Time has a way of going by quickly. I cannot believe that it has been nearly 34 years since I started SRJ Marketing Communications and have been working with various rural hospitals, clinics and organizations to improve their marketing communications programs and achieve bottom-line results.
Over the last three decades, I have also developed quite a niche and passion for rural healthcare marketing. I learned that most of the challenges with rural hospitals have to do with the lack of external communication.
When rural hospitals fail to develop a comprehensive and consistent external communications program, local awareness tends to dissipate over time—leading to out-migration.
While the reasons for out-migration may vary from one hospital to another, opening up communication with the community will go a long way to help resolve many of the simple challenges your facility faces.
Out-migration almost always starts with the idea that bigger is better. That is, a hospital in a nearby metropolitan area is better equipped with the staff and technology to handle their medical needs.
While this idea may have an element of some truth to it, educating your community and increasing marketing communication activities can make a significant difference in curbing negative perceptions of your hospital.
In most communities that I’ve worked with, most patients’ medical needs can easily be accommodated at the local level, meaning that they generally do not have to travel far distances for healthcare. Despite this fact, rural hospitals typically fail to convey this message appropriately.
With a purposeful, integrated approach to marketing communication, you can build a strong case of goodwill and awareness in your community. Most importantly, you can not only recapture market share, but you can also increase it!
Rural hospitals must raise awareness by educating local residents about the capabilities and services of their local hospital and medical clinics. Doing so will also deliver measurable and tangible results if you have the right measurements.
To begin, you must find an innovative and creative way to develop a message that will resonate with the community.
As I always say, “Exposure=awareness=sales.”In small and rural communities, positive word-of-mouth can travel quickly and have a tremendous impact.
It is possible to brand your facility in the eyes of potential patients as not only the closest but as the best option to serve their immediate medical needs.
If you’re ready for a free consultation to learn how a professional marketing communications strategy can benefit your facility, I invite you to call me at 214-528-5775. I can explain how an improved internal and external communications program can help your facility increase all three components of exposure, awareness, and sales.