All products and services can be broadly divided into the two categories: High Involvement and Low Involvement. As the names suggest, high involvement products will have more involvement of the consumers. To explain it further, these products are costlier and it is risky to buy them without much thought. For example, a luxury car is a high involvement purchase. So is getting surgery done in a hospital.
Now, a lot of things go with a high involvement purchase.
Firstly, the consumer will always do some research and fact finding before putting his money in. Is it costly and risky? If I were to get a gall bladder surgery done for my aunt, I would certainly ask a couple of people about the best place to get it done. If I already knew a doctor who can do it, I would still ask around for his reputation. That is why it makes so much sense for hospitals to create word of mouth publicity. Satisfied patients are one sure way to ensure word of mouth. An effective CRM is a handy tool for creating referrals.
Secondly, the prospect always needs to be reassured and given a lot of knowledge and education for a high involvement purchase. People always want to reduce risk. The web sites and advertisements have to be lengthy and explanatory. They must educate and reassure. I come across so many hospital web-sites and ads which are either too brief or too full of jargon that it is not even funny.
Thirdly, high involvement products/services enjoy high brand loyalty. Very rarely will a lady change her gynaecologist in the middle of her pregnancy period. I still go to my old dentist who is 30 minutes away, even when my schoolmate has opened his own clinic next door. Therefore it makes sense for a hospital or a clinic to ‘induce trial.’ Get the people coming in once, and they will stay with you. However, I will recommend to avoid offering freebies to get them to your place. Trial induction needs to be done in a careful, subtle way.
Lastly, the brand recall is less for high involvement products/services. Low involvement products like soap and toothpaste brands can be recalled in larger numbers than luxury cars and hospitals. Off the hand just try to recall a few soap brands and then try to recall some trauma centres. What’s more, the hospital has a negative connotation to it. No one will be happy going to a hospital. Given a choice no will want to get admitted and operated. So psychologically, people don’t even keep a hospital brand in their minds, as long as it not very outstanding. This makes the task of marketing a hospital all the more difficult.
In the end, look to educate people, create extraordinary satisfaction levels for patients and occupy a high recall level in the prospects minds.