Healthcare marketing is a unique sector, and one which presents marketers with some particular challenges that Forbes describe as “unlike any other industry”. Industry-specific knowledge is perhaps more important in healthcare than any other, whether that’s about regulatory limitations, consumer perception of the industry or any one of countless other considerations.
Let’s have a look at some of the issues that confront marketers operating in the healthcare sector:
- Geographical differences. This is a sector that’s different in every territory. So if you’re marketing worldwide, you’ll not only have to make sure you’re following territory guidelines (e.g. HIPAA compliance in the US), you’ll also need to understand the fundamental differences in healthcare models. The US and the UK are different planets, for example, when it comes to their healthcare systems. So who are you marketing to – end users or insurance companies, or both? You’ll need completely different strategies for each market.
- Public perception. The healthcare industry can have a strongly negative perception in the minds of some consumers. This was particularly heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic, with doubts about vaccines’ efficacy and even pharmaceutical companies’ motives for producing them being called into question in some quarters.
- It’s a rapidly evolving and heavily segmented sector. Things are changing fast – with telehealth growing exponentially, for example – and different healthcare models running alongside each other in some territories.
How to address these issues?
Faced with such complexities, and working in a sector that’s both unpredictable and heavily regulated, your marketing strategy has to be very carefully considered. Some key pointers toward success in healthcare marketing are:
1) Provide informative content. Like many other sectors, simply trying the hard sell with healthcare products or services is not likely to work. Unlike other sectors, overt selling of some healthcare products is expressly prohibited anyway, such as in the case of prescription-only medicines in the UK, for example. So you need a strategy that positions your organisation as authorities in the field, without leaning into the hard sell or breaking regulatory rules. Informative, properly researched, objective content is the best way to do that.
2) Address the audience through digital channels. As specialised as healthcare is, online is still many consumers’ first port of call when they’re looking for healthcare advice, products or services. So make use of digital marketing channels and leverage organic SEO strategies that place the terms consumers are going to be looking for organically through your content.
3) Where you can, use patient/user reviews. This is one area where healthcare is like any other sector; reviews are critical. A statistic quoted internet-wide – that 93% of consumers read reviews before buying a product or service – demonstrates just how critical. Be careful to abide by the rules in the geographies you’re working in, and remember that in healthcare, absolute anonymity is essential. But that doesn’t stop you reporting what’s been said about your products or services. Ask your customers for them, because unsolicited reviews are often only left for negative experiences.
4) Do your homework to analyse and understand the market you’re working in. Given all of the reasons we’ve outlined above, you need to know exactly what you can and can’t say and do, consumer perception of healthcare marketing, and sector trends in your geographies. Consumers research even small decisions now, so for healthcare decisions they’ll absolutely be doing their homework. Marketers must, in turn, do theirs.
5) Consistency is key. Consistency of advice, messaging, and branding will help build recognition of and trust in your brand, company, product or service. In a sector where there’s a lot of contradictory information, outrageous claims and even outright falsehoods, trust in your brand is a hugely valuable metric. Telling your story consistently and truthfully will go a long way.
We Are Amnet can help you with that. For consistent, fast, accurate and economically produced content, talk to us.