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Your Hospital Marketing Strategy: Should it be Local or National?

By Kristen HicksJun 23, 2015

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One of the many factors you must consider when developing your hospital’s marketing strategy is whether to make your focus local or national. Your choice will have a big influence on what your overall inbound marketing strategy looks like. While there may be some overlap in the type of tactics you’d use for local and national marketing strategies, on the whole, each approach involves a different focus and distinct efforts.  

Making the Right Decision

If most of your patients are local, it may seem like an easy choice. But any hospital that’s gained national attention due to an award or a “best of” list has seen how much national recognition can pay off.  People will travel for good medical care. 

A national marketing approach won’t be practical for every medical practice or hospital, but it might make sense for you if:

  • You’re at a prestigious hospital with a reputation for excelling at health care in general or a few special areas of care in particular.
  • Your practice is especially strong in one or two specialty areas—particularly if they’re the sorts of specialties for which good care is rare or the need is especially serious.

In other words, ask yourself if your hospital has something to offer that would be worth traveling for. If the answer is “yes,” and you have the marketing resources to pull off a national approach (which does require more work than a local one), then structure your marketing plan with the larger market in mind.

Even if you have the utmost respect for the expertise of your doctors and feel they could compete with any other hospital, a local marketing approach might be the best fit for you if:

  • Your marketing resources are limited. It’s important to know your limits and craft your plan accordingly. The Cleveland Clinic has brought in thousands of new leads by taking a national approach to its content marketing, but the marketing team creates 3-5 blog posts a day and has produced hundreds of videos to get to that point. You don’t have to be that prolific for national marketing to be an option, but you will have to put in a lot of work to get a return.
  • You’re only interested in local patients. For many medical practices a local focus is simply the preference. If you can do enough business treating patients from your own community and prefer to stay local, there’s no need to target business outside of it. 

Many patients are likely to value a local approach. The idea of knowing your doctor well and potentially running into them at the grocery store or local park may be ideal for many of your patients. You can tap into that market more successfully by keeping your focus small.

The Differences in Execution

When you’re talking about health, many issues are universal, so lots of the topics you’d cover for local and national content marketing are the same. But there are a few ways to localize your content effectively. 

Suggestions for Local Hospital Marketing:

  • Address any health issues particular to your area, such as seasonal allergies or an outbreak of something contagious that starts to spread through your community
  • Seek out relationships with local businesses relevant to health – you could write a post on the benefits of yoga that highlights the local yoga studios, for example. 
  • Capitalize on local news and events. If there’s a local debate about adding more bike paths to the street, you could produce content about the health benefits of biking (or the health risks of bike accidents).

If you’re taking a national approach, one of the biggest differences is one of scale. To keep up and compete with the other hospitals involved in national content marketing, you need to produce a steady stream of high-quality content.

Suggestions for National Hospital Marketing:

  • Consider branching into different formats beyond writing, like videos, slideshares and infographics. 
  • Become a voice in the larger community. Find other influencers in your hospital’s specialty areas and engage with them. 
  • Ramp up your PR efforts. To gain attention beyond your own community, you need to actively seek coverage from the national media

The Bottom Line

You don’t necessarily have to choose between the two options. If you have the bandwidth to pursue national marketing, while also developing local relationships and content, by all means, do! Most health care practices will have an easier time focusing on one or the other, though.

For a marketing plan to be successful, it has to be sustainable. Carefully consider your marketing goals and the resources available to you—a good healthcare marketing strategy requires finding the right balance between the two.  

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The Author

Kristen Hicks

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and content marketer specializing in helping businesses connect with customers through content online.
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