Marketing for Hospital Success

Marketing for hospitals can be tricky. Today, the healthcare market is extremely competitive-a variety of options, providers and services are available to patients. And more so than ever, the average patient is a value-conscious consumer that makes educated choices based on their options.

In order to stand out from the competition, it is extremely important to craft a clear and innovative strategy. A successful hospital needs a successful marketing plan. A combination of direct and electronic mail, as well as social media is your best bet to wrangle in more patients and to keep them coming back. Studies have shown that depending on age and gender, all three are necessary to successfully connect with a broad target population.

Okay, first things first. Let’s start with direct mail, a tried and true approach to getting your hospital name in the hands of potential patients. Remember, consistent touches are the key to success. Wow them with colorful images of your facilities and services. Or showcase friendly pictures of your medical staff-this adds a personalized and intimate touch to your hospital brand. If done correctly, direct mail can be the best, most reliable strategy for marketing for hospitals.

But let’s not forget about electronic mail, an equally effective approach for marketing for hospitals. In this day and age, where almost everybody has a computer, patients expect fast results. Young people, in particular, utilize their computer as their main source of information. So it makes perfect sense to leverage electronic communication as part of your marketing strategy. Immediately connect with patients through email blasts and electronic newsletters.

Last but not least, social media is emerging as an influential communication platform for marketing for hospitals. Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and if you are open, it can be utilized as a powerful tool to generate buzz about your hospital brand. Depending on your level of interest and commitment, try creating a Facebook or Twitter account-both are effective ways of reaching your patients directly. Address any concerns they may have, answer questions, or simply post fun photos, informational updates, and health advice.

Admittedly, there is no perfect formula for marketing for hospitals, but if you craft a plan that incorporates direct mail, electronic mail, and social media, you are on your way to marketing success! Remember, patients can’t frequent a facility that they don’t know exists! So it is your job, as a healthcare marketer, to make them know how great your hospital really is.

Which is Better – Direct Mail, Teleseminars or Webinars?

With every new technology, comes groups of users who immediately want to dispense with the old. Now that webinars are becoming mainstream, I’ve had a few clients ask which is better to use in their business: old-fashioned direct mail, teleseminars or webinars?

Before I answer the question, let’s first discuss the definition of each:

Direct Mail consist of postcards, flyers, mailings done to your prospects — anything they receive in their mailbox.

Teleseminars are conference calls where you can have as few as two or as many as 2,000 (and more) people on a call at the same time. There’s a moderator who runs the call and keeps things on track.

Teleseminars are great for solo-presentations as well as interviews where one person interviews another and a live audience listens in and asks questions.

Webinars are what I like to think of as “visual teleseminars”. You are listening in on the telephone (just like a teleseminar) AND you are watching your computer screen (just like television).

The moderator in this case is taking you through a presentation — similar to a live event slide show only you’re participating from the comfort of your own home. Webinars can also be online videos or a hybrid presentation/video format.

So which is best? The teleseminar or the webinar?

The answer, as you may suspect is “it depends”.

Marketing is about building a relationship with your prospects through your unique message (or Unique Selling Proposition). Tools which set you apart and make you more *real* to your prospects must be included in your business — this is especially true for those who market themselves online or virtually.

Which builds a better connection with your audience:

1. A flyer sent in the mail?

2. A teleseminar where prospects can hear your voice?

3. A webinar where prospects can hear your voice and see you moving things around the screen?

While you may be tempted to answer “number 3″ as webinars allow you to create a connection and bring your prospects into your world, the true answer is “all three”.

A webinar REQUIRES more of a commitment from your prospect as they are agreeing to be at their computer at a certain date and time while a teleseminar REQUESTS propsects to be at a telephone knowing that most business owners send out recordings after the fact.

Given the increased commitment requirement AND the fact that people learn best through different media (reading, watching, listening), the ideal mix, regardless of your business, is to include all three methods in your marketing: direct mail, teleseminars and webinars.

