Think Like a Store
If you’re a senior healthcare executive, you are probably either seriously considering or already implementing a retail healthcare strategy. According to a report by Accenture, more than 2,800 retail healthcare clinics will be open in 2017. And no wonder – they offer consumers more convenient access to routine medical care with the same quality as emergency departments and ambulatory medical centers. Further, these stand-alone facilities are not only becoming more profitable for providers, they result in lower costs for payers – a win-win-win.
These retail healthcare facilities have become so ubiquitous that some neighborhoods now house multiple clinics – sometimes on the same street – with the end result that consumers are beginning to view them as commodities, choosing a facility in similar ways to how they decide which “big box” store or retail mall to frequent.
The implication for marketers? Your marketing strategies need to more closely emulate those of a retailer than a health system.
Retail healthcare marketing is a sweet spot for SPRYTE Communications, which has the perspective of 25+ years in both the retail and healthcare industry. We have conceived and implemented high-impact communications campaigns that resulted in fast consumer uptake of new health facilities. At the same time, we have successfully established a new positioning for a key client as an attractive real estate provider in this space.
Job one in developing a marketplace strategy is understanding the demographic and psychographic makeup of the target consumer. Once you have a deep understanding of your prospective patients and how they make decisions, consider these communications strategies to drive awareness and preference for your retail healthcare facility.
- Establish your clinic(s) as a trusted community healthcare resource by engaging consumers – well before they become patients – with education and outreach. That might mean engaging consumers through non-urgent care programs, such as annual wellness visits, employer-sponsored wellness programs or smoking cessation clinics.
- Consider partnerships with other retailers in the area. Drug store partnerships are a no-brainer. But also consider relationships with non-traditional partners, promoting back-to-school vaccinations with a children’s clothing retailer, for example, or nutrition and wellness education in partnership with a health club.
- Develop a year-long media outreach plan that, just like retailers, takes advantage of seasons, holidays and other important times of the year, when you can offer the community information and tips about their health. That includes cold and flu season, summer sun protection, back to school checkups and more. Your plan should include print and broadcast media, owned media – particularly your website and social channels.
- Make use of your happy and satisfied patients by asking them to mention their experience on their social media channels or community online groups. The value of a recommendation from a local resident can’t be underestimated.
The key for an effective communications program is to be consistent over an extended period of time. Promotional activities can be highly effective for retail health clinics, so you need to ensure you are communicating with the local community at the key times of the year when consumers are making decisions.