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Feb 6
Healthcare Marketing Communications: It’s All About Telling A Good Story
I have to give credit where credit is due.  Easton asked me to define healthcare marketing communications in a comment on one of my first postings to this blog.  If it wasn’t for his question, I would have started posting on various and sundry topics without considering whether my readers could define healthcare marketing communications. 

Just what is healthcare marketing communications?  Well, I define it as the art and science of crafting and communicating a good story about a healthcare product, service or issue.  In my mind, the tactics one uses to tell this story (advertising, public relations, marketing) are almost irrelevant.  If the story is good, people will pay attention and sales or utilization of the product or service will grow.  Read the following fictional stories to get a better sense of what I mean. The Story of the New Diabetes Medication

After a long and perilous journey, the innovative diabetes medication had finally reached its destination: FDA approval.  However, winning acceptance by this regulatory body was only the beginning.  If the medication was to become a blockbuster medication, a lot more people would have to know about its features and benefits.  The drug’s manufacturer had an idea.  They would spread the word about this drug to as many people as possible.

Enter the trusty healthcare marketing communications expert.  After much thought, she recommends a wide ranging communications campaign to educate consumers and physicians about the medication via the media (medical and general interest) and advertising.  She develops a communications program that is implemented over a year’s time. 

The Story of the Healthcare Non-Profit’s Funding Woes

A well-established healthcare non-profit faced a daunting problem.  Over the past year, contributions to the organization had declined.  The organization’s leadership thought that one reason donations were slowing was because of well-publicized disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Asian tsunami.  They decided that tried and true fundraising communications efforts would no longer be sufficient.  They needed some fresh tactics – and fast. 

They decided to bring in a healthcare marketing communications expert to provide new ideas for their fundraising communications activities.  He decided that the first order of business would be to conduct research among the organization’s constituents to determine why they were donating to other causes.  He learned:

•    Donors believed that the non-profit was not serving its constituents adequately.  Other organizations with a similar mission were attracting contributions because they were more visible in the media and within the community.

•    Other organizations were doing a better job of telling their story and connecting their efforts to donors’ values and beliefs. 

The consultant recommended that the non-profit revamp its marketing communications efforts to attract more donations.  He counseled that the organization needed to do a better job of communicating its story to its constituents and donors.  Some of his suggestions included:

•    Starting a monthly e-mail newsletter campaign to donors and other constituents highlighting the non-profits accomplishment’s over the last 30 days

•    Starting a “listening tour” – having face-to-face meetings with major donors to address their concerns about the organization’s direction and commitment to its constituents

•    Starting a blog that would enable the non-profit to engage its stakeholders directly and better understand/respond to their concerns or praise

•    Starting a competitive intelligence effort to better understand what the non-profit’s competitors are doing and seeking ways to partner with them on certain initiatives as appropriate.

I hope that these stories demonstrate the essence of healthcare marketing communications.  It’s all about telling a good story.  Specifically: What do you want people to understand about a healthcare product or service?  After that, what do you want them to do once they hear your message?

I hope this answers your question Easton.  Let me know if you have any others. 

Until next time . . .

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1 Comments/Trackbacks

Fard, awesome explanation. You answered all my questions. Now I think I've got a good idea of what you'll be writing about. Carry on!

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