Teleseminars and webinars are not only for online businesses. Brick and mortar/retail businesses who use them define themselves as being FAR AHEAD of their competition.

Knowing this, how can you incorporate teleseminars and webinars into your business?

Your Coaching Challenge

Review your marketing action plan and ensure you’ve included direct mail, teleseminars AND webinars in your lead generation activities.

My challenge is that you schedule and promote either a teleseminar or webinar for your business within the next 30 days.

Property Investments – Direct and Collective Investments

Investment Options

Access to property investments is well-established, with a range of direct investment opportunities and collective investments available for both retail and institutional Investors alike. In the first instance we should look to the range of property sub-sectors available for consideration, and further investigate both direct and collective access points for the sector in general.

The main property sub-sectors that may be available for smaller investors are:

Residential
Commercial
Student Accommodation
Care Homes
Hotels
Leisure / Tourism
Development
Agricultural
Forestry
Within each sub-sector lies a range of possible entry points for Investors; broadly categorised as either direct investments or collective investments. Collective investments being either regulated or unregulated fund arrangements, where Investors capital is pooled so as to acquire a basket of assets, or participate in a project with a large capital requirement. Direct investments on the other hand are simply straightforward acquisitions of property assets by the Investor. There are, for example, funds for residential, student accommodation commercial and most other sub-sectors, and likewise, there are options for Investors to directly acquire investment properties in each of these sectors via freehold or leasehold title.

Direct investments – Simply the acquisition of property assets by the Investor, direct property investments take many forms; from the acquisition of property for improvement and sale; through to acquisitions for leasing/rental to a tenant or operator. For the Investors with sufficient capital or finance, direct investments remove the majority of risks specific to collective investment schemes where Investors are reliant on the external management of a property portfolio. Direct investments do however carry asset-specific risks; property assets can incur significant financial liabilities including on-going maintenance, tax and round trip purchasing costs (the cost of buying and selling an asset).

Property investments, especially direct property investments, provide the Investor with a level of security that paper-based investments do not due simply to the fact that quality property assets retain capital value throughout the long-term, which in the case of well-chosen properties in good locations, is unlikely to fall and cause the Investor a capital loss. Provided the Investor is prepared and capable of tolerating the illiquidity associated with physical property assets, this asset class provides true diversification out of traditional financial assets such as stocks bonds and cash.

For the direct Investor, careful consideration should be given to the due diligence process during the asset identification and acquisition stage, as in most regions this will require specific professional input from legal practitioners, surveyors, valuation agents, and in the case of niche property investment projects with a specific strategy Investors must also consider the counterparty risk in that in many cases Investors might be reliant on the performance of a strategy manager to achieve the expected returns from investing in their strategy.

Collective investments – Property funds come in all shapes and sizes, and invariably involve a Fund Manager acquiring a basket of properties in line with the fund’s investment strategy, and managing those assets on behalf of Investors in the fund. There are funds, both regulated and unregulated, that invest in all of the major property sub-sectors. One can find opportunities to invest in residential real estate, student accommodation, care homes, commercial real estate, shopping centres and property developments. Some of these funds cater only to large Institutional Investors, whereas other offer lower entry levels for smaller Investors.

The structure of collective property investments varies from fund to fund. Some are highly regulated affairs, established and operated by major asset management groups, others are small, niche operations established to capitalise on current short term opportunities or niche sectors or markets. Collective funds may be listed on an exchange, allowing smaller Investors to trade in and out of the fund as and when they please. This removes the potential illiquidity associated with the property asset class, however this also detracts substantially form the returns generated from the underlying property assets as some capital is never invested in order to ensure that redemptions can be made from cash without liquidating part of the underlying portfolio.

Whether listed or unlisted, regulated or otherwise, collective investments in property assets offer access to the asset class for the smaller Investors, although in many cases the cash flow dynamics of securitised investments differ greatly from direct investments in property assets.