This is the fourth in a series of seven posts on healthcare marketing outlining the six critical phases of marketing that healthcare marketers must master to accelerate patient/client growth, increase revenue, reduce marketing expenditures, and build a high-performing internal marketing team. This installment describes the process of targeting your ideal customer (patient or client). We will publish the remaining posts weekly.
Checkout the entire series:
This post is the fourth in a seven-part series on healthcare marketing. This installment looks at the third of six critical phases healthcare marketers need to go through to accelerate patient/client growth, increase revenue, reduce marketing expenditures, and build a high-performing internal marketing team. We will address the other phases in subsequent posts bi-weekly.
Checkout the entire series:
You’ll never hit the target if you don’t know where or what it is
The whole reason you go through the Orient and Predict phases is so that you can establish a baseline (Orient) and an end goal (Predict). The fastest way to ensure your marketing is going to fail is to keep those things a secret.
The Target Phase: The who, what, where, and why of your marketing
You’d be surprised how many healthcare organizations either 1) don’t establish 12-month goals or 2) don’t share those goals or visions with the entire organization.
You’d be even more surprised at how many of those organizations haven’t clearly defined their target audience, what problems they solve for that audience, where that audience can be found, and what messaging resonates with that audience to the extent that they become patients or clients.
Articulate your desired results
Let's say you decide to build a new website. You’ll first need to determine why (I’ll let you in on a little secret: it's not to make it look prettier).
Dressing up an outdated website may give everyone in your organization something nice to look at, but that's not the real purpose of the website (or at least it shouldn’t be).
The purpose of your website — or any marketing endeavor for that matter – is to move the needle on some metric. For you, that may be lead generation, patient or client growth, revenue, or recruiting.
The latest studies show that over 80% of your patients will research you first online and have their first encounter with your brand on your website.
That means your website is an asset, not an expense. Treat it as such.
If 80% of your patients get their first impression of you through your website, you better put your best people and resources on it, and you should lock in on the metrics you’ll be using to measure success. And everyone involved should be held accountable for achieving those metrics.
Will your goal be to reduce your staff time devoted to scheduling or insurance claims? Will it be to keep a constant stable of job applicants to address turnover? Will it be to increase new patients? Sell a new service line? Generate more business from existing patients?
Regardless, there should be a needle you want to move, and the Target phase is where you qualify and quantify that. Otherwise, how will you know when you're successful? Anything other than that is just throwing tactics at a wall to see what sticks. That’s when marketing dollars get wasted.
Great marketing campaigns win patients because the marketing team knows their target audience intimately.
Get to know your target audience intimately
That is the primary focus of Target phase: Defining your ideal patient or client and then getting to know that audience intimately.
You start that process by looking back at the Orient phase to determine where you’ve been most profitable in your business or practice. Were there any procedures or products that generated the highest contribution margin? Were certain patients/clients easier or more pleasant to work with? Did some relationships last longer than others or were you able to serve those patients or clients in other areas of your practice?
The bottom line is you want to develop a snapshot of your ideal patient or client, and then develop that snapshot into a detailed profile of your target persona — your ideal patient or client — which outlines in very descriptive detail their pains, problems, and desires.
Develop detailed buyer personas
Developing a detailed persona is a crucial step in the Target phase. You want to know your patients' or clients' demographics, including age, gender, and location. You also want to know their interests, where they hang out, and who influences them. Then, dig deeper to try to understand their fears, problems, needs, and questions for whatever product or service line you're targeting.
Probably one of the best resources for understanding and creating a detailed Buyer/Patient Persona is in Adele Revella’s book, Buyer Personas.
In the OPTICS™ Academy, we incorporate a lot of Adele’s work in our Persona Profile. We also provide students with a 30-question persona brief that, when answered correctly, is the best tool we’ve ever used to guide agencies and copywriters in creating extremely effective and compelling copy for your website, ads, or other marketing materials.
Outline the patient/buyer's journey
The next step in developing your Buyer/Patient Persona starts with fully documenting the entire path one follows on their way to becoming a patient. The video below is an excerpt from our OPTICS™ Academy training and shows you the basics behind the Buyer’s/Patient Journey.
You really want to spend some time getting a grip on a “day in the life” of your ideal patient/client. You’ll want to gather insights as to what drove them to discover they have a problem, all the way through the moment they walk through the door as a paying patient or client.
Sometimes their path is linear, sometimes not, but you need to understand all stages of the buyer’s journey. When you understand the emotional and psychological drivers at each stage, then you’ll become a master at creating the messaging needed to target people in different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Conduct a competitive analysis
The next step in understanding your target audience, believe it or not, is doing the research necessary to fully understand your competition, your competitive advantage, and your unique selling proposition (USP). It’s critical that you know what you’re up against, what they’re telling your audience, and how you can differentiate yourself from them.
A competitive analysis is essential to thoroughly understanding your niche, your target market, and your competitive differentiators.
For most healthcare businesses, your competitors are going to be within the region you serve, but their biggest visibility is online. That’s where your competition research really begins.
The first step is to thoroughly dissect their website, their online social presence, their reviews, and their online ads (if any). In our OPTICS™ Academy, we show cohorts how to use our 50-point checklist to evaluate competitors and glean information that is critical in shaping marketing strategy.
Other tools like SEMRush are ideal for identifying the marketing tactics of your competition. It’s great for determining keywords used by your competition, where you rank on the search engine results pages (SERPS) for those keywords compared to the competition, and what kinds of ads your competition is running successfully on Google.
