Strategies for hospital advertising success

With hospitals dedicating millions on advertising to promote their services and attract patients, there are several best practices to follow to make the most of those ad efforts.

First, hospitals should embrace retail advertising and take their promotions to where the shoppers are, HealthLeaders Media reported.

New Jersey's Saint Barnabas Medical Center, for example, displayed two Da Vinci Robotic Surgical Systems at a local mall so shoppers could see how the machines worked and physicians could answer questions.

Hospital marketers also should focus on the holidays and condition-awareness months to promote their technology, services and staff. As the holiday-based marketing trend grows, hospitals can engage patients, family members and staff in a positive way, while attracting press coverage, noted HealthLeaders.

To carry out ad efforts, hospitals may need to increase their marketing manpower, like St. Francis Medical Center in in Cape Girardeau , Mo., which struggled with its three-person marketing department, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

With promotions, including TV, radio, newspaper and magazine ads, as well as community events, the hospital chose to outsource all of its marketing operations to an agency with 30 employees.

Thanks to help from the ad agency, the hospital spent $11.5 million on advertising in 2011 and exceeded 52 percent market share, the Post-Dispatch noted.

But sometimes hospitals must be selective when choosing advertising and promotional efforts. For instance, the board of Silver Springs-Stagecoach Hospital District recently vetoed spending $699 to advertise on 24,000 pharmacy bags, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

Board members said the Nevada hospital could get higher-quality advertising for the same price, noting that patients rarely look at ads printed on bags from the pharmacy.

For more:
- read the HealthLeaders article
- here's the Post-Dispatch article
- read the Gazette-Journal article