"Yes, lots of decisions are made by referring physicians, but consumers are starting to get in the game."
Often, healthcare organizations design campaigns to drive traffic to a specific clinical area, says Cotrupi. But taking such a narrow view isn't always the best option.
A larger branding campaign can serve many purposes and accomplish more than a single ad that shows off a piece of technology for one service, he says.
Branding efforts can drive volume, build name recognition and brand equity, attract and retain physicians, lay groundwork for development efforts, encourage donors and potential donors, validate the decision of current, recent, and prospective patients, position the institution as a bedrock of the community, and position the institution as innovative, vibrant, and alive.
The Tufts campaign looked at perception, performance, and financial ROI. Twice yearly quantitative studies of 500 consumers look at brand perception and effectiveness of advertising with measures such as "likely to consider," "is state of the art," "is compassionate," "is a world-class hospital," and "is accessible." The latter two are up 6% and 8%, respectively.
In a recent study, 68% of respondents recalled the campaign and favorable opinion as a result of seeing the ads increased by 18%.
Another metric that matters in a competitive market: Tufts had the third-highest unaided advertising awareness in the Boston market despite being number six in ad spending. That shows the hospital used its marketing dollars effectively, Cotrupi says.
"You can't do a direct correlation," Hynes said. "But we have definitely seen a strong volume. We're meeting our goals and doing better than we did last year."