A mom-to-be searches for the right hospital to deliver her baby. An athlete with a sports injury seeks a skilled orthopedic surgeon. A middle-aged man with a heart condition looks for effective, minimally invasive treatment options. In all of these cases, healthcare consumers need to know where to find high-quality care and services personalized to meet their needs.
Competition for every patient has increased, and marketers must use every resource possible to remain relevant and creative in attracting diverse demographics to their practices, hospitals, and health systems.
What may be getting lost is the human element.
Today’s patients are more interested in human connection and are unlikely to respond to a generic institutional voice. Taking a more human approach to marketing means telling stories of how your providers, environment, technology, and processes have impacted patients’ and families’ lives for the better, added value to your community, and moved healthcare in a more patient-centered direction. These stories help you build a relationship with consumers and promote a sense of trustworthiness – helping your audience feel they would be in good hands with your organization.
HOW TO HUMANIZE YOUR HEALTHCARE BRAND
The most effective marketers in every industry don’t just advertise their brand – they build relationships. Drawing audiences in with compelling storytelling, personalizing content, and finding ways to encourage connection are essential strategies, especially when you’re trying to connect with younger generations. As you develop your communications with potential patients and their families, think about engaging them, building trust, and adding warmth at every step.
Here are some tips for getting started on incorporating a human touch into your marketing efforts:
- Highlight Your Humans: Think beyond fancy logos and photos of crisp hospital rooms or medical equipment, and give prospective patients opportunities to see the people they’ll encounter at your practice, hospital, or health system. Having inspiring doctors, nurses, therapists, and even patients serving as the “faces” of your healthcare institution on your website, social media posts, testimonial videos, email communications, blog posts, and advertisements conveys openness and friendliness, increasing relatability and prospective patients’ comfort levels.
- Let Them See Who You Are: Your written content plays an integral role in telling your stories, but intriguing visuals and authentic videos can more effectively capture the attention of a generation that’s grown up with Instagram and TikTok. Even for older potential patients, captivating videos that highlight a patient success story they can relate to, research or technology that’s improving treatments for people every day, strong patient-provider relationships, and patient-centered amenities at your hospital or treatment center help boost viewers’ confidence that your institution would be the right choice for their needs.
- Be Authentic: Today’s patients are becoming increasingly savvy at identifying content and messaging that seems inauthentic. So, while it’s important to inject warmth and humanity into your marketing efforts whenever possible, try to stay close to your brand identity and your hospital, health system, or practice’s strengths and values to avoid coming off as phony or trying too hard to be something you’re not.
- Encourage Employees to Engage: Your healthcare providers and staff will have the most interaction with the patients who come to your institution. In addition to highlighting them in videos and social posts, encourage them to share stories about patients who have inspired them or an aspect of their career they’ve found especially rewarding. Reading a social media post or blog article – or watching a video – in which a doctor or nurse shows admiration and support for a patient’s journey will help prospective patients feel like they’d have that level of support if they turned to you for care.
- Consider User-Generated Content: A video you produce about a patient success story is undoubtedly powerful, but sometimes potential patients are looking for something lighter. Consider letting satisfied patients create casual, lighthearted, and funny vlogs or social media/blog posts where they can share personal anecdotes from their experiences – say, in strengthening a once-injured knee through physical therapy or taking up a jogging routine after bariatric surgery. Give each piece of content a once-over, of course, to make sure it’s appropriate and puts your institution in a positive light, but try not to worry too much if it’s not perfectly polished. Again, authenticity is an asset.
- Stay Social on Social Media: Your social media accounts aren’t just another place to advertise events or share your latest awards and recognitions. Engaging in regular conversations with current and prospective patients, as well as potential partner organizations in the community, shows that your healthcare institution really cares about people’s experiences and what they have to say. Encourage employees and long-term satisfied patients or supporters to share (appropriate) content they’ve created, and assign staff members to respond quickly to questions from patients and community members. You can also use what you learn about your current and prospective patients through these social channels to create more personalized email communications, social posts, and events.
A healthcare marketer’s work is never done when it comes to making your institution stand out among the vast array of medical establishments that your prospective patients may be considering. But adding a human element to each of your touchpoints is a reliable way to relate to your audiences and increase the chances they’ll choose yours for care.