What healthcare marketing can learn from the golf industry about relevance and differentiation.

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FACT: Customer’s don’t care about your company and your products. What they care about is themselves and what you can do for them (in ways that others can’t) to better their lives.

If you agree with this (it is a fact, after all), then healthcare marketing should take a cue from the seemingly worlds-away golf industry. Which, by the way, supports why it’s so important to get outside your particular category – because new ideas can always be found by seeing in new ways.

Healthcare marketing (healthcare system, hospital and service-line marketing) still tends to be (of course there are exceptions) seller-driven, while golf marketing tends to be buyer-driven. Healthcare marketing often leaves up to you, the buyer, how you fit in their world. Golf marketers, on the other hand, tend to lead with the benefits that help buyers achieve their goals.

Why do buyers hire you? In the case of healthcare, it’s not only because you have the best docs, leading-edge technology, multiple locations, integrated care, perform more surgeries, are a top hospital, claim to offer world-class care close to home, etc. In golf, this would be akin to messages focused around senior leadership, testing facilities, the materials that make up the head, face and/or shaft of a club or the number of layers or dimples on a golf ball, etc.

Patients hire you, to put it into golf marketers terms, because you help them groove their swing, hit the ball farther, control their spin, gain more accuracy, better enjoy their rounds, play their best golf, etc. And they hire YOU specifically because you lead with buyer benefits vs. seller attributes –– and help them better their lives beyond your competitors.

To keep it simple, it comes down to two things (at least for our purposes here):

1. Relevance. The ability to fit with consumer needs and desires and to undersand their decision criteria.
2. Differentiation. The degree to which consumers perceive your brand (through communications and experience) to offer a bundle of functional, emotional and self-image benefits distinctive from competition.

I love golf. Many people do. But we all NEED health (and) care. In light of this, healthcare brand marketing must work harder. Healthcare brands (healthcare system brands, hospital brands, your service line brands) should be powerful business tools to help drive business performance. But this starts with relevance and differentiation. So…help consumers to help you!

What’s your point-of-view?

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, a brand consulting and marketing agency specializing in creating momentum for customers, brands and businesses across the related categories of health, wellness and beauty.

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