Hospitals and nonprofit organizations have opportunities beyond the selection process to create brand advocates. But you have to start early and nurture the relationship.
There’s more to the story than just that singular moment when a patient has to make a split decision or the donor pulls out his checkbook. The moment of consideration is only one pivot point in process of cultivating brand advocates.
Hospitals (nonprofit and for-profit) tend to only focus on the moment of consideration and the moment of selection. Their entire approach to marketing is trying to convince people to choose them. “Pick me! Pick me!” they think. Their messaging is all about trying to persuade patients and supporters that their organization is the best. They only see the process in two steps: the one where someone is faced with a choice and then the moment when he/she actually chooses. And once they’ve chosen, it’s all over. Why continue the relationship if you’ve already gotten their buy-in?
Because you want brand advocates, not just one-time patrons.
NPHOs are in a unique position—they have to rely on real human connections to keep business in motion. So it only makes sense to focus on establishing relationships before and after the selection is made. There are 7 Steps To Creating Advocates, each one is an opportunity to strengthen the brand while building loyalty and advocacy along the way.
People can only know you exist if you’re visible. This means getting your logo and messaging out there. From your branded marketing materials to the media you run — it’s about having a presence out there in the world. And putting yourself in front of the right people is the first step to making them aware you’re there.
What’s the first thing you do when you see something intriguing or compelling? You go to the web to learn more. That’s because we all want to make informed decisions about the products we buy and the brands we align ourselves with. So once you’ve hit your audience with a little awareness, it’s time to inform them of who you are. This involves making sure your website content is informative and your online listings are accurate. Because knowledge is power.
What can you do to improve my life? It’s the subconscious thought we’re all thinking when we spend money. No one wants to throw away their hard-earned money at something useless. We’re all looking for that one thing that’s going to make our life easier and offer some kind of immediate benefit. And in such a competitive marketplace, you’ve got to cut through the noise and be heard. Define your promise and craft your messaging around it. It’s all about positioning yourself as the right choice for your audience.
Hooray, they’ve chosen you! You’ve been selected and it feels good. Your marketing strategy worked. Congratulate yourself. But don’t get too comfortable. The process isn’t over just yet.
Follow up. Thank them for choosing you. Let them know you’ve got more to offer. If the patient stayed at your hospital, reach out and see how they’re doing. If a donor wrote you a check, show them how their donation helped. Think of your relationship as a long-term one and think of your patron as a lifelong patron.
If you want to keep your customers coming back, give them a reason to. Welcome them into the family, invite them to like your social media pages, and create a dialogue. Most importantly: Collect testimonials. Having a happy supporter say flattering things about your organization is one of the most powerful marketing tools you can wield as an NPHO. You can talk all day about how great you are, but once someone else does, it establishes credibility.
This is the true crux of branding: The emotional connection between the brand and the consumer. They’re invested in your success and they want good for you. And once your supporter starts referring friends, you know you’ve done things right. Not only have you successfully created a loyal patron. You’ve created a cheerleader. GO YOU!
I refer to this process as Harmony. Harmony works to bring everything together, connecting your organization’s touchpoints into a seamless pattern of brand unity – ensuring that nothing detracts from expectations. It’s about delivering on your promise again and again so that people trust you.
And at the end of the day, you have to build trust before you can build a future.
Download our Should Marketing Be The Focus of Your Nonprofit Healthcare Organization? eBook and I’ll help you understand the value in easy-to-understand terms.