The New Marketing Mix

Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media, April 9, 2008

A funny thing happened this week at a conference session on balancing your marketing mix with traditional and new media: The emphasis was not on new media. To be fair, it wasn’t on television, radio, outdoor, direct mail, or print, either. Nor did the speakers focus on events, community relations, physician relations, or internal communication. And that’s the point: There’s no single magical tactic that will make customers flock to your hospital.

I heard that message more than once at the Healthcare Strategy Institute’s consumer-based marketing conference in Phoenix this week. Customers need to experience your brand and hear your message in a variety of ways. People are, after all, multi-modal learners with a very short attention span and a lot of distractions.

The thrust of this session: Traditional media’s not dead yet. You can and should use it as an entry into your online efforts.

Take, for example, a technique as traditional as a new-movers program. Yes, you hope the welcome packet will give them a warm and fuzzy feeling about your brand. Yes, you hope they’ll call the number for your refer-a-doc program, allowing you to capture more information about them and their healthcare needs. Yes, you want them to stick the magnet with your hospital’s phone number on their fridge and look at it every day.

But the new twist on the new movers effort is that hospitals are starting to add a call-to-action that drives customers to a Web site, says Kim Panebianco, senior account manager at NewClients Direct, in Richmond, VA, which helps hospitals create new mover marketing.

Mixed Messages on New Media
There’s a lot of talk about new media, not only at this conference, but everywhere. It’s a hot topic. But here’s the thing. For all I’m hearing about new media, I still don’t quite have a handle on whether hospitals are doing this, want to do this, or if they even understand it.

Every time I ask someone where hospitals and health systems stand in terms of marketing with new media I get a different answer. Do hospitals understand how to effectively add new media to their marketing mix? Do they even want to? Do they want to but don’t know where to start? How much to spend? Where it fits into the mix?

I’d love to hear your answers, even if I get a bunch of different answers. E-mail me or click on the “comment” button, below.

Gienna Shaw is an editor with HealthLeaders magazine. She can be reached at

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