Education is a core component of a marketing strategy. As I mentioned in “Educate. Engage. Empower: Keys to Marketing Strategy,” paying attention to how your strategy educates your prospective client, patient, or referral source is a solid starting point in message and strategy development. Let’s talk about how to use education to improve your marketing strategy.
What is marketing?
I recently listened to the Entrepreneur On Fire podcast with guest, Josh Hoffman. He shared a definition of marketing that rings true for me: “Marketing is a process of maintaining relevance in people’s lives before they are ready, willing, and able to buy what you are selling, or if you are a service, to hire you. Meaning, you are there when they have the financial means, they trust you and have an actual demand for your product or service.”
In healthcare marketing, relevance until the point of need is critical. Building education into your communication keeps the relevance of your services top of mind to your patients and prospective patients. But I’m not talking education like we get in school – I’m talking about reinforcing the who, what, why, where, how of the product or service and the way it connects back to your prospective patient or client.
Let’s look at that a bit further – both by using the same patient portal campaign I used before and also applying education to a specific event.
How to use education to improve your marketing strategy?
With the introduction of a patient portal, you are asking a patient to change the way they interact with you and your organization. You are giving them the ability to schedule appointments, ask questions, renew prescriptions and access test results. Previously they needed to call your clinic or hospital to do these tasks. It may have led to a frustrating process that included phone trees, hold times, or return calls. To get them interested, you need to show your patients the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY and HOW the patient portal is a service they want to use. Granted, they may not need to access it right away, but they will want to use the service at some point.
The patient portal is disrupting the trusting and comfortable relationship they currently have with you. So educating them on the benefits, the simplicity and accessibility now offered by the portal is critical. You want them to realize the value and the relevance to them so when they do need to schedule an appointment, renew a prescription or ask a question about their care, they know there is another option to consider.
The education you provide about the new patient portal is included in all aspects of the campaign – such as a detailed Q&A, a video, communication in appointments and exam rooms, as well as advertising, social media, or news coverage. Some of these mediums allow for a comprehensive overview and educational opportunity, others focus on the key message and redirect back to one of the more in-depth components. Take advantage of the cross-promotion that naturally occurs with the development of an integrated campaign.
In the case of a specific event, the educational need is less complex. You’ll be more specific with your message and produce fewer campaign elements. Be clear and direct on the who, what, where, why, and how of the message, merging those elements with the engaging and empowering tones of the message. The campaign’s message must clearly and succinctly deliver all three priorities
Education is the backbone of marketing strategy.
Going back my comparison to anatomy, education is the backbone. Engagement is the mind and empowerment brings it all together to take an action or move the body toward the goal.