Sparking inspiration for your hospital marketing


It’s “that” morning. The one you as a hospital marketing director set aside for some creative thinking. No phones, no emails, no meetings. Just you, your thoughts, your imagination.

Today’s agenda item: how can we acquire and retain patients in light of our expanded (more consumer-friendly technology and retail) competitive set.

For Trajectory, this kind of exercise begins by looking outside of healthcare. Because if you spend all your time thinking about what other similar health systems and hospitals are doing, you’ll end up with a “me-too” equivalent. So you start down the path of finding inspiration from other brands that do an exceptional job of acquiring and retaining customers.

Next, you break down that agenda item into manageable bitesize pieces. Because it’s too big and hairy to tackle otherwise. This morning, you decide that one of those pieces is going to be “how can we create more of a distinctive customer experience.”

With this foundation in place, your brainstorm begins. There are the obvious role models of Apple, Nordstrom, Nike, Amazon and Ritz-Carlton. But they’re obvious.

How about newer brands that are popular in culture and adapting new business models. Ah ha. You remember that you just signed up for Dollar Shave Club a couple weeks ago after reading how Unilever forked over $1 billion following its rapid growth from its 2012 launch. And as a responsible and curious marketer, you just had to see what DSC was about. So you go with DSC and see what inspiration you can find. You also realize that in some ways, healthcare and shaving are somewhat similar. They’re both things that you just have to do.


Here’s what you consider:

    • The Name. Dollar Shave Club quickly and simply declares exactly what the company is about, what’s different about it and how it helps prospective customers/club members.
    • Relatable, Playful Brand Idea. A simple, cheeky and benefit-driven value proposition – Shave Time. Shave Money.
    • Distinctive Website. Against a paneled background, the look and feel of the site – including the packaging – is highly distinctive versus key competitor corporate brands Gillette and Schick.
    • Simple, Fresh Language. More informal, more personal, like the brand is actually speaking to its customers.



    • The Convenience. The “Club” isn’t just about delivery of blades, it’s about delivery of emotional delight. Conveniently delivered once a month, or more, to your door in a stylishly branded box.




    • Relevant, enjoyable content. Note the “bathroom minutes” author. There are also the “Help Me Dress Myself” recurring posts. Uniquely DSC.



    • Social Sharing Reward. When members share a photo of their DSC shipment, the brand re-posts their favs and sends the member a free tee shirt.


    Word of Mouth. The amount of which any health system or hospital should be envious of. In an interview with CNBC, CEO Michael Dubin stated that 50,000 people a month refer a friend to the club.

    Which all adds up to giving customers/club members an experience unlike any other in the space.

By the way, if you’ve never seen the initial DSC launch video (though nearly 24 million already have), enjoy it here. It set the stage for everything that follows.

Net: If you spend all your time thinking about what other health systems and hospitals are doing, you’ll end up with a “me-too” healthcare marketing solution. But seeing through a new lens, done with the right framework, can help you unleash a lot of concrete ideas and approaches to help you break out. Look at your story from all angles. Cast aside the do’s and don’ts, colors and imagery and so-called best practices of competitors. Find a new way to attack old problems by using an out-of-category perspective.

Want some help breaking out? Reach out to Rick Zaniboni.

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, the specialist health & wellness branding and marketing agency using every moment as an opportunity to move customers, brands and businesses upward to a new destination.