Integrating healthcare marketing and PR efforts to grow your B2B company
The value of integrated communications
In today’s competitive B2B healthcare market, businesses must learn how to effectively combine their efforts and resources to develop the most successful strategies. As some of you may know, healthcare companies generally treat marketing and public relations as separate entities, but by developing an integrated communications strategy for your company, you can see stronger results by working together to develop consistent messaging and leverage it across different mediums and audiences.
In an article titled “Public Relations vs. Marketing,” Al Czarnecki highlights how marketing and public relations are different, yet how they can support one another. One of my favorite parts of this article is when it says, “Good public relations will create a healthy environment for marketing.” I think that summarizes the relationship perfectly. The goal of marketing is to increase profits while the goal of PR is to create positive perceptions and to be viewed as an industry thought leader. They meet different needs of a company, but complement one another.
An example of combining efforts could look something like this: a company’s c-suite executive lands an impressive speaking engagement at an industry tradeshow which is promoted via social media. This business also meticulously places an advertisement in the tradeshow’s conference program as well as runs a thought leadership piece in a separate trade publication. The buzz created around the company and executive speaking engagement lead to higher traffic in the tradeshow booth, followed by customer leads.
In this example, the company is able to create a seamless array of messaging that will reach its target audience through multiple channels. Additionally, this company was able to complement its advertising with editorial pieces that lend to the company’s expertise and garners third-party credibility. The impact can be greater when marketing and public relation teams communicate and work together like this to accomplish similar objectives.
In this blog, I’ll explore how healthcare companies can adjust their approaches to marketing and public relations and integrate them into a comprehensive strategy. As an agency, we recommend leveraging foundational tactics—such as messaging, planning, research and post-campaign measurement—as a first step that will lead to future success.
Here are four steps that will lead you to a successful integrated communications approach:
Messaging is the best place to start. Messaging is the foundation of any communications plan. A marketing strategy needs a clear and concise message to ensure the market is reading and understanding consistent themes. It’s the backbone to a communications plan and necessary to have a consistent platform with your customers.
Consider this: A customer sees an advertisement that promotes a high-end, robust solution, and decides to speak to a sales person for more information. Once at the tradeshow booth, the sales person describes the solution as being the cheapest on the market. This customer, who was looking for a luxury product may be turned away by this description. However, if the marketing, sales and PR teams had created a clear message that their product was the most affordable solution for the highest value, it would have brought less confusion to the customer.
Clearly define your objectives before starting the campaign. When formulating your marketing strategy, the approach will depend on the message you are trying to communicate. Some examples of messages include introducing a new product to the market, changing existing market perceptions, competing against larger firms or combining multiple products into one brand. Approaches range from focusing on educating the market, increasing brand awareness, sharing positive customer experiences, among others.
Research in a marketing campaign can be invaluable. By assessing one’s competitive position, you can determine your company’s own strengths and weaknesses and use it to your advantage in communication efforts.
If a company completes a thorough competitive analysis they can determine customers’ perceptions and turn that data into how to best market themselves to communicate their advantages and be trusted by their customers.
This is essential so that your company knows what your competitors are saying and be sure they are not trying to say the exact same thing. It is also important to know what your competitors color scheme and logos look like so that you can differentiate your own company from the rest of the market. With the amount of healthcare companies continue to grow in number, you need to do everything you can to set yourself apart from your competitors.
Effectively measuring the ROI of integrated communications campaigns. A recent survey conducted by Vocus, Inc. reported that 48 percent of marketing and PR professionals noted sales and ROI as the most important factor in measuring the success of an integrated communications campaign.
Surprisingly, a lot of businesses don’t measure their results after completing a campaign despite the importance professionals see in the market research. However, if a business completes quantitative or qualitative research, then they could measure their results and tailor future campaigns based on what was identified as most effective.
One common approach is to complete a research study both before and after the campaign to determine your ROI. It’s important for your company to identify key indicators prior to the campaign so you can measure your progress.
The same Vocus survey reported that 56 percent of marketing and PR professionals say integrated communications has improved the overall effectiveness of their outreach programs. When healthcare companies combine their marketing and public relations efforts, they see better results because they share the same goals of consistent messaging across all channels, leverage it to reach higher brand awareness and ultimately lead to more success.
Has your company combined communication efforts into an integrated approach? To find out more about how B2B companies can effectively leverage public relations, marketing communications and digital media to create an integrated communications plan, read our recent healthcare white paper here.