Posts Tagged ‘service line marketing’

In 2016, I wrote a blog post about the checklist my firm provides its clients to help them determine if a service line is ready or appropriate to be marketed. With all the demands faced by a hospital marketing team, how do they determine which services to market? It may sound simple, but politics and egos can make it very complicated. That’s why having a handy tool and well-defined protocol for making this type of determination can be so helpful. In the short video below, I discuss the benefits of having a Service Line Marketability Checklist.




If you would like to see a copy of our Service Line Marketability Checklist, use this link.

Read Full Post »

Years ago I developed this checklist for a client who was continually fielding marketing requests from various service line leaders within her organization. You know the deal – everyone wants their program marketed. When the Chief of Orthopedics comes to you and wants his or her department marketed more aggressively, how do you respond? My first thought is, “What is behind this request and how does it relate to our organization’s strategic priorities?” Is this individual responding in a knee jerk fashion because he or she has been seeing ads or billboards from a competitor. Does the Chief of Orthopedics want to see his team on a billboard as a response to that advertising by the cross-town rival? Is it ego? Or is it genuine concern for meeting patient volume goals?

Below is the list I’ve developed. Please feel free to suggest additional considerations.

Service Line Marketability Checklist

  1. Is marketing this particular service consistent with the current business/strategic objectives of the organization? In what ways does it further those objectives?
  2. Is there demand for this service within your market area? What is the potential patient volume that you could capture? This speaks to opportunity.
  3. For this particular offering, where does patient volume come from? Are referring physicians really the target audience? Does it make sense to market this directly to consumers? It is important that you understand the decision-making process of the target audience. What is the path they follow to get to your door?
  4. Is the service/procedure ready for prime time? For example, you may have just hired a new spine surgeon. But that doesn’t mean that you have a spine program that is ready to market. So, ask yourself (and your internal client), are all of the components in place? If not, when will they be in place?
  5. Does the service line compare favorably to competitive offerings in the market? Are there compelling points of differentiation?
  6. What is the “so what” for residents in the service area? What compelling information do we have to share with them about this service line that they will find to be relevant? How can you effectively reach the target audience in a compelling fashion? Is advertising the best way to tell this story?
  7. What is the contribution margin for the procedure/service? Is it profitable? If it isn’t profitable, in what ways does marketing this service meet the business objectives of the organization? Is it prestigious? Does it have a positive halo effect? Are there internal reasons for marketing the service? There are times when it is okay to market a service to appease an internal constituent or constituent group. Morale can certainly be a consideration.
  8. Is there capacity for additional patient volume? This is huge. If there’s no capacity or limited capacity, you run the risk of alienating potential patients and referring physicians. It is important to note that hospital administrators and service line leaders often disagree about whether or not a given service has capacity. A service line may not be meeting its patient volume goals, but may also have issues that keep patient volumes lower than projected. That may have nothing to do with demand for that service.
  9. Is there ready access to the service? How long will patients have to wait for an appointment? (You can have capacity but still not be accessible.) Will someone answer the phone and return calls when prospective patients start calling? Can patients schedule appointments online?
  10. Is there a simple way for patients and referring physicians to schedule appointments? Often identifying a single phone number for patients/physicians to call is a huge obstacle to marketing a service or specialty.
  11. How is the service performing on patient satisfaction? Are there indications that patients will have a positive experience? What is the reputation of this program in your service area and among referring physicians? Note: Do not market services until they are ready to represent your brand in a positive manner.
  12. Does the service/procedure offer the opportunity for a “halo effect” where marketing the service will enhance the overall brand image of the organization? Does marketing this service bring equity to the organization?
  13. Are there champions within the department (physician champions or other clinicians) who will support the marketing effort? Are there potential bloggers or physicians who would be great on video? Are there sources of great content that you can repurpose?
  14. If we choose to market this service, how will we define success? What are the primary metrics that we will measure? (If you can’t identify ways to measure success, you may want to rethink promoting this service.)
  15. How will we track traffic/response to a potential marketing program in support of this service line? Is the department willing to track leads and survey new patients? Are they capable of tracking lead sources?
  16. Finally, do you have the budget needed to market this service effectively? If you don’t have the resources needed to make an impact, you are only raising expectations without the possibility of success. If you are going to market a specialty, do it right. Half-hearted efforts to appease an internal audience will only come back to haunt you.


