Many hospitals in the Philippines currently find themselves in a rather tight fix as increased competition for doctors and HMOs taking a stronger grip on utilization have started to affect their revenues.
In our earlier posts, we said that this situation could easily be flipped as an opportunity simply because there is also a parallel shift in the media landscape, one that could potentially level the playing field for hospitals here.
There is a caveat, though, specifically the many potential pitfalls in marketing for hospitals in the Philippines. Such errors could be costly because failure in the initial push could result in frustration from management, jeopardizing future and long-term marketing initiatives.
Comm&Sense has been heavily involved in the Philippine healthcare industry for more than a decade—working with hospitals, diagnostics centers, HMOs, and health supplement brands. This gives us a very unique view on the many peculiarities of the industry and the categories under it. We have also been here long enough to observe the many changes that took place in the companies we worked with. More importantly, we have successfully partnered with many of them; helping them not just survive but also thrive amidst the many challenges out there.
Here are some insights worth considering in marketing for hospitals in the Philippines.
- Accept that a hospital is essentially a community-based brand
Medical institutions here love to stake the claim that they are the preferred hospital in the Philippines – all of 7,000 islands in it. While this idea is worth putting out in the mission-vision board, executing it in terms of marketing is next to impossible. Hospitals in the Philippines cater to a specific location, it just so happened that some patients work within a wider kilometer radius. In the end, patronage will largely depend on how you reach out to the market within your desired proximity. The sooner you embrace the idea that you will be engaged in location-based marketing, the sooner you will set yourself to succeed in your efforts.
- Make the brand an entity that fits in your community
In the community that you are in, everyone is a citizen, even your brand. This is a fundamental concept in public relations that holds true, whether you are engaged in the traditional or digital platform. The first step to wrap a brand around your hospital is to determine how you wish to be perceived. How you wish to be perceived is different from how you wish to be admired, which is the most common mistake hospitals make today whenever they come up with content about their awards and accolades. This tactic may work for a while, but just like any person who loves to talk about how good he is, too much puffery would dissuade people from engaging with your brand.
Instead of talking about how good you are, focus on the useful role your hospital holds in your community. Don’t tell, show.
- Build and sustain your community
Once you firm up a role that best fits your hospital, come up with proof points that will motivate your audience not just to believe, but also to engage with you. Perhaps the most effective proof point today is content. We’re not just talking about press releases, but also content in the form of expert articles, videos, graphics, or any material that both your brand and audience care about.
This is where the digital media is most powerful. In this platform, you can easily put up your own publishing hubs, turning your website into an online triage or online admitting counter that will draw people to consume content and eventually consider your services.
Social media then comes in to help you distribute your content to a targeted audience. This allows you to find, build, and sustain your community, using content as carrot for engagement.
Just like that, we’ve just described what content marketing is all about.
- Latch a conversion plan around your community
Call it what you want, but all efforts to build a community around your hospital should ultimately lead to sales. Health is a product that places a premium on trust. The stronger and bigger the community you have that trusts your brand, the better your chances of converting them into customers.
To be able to mine the sales potential of your community, you need to turn to available tools that will allow you to create an efficient sales funnel. Facebook Ads, for instance, can provide custom audiences for you to reach new audiences and retarget existing ones. You can combine efforts in social with email marketing solutions like MailChimp. You can also optimize your landing pages by understanding the behavior flow of your website visitors, as reported by Google Analytics.
The takeaway here is that marketing for hospitals should not end with awareness and trust; marketer must take on all the plates to deliver a conversion homerun.