Marketing strategies aren’t always top priorities for hospitals and clinics in small communities. Marketing tends to be done as ideas come up and needs arise. While it’s good to be flexible, not committing to planning a rural hospital marketing strategy can mean lost opportunities and lost revenue.
Sitting down to update your marketing strategy and identify areas of opportunity will help your hospital save time in the long run by setting expectations and giving you a schedule that fits your resources.
Set goals and look ahead
The key to planning ahead is knowing where you are so you can make the right steps for your rural hospital marketing plan. Assess where your marketing strategy is now and decide where you want it to be during a specific and measurable period of time.
Budgets are always on the minds of rural healthcare leaders. Knowing what is realistic to accomplish using the resources you have will help you adjust your strategy when necessary and prevent you from going over budget. It’s also important to know what aspects of your rural healthcare marketing strategy get you the most bang for your buck. For many rural hospitals, this could be the swing bed program or physical therapy.
Look at what is coming up on your hospital’s calendar. Think about the types of events that seem like a natural fit for the hospital; or events that you want to highlight. In May, for example, you could focus your marketing materials on Hospital Week and Nurses Week as opportunities to raise awareness of your rural hospital’s healthcare team.
Choose the right marketing tools for your goals
It’s important to prioritize your marketing materials so you can maximize exposure and engagement. A press release in the local newspaper, for example, is worth 3 to 5 times the cost of an advertisement of a similar size. This is because it is a story and not a paid advertisement.
Also consider other marketing opportunities, such as a radio advertisement or a newsletter or direct mailer.
Think about how you can use your online presence to add to your rural healthcare marketing and public relations strategy. Leveraging your rural hospital’s social media presence is an important and cost-effective way to connect with your community.
Dedicate the right person for the job
Rural hospitals often don’t have enough money in the budget for a dedicated marketing team. That’s why they often choose to spread some of the responsibilities to various members of the team.
While this is a good way to get more out of your marketing budget, it can prove difficult to coordinate when team members don’t know exactly what they are supposed to be doing.
Dedicating the same person to check the main email account every morning will ensure that it isn’t forgotten. Having one person to update the social media accounts will make sure you speak with the same voice. Consistency and clarity are key to a smooth marketing operation.
Having your rural healthcare marketing materials ready in advance will alleviate the rush to get everything done as events and deadlines approach. Knowing at the beginning of the month what needs to be done every week will help guide you and your team toward what you are preparing for. If you have your marketing materials on hand and ready to use, you will be able to meet your goals!
A rural healthcare marketing strategy will pay dividends
It is no secret that rural hospitals have small budgets, and resources for rural hospital marketing are often the first things to go. However, keeping your healthcare facility in front of your community and raising awareness of your providers will help improve trust and slow out-migration. The key to doing that is working on your marketing strategy – making a plan, knowing your resources, and dedicating the right person for the job.
SRJEasyHealthcare.com is a membership-based program that takes the stress out of rural healthcare marketing by providing the marketing tools and marketing support you and your team need. As a member, you have access to powerful marketing tools such as press releases, social media posts, advertising and more so you can spend more time on your other myriad tasks.
To learn more, check out member benefits or call us at 1-800-411-7401 for a free consultation.