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Companies in the healthcare industry invest approximately 10% of revenue in branding and marketing, which is slightly more than companies in other industries, according to a Duke University study. The trick is knowing when, where and how to spend it most effectively to generate the biggest ROI.
A Consumer-centric Approach is Important for B2B Marketers, Too
Healthcare B2B and B2C marketing used to be completely separate. B2B marketing was focused on selling medical equipment, devices and services to hospitals, while B2C targeted the consumer of healthcare products and services. Today, B2B marketers are much more cognizant of the end-user experience, and for good reason. Consumers have more information at their fingertips and more providers to choose from than ever before. In response, B2B healthcare marketers are tailoring branding activities and lead generation campaigns to consumer buying habits more often and have begun integrating digital tools already used extensively by B2C agencies.
That said, healthcare B2B marketing is still a few years behind the rest of the B2B marketing space. According to the Marketing Content Institute, healthcare marketing agencies rely on print newsletters almost twice as much as B2B marketers overall (43 percent vs. 28 percent). Conversely, they use blogs and LinkedIn much less (58 percent vs. 72 percent for blogs; 56 percent vs. 74 percent for all marketers). Shifting their mix toward digital content, tools and processes will help align their efforts with modern consumer preferences.
Brand and Brand Story Matter in an Inherently Emotional Industry
Branding and storytelling—so important in differentiating a company from its competitors—are still in their infancy in B2B healthcare marketing, despite the emotional nature inherent this space. Executives at clinics and other medical entities tend to undervalue the influence a compelling brand story can have on customers.
There are plenty of outlets for B2B company’s brand story, from consumer-focused sites like WebMD and the American Cancer Society to more niche sites frequented by medical researchers and product and service providers. But what story should you tell? Determining that begins with research—of the market, of competitors, and of target customers. The findings of that research, when aligned with a company’s vision and strategy, can form the basis of a powerful and effective story that engages existing customers and attracts new ones.
Figuring out where, when and how to tell that story most effectively can be challenging. B2B sales cycles in the healthcare space exceed those of other industries. It can take a year or more to complete a sale, in part due to a complex decision-making process involving selection committees, researchers, IT influencers, finance gatekeepers, medical providers, administrators and even legal teams. A solid understanding of the personas you’re dealing with and a strong content strategy are imperative.
The different needs of the focus areas within the healthcare industry complicate matters, too. We’ve found that account-based marketing (ABM) is used effectively by approximately 40 percent of our clients, making it one “old school” tactic that still works well for everyone in the space. Beyond that, each area is unique and requires a different marketing mix and approach. Here are a few examples:
Healthcare Products and Services
This is by far the most common area in terms of everyday consumer interactions, and it’s the most competitive. Even when executing B2B marketing campaigns, the consumer needs to be educated about product safety, side effects and efficacy. Branding is important, and brand trust is paramount.
Medical Devices, Supplies and Equipment Sales
The long cycle inherent in the sale of medical devices plays a big role here, as do personal relationships with healthcare providers. Still, people are people first, and they’ll do the research like everyone else. Deploying modern, digital marketing tactics can give a B2B company a distinct advantage.
Mental Health Services
This is a very sensitive area. Marketing claims must comply with federal guidelines, and precautions need to be taken to ensure what is said is factual. With that in mind, storytelling that evokes an empathetic, emotional response tends to work well.
Behavioral health marketing is both relatively novel and complex. Longer-term marketing strategies rooted in detailed research may prove especially fruitful.
Consumer-centric brand storytelling and messaging, coupled with digital tools and modern marketing tactics, can produce strong results for B2B companies in the healthcare space. Elevation Marketing understands the healthcare industry and offers an array of services to ensure the money invested in marketing produces the results companies expect. Our marketing agency offers:
- Website Design
- Digital (SEO/PPC/Social Media)
- Product and Services Launches
- Market Research
- Public Relations
- Channel Marketing
- Application Development
- Lead Generation
- Case Studies
Some of our clients within this industry: