campaigns provide a focused introductory message to new and prospective patients, establishing a clear expertise in a particular field of care.

So, what makes service line campaigns so attractive to marketers? Service line-specific campaigns allow them to connect at a more personal level with prospective patients. They also enable marketers to produce campaigns focused on service lines of high strategic significance and/or the most lucrative revenue producers.

Instead of working across multiple departments and service lines, Service Line campaigns give marketers a chance to create a focused message that can be integrated into the larger marketing mix. Compared to general patient acquisition campaigns, campaigns for service lines in hospitals and health systems allow marketers to compartmentalize messages and act with greater autonomy.

Additionally, marketers can align service line campaigns to fit a wider array of strategic objectives. Whether it be driving revenue to more lucrative service lines, establishing credibility in a developing field of expertise or acquiring a specific group of new patients, service line campaigns may possess a greater amount of utility than more general campaigns.

Strategies That Work: Ideas for Creating Effective Service Line Campaigns

With a greater influence on data-driven marketing than ever before, hospitals are in a unique position to address the needs of their patients in accordance with trends like those New Year’s resolutions. It’s about getting the timing right. Here are a few examples:

  1. Bariatric Marketing: Leverage the battle of the bulge
    Obesity is a U.S. epidemic. It’s a common health risk and pain point that gets the attention of a broad audience. Every year, when January 1st rolls around, millions of Americans resolve to lose weight through a variety of means, whether it be healthier eating habits, hitting the gym and, in some cases, bariatric surgery. Creating a campaign targeting this specific pain point, aimed at helping patients in this battle of the bulge, is a great opportunity for executing a hospital service line campaign.
  2. Engage existing patients or acquire new patients for your cardiovascular department/services
    The idea here is to kick off a focused campaign in February just in time for American Heart Month. This tactic aligns well with high-performing Cardiovascular Service Line marketing strategies.
  3. It is an opportunity well timed for:
    • Creating messaging specifically to highlight your cardiovascular department and the professionals who make it work.
    • Educating patients about the benefits of your service line with patient success story videos throughout the month.
    • Proactively promoting Heart Risk Assessments or Heart Disease Risk Calculators as a way of engaging with the audience.
    • Developing a campaign-specific hash tag for utilization across select social media channels such as Twitter and Instagram, depending on where your target audience is active.

Some Common Stumbling Blocks in Service Line Campaigns

While service line campaigns for service lines in healthcare can prove to be solid sources of revenue, there are a number of challenges to execution that marketers must consider. By and large, most of these issues derive from data management, including:

  1. List building: Effective service line campaigns typically target extremely focused demographics. Often times, these groups won’t be part of your general marketing database and they might not be obvious in the data selection. That’s why partnering with a dependable list/data provider, someone who can provide options and create the robust lists you’re looking for, is so essential.
  2. Timing: Having the right message and the ideal target audience are the fundamentals to build any campaign on. But service line campaigns strike when the iron is hot, like in the example of bariatric campaigns coinciding with the New Year. Execute your campaign too early and you might find an unmotivated audience. Too late and your prospective patients might have found someone else.
  3. Spend: Calculating your expected rate of return is critical at the onset so that all stakeholders are on board with projected revenue versus program expense.
  4. Personnel: Coordinating across multiple departments, including IT, marketing and others can seem like a daunting task, but creating a focused, cross-discipline approach can give your campaign a decided edge. Don’t be afraid of trying to put together an all-star team for your service line initiatives.

Moving Forward: Teaming Up to Identify Solutions

As competition gets tougher and consumers become more active in making decisions for their health, healthcare marketers need highly effective, fast-response programs to drive acquisition and strengthen their market presence.

If you’re just getting started or have come up against some challenges in pursuing a service line campaign approach, you may consider aligning with a partner who can provide campaign support, identify opportunities and help navigate through your challenges in your initiatives.

Strata Company specializes in highly targeted multichannel campaigns aimed at helping healthcare marketers measurably drive patient acquisition and service line growth. Our programs include end-to-end services such as List Acquisition, landing pages, response tracking, reporting and analysis.

Service line marketing campaigns can be executed via a number of different channels and tactics, but a fundamentally sound strategy is a must. If you’d like to learn more about how Strata Company can make your service line campaigns a success, contact us today.

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