Follow this 3-step process to market your service lines in a way that makes sense to your patients.

Service line marketing can be difficult, complex, and almost never clear-cut. Often, your hospital or health system’s services spill over into multiple lines, each serving a diverse population. This complexity can create confusion for your patients and damage your return on investment. But despite these challenges, having a thoughtful and effective service line marketing strategy is table stakes for today’s healthcare marketer. The good news is that you can make service line marketing more effective by refocusing your efforts and adopting a human-centered approach.

Human-centered marketing is a major trend in healthcare marketing, and for good reason. If we don’t understand our audience, there’s a good chance we won’t be able to address their needs. But, if we use insights derived from our audience, our messaging will have a better chance of resonating. This reduces the complexity of service line marketing and uncovers new ways to engage your patients.

Here is a three-step process you can use to make your service line marketing human-centered.

Step 1: Know the Person

Any healthcare marketer will tell you that the success of his or her programs hinge on their understanding of their audience. This is especially true when creating human-centered marketing. But knowing your audience means more than knowing their demographic profile. Building personas informed by real-world interactions (rather than preconceived notions) is a great way to organize information and generate insights.

First, what is a persona? Personas are fictional characters rooted in real world research that helps marketers bring their target audience to life. Of course, they contain the usual metrics like demographics and attitudes on health, and more obscure information, such as hobbies, media consumption, and personal values. These details don’t directly relate to healthcare, but including them will make your personas stronger because they offer an intimate look at the hopes, fears, values, and interests of real people in your community.

The more detailed a persona is, the better they perform. A well-built persona paints a clear picture of a segment of your audience, which makes it easier to come up with ideas.

Step 2: Know the Journey

Building patient personas is a necessary but insufficient step in creating more effective healthcare marketing. Equally important is understanding the patient journey. Building journey maps allows you to build context around your patients and provide insights into marketing your service line.

So, what is a journey map? Journey maps are a method of outlining information over time. This answers the question: How do people interact with your products and services?

A journey map follows the user through a series of events that define an experience. In addition to the interaction itself, journey maps often lay out what happens before and after.

For example, consider an urgent care visit. What the patient does before they decide to use urgent care. Are they looking up medical information? Are they calling their loved ones for help? During the visit itself, how do they react to their surroundings or wait times? And after the visit, what are they doing to continue getting better?

After outlining the interactions, fill in the thoughts and emotions involved. Digging deeper provides perspectives of the patients, providers, and caregivers—who they are, where they come from, and what they care about. These insights will let you uncover important motivations behind why people do the things they do.

Using journey maps in tandem with personas provides important context to effective healthcare marketing.

Step 3: Know the Touchpoints

Now that you’ve built personas and journey maps for your audience segments, it’s time to put them to use. Use touchpoint analysis to make sense of the knowledge you have. This will serve as a jumping off point to marketing your service line more effectively.

What is touchpoint analysis? Touchpoint analysis is a three part process. First, you outline the current state of the experience, looking at interaction points for issues that can be addressed. Second, you create an ideal future state based on the needs of the patient and the hospital. Last, use the difference between the current and future states to identify marketing opportunities.

Touchpoint analysis helps you focus on what’s important to the patients. By looking at the current state, we understand the issues. By looking at the ideal future, we set an upper bound to scope creep. Having both when marketing your service line provides a clearer outline of what needs to be done.

When used with personas and journey maps, touchpoint analysis becomes even more powerful.

Go for it

At the end of the day, we are looking to make life better for our patients. By following these three steps, you allow your patients a chance to define their challenges and needs. The insights you get from taking a human-centered approach will help reduce the complexity of service line marketing.

So, go for it. Next time you are planning to market one of your service lines, take time to know the person, the journey, and the touch points.

Want to find out more about how taking a human-centered approach to developing marketing can benefit your hospital? Send us your contact information and we’ll get back with you for a free consultation.

Learning about your patients can take a lot of work. But don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of insights on their needs. Complete the form below for a free copy of our latest ebook, 7 Strategic Imperatives for Healthcare Marketers in 2017 + Beyond!

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