One of the biggest challenges facing hospital marketers is having to explain complex or unfamiliar healthcare treatments or issues in a way that distinguishes their organizations from the competition in a way that's simple, yet meaningful.
Brockton, MA-based Signature Healthcare recently tackled this challenge with a campaign marketing its pediatric hospitalists. The health system, which is made up of a hospital, medical group, and several primary care locations, recently affiliated with Tufts Floating Hospital for Children, which elevated its level of pediatric services, specifically through the introduction of pediatric hospitalists 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"When considering how to promote the affiliation, in a market saturated with affiliation announcements, we recognized the true value for our community is the presence of pediatric hospitalists," says Marie Gross, vice president of business development and marketing for Signature Healthcare.
"Unfortunately patients in our target community do not necessarily understand the term 'pediatric hospitalist.' By focusing on the definition of the term we believe we were able to both educate patients about the value of pediatric hospitalists and promote the affiliation."
Marketing hospitalists is really a catch-22 for healthcare organizations, says Dan Dunlop, president of Chapel Hill, NC, Jennings, the marketing agency Signature worked with.
"The public never will understand the term and the benefits offered by a hospitalist program unless we make an effort to inform them," he says. "That's what this campaign strives to do."
A Multi-Media Strategy
That's why Signature and Jennings decided to use a varied approach of marketing the expanded services provided by hospitals, using components including blog posts, video, digital components, and traditional advertising vehicles. The ads targeted mothers, fathers, prospective mothers, and grandparents?anyone who, at some time, may need sophisticated inpatient pediatric services.
The advertising concept consists of black and white photos of hospitalists interacting with pediatric patients with the simple text, "What is a hospitalist?" and the answer, written in childlike font, is expressed by spelling out expressive words beginning in I, S, and T. For example: "Incredibly Special Treatment."
"When we created the look, we were very intentional in using black & white photography because of its ability to capture emotion and focus the viewer on the interaction between the physician and the child," Dunlop says.
"Color, at times, can be overwhelming and distracting. We used an accent color in the headlines?sparingly?and a font that mimics a child's handwriting to balance the black and white photography and add a playful element to the creative. These additions helped keep the tone of the ads from feeling heavy or dark."
Marketers chose to keep the messaging of the campaign simple because although many healthcare consumers are unfamiliar with the term 'hospitalist,' once it's explained, the concept is easy to understand.
"Pediatric hospitalists are trained pediatricians who specialize in caring for children in a hospital setting," Dunlop says. "They are a resource for the family and for the referring physician. It is a good news story and we didn't want to hide that in complicated headlines or body copy."
And the approach worked—between September and November 2013, the hospital's pediatric page received 753 hits to the campaign landing page. The Google Adwords component of the campaign generated 1,123 clicks during the same timeframe
The digital campaign trafficked through Everyday Health led to 662 click-throughs over the first two months of the campaign. Digital ads played through the network ran for just more than a month, receiving a click-through rate of .26%, which is 160% above industry average, Dunlop says.
The campaign has performed so well that Signature has decided to expand the same concept to other specialists who will be serving the pediatric population, including gastroenterologists, neurologists, cardiologists, nephrologists, endocrinologists, and geneticists.
"The campaign is very flexible and allows us to educate our target audience while promoting the affiliation and introduction of tertiary level service to the community," Gross says.