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When Marketing Clinical Technology, It’s All or Nothing

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, July 14, 2010

Healthcare marketers could go back and forth for days debating the effectiveness of making an appeal to people's emotions versus promoting state-of-the-art clinical technology. And although the majority of campaigns that come across my desk focus on sentiment, most at least mention their organization's technology just to be sure they resonate with that one person who might think, "Sure, you have caring doctors—but do you have the new da Vinci system?"

But if you're going to launch a technology-promoting campaign, the most effective strategy is to go all out. The way Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire, WI, marketed its intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (iMRI) machine and a Smart Operating Suite (Smart OR) is a valuable example of all-or-nothing tech advertising.

The 344-bed hospital decided to create two coordinated rock video-inspired campaigns in 2008 and 2009 because its largest competitor, a Mayo Health System affiliate, had a reputation as the leader in technology and innovation.

"Several years ago, an in-depth regional health needs analysis led us to begin investing in the technology and talent we needed to transform ourselves from a community hospital into a regional tertiary care center," said Steve Ronstrom, president of Western Wisconsin Division of Hospital Sisters Health System and CEO of Sacred Heart Hospital, in the June issue of Healthcare Marketing Advisor. "As we began revolutionizing the care we offered the people in our region, we found we needed to support our effort with a marketing campaign that was just as revolutionary in order to transform the way people perceived us."