Read Full Post »

I will be participating in a HealthLeaders Webinar on November 29th titled Future of Service Line Marketing: New Tactics, New Tools

11/29/2012, 1:00-2:30 p.m. (ET)

Here’s the description of the session:

When it comes to service lines, healthcare marketers are challenged not only to get their message to consumers in a highly competitive and crowded marketplace, but also to balance the needs of the organization and individual physicians with limited marketing dollars.

Join WellStar Health System, Cooper University Hospital, and Jennings as they explore how to use data to prioritize service line marketing dollars and gain physician buy-in.

Register for Future of Service Line Marketing: New Tactics, New Tools for solutions, interactive Q&A, and lessons learned, including how to:

  • Prioritize what type of tactics to spend your marketing dollars on
  • Improve service line marketing to physicians
  • Balance the organizational brand vs. service line brand


We will have 45 minutes of presentation/case study followed by 45 minutes of interview/roundtable/discussion/Q&A.

  • Balancing hospital and service line brands
    • Aligning organizational and service line goals
    • Using data to prioritize marketing dollars
    • Differentiating your services from the competition
  • Integrating physicians into the marketing program
    • The importance of marketing service lines to physicians—both employed and affiliated
    • Building systems for service line administrators and marketing executives to work effectively together
    • New physician liaison models
    • Using data to build consensus
  • The future of service line marketing
    • Focus on population health, patient-centered medical homes, and wellness and prevention
    • Increasing emphasis on measuring ROI: Effective tools and tactics
    • Integrating social and new media
  • Live Q&A (Customize this webcast! Pre-submit your questions.)


Jill Sayre Lawlor, vice president of marketing and community outreach, Cooper University Hospital
Jill Sayre Lawlor is vice president of marketing and community outreach for Cooper University Hospital located in Camden, N.J. She serves as the senior marketing executive providing leadership in developing and implementing marketing plans for service lines and programs throughout the health system.
With a multimillion-dollar budget, she has responsibility for allocating resources at this nonprofit, 600-bed academic medical center, which serves the eight southern counties of New Jersey. Prior to joining Cooper, Lawlor served as executive vice president of Winning Edge Communications in Princeton, N.J

Dan Dunlop, president, Jennings
Dan Dunlop is a principal of Jennings, a leading healthcare marketing and consumer engagement firm. He is a healthcare marketer, blogger, author, and sought-after speaker. Dunlop regularly serves on the faculty of national and regional healthcare conferences, including the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, the National Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit, the AAMC Professional Development Conference, and the Physician Strategies Summit. He has been designated a top healthcare marketing contributor by OrganizedWisdom.com and a Top Health Blogger in Wellsphere’s Healthcare Industry & Policy Community. He serves on the national advisory board of HealthLeaders’ Healthcare Marketing Advisor and is a contributor to Ragan’s HealthCare Marketing & Communication News.

Kim Menefee, senior VP, WellStar Health System
Kim Menefee is senior vice president of public and government affairs for WellStar Health System, one of the Southeast’s largest nonprofit health systems and the fifth most integrated healthcare delivery system in the country. In her 20-year career at WellStar, she has served in a variety of leadership capacities, including leading brand development and marketing initiatives, lobbying and government relations efforts, community programming, and development of a customer service initiative and physician liaison team.

I hope you can join us. For more information or to register for the Webinar, click here.

Read Full Post »

It’s 10:30am at the NESHCo Conference – the New England Society of Healthcare Communicators. Brooke Hynes and I presented at 8:30am, giving the keynote address. Our talk was about marketing patient safety within the hospital or medical center. We used the current Tufts Medical Center hand hygiene campaign as a case study. I was impressed with the number of brave souls who rose early this morning to attend a presentation about quality and patient safety! Knowing the time of day, we worked harder than ever to make the presentation interesting and engaging. In the end, it was well received and we fielded a number of questions from the group for more than 30 minutes.

