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Consumers Voice Opinions on Effective Healthcare Marketing

Healthcare marketing is a multi-billion-dollar industry, but a recent opinion poll shows what works, and what doesn’t in the eyes of the public.

Consumers decide what works in healthcare marketing

Source: Thinkstock

By Jesse Migneault

- Spending for healthcare marketing was $9.7 billion in 2015 alone, a double-digit increase from the previous year.  In all forms of media across the nation, there is no shortage of healthcare messaging being sent towards the public.   But what part of that messaging is working, and what parts are turning consumers away? 

A recent wide-ranging public opinion poll on the messages and mediums used in healthcare marketing revealed some interesting - and often surprising - results on what works best for the public. 

“With healthcare ad spending continuously on the rise, this is the ideal time for marketers to understand how to effectively get their message across to consumers,” explains Tim Trull, managing director of strategy at LAVIDGE, the advertising agency which conducted the 2017 healthcare marketing report.

Despite the push for digital marketing, 85 percent of consumers reported they preferred receiving healthcare messaging via television as their medium of choice. 

Direct mail followed at 70 percent. The complexity of many healthcare issues was cited as a reason that print, including newspapers, was still preferred by almost three-fourths of respondents.   Consumers 35 years of age and under stated a preference for social media to receive healthcare marketing materials.

Rounding out the bottom of preferred mediums: mobile devices (14.1 percent), buses (13.9 percent) and telemarketing (12.7 percent).

Consumers also reported that seeing or hearing the words “knowledgeable,” “trustworthy” and “cost-effective” made them more likely to make a decision on a product or service.  Words such as “helpful,” “expert” and “innovative,” didn’t fare as well.

Many of the words, although similar in meaning, polled far apart, indicating healthcare messaging relies heavily on nuance.  While “knowledgeable” received a 58.4 percent positive rating, “smart” garnered a mere 9.4 percent.

Consumers also stated they prefer their providers to be “trustworthy” over “sincere.”

For consumers under 35, or with a high school diploma, words such as “safe,” “helpful” and “accessible” ranked highly. 

At the bottom of the list, four words least likely to persuade consumers to make a healthcare decision were “risky,” fun,” “daring” and “luxurious.” 

In the arena of value-proposition messages, the winner with consumers was the statement, ““We treat the problem, not just the symptoms,” followed closely by “we will handle all insurance matters for you.” 

None of the marketing statements surveyed scored higher than a 50 percent positive reaction.

Phrases such as “we have the best treatment,” and “we understand what you’re going through,” showed little resonance with consumers, as did those related to telling consumers how to live an active lifestyle.   

The least-preferred value-proposition for consumers was “your friends recommend us,” a traditionally strong message perhaps lost in translation via medium. Other marketing data shows friends and family actually have a significant impact on an individual’s healthcare choices, but only with direct communication to the individual.   

Also rounding out the bottom of effective value-proposition statements were “we know you’re scared,” and “we will give you more independence.”

There was also a pronounced difference between the preferences of light and heavy users of healthcare.  Light users preferred statements such as “we will be there for you,” and “we’ll save you money.” 

Heavy users of healthcare preferred statements more directed to immediate needs such as “we are an expert in your particular health condition or disease.”

The value of evaluating marketing preferences for healthcare messaging can play a significant role in how payers, providers or facilities direct their outreach to light, medium or heavy users of healthcare.  


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