Sifting Through the Static to Find the True Campaign Message

Marianne Aiello, August 11, 2010

One of the hardest parts of any healthcare marketing campaign is whittling down countless suggestions and ideas from several hospital stakeholders to create one solid, all-encompassing message. Marketers at Children's Hospital of Illinois recently faced that challenge when crafting a campaign to promote their new facility. But hospital marketers sifted through the information, honed in on the key points, and created a streamlined campaign.

When marketers from Children's sat down to create the campaign, they had a choice of many appealing features to highlight. The hospital, which had previously been dispersed throughout several locations at the OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, IL, was finally being united in one building that contains private rooms, a children's emergency department, family resource center, and operating suites with cutting-edge technology.

Initially, there was some tension between caregivers and administrators about the aspects of the new facility the advertising should focus on. But the marketing team helped everyone get on the same page by conducting patient research.

"You have to pick a few things and you have to narrow it down," Judy Winkler, director of marketing for Children's Hospital of Illinois, said in the July issue of Healthcare Marketing Advisor. The marketing team made a list of what it thought were the most important aspects of the new facility and conducted focus groups and online surveys asking people to rank which elements were most impressive or important to them. In some cases, respondents confirmed what the marketing team considered the most important issues. "But sometimes it didn't even blip," Winkler said.

Working with Kansas City, MO, agency Muller Bressler Brown, Children's marketers created a "Let It Shine" theme, which allowed them to highlight the hospital's caring staff, clinical expertise, and new technology. The collateral design emphasizes each of these points. You can view the "Let It Shine" TV spot on the MarketShare blog.

But for some hospital marketers, honing in on the key messages isn't so easy—especially when facing internal pressure from service line leaders or others in the hospital to feature their own department. So I asked two members of the HealthLeaders Media marketing advisory board to weigh in with advice on how to handle that problem.

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