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Getting Creative to Market a Co-Branded Retail Clinic

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, September 15, 2010

Most hospital marketing departments are either charged with creating promotional efforts themselves or collaborating with ad agencies. But, when partnering with a conglomerate to launch a co-branded retail clinic, a whole new slew of difficulties arise. Wuesthoff Health System successfully navigated this process when it partnered with Walmart to do just that.

So far, the Rockledge, FL, system has launched two clinics at local Walmarts. The clinics are co-branded and are called "The Clinic at Walmart Operated by Wuesthoff Health System."

Walmart allowed the health system to charge whatever they wanted for services, so long as there was complete price transparency. Advertising initially seemed like an easy process, as well.

"It's very cookie cutter," said Lisa Crites, associate director of media strategy and business development for WHS, at SHSMD on Monday. "You implement the substance into the signs and the Walmart agencies do it and you okay it. It's a really easy process."

But WHS marketers began to wonder if this stringent approach to marketing was too restrictive. When they voiced their concerns to Walmart officials, they were told the best route to creative marketing was to become good friends with the store manager. So that's what they did.

"You really have to think out of the box when it comes to marketing the Walmart Clinic," said Johnette Gindling, senior vice president for marketing and public relations at WHS. "You have to stretch the boundaries. Walmart is already in convenient locations where people want to shop, but then we needed to look at how to get people in the door and help them understand what services we have available."

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