Growth Hacking Your Healthcare Marketing Strategy

by Jason Skinner, Chief Marketing Officer - 06/26/19


In this era of rapid change and increased competition, marketing as usual is a recipe for irrelevance. Here are a few ideas you can borrow from successful startups like Uber, Twitter and Spotify to supercharge customer acquisition and scale growth. 

Week3_bookcoverGrowth Hacker Marketing is more than a book, it’s a mindset that changes the game for those inculcated in the Mad Men-esque methods of building a brand and acquiring customers. Here are six principles from the book that you can apply to your healthcare marketing strategy.

The Growth Hack: Own the Product Market Fit

The idea: “Today, it is the marketer’s job as much as anyone else’s to make sure Product Market Fit happens. Your marketing efforts are wasted on a mediocre product—so don’t tolerate mediocrity.”

The example: To truly understand the customer experience, Intuit developed what it calls the “follow me home” process, where the company’s marketers actually observe how real people use their products (in person and with permission, of course).

The implication for healthcare marketers: Talk to your patients and referring physicians about their challenges and get involved in the design of new health programs and clinical services. Marketers are in a unique position to bring global insights about the organization, community and customers that can inform critical elements of product design like access, cost and convenience. 

The Growth Hack: Disrupt Yourself Before Someone Else Does

The idea: “Once we stop thinking of the products we market as static—that our job as marketers is to simply work with what we’ve got instead of working on and improving what we’ve got—the whole game changes.”

The example: To address the challenge of inactive users who would sign up and then become dormant, Twitter changed their default settings from automatically following 20 random people to offering users a variety of 10 choices with no predetermined selections.

The implication for healthcare marketers: Ask for feedback early and often. Frequently evaluate your services and survey customers (patients and physicians) to identify areas of improvement, then collaborate with operational and clinical leadership to implement them and measure the impact. 

The Growth Hack: Get Resourceful to Reach the Right People

The idea: “A product doesn’t need to hit the front page of the New York Times to attract users. We need only to hit the New York Times of our scene … in a cheap, effective and usually unique and new way.”

The example: At launch, Dropbox was not even open to the public; new users had to sign up to a waiting list to be invited to join. To drive sign-ups, the founders crafted a fun demo video that walked potential users through the service. Today Dropbox has more than 500 million users.

The implication for healthcare marketers: Stop investing significant budget dollars into billboards and other mass marketing channels, as the majority of those who see or hear those messages aren’t your target audience. Follow the lead of Cleveland Clinic by documenting your plan for a more targeted strategy and using data to defend your decisions.

The Growth Hack: Find and Delight Your Ideal Community

The idea: “Today, as a marketer, our task isn’t necessarily to ‘build a brand’ or even to maintain a preexisting one. We’re trying to build an army of immensely loyal and passionate users—to create a community or an ecosystem where there wasn’t one before.”

The example: For several years, Uber gave out free rides during SXSW in Austin—a target-rich environment full of tech-obsessed, high-income young adults who could not find a cab.

The implication for healthcare marketers: Create a profile of your ideal customer (patient or physician) and meet them where they are with relevant resources that remove friction to the healthcare journey and add value to their lives. This may even require reorganizing your marketing team for a more consumer-centric model, as St. Elizabeth Healthcare in Cincinnati, Ohio, has done.

The Growth Hack: Create the Content Your Audience Wants

The idea: “You can create really great content that people don’t even care is owned by a brand and let that content serve as an awesome introduction to what you do.”

The example: The pet subscription service BarkBox created BarkPost, a pet-focused website along with a meme-focused Instagram account that has 1.4 million followers.

The implication for healthcare marketers: Become a trusted source of health information by focusing the majority of your blog, publication and social media content on critical topics of interest for consumers and physicians. HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph's hospitals in Wisconsin is taking this approach with their consumer-centric Inspiring Health blog and custom magazine.

The Growth Hack: Empower Your Evangelists

The idea: “You can’t just expect your users to become evangelists of your product—you’ve got to provide the incentives and platform for them to do so.”

The example: During the start-up phase in 1996, Hotmail added a simple message at the bottom of every email sent from a Hotmail account that said, “P.S. I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail.”

The implication for healthcare marketers: Consider ways to enable your brand advocates—including employees, patients and physicians—to share their experiences through referral programs and testimonials featured on your site and social media. For example, Washington Health System encourages site visitors to Tell Us Your Story.

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Topics: Healthcare Industry Insights & Trends

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