One of the most commonly asked questions to me is: “What do you tell your clients about marketing their hospitals?” or “How do you market a hospital?” Now this is a very relevant question that can be put to a hospital marketing expert. It seems to be a simple and harmless query. However, I find it very difficult to answer such a question.
I cannot answer this question in a couple of sentences. An honest attempt to answer it will take at least two hours. If I take the trouble of answering it fully the answer seeker will be no where in sight when I complete the answer.
Marketing of your hospital or of any hospital is a very dynamic term. There can never be a few ‘set’ theories or formulas which can be universally applied to all hospitals. You will need to judge and analyse your situation and according to that you will have to plan your marketing efforts.
Contrary to whatever you may think, marketing is not advertising, is also not sales, it is also not market research and it also not networking. It is all of these and much more. A well known hospital struggling with its occupancy will have a different challenge than a les known hospital struggling with the same problem. Similarly, a super speciality plastic surgery centre will need different marketing if it is to be located in two different cities.
Broadly, Marketing is just finding out what is required and then telling them that you have it in way that they not only get the message but also prefer you more than others. However simple it may sound, it is a very complex ‘formula’ to implement. You will have to find out what they want. Then you will have to see what you have to offer. If these two things do not match, you have a marketing problem.
Next, you may find out that they do want what you have to offer, but, someone else is already offering that. Now, you have another marketing problem.
Next, you may find a way to offer something which has not been offered by anyone so far, or at least you find a way to offer the same thing in a new and unique way. The problem will arise in how to communicate it to the outer world. How to reach out to the target market is another marketing problem.
After you have you have reached out to them in an effective way and with an unique offer that they want, you may find out that the trends are changing. Worse still, you may find out that the other hospital is doing the same thing that you did and is threatening to take away your priced share of market.
Another marketing challenge could be that you excellent idea needs manpower and resources like money and your personal time. You may not have the resources for the brilliant ideas that you have cooked over the years.
All these are some common challenges faced by the hospital promoters. As things get hot on the ground, the permutations and combinations become more complex and interesting. Your challenge is to be aware of the ‘realities’ around you and to respond in time to any changes. Most importantly, use commonsense [which is very uncommon]. After all, what is marketing but an exercise in practicing common sense?
Sai Mahima Hospital
Dharamshala, H.P., India