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Campaign Spotlight: Focus on Focus Groups

Kandace McLaughlin Doyle, for HealthLeaders Media, January 14, 2009

Click for larger image.Known to many as "the baby hospital," Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, OH, had a positive, recognizable image in a competitive market. But Hillcrest wanted to expand its offering beyond OB/GYN services and it needed a way to communicate that fact. A sophisticated service line campaign was just the thing it needed to rally the community behind its efforts and create a new brand image.

"We wanted to position Hillcrest as a place that people perceive to be [for] serious medicine," says Jennifer E. Davis, director of marketing and community relations for Hillcrest. In order to achieve its goals, the team looked to the expertise of the people who truly matter: current patients within the community.

"We took the time and spent the resources to do focus groups," says Davis. "And we did a lot of planning before we started the creative. Talking to patients, doctors, talking to the administration . . . we really wanted to make sure that the direction we were taking was the right one."

At the focus groups the team at Hillcrest alongside the team from Hillcrest's agency, Cleveland's Adcom Communications Incorporated, asked patients to talk about why they chose a provider. They were also asked to look at three different campaign messages and choose which most appealed to them. What came out of the focus groups was a strong appeal for a 'slice of life' type message as opposed to one that focused primarily on technology.

They developed the campaign theme, "Behind Me, Ahead of Me," based on the feedback. The multi-integrated campaign carried a message with two meanings. One was that the hospital could help patients to put their ailments behind them so they could heal and look forward to their future. The other was that Hillcrest was behind its patients, there to support their every need.

A strong call-to-action included a contest hosted on a microsite developed specifically for the campaign. The microsite offered health information to the community, risk assessment evaluations, and also acted as a tool for gathering patient information for future marketing endeavors.

"This really was a multi-step campaign," Davis says. "We went steps further than just putting media out there. We offered a service, which is the right thing to do to evaluate risk for heart disease, and we built a very targeted mailing list for future initiatives."

After only a few months, the site has received more than 1,800 unique visitors, which Davis attributes to the planning and time that went into the initiative. "I know a lot of time marketers are anxious to get out there because of competitive things or because people like to see the facility out in the community. It's invaluable to take the time and resources to plan, to make it as effective as possible."


Kandace McLaughlin Doyle is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. Send her Campaign Spotlight ideas at kdoyle@healthleadersmedia.com If you are a marketer submitting a campaign on behalf of your facility or client, please ensure you have permission before doing so.

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