On This We Can Agree: Thought Leadership Wins in Healthcare Marketing

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On This We Can Agree: Thought Leadership Wins in Healthcare Marketing "September 12, 2016

PCI President & CEO Robert W. Sprague’s reflections on a common-sense marketing campaign for Crystal Run Healthcare.

When seeking a healthcare provider, many patients rely on referrals. Increasingly, however, patients are seeking health care providers who provide valuable, comprehendible content to demonstrate thought leadership. Crystal Run Healthcare, a multi-specialty group practice serving the Hudson Valley and Catskills region of New York State, called upon PCI in 2014 to develop an integrated marketing plan to educate on the benefits of value-based care. We developed a marketing and awareness campaign consisting of common-sense points of consensus that would resonate with patients.

The campaign, entitled “On This We Can Agree,” ran in a series of opinion ads in local newspapers, radio ads, and digital buys and included the following statements:

• “On this we can agree: Your goal is more health, not more tests and procedures.”
• “On this we can agree: Healthcare should center on the patient’s needs, not the doctor’s needs.”
• “On this we can agree: It’s better to be at home than in the hospital.”

“On This We Can Agree” was a hit, and Crystal Run saw a double digit increase in online requests for appointments. Crystal Run will expand the series in 2015 as it rolls out health insurance plans.

For Bob’s complete thoughts on this topic, read Thought Leadership in Medical Group Marketing in Marketing Healthcare Today.

Cook: What best practices make the biggest impact for healthcare organizations to establish themselves as thought leaders?

Sprague: If the goal is to attract more patients, it’s crucial to speak in language that is meaningful and direct for those potential patients. Healthcare is extraordinarily personal, it is experienced very directly by patients as they seek and receive treatment, and it can come with a lot of emotional impact. So being seen as a “thought leader” cannot be accomplished by throwing around a lot of arcane terms like “accountable care organization” or “quality benchmarks.” A healthcare organization has to communicate the very specific differences, benefits, and emotions that a patient will experience as a result of its progressive approach.

Cook: When producing an integrated marketing series like “On This We Can Agree,” how do you get to the heart of the campaign to develop a slogan, tagline, or theme?

Sprague: As always, it’s successfully putting yourself into the shoes of the target audience member — the classic definition of empathy. What is that person thinking and feeling? What does he or she want, and what is he or she afraid of? Healthcare is intensely personal — we are asked literally to put our lives in the hands of other people — and so it engenders a lot of anxiety and outright fear. At the same time, it’s become highly politicized, with many Americans convinced that insurance companies and the government are trying to take things away. Our thought with “On This We Can Agree” was to build some basic common-sense bridges between people. Starting from there it is much easier to introduce concepts about healthcare reform, and the leadership role our client was taking on behalf of its patients.

Cook: Digital in increasingly playing a larger role in professional services marketing. What do you predict is the future of digital in healthcare marketing?

Sprague: I think it will be the sine qua non. We are already receiving a huge percentage of our marketing through digital channels, including social media. When we go looking for services, in particular, we are going to online recommendations and ratings to make or back up our choices. And digital has such potential to deliver relevant, useful content and messages to people searching for healthcare — I mean, how much more direct can you get than to retarget someone searching for information on “diabetes” or “weight reduction” or even “family doctor”?

To read more about Robert W. Sprague’s reflections on thought leadership in healthcare marketing click here.

View our work page for more on our partnership with Crystal Run.

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