Cardiac Campaigns: Plan with your Heart

Cardiac Campaigns: Plan with your Heart

Any healthcare marketing professional will tell you that February always looms large on the horizon, no matter the time of year.  February is Heart Month, and it is the best time of year to disseminate heart health content.  Do you have a heart health content strategy for February?  What about for the rest of the year?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for about 25% of all deaths.  Awareness for heart health shouldn’t be restricted to only one month of the year because your message can be easily drowned out since many healthcare organization will be clamoring to get heard. To attract a steady stream of patients throughout the year, you will need to have a heart health messaging strategy for the entire year.  This can be daunting, so we encourage you to consider these guidelines when formulating your plan:

  • Consistent Messaging Throughout the Year: Your messaging should be frequent enough to get the attention of your audience but no so frequent as to be seen as a nuisance. It should also have a common theme based on your goals. If the objective is simply to educate and spread awareness, the content should be fact-based and easily digestible avoiding self-promotion.  Conversely, if the goal is to attract new patients and position your organization as a thought leader, the content should still be fact-based and easily digestible, but also should highlight the capabilities of your organization.
  • Generate & Share Content: You should be generating content from a variety of sources through a variety of different media.  Your audience is undoubtedly diverse – some will use social media while others will use industry publications or other forms of media.  Rather than relying entirely on original content, incorporate information from reputable sources like trade associations, medical device manufacturers, and even fellow healthcare organizations.  Frequently interacting with your audience through social media and blogs is highly recommended as well.
  • Paid Advertising: To ensure you reach desired audiences, consider paid campaigns.  Pay-per-click, social media, and targeted website ads allow for more focused advertising.  Due to expense, paid advertising does not have to be your main promotional tool for your routine heart health messaging but is encouraged for more elaborate occasions like a webinar hosted by a well-known industry professional or a free community health screening.
  • Press Releases: Much like paid advertising, press releases should be used sparingly and generally only for newsworthy announcements.  By nature, a press release acts to motivate other media outlets to promote your content.  For that reason, they can be extremely effective in reaching a large audience but are highly dependent on the relevancy of their content.
  • Direct Mail & Print: When it comes to direct mail and other forms of print media, the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover” does not apply.  Messaging and artwork need to be eye-catching and ask the reader to take action.    This could be making a call, visiting a location, or going to a web page.
  • Develop a Patient Journey: Today’s consumers and patients make experiential judgments.  Receiving poor service will sow doubt and distrust in your organization, which, in many cases, is irreparable.  When developing your content strategy, consider the entire timeline from the moment an individual first consumes your content to their subsequent interaction with your personnel and products and services as a patient and beyond.  The steps of the patient journey are as follows:
    • Pre-Diagnosis: self-assessment of symptoms
    • Seeking Help: patient’s initial contact with health system, likely via phone, website, or possibly social media.
    • Diagnosis: professional assessment of condition; potentially the first physical experience with the organization
    • Treatment: on-site professional care
    • Behavior/Lifestyle Change: patient undergoes lifestyle changes to minimize chances of relapse
    • Follow-up: patient has periodic post-treatment visits, establishing a further relationship with the organization and its professionals

It is important to consider whether your messaging addresses patient needs at each of these critical touchpoints.  If you discover that you have potential patients in the “Seeking Help” stage, interacting with your social media or website, plan for the messaging that will be required to encourage them to move forward in their journey to “Diagnosis,” and so forth.

These guidelines are not all-encompassing but are meant to provide guidance and inspire creativity as you develop your content strategy. Patients experience heart health issue year-round, and although messaging should be heavy in February, key information needs to be communicated throughout the year.  The onus is on healthcare organizations to be there for patients at each step of their journey, no matter when it occurs.

Image courtesy of The Heart Foundation.