Marketing Basics — Is That a Remix?

For a few years now, we have been hearing about “new” marketing or “Marketing 2.0.”  Job descriptions for marketers require “social media skills” and the marketing world looks different than it did when health care organizations first started using the term “marketing” vs. “outreach.”

The guts of marketing still are about garnering attention and reaching out to segments of a market with a message and service that is relevant.  Marketing is about studying your market and knowing it well enough to employ a strategy that will foster targeted market share.  In a sense, the infrastructure of marketing remains the same;  it is the tools and techniques that have thankfully evolved.  And, just like before, measurement and methodology count for a lot but we give them more air time today because we struggle with this part of the marketing mix.

If you are a regular reader, you know that I have been absent from this blog for some time.  While there have been personal reasons (my father’s illness and subsequent demise), I have also taken some time to look around and think about what might be most helpful to write about.  What continues to hit me is the lack of marketing basics being employed by many organizations.  We are caught up in the nuances and the new tools but often there seems to be a significant lack of effort spent on addressing the basics.

What are the basics? Marketing basics begin with having a service or product worthy of notice and the understanding of what a particular “consumer” might need and value from a service.  The next steps evolve into determining how best to attract those interested consumers in that service/product and understanding how different features mean different things to specific segments of the market.  If we tweaked our admissions process, would that be more appealing to prospective patients/consumers?   Pricing, often overlooked in health care because of the complicated reimbursement structure, is also a basic element in the marketing mix.  The basic that seems to get the most attention, is how and in what manner do we communicate or attract that potential consumer?  And the basic, as I alluded to earlier, that gets short-changed is the measurement and analysis of our marketing endeavors in order to constantly push toward improvement.  Trial and error with a conscious, if you will.

So, for the next several weeks, I am going to dwell in the basics. But, I am going to try to make the basics more comprehensible by employing queries:

First up and brief because of my explanation above, is about choosing a forum for you message?  How do you do it?


You have been the marketing engine behind your hospital for some time.  Mostly you spend time on the website and print collateral.  More and more you are being pressed, and are curious yourself, about MySpace, FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  The only problem is that you have very little time to make a careful analysis and are not ready to re-do your marketing plan because that would take re-generating the planning committee…so let’s get some quick analysis done on  the fly and take an incremental step forward

1) A little testing is good.

Adopting new tools doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” process.  Take incremental steps and investigate and sample the social media water.  Do some research on what other organizations are doing – this doesn’t have to be a deep dive, just spend some thoughtful time looking at organizations you care about

2) Think about what you want to test first – the renovated birthing center?

Start with something that is tried and true in your service mix.  Maybe this is the birthing center or your diabetes clinic.  But, work with something that you have a good understanding of in terms of service offerings and likely users.

3) Who is your target? What do you know about them?

Let’s look at the birthing center.  The target users will typically be women in child-bearing  age.  What zip codes?  What features might they value (focus group, survey analysis, etc.)

4) Determine your test plan – give it parameters and then legs.

While you could move into all social media sites at once, if you are time-strapped, focus one at a time.  So which one for the birthing center?  New stats tell us that Twitter might be utilized by only 10% of the American population.  You know LinkedIn is more about professional connections, so what about FaceBook and MySpace?  Facebook has the following demographics (Advertising Age data):

                                                          FaceBook                            MySpace

Women  ages 21 – 24                     16.6%                                    14.8%

Ages 25 – 29                                  11.7%                                    12.5%

Ages 30 – 34                                   9.7%                                     7.1%

Ages 35 – 44                                  15.4%                                    7.5%

There are many ways to do this and certainly, the more detailed your data and your objectives, the more careful the analysis.  But, I would choose FaceBook over MySpace based on this data alone.  What you don’t have here are economic or educational factors which will impact choices, but going on age alone, you will reach a greater portion of the female market with FaceBook.

Once you have decided to work on FaceBook, you have to go back to what features are women of this age most interested in and start developing a campaign highlighting those features.  Building your FaceBook page and building your community are other crucial considerations, but we won’t tackle those items for now.

And remember – marketing is more effective because it is thoughtful and planned!

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