Home > Healthcare, Marketing and Media > Three Reasons for a Hospital to Advertise

Three Reasons for a Hospital to Advertise

Is Hospital Advertising Effective?

Why do hospitals advertise? As someone who spent a career making and watching advertising, it seems like a waste of money.

Take a look at hospital ads on YouTube. If you edited the name of the hospital from the commercial, it would be impossible to tell the difference between them. All deliver top-notch healthcare, with world-class doctors and an attentive staff of happy people.

This should be no surprise; all hospitals share the same mission.Their physicians train to the same standards. There is little tangible differentiation at level of the institution in the hospital world.  If there was, you would be hearing about it on the evening news and soon they would close their doors.

Yes, there are teaching hospitals and community hospitals and regional hospitals, but they compete with others of the same ilk on the same dimensions.

When to Advertise

In my view, there are only three legitimate reasons for hospitals to advertise:

  • Change of ownership.  The hospital is obligated to tell the communities it serves of any change in ownership. With it may come enhancements to facilities which improve the patient experience or a renewed commitment to serve the community. Corporate ads like this are often full of  platitudes. During my agency career we used to say corporate advertising is where the rubber meets the sky. Try to stick with the facts.
  • Marketing a center of excellence.  These ads work because there is a tangible, differentiated benefit to the patient. Centers of excellence usually are excellent.  And the halo they create enhances the overall image of the hospital.
  • Improve the patient mix.  Hospitals in blighted neighborhoods are often burdened with high costs of treating the uninsured, and shrinking subsidies for paying for that care. Often, these hospitals deliver superior outcomes treating chronic disease states because of the problems of their populations. Targeted, program specific spending in adjacent neighborhoods can revitalize a hospital’s profitability.

My advice to hospitals considering an ad campaign outside those purposes…scrap it and put your money to work engaging with the communities you serve. It’s more work, but it actually demonstrates the “commitment” that is too often spoken of in those commercials.

  1. April 9, 2012 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks, keep coming back and share your thoughts.

  2. April 4, 2012 at 1:13 am

    Excellent post. I’m checking this weblog continuously and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info. Thanks and good luck.

  3. March 29, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I would add at least two additional categories: Reputation Management and Health/Wellness Education. Also, when we think about “advertising” we usually think about print or TV ads, which create no opportunity for dialogue and interaction with consumers.

    Online advertising via Web and social media not only promotes the hospital key messages, but also creates opportunities to engage with patients and prospects (including medical personnel, vendors, community leaders, elected officials, etc.) but also can be used as an informal research mechanism.

    Hospitals often are insular, isolated institutions due to the nature of who they are and what they do. Engaging with their constituencies can go a long way to breaking down the walls and furthering their goals.

    • April 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      I absolutely agree Terri. Thanks for your comment. I was defining advertising in the strict “paid media” sense – outside social media and community outreach. I believe social media programs are a great way to build engagement and community.

      I wrote a recent post about how the Mayo Clinic developed an outstanding social media platform – http://tedkolota.com/2012/02/28/mission-driven-social-media/

  4. April 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    You can follow me on Twitter @tkolota.

  1. April 7, 2012 at 6:30 pm

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