April 25, 2023

Fully Integrating Your Healthcare Marketing

Integrated marketing is hardly a new concept. Brands of all types have leveraged the power of consistency and continuity to communicate across channels: print and digital ads, website, social media platforms, email and direct mail, broadcast, out-of-home, PR, events … the whole marketing toolkit, all working together. 

In the healthcare field, integrated marketing is especially important because both nonprofit health organizations and large medical networks need to build trust in their audience. If a healthcare brand communicates in a haphazard way, using different tones of voice or photographic styles, or different visual elements like typefaces and colors, then consumers get confused. “Who is this organization, really? Do they have their act together? Can I trust them to fix my knee or manage my illness or help my family member get the mental health care they need?”

On the other hand, consistency and cohesion in your marketing campaigns breeds familiarity. “Ahh, I’ve seen this hospital’s billboards and mailers and outreach in the community. I’ve seen the T-shirts and social media photos from this nonprofit’s 5K fundraiser. I know them and have confidence in them.”


Why Marketing ‘Dis-Integration’ Happens in Healthcare Organizations

For healthcare marketing teams that are under-resourced and over-worked (which is pretty much every team we know), working in an integrated fashion can be challenging. You’re faced with managing lots of marketing priorities, some of them conflicting. Projects drop on your desk and you have to complete them quickly, which can lead to a one-off approach. And you probably have a lot of legacy communication pieces out there — think: old brochures in doctors’ offices, staff T-shirts with an outdated logo, an email template that’s not up to date — simply because it’s hard to get a handle on all the touchpoints where the brand appears. 

In addition, large and small organizations can fall into silo mode, where different business units or teams communicate in different ways. For example, a nonprofit’s outreach to funders doesn’t sync with messaging to community, or marketing and HR are using different voices to reach patients and employees. 

We always advocate for our clients to take an integrated approach to marketing their healthcare brands. Integrated marketing allows organizations to reach their customers on a larger scale, wherever they are — in the car, online, reading the newspaper, etc. It also improves the effectiveness of your campaigns because more impressions cross multiple channels keeps your brand top of mind. And over time, the model becomes more cost-effective, because you can repurpose so many of your brand assets in multiple ways. 

How to Integrate Your Marketing

Think of integrated marketing like a trail of breadcrumbs; you’re reaching audience with bits of information wherever they are, and all of those bits add up to a unified message. 

We’ve found that a major awareness campaign (such as when your organization rebrands, launches a major new initiative, or takes a fresh strategic direction), can be an on-ramp to a fully integrated marketing system. This kind of high-profile campaign will naturally leverage a whole range of channels and communication vehicles, so it sets the stage for unified messaging.

What can your team do to implement this approach? Here are some steps to take:

  • Align on marketing goals. With organizational leadership, set expectations for the outcome of your collective marketing effort. To build awareness? Add patients? Recruit employees or donors? And define how you’ll measure success, whether it’s in dollars or people or exposure (or all of those things).
  • Make sure your team is working cross functionally. Even in small nonprofits, the comms team may not know what the fundraising team or the events team is working on. Invest the time in regular check-ins so everyone is on the same page. An annual audit of all marketing pieces will reveal any disconnects.  
  • Use the right marketing channels. Understand where your audience gets information about the kinds of services you provide, and what kinds of information they need from you. For big healthcare networks, that might mean a sizable mix of channels, from billboards to emails to radio spots. Meet your consumers where they are. 
  • Be consistent in messaging and branding. You’ve got a brand standards guide for a reason (and if you don’t have one, let’s talk ASAP): It ensures that every outreach uses the same logo, type, color, imagery, and copy tone. Again, inconsistency sows confusion.  
  • Analyze, learn, adapt, repeat. Because you’re taking a holistic approach, it’s easier to gather metrics to discover how individual messages are working during and after the campaign. Use that insight to refine, test, and hone your communication.

With an integrated approach to marketing your healthcare organization, every project you do is part of a larger, cohesive whole. Messaging builds on and reinforces itself. And getting your work done is easier because you’re not constantly starting from scratch; there’s a system in place. Integrated marketing is our strong suit, so if this is something your team struggles with, give us a call.

Tenth Crow Creative is a brand marketing agency that creates, aligns, and promotes messaging for health and wellness organizations. Through insightful branding, engaging design and compelling marketing campaigns, we help these essential organizations find their identities and effectively communicate with their stakeholders so they can fulfill their missions.