You can learn a lot about your potential target market by studying the people already communicating online about or with your competitors. Online reviews tell you a lot about your target audience. What’s important to them? Where is the competition succeeding or failing? How can you use this intel to better craft your messaging to attract your ideal patient or client?
This research will help you better understand who you’re up against, what’s important to your target audience, what messaging resonates with prospects, what type of content to create, which marketing channels to focus on, and how to position your products or services.
Establish campaign priorities
You want to crystallize everything in the Target phase, because that simplifies strategy development and ensures executional efficiency and perfection.
When you can execute efficiently, marketing dollars are better utilized, and marketing waste is greatly reduced if not eliminated.
One way to ensure executional efficiency is to establish a robust campaign calendar that breaks down marketing objectives into priorities, campaigns, channels, messaging, and metrics.
An embedded Gantt chart or Kanban chart helps the executive team quickly visualize the workload and the impact of changing priorities or inserting new marketing tasks into the middle of a marketing sprint.
There are several tools out there that are great for creating and managing marketing plans. Some, like Plannuh, include just about everything you need. Others like Notion allow you to build custom campaign calendars and SOP libraries. We provide students with a robust campaign calendar template in Notion if they aren’t using a tool like Plannuh.
Campaign priorities could encompass specific service lines or practice areas, such as the most profitable or seasonal, depending on the type of practice.
Prioritization could also be affected by the availability of financial resources. Staffing availability in marketing, sales, and patient care might also affect campaign viability, so be sure to prioritize around your ability to serve or fulfill once leads start coming in.
Consider using influencers
You may want to consider using industry influencers as a marketing strategy. We're not talking about celebrities (unless some endorse your product or service). We’re talking about influencers on social media with a following that would be a logical fit with your product or service.
In a manner of speaking, everyone is an influencer because they influence a group of people, however small the number. Studies have shown that mid-tier influencers with 50,000 to 500,000 followers are the most influential, offering more engagement than those with larger followings.
Two questions to ask as you consider influencer marketing: Do we want endorsements from people? Are there any social media content creators we could partner with to promote the product or service?
Let's say you're in the sleep medicine space or have a dental practice where you provide custom sleep appliances patients could use instead of a CPAP machine. Perhaps you could identify some influencers for whom CPAP machines were not a good fit.
Approach them and offer to let them use your appliance in exchange for a good word or video testimonial shared with their network if they like it.
Develop your unique selling proposition
Developing your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is another critical aspect of the Target phase. A USP should be developed around the entire practice, specific procedures, and even each service line you're trying to promote.
Regardless, you need to craft a USP that completely differentiates you from the competition — something that makes you stand out, which prospective patients or clients would read and not attribute to every competitor in your market.
Here’s an interesting exercise you should really try with your team. We always go through this with our clients, and it’s become an integral part of the OPTICS™ Framework. It involves five steps:
- Brainstorm. The process starts with brainstorming and listing everything that you think makes you unique and differentiates you from your competition. In the first column (A), simply number the items as you list them out. In the second column (B), write out the differentiating item.
- Score Uniqueness. Go through that list again, and this time apply a score to each item in the list in a third column (C). Using a score of one to five where five is something only you and you alone can claim and one is something everyone can also claim, score each entry.
- Estimate Customer Value. Add another column to the spreadsheet (column D), and go through the same exercise, but this time, using the same 1-5 rating system put a five by the items you feel your patients/clients believe add the most value to their lives, situation, or circumstance. Rate the other items by your estimate of the customer’s perception of value. Remember, this is the customer’s perception of value, not yours.
- Rank. Now sort all of those items with the primary sort being by customer value (column D) and secondary sort by your estimate of uniqueness (column C).
- Compare. This exercise is always very revealing because you will typically find that the ideas you thought of first don’t end up at the top of the sorted list. What you thought of last is frequently what ends up at the top of the list.
This is the point where you're likely to have a rude awakening. You've been touting certain things in your marketing that you thought were your unique differentiators only to find out that those things are not all that important to your ideal patient or client.
Getting granular with your targeting involves a lot of hard work and research, but the payoff is immense. The entire OPTICS™ Framework only yields marketing outcomes as good as the weakest link, but skimping on the Target phase is where the vast majority of marketing waste originates. Don’t get lazy in this phase.
The Implementation phase is next, so it should be obvious that a weak Target phase sets you up for failure, but cost overruns and wasted marketing dollars are the sign of a poor Implementation process. Make sure you check out the Implementation portion of this series, next.
Want to get OPTICS™ on Your Marketing?
Implementing OPTICS™ is the fastest way to get your revenue pointing in the right direction. Learn more or take our 20-question self-assessment to identify quickly and clearly which of the six critical marketing phases hold you back from achieving your revenue growth goals.
If you're unsure if OPTICS™ will help your organization, schedule a no-cost, 1-hour Marketing Diagnostic Consultation with us. We'll help you uncover any weak spots in your marketing process and identify new ways to accelerate your patient/client growth over the next 90 days.
If you want to get started right away implementing OPTICS™ through our immersive training, sign up here.
Check out the rest of the series:
November 15, 2022
(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 1 of 7)
November 17, 2022
(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 2 of 7)
November 22, 2022
(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 3 of 7)
November 22, 2022
(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 4 of 7)
November 22, 2022
(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 5 of 7)
November 22, 2022
(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 6 of 7)
November 22, 2022
(Healthcare Marketing OPTICS™ Series - Part 7 of 7)