Hospital marketing: lessons from Tesla

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You might be saying to yourself – what the heck does Tesla have to do with us? We’re in the healthcare business, they’re in the car business. Tesla’s a new and exciting brand. We’re not. Tesla can be featured in articles like this on adage.com – Another Quarter, Another Retail Refresh for Tesla. We can’t.

But that’s where you’re wrong. Who carved the hospital marketing rules in stone? Who pre-determined that it must consist of seemingly interchangeable print ads and TV spots featuring doctors and smiling patients, and mentions of multiple awards, world class care close to home and foreign-sounding technologies and procedures.

Now is the ideal time for hospital marketers to spread their marketing wings. Consumers are actively shopping for their healthcare, and new retail and technology competitors are shattering traditional boundary lines and practices. As a result, expectations are changing and hospital marketers need to step up to the plate to maintain their relevance.

Consider what makes brands like Tesla stand out. Beyond being driven by a compelling vision, they’re brought to life in ways that are distinguishing, interesting, empowering, surprising and delighting. And these characteristics don’t change based on the category. The rules, and expectations, are the same across the board.

Which brings us back to what hospital marketers can learn from Tesla. It’s implementing a twice-yearly retail refresh to generate buzz, attract shoppers and offer something new to existing drivers. The idea is less about selling product and more about shoppers spending time with the brand. Ultimately, Tesla’s goal is to build a luxury lifestyle brand (a la BMW, Porsche and Ferrari) by pushing expensive clothing and accessories and deepening relationships with its affluent customers.

Clearly, we’re not suggesting you introduce your own line of designer hospital clothing and accessories. But we are strongly suggesting that you can bring your hospital brand to life in more distinguishing, interesting, empowering, surprising and delighting ways. To get you started:

1. View your world through the eyes of the customer, and how you can better their lives, rather than your organization, offering and brand. Thinking like this provides a path to a much deeper relationship (a la Tesla), beyond one driven by functional benefits and which tends to be relatively shallow and vulnerable.

2. Look outside at external role models. Based on your brand purpose and goals, start by reviewing a number of different product categories, and identify the brands that focus on the same or similar brand purpose dimensions or have tackled the same kinds of challenges. Which best interpret and deliver the elements that your brand is striving for? Finding role models almost always leads to fresh thinking and insights.

3. Widen your lens to consider the entire ecosystem of potential platforms and partnerships available to advance your customers beyond what you can do alone and beyond the means of your competitors. Look across the entire customer journey, and consider with whom can you partner, what can you help customers accomplish and what are the environments that you can own to make this happen.

For the right audience, your brand can be as exciting as Tesla!

 

 

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, a brand and marketing firm specializing in creating momentum for businesses across the health + wellness continuum. The common threads are consumers who want to get well, stay well and play well, and brands that fulfill these aspirations and goals.

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