June 7, 2018

Brand Positioning: How to Differentiate Your Health Care Brand

Quick: What makes your health care organization unique? Is it your history? Is it your technology? Is it your doctors? Is it a combination of all three? If you’re having trouble answering this question succinctly, you aren’t alone.

In a crowded, changing health care landscape, it can be tough for organizations to set themselves apart from the pack. However, if you’re struggling to find a primary differentiator, keep in mind that your customers are probably equally flummoxed.

As health care marketers, you know that you have a story to share. It’s a competitive industry out there—and your organization must stand out. Doing so optimizes target audiences, establishes competitive value, and can ultimately increase patient volume.

So, how is this done? By understanding your patients, your organization, and your competition. Let’s review how you can look inwardly—so that you can see how you’re viewed outwardly.

1. Understand what your patients want—and what resonates with them.

As the focus of health care pivots towards the customer experience, patients play an increasingly autonomous role in researching their own providers. We’ve already discussed the value of emotional storytelling. And because successful health care brands capitalize on the customer experience, it’s worth repeating that emotion is essential in health care marketing.

Do you understand what your patients want and how they interact with your organization? A good exercise is to document your patient journey. Create relevant marketing messaging that targets specific audiences and develop communication strategies built around trust.

Ultimately, targeting patients means engaging with them and knowing what they want.

2. Understand your organization’s capabilities—and how your services can best be delivered.

Let’s face it: There are only so many ways to talk about specific product lines.

Many organizations flaunt a variation of “excellence” as a differentiator and rely on top doctors or a slew of awards to express their competencies. Other organizations may use the idea of “care” to define themselves. But who doesn’t want to be the best provider in an area? In an industry that deals so intimately with human life, marketing campaigns built around concepts like empathy and humanity are ordinary.

Others use the concept of “innovation” to distinguish themselves. They invest money into TV spots that advertise their latest tools and technologies. However, in an era of rapid evolution, we can almost bet you have a neighboring hospital with the same technologies. And if they’ve spent decades building their reputation as a technology leader, where does that leave you?

Knowing your organization’s capabilities means catering to your strengths. Be specific. If you offer the best neurological care in your area, be sure to craft campaigns around this fact. Again, this goes back to being cognizant of your audiences’ needs—but it also means understanding your place in the market. Which leads us to our next point…

3. Understand how your competition is positioning themselves—and how you can do things differently.

Take a look around. How are your competitors marketing themselves? Studying your competitive landscape helps illustrate any potential opportunity for differentiation. This not only allows you to identify any gaps in the landscape, it enables you to bridge any gaps in your own messaging.

It’s essential to understand how your services benefit your audience and your market. As a health care marketer, you must clearly identify what makes your organization different compared to the other hospital down the street—and why customers, patients, and their families should choose your team.

Successful health care marketing strategies provide insight into your audience’s desires, illustrate market differentiation, and paint a clear picture of your competition. By establishing credibility and relevance, next time, you’ll answer exactly what makes your organization unique.