5 Tactics to Start Connecting with Potential Patients

Why is connecting to potential patients considered the “golden egg” of the healthcare world? Because the patient experience begins long before the need for services arises and many in the industry don’t target their marketing accordingly. Just as in other industries, marketing is designed to create an awareness and positive perception –but restrictions and laws constrain the healthcare industry to the point where their efforts end up being bland and ineffective. So what can the industry do to connect with patients in a long-term campaign that begins at the beginning and carries through to a real and interactive experience for the patient?

I have worked with our team to come up with 5 simple tactics that any healthcare company can use:

1. Focus on Education ~ Healthcare has a hard time educating the general public about what it does. Here’s how to do it effectively: educate people on everything but symptoms. Instead of telling people when they should visit a doctor when various symptoms arise, teach them about how the process will go when they get there. Focus on what updates and improvements have been made to the process since they last went. Tell them what questions to ask and how to follow up. Shift from telling them how great you are at caring for them (which they will find out when they get there) and instead arm them with awareness, knowledge and comfort about the industry. This leads us to the second tactic…

2. Dump the Lingo ~ Look at car advertising over the years and you see that they talk about the same basic principles. You don’t see a car manufacturer talking about the inner workings of transmission, or the specific way a carburetor works. They keep it simple and remove practically all the industry- specific lingo. The healthcare world could take a serious lesson from that. Healthcare marketing and advertising either tries to talk about something medical and crushes the reader with medical terminology or works so hard to prevent it that it ends up being a fluff ad. If you’re looking to educate, teach, and ultimately change behavior, speak in a language people can understand and relate to. Then use tactic number three…

3. Make your effort Multi-platform ~ You can hold forth from your balcony using language to rival Shakespeare’s but if no one is on the street below, it doesn’t matter what you say. This is one of the most generic pieces of marketing advice ever, but it’s true. You have to broadcast your message where people will actually receive it. There is no platform, media type, or method that shouldn’t be considered. Social media’s place is just as important as print or radio. The only way the attitudes of potential patients can change and influence behavior is if someone is in front of them doing their best to do just that. This of course brings us to our fourth tactic…

4. Practice Patience ~ No matter what industry you are in or how big or small your company is, marketing takes time. It has been true since the dawn of time. Nothing you do today will show a result tomorrow, but what you do over the next few weeks will show a small impact in a few more weeks, and after that, the impact will grow the longer you do it. The larger the undertaking the larger the amount of patience required. Patience is directly proportional to the goal you set out to achieve. Influencing a single potential patient will be shorter than influencing a thousand potential patients. But this tactic and all of the ones above are moot without our final one…

5. Continue this mindset throughout the life of the Patient ~ As in any industry, all your efforts fall short if you don’t meet the standards you set in your marketing. Customer service is simply the marketing effort brought to reality for the consumer, in this case a patient. Continually drive home the concepts you are promoting in your marketing. Continue to educate, continue to remove complicated medical jargon wherever possible, make the information available in the places the patient wants it, and show the level of patience required for the problem at hand. It seems like such a simple concept but it is far easier to put into words than it is into practice.

Some would say that marketing in healthcare is littered with land mines and is significantly harder than in other industries. But every industry has its own hurdles and pitfalls. Each market segment has restrictions, oversight and boundaries. If you create marketing that works within those boundaries and ultimately gives you a more educated and interested potential consumer, then you have found the “golden egg:” In healthcare, that golden egg is the patient—before, during and after receiving care.