Health care marketing is a very specific area of marketing that focuses on the provision of health care and health insurance products and services. Like any other form of marketing, it involves analyzing customer behavior, interests, and preferences and using that information to identify the products and features that will best match their needs and priorities.
However, health care marketing is different from other forms of marketing in that it tends to be highly regulated and very focused on compliance and legal issues. Because of this, it often involves working with medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and other licensed healthcare providers. It can also be quite involved politically, especially if you are a large, multinational corporation.
What is health care marketing?
Traditional marketing is simply the targeting of people and activities that support a business or brand. But what is health care marketing?
Health care marketing is a form of marketing that focuses on the provision of health care and health insurance products and services. It often involves identifying specific groups of people who are most likely to be interested in the product or service in question (the “target audience”) and engaging with them on a personal level to learn more about their needs and goals.
For example, if you are a company that sells medical equipment, you would typically target doctors, nurses, and other skilled healthcare providers who work with equipment regularly. You would then use your existing customer base to convince them to try out your product or service first-hand and, ultimately, purchase it.
Health care marketing is a very specific form of marketing, and there are certain steps that you must take to fully develop a successful strategy for the industry. You must also follow legal and regulatory requirements, so it is important to work with experienced health care marketing attorneys to ensure that you are doing everything correctly.
Here, we will discuss 8 steps that you can take to improve your odds of success in this area of marketing.
Step 0: Identify the main legal and regulatory issues
The first step in developing a health care marketing strategy is to identify the main legal and regulatory issues that you must address.
First, you must identify the jurisdiction that applies to your business and be sure to establish legal entities in all the right places. This will help you avoid potential liabilities and permit you to operate legally across all states and countries.
Second, you must review all of the relevant state and federal regulations that apply to your company. Doing this will also help you be sure that you are adhering to all legal and regulatory requirements and avoid any surprises down the road.
Third, you must educate yourself on any ethical or social issues that you might encounter as a company operating in the health care industry. It is important to understand what your responsibilities are as a company and ensure that you are acting in accordance with ethical standards.
Fourth, you must familiarize yourself with HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which sets forth rules regarding the security and privacy of individually identifiable health information.
Step 1: Research the healthcare industry
The first step in the health care marketing process is to research the healthcare industry. You must understand the attitudes and behaviors of existing and potential customers in this market to be able to effectively target them with your products and services.
The first thing that you should do is to familiarize yourself with the major industries in the health care marketplace. It is important to do your research not solely relying on secondary sources or even tertiary ones. It is also important to find out as much as possible about the competitors. Healthcare is a highly competitive industry, and you must be sure that you are taking every possible step to effectively penetrate the market and gain customers.
Once you have a better understanding of the healthcare industry, you can move on to the second step.
Step 2: Determine your ideal customer
The next step in the health care marketing process is to determine your ideal customer. This is the group of people that you are trying to attract with your products or services and the ones that you should be focusing on ensuring that they learn about and purchase your products and services.
Ideally, your ideal customer is someone who is familiar with your product or service, has an interest in it, and could potentially benefit from it. If you are trying to attract new customers, you should focus on people who do not presently use your product or service.
For example, if you are a company that sells medical equipment, your ideal customer is likely to be a doctor, nurse, or other skilled healthcare provider who works with medical equipment frequently. If you are a nutrition company that markets protein powders, your ideal customer is likely to be someone who is involved in athletic training or preparing for a sport. You should also consider the type of people that could become customers if you expand into novel products or services that are of interest to this group.
Once you have your ideal customer, you can move on to the next step.
Step 3: Generate a buyer persona
The next step in the health care marketing process is to generate a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a hypothetical model of a person that buys your product or service. You can use this model to determine which version of your product or service will be most appealing to your target audience.
You can generate a buyer persona by combining the demographic data, psychographic information, and purchase history of people who have bought something similar in the past. With a little imagination and some experimentation, you can come up with a complete profile of someone who is most likely to buy your product or service. Remember: too many words can hurt your odds of persuasion. Keep things simple and short. Use your buyer persona to help you figure out which version of your product or service will be most effective. Think of a Porsche 911. It is a sophisticated product that is sold to a sophisticated audience. If you are marketing a nutrition product, your buyer persona might look like this: a fit, athletic male, ages 35–45, who owns a pet dog and has a job that requires him to be away from home a lot.
If you followed the steps outlined above, you would have a good starting point for your buyer persona. But there is a more effective way to do this: use a tool like SurveyMonkey Audience to easily and quickly generate a large number of buyer personas. The tool enables you to enter a couple of hundred characters and quickly brings up a short list of suggestions. Give it a try!
Step 4: Research competitor products and services
The next step in the health care marketing process is to research competitor products and services. You must do this to have an idea of what you are up against and how you will fare against the competition. It is also important to research your competitors in order to learn more about the state of the industry and how you can effectively enter it.
It is a very competitive industry, and quite frankly, a lot of products and services are pretty much the same. So, if you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to find ways to differentiate yourself. For example, if you are a company that sells medical equipment, your main differentiator might be the technical specifications of your products (e.g., the types of materials used to make them, the measurements of the equipment, etc.). In the event of a lawsuit, having documentation of your differentiators is critical. This will help prove that you have done something to try and standing out from the competition. But even if you are not legally bound to provide such documentation, you should still do it for corporate governance reasons. Having a record of your differentiators will also make your job much easier if you ever decide to change companies or expand into new industries.
Another important thing that you can do to stand out from the competition is to conduct consumer research and create marketing materials that are more effective (i.e., persuasive). What does that mean? It means that you must perform more focused, in-depth examinations of your prospective customers and analyze how you can better position your product or service in order to gain their business.
If you are able to conduct consumer research and create more persuasive marketing materials, you will have a significant advantage over your competitors. Even if you do not have the budget to fully develop a marketing campaign, simply performing A/B tests or using simple online tools, like Google Remarketing, can increase your odds of success. Remember: competition does not necessarily mean that your product or service is worthless or that yours is not needed. Competition can also be a sign that there is room for more than one company to exist and provide a good product/service fit for a particular niche. In other words, competition can be a good thing!