The CFA Perspective

Are My Cardiovascular Services Marketing Efforts Working?

Posted by John Meyer, FACHE

3/25/16 6:00 AM

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Your hospital may or may not have a formalized cardiovascular services marketing plan or marketing budget, but if you spend money on marketing, through websites, social media, newsletters, press releases and the like, don’t you want to know if your investment is paying off?  If you have followed CFA’s Cardiovascular Strategic Marketing five-part series, available free on our website, you will know that developing a cardiovascular services marketing plan can be the optimal basis for future success.  With the preparation of a comprehensive plan, you will have developed marketing strategies, supporting tactics, implementation plans and matching budgets.

Hospital marketing tends to focus on what is known as “content marketing,” or creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience with the objective of driving profitable customer (healthcare consumers, local and regional referring physicians and the payer community) actions.  This is the approach hospitals have historically taken, with the aforementioned websites, social media, newsletters, press releases and the like; they distribute content to select target audiences to build a relationship with potential patients as the experts or the “go-to” people for a particular clinical service, program or capability.  

Regardless of whether or not you have a formal hospital-wide, or CV service line-specific, marketing plan, what are some key indicators that your marketing efforts are working?

  • More Utilization – Obviously successful marketing translates into increased business.  If you put on an educational program for potential patients of a new treatment capability, and a crowd shows up, and this ultimately translates into referrals through your medical staff, then you have been successful.   A no-brainer.
  • Meeting your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) – A formalized marketing plan will include KPI’s associated with your key marketing strategies.  Measuring these indicators, as planned, will show how much progress has been made against key goals.  For example, a strategy to increase the utilization of your Cardiac Rehabilitation Program should set out specific strategies and tactics to increase volume.  Look at these indicators (e.g., developing “opt-out only” standardized treatment protocols) and evaluate your performance.  Did our marketing efforts meet the specific goal?
  • Positive Return on Investment (ROI) – If you have a formal plan and budget, and have developed KPI’s, you should calculate your marketing return on investment.  ROI can be problematic to do in hospitals and baseline information isn’t always the best, but it needs to be done to gain traction for the justification of an adequate marketing budget.  You can’t allow marketing to be viewed as a “cost!”  ROI equals (profit minus investment)/investment as a percentage.  For example, if a new CV program had a profit in the first year of $8,500/case, multiplied times the number of cases (50) equals $425,000.  Then subtract the marketing budget of $256,850 from the profit leaving a net of $166,150.  Then divide by the marketing budget of $256,850 and you have an ROI of 65.5%.  Any positive percentage is good; but some hospitals may have a minimum ROI threshold they view as necessary to continue to commit resources at a level you feel is appropriate.
  • More Traffic to your Website – Although visits don’t equal sales (or admissions, etc. in healthcare terms) per se, they do indicate interest, and increased traffic on your website is always a good thing and should ultimately lead to increased business.  You could provide the best content in the world, but if your website isn’t easy to navigate or too “salesy” they will look for options and won’t use your services.
  • Bigger Social Media Presence – The great thing about online marketing is that nearly everything is measurable; traffic, clicks, “likes,” blog traffic and so on.  Existing analytics will help you understand your audience and tailor your message to targeted patient populations. Your content should provide solutions to questions your targeted audience needs answered, and in order not to miss out on any new information you may provide, they will follow you on Facebook, Twitter and the like.
  • More E-Mails and Direct Contacts – When people read content that piques their interest, and if they truly believe that you and your CV physicians are the experts, they will go to you for more information.  Increased e-mails and other direct contact will indicate that your marketing efforts are working and that you are reaching your desired audience.
  • Lack of Negative Issues – One sign of success is a lack of negative problems such as declines in volume, poor response to direct mail, no Facebook posts, no “likes,” no e-mails or direct contacts, negative or no comments on posts, poor reviews, poor website traffic, and so on.  As a test, try to Google your hospital and program name.  If it doesn’t come up on the first page, you have a problem!

These are some good approaches to test whether or not your content marketing is working.  It is important that every CV service line administrator have managerial control over both content specific to cardiovascular services and active input into the methodologies and approaches the hospital takes to marketing strategy.  When marketing works, everyone wins.

As always, CFA welcomes your comments, suggestions and questions. 

Please click the image below to download our free 5-part marketing series:

cardiovascular service line success