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Word of Mouth Works Best When Hospitals Listen

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, October 19, 2011

Face-to-face interaction is one of the goals of the marketing department at HealthCare Express, a group medical practice based in   Texarkana, Texas. Marketing Director Tina Baiter says the majority of the marketing budget is allotted for in-person marketing. Because HealthCare Express is small and up against higher marketing budgets within a rural community, the most effective way to connect is by spreading the word in person, Baiter says.

"Every single patient who comes in is asked how they found us – the number one [reply] is word of mouth," Baiter says. "The bulk of our budget is spent sending one person to each community to network, hand out cookies and snacks, and visit small businesses."

"People like to do business with their friends," she adds. "That has a much higher impact than an ad in the paper."

So, just how large of an impact can word of mouth make?

One example of the scope of a word of mouth campaign is at TX-based Baylor Health Care System. Since the launch of twenty-eight 30second television spots testimonials and videos on the BHCS website, there has been an increase of more than 250 patients. BHCS employees are encouraged to fuel the fire of the viral campaign using social media.

Jennifer Coleman, senior VP of consumer affairs of BHCS, was able to produce a video testimonial for under $500. She says Baylor does not spend as much on advertising as its local competitors and testimonials are an expensive option to garner positive attention.

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