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5 Mistakes Healthcare Marketers Should Avoid

Katie Sorce

doctors examining x-ray

Take a sneak peek at some of next year’s top healthcare marketing trends, including some common pitfalls to watch out for

As marketers specializing in healthcare, we’re dedicated to identifying and anticipating trends that will affect the work we do every day. The rapidly changing landscape of both digital marketing and the healthcare industry make staying up to date with trends important but difficult.

That’s why this year I decided to take a different approach to our annual trends report. Instead of listing 10 trends, I propose 10 mistakes not to make. These mistakes are incredibly common, but challenging yourself to consider these concepts will make you a better marketer and hopefully help your organization achieve better results in 2020. The full report will be released later this month, but for now, here’s a sneak peek at five key mistakes not to make. 

No. 1 — Becoming too transactionally focused

We live in a fast-paced world but rushing to the urgent at the expense of the important is rarely better. Your marketing department might be focused on bringing patients through the door right now, but is it motivating them to stay beyond their immediate need?

Instead of focusing on selling one “product” or one visit at a time, marketers should instead focus on building a long-term relationship with patients that will add value—both for the company and the patient. If someone continues to have good experiences with your brand, they will keep coming back and you’ll see their value as a customer increase over time.


No. 2 — Maintaining your digital status quo

So, you’ve perfected your digital marketing strategy in 2019. Great! Now get ready to change it. Digital marketing continues to evolve as consumer behaviors change and marketers are being forced to update their best practices for display retargeting and paid search marketing. The cost for paid search has continued to rise, and as engagement grows, marketers need to prepare for media to cost more than it did a year ago. Have you been spending the same amount with Google quarter after quarter? It’s time to reassess that number.

No. 3 — Putting off alignment issues 

In Jim Collins and Jerry Porras’ book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Good to Great), they write, “Building a visionary company requires one percent vision and 99 percent alignment.” Considering the frequency of mergers, acquisitions, name changes and restructuring of healthcare brands, this rings especially true. You can have a wonderful vision for how these moving parts will come together, but if frontline staff doesn’t understand how they fit into the big picture, no one will believe in it. You can’t just slap a logo on an office building and expect people to understand your brand or distinguish it from any other. What is the single brand promise that all entities within your organization can live up to?

No. 4 — Placing brand on the back burner 

Healthcare executives are putting a higher value on data related to their brands and reputations, according to a recent survey of healthcare and pharma CEOs. Brand data ranked closely alongside financial performance and customer preferences as the data they value most, yet only 28% felt that they received comprehensive data on the topic.

This confirms what marketers have always known: Brand matters. The downside? Branding is also hard to gauge and measure success. Branding is not about bringing money in the door as quickly as possible, it’s about improving lifetime customer value by delivering consistently on one brand promise to build patient loyalty and advocacy.

No. 5 — Underestimating influencers 

Social media influencers and YouTube celebrities have become aspirational heroes and trusted resources for millions of followers and fans. Is there a place for influencers in the serious, life-and-death business of medicine? Instead of paying a pop-culture icon (like a musician or fashion model) to create a post about your organization, you could team up with someone from within (like a doctor or nurse) who is charismatic and knowledgeable on a topic you want to promote. This partnership could save you money and build credibility for your brand.

Avoid these five mistakes and you’ll be miles ahead of your competitors. Keep an eye out for the full report, which will be released August 27.

Katie Sorce is a marketing coordinator for Smith & Jones. She contributes to research and strategy projects, manages social media and digital marketing accounts, and assists with content creation, account management, finance and operations. Smith & Jones is where health care brands come to get better. They help clients create meaningful and desirable health care brands, align their internal teams, engage new and existing patients and drive downstream revenue.