Not long ago, health care organizations might have viewed such overt brand marketing as unseemly. But as consumers get choosier about where to spend their health care dollars and competition heats up among pharmacy chains and big-box retailers, hospitals are finding it necessary to invest more to promote themselves.
Hospitals, clinics and medical centers spent $1.6 billion on advertising in 2011, a nearly 18 percent jump from the year before, according to Kantar Media. Even the Mayo Clinic, which for decades relied on reputation and word-of-mouth referrals, was one of the top advertising spenders, according to Fierce Finance.
“The more you need to differentiate your business, the more you have to consider creative marketing,” said Mark Morse, co-founder of the Bloomington ad agency Morsekode, which has a growing list of health care clients but has not done work for Park Nicollet.
Hospitals are beefing up their mobile marketing by making their websites accessible to smartphones, tablet computers and laptops. Many have hired staff to pepper social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter with information.