What’s the Biggest Opportunity in Healthcare Marketing?

Healthcare marketing is a varied space. Facilities and pharmaceutical companies, for example, both have different priorities and marketing paradigms. How can you identify the opportunities that will lead to better outcomes for you?

Target Marketing Healthcare RoundtableWe’ve been looking a lot at healthcare marketing lately. It’s an industry we’ve been covering more, and that will reach a new level next week at our first ever Healthcare Marketing Roundtable! That’s on June 15, at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia. (Click here if you’d like to come out for that!)

The Healthcare Facility View

Healthcare marketing is a varied space. Marketers at healthcare facilities — like Michael Capriotti of Virtua Health, who we recently had on the Marketing Garage Podcast) — are putting a lot of work into building customer interface systems like patient portals that improve the customer experience and speed up care. Done well, these improve outcomes, allow patients to get information easier, and drive down costs by shortening the time it takes to serve those customers.

If you click on the link to our podcast with Capriotti (who’s going to be speaking at the roundtable, too!) you’ll see that he specifically compares the healthcare patient expectation to customer expectations from instant-gratification tools like OpenTable.

As an industry, he says, healthcare has done a good job of projecting out patient needs, but “we haven’t really done a great job at going back an getting the voice of the customer.” And you need that to understand what each interaction means to patients and it how it makes them feel.

For Capriotti, understanding how these experiences make the patient feel is essential to gaining customer loyalty and evangelism.

The Pharma Prescription

For a pharmaceutical company, marketing is worlds different. Traditionally, pharma used to market directly to doctors. But over the past 15 years of so, marketing to consumers has become a bigger and bigger piece of the strategy.

Today, that consumer-aimed marketing is one of the largest collective ad budgets in the world, and major ad players are vying for it. Both Amazon and Facebook have launched initiatives this year to conquer large swaths of the pharma marketing and sales space.

Drug advertising is not, so far, what I would call customer-centric. There’s a lot of saturation media being bought, and you’re gonna hear about those little blue pills whether you like it or not.

That may sound like it’s behind the state of the art, but that means there’s a lot of opportunity, too.

So What’s the Big Healthcare Marketing Opportunity?

For me, across the board, it seems like making the marketing more targeted and customer-centric is either the active goal or the biggest looming opportunity.

If Facebook and Amazon do get into the pharmaceutical game, they will both offer tremendous targeting capabilities that haven’t been used as much in pharma.

Likewise, the more facilities are able to create customer information portals that make the experience more tuned to personal expectations, the more they’ll be able to improve loyalty and cut down costs.

The customer is the focus of all marketing, and this is a market with a lot of room left to improve and become more customer-centric.

At least, that’s my take. If you want to hear what some much more knowledgeable healthcare marketers think, and you’re not too far from Philly, come to our roundtable dinner on June 15. With marketers from Jeffereson Health, AmeriHealth, Recovery Centers of America, Virtua, and more, it’s going to be a unique chance to meet some of the best minds in the industry and hear what they think are the biggest opportunities in the market.

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

3 thoughts on “What’s the Biggest Opportunity in Healthcare Marketing?”

  1. Great piece Thorin. Based on my 10 years within the healthcare vertical, having worked on both healthcare professional and consumer side marketing, there are many thorny wickets including legal obstacles we need to navigate. So while it is key to build customer relationships like marketers do in other verticals (auto, finance, and retail); healthcare has the complexities that we need to navigate around— HIPAA and PII considerations.

    1. Thanks Brian! I have heard similar things in Financial Services, but the marketers there I’ve spoken too seem to work with their compliance folks without much of am issue.

      Tomorrow night at the Healthcare Roundtable, I’m hoping to get a better picture of how difficult that is for healthcare marketers.

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