Now I get to kick back and enjoy the rest of the conference. Currently, I am sitting in on a presentation about service line marketing, specifically focused on OB Services. The presenters are Dr. Julie Pokela of Market Street Research and Brian O’Dea of Newton-Wellesley Hospital (NWH).

Given that Obstetrics is truly the main door into the hospital for many families, it represents a huge area of opportunity. If you do Obstetrics right, and market it right, you can potentially win patients for life. These families are going to need Pediatricians, emergency services, urgent care, and a ton of other services as their family grows over the years. So win them early and keep them for life.

Some of the points that Dr. Pokela made include making sure you have one or two female OB-GYNs on staff. And let people know that you’ve got them! I was glad to hear her emphasize the importance of making sure the physicians and service lines have capacity before promoting them. Otherwise, if you promote a service line where there is no capacity, you will simply frustrate potential patients and referring physicians. Some other points she emphasized:

  • Importance of 24-hour epidurals being available.
  • Differentiating between the criteria people use to select a hospital versus those that lead to patient satisfaction.
  • Reaching women early when they are selecting an Obstetrician. The selection of the Obstetrician will largely impact where they deliver.
  • Women concerned with high risk births will pay attention to your high tech messaging. For most women, this is not a huge issue. But it is important to a select few.
  • Women will often bypass the closest hospital to get tot he best hospital.

Brian O’Dea spoke about Newton-Wellesley’s efforts to grow their OB program through its partnership with Brigham & Women’s. Together, they established a Maternal Fetal Medicine Program at Newton-Wellesley which allowed them to keep a large number of patients at NWH who would have gone to Brigham prior to the creation of the new program. Patients now going to NWH have access to Brigham & Women’s specialists and high risk resources. They’ve seen a 14% increase in deliveries at NWH and have 1,300 maternal fetal medicine visits annually – all at a time when the number of births were declining in their service area. The brand equity that Brigham & Women has with physicians in the market had a huge impact on these results.

Read Full Post »

The associate editor of a healthcare marketing publication recently asked me what I consider to be the most important factor to consider when developing a service line marketing program. It was a good question and one I enjoyed answering. My response to that question appears in the paragraphs that follow.

Service Line Marketing and the Importance of Planning for Success

From my perspective, the most important factor to consider when developing a service line marketing program is the consumer’s experience once they respond to the advertising; and the best way to ensure a positive brand experience is by planning ahead. It can’t be said enough: A successful service line campaign begins with advanced planning. You should expect that potential patients and referring physicians will visit your website and call your department in response to your advertising. You never know how many will respond, but you have to assume you’ll generate some inquiries. Those brand touch points (your website and the person on your end of the phone) represent opportunities to fulfill the promise of the marketing campaign by creating a positive impression – the first step toward developing a brand advocate. But those first points of contacts are also where many service line marketing efforts come unglued.

One all too frequent outcome of failing to plan ahead, involves potential patients calling in response to your advertising campaign only to be told they can’t get an appointment for three or four months. Despite all of your hard work and creativity, what you end up with are frustrated consumers. And those disappointed people tell others about their experience, generating negative word-of-mouth. Even though the advertising did its job by motivating the consumer to take action, the organization didn’t deliver on the promise. With this in mind, it is becoming much more routine for healthcare systems and hospitals to make ‘capacity for taking on new patients’ mandatory criteria for a service line to participate in an advertising campaign.

Another potential consequence of failing to plan ahead is having potential patients respond to your advertising by visiting your website, only to find that it is outdated and does not include the information they require. Once again, you are left with disappointed consumers and missed opportunities. After an individual sees your advertising, the website is often their first point of contact with your organization. Before you create your next service line campaign, ask yourself what type of impression the current website makes on first-time visitors. Then make the appropriate changes before you launch your campaign.

In many ways, service line marketing is like sending out a party invitation. People receive the invitation and generate immediate expectations. When they arrive at the party, you want to make sure their experience matches (and perhaps exceeds) their expectations. If you fail to do so, they go home disappointed and won’t come to your next party. The same is true of service line marketing. When you promote a service line, the potential patient assumes that you are open for business, ready to answer the phone, field questions and schedule appointments in a timely fashion. When you start with the end in mind, by planning to meet your potential patients’ needs and expectations, your service line marketing will have a much greater chance for success.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: