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Cheery Campaign Makes Consumers Take Notice

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, March 10, 2010

"Just in case you actually do shop 'til you drop," read a Southwest General banner hanging above a mall food court last Christmas. The ad was part of a jovial campaign the Middleburg Heights, OH, hospital created to grab consumers' attention and gain market share from strong competitors, such as Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. The effort won the hospital a silver award in the integrated category at the 2009 HealthLeaders Media Marketing Awards.

"The campaign for Southwest General is designed to break through the 'sea of sameness' by utilizing a contemporary and somewhat irreverent voice," marketers wrote in the award entry form. "Not only do we want potential patients to say, 'Why would I go anywhere else, when I can get the same or better medical care at Southwest General,' but also, 'This hospital sounds like maybe it is different instead of just saying it is.'"

Southwest General marketers worked with Stern Advertising, a Pepper Pike, OH firm, to create the campaign. Elements include print, outdoor, radio, and mall signage.

Marketers hoped the campaign would increase market share, enhance the health center's identity in the minds of consumers and physician groups, increase physician admissions and referrals, and distinguish Southwest General from its competitors. It measured success through an annual awareness and tracking study, patient focus groups, admissions and patient volume.

The campaign has proven to be a hit with area physicians and a recent awareness and tracking study demonstrated that Southwest General's awareness levels are the strongest of any of the competitive hospitals, which marketers say isn't always the case.

"This campaign really lived up to the promise of something unique," wrote one judge. "The simplicity of the messages is very appealing."

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