A report released by Accenture in November 2010 indicated that two-thirds of U.S. consumers seek medical advice via the Internet and social media. Additionally, a March 2010 E-Marketer report indicated that 49% of women and 38% of men consider online their first source for health information rather than a physician. We should expect those numbers to continue to increase with the proliferation of smartphones, which give consumers 24/7 connectivity. That same study advises marketers to overcome trust and regulatory issues, simplify content and connect with consumers via customized, targeted, support to help them take charge of their health.
The critical factor a healthcare marketer must recognize is that recovering from an illness or learning how to best manage a chronic health condition is a journey. It's actually the thing that gives healthcare marketers their advantage. It puts us in the unique position to become the consumer's guide on that journey -- or minimally a partner and ally. The most effective healthcare marketing programs I've seen incorporate a CRM component designed to help consumers on their paths before and after the point at which a product or service is administered. The brands that have implemented the most successful programs have found ways to walk alongside the consumer in his or her journey.
Sharing the Journey
The PoliCare line of denture care products is one example of a marketing program that looked well beyond the functionality of the Poligrip and Polident products to engage denture wearers. The PoliCare website is designed to engage targeted consumers beginning when they're considering whether dentures are the right choice for them. It then helps them deal with the physical and emotional implications of the procedure itself, to the time after recovery when the patient must become comfortable talking and eating with new "teeth," to the ongoing cleaning and maintenance of the dentures.
Lap-Band is another example of a strong healthcare marketing campaign that provides support for the patient from the period of consideration to the procedure itself to living with the device. Through the website, which serves as the hub of the campaign, consumers can read Lap-Band success stories, see video testimonials, learn about insurance and other payment options, find a surgeon or connect with other Lap-Band patients on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Lap-Band leaves no stone unturned along the target consumer's and, ultimately, the patient's journey.
Mapping Out Your Route
If you're looking for ways to create a stronger connection with your customer throughout his or her healthcare journey, here are a few things to consider: