It isn't often someone can enter an operating room and watch doctors perform surgery. But Memorial Health Care System in Chattanooga, Tenn., has allowed the public to do just that—through the Web.
Under the advice of Franklin Street, a Richmond, Va.-based health and wellness marketing and advertising firm, Memorial provided a free webcast of a pre-recorded, edited and narrated video of an open-heart surgery in which the several thousand attendees could also chat with the lead surgeon.
Such an approach isn't only an educational tool, but it's also an effective marketing technique, says Stephen Moegling, Franklin Street's executive vice president for client planning. “What we recommend to our clients is to publish content based on what they're doing,” he says.
Kim Fox, vice president of healthcare marketing firm Jarrard Phillips Cate & Hancock in Nashville, agrees with the strategy. “We're seeing a lot of videos, opening the doors of the hospitals and letting us see them in new ways,” she says. “It's all about storytelling.”
The methods hospitals are choosing to tell their stories are shifting. Between 2008 and 2009, spending on Internet marketing by hospitals, clinics and medical centers rose about 20% from $47.5 million to $57.2 million, while television marketing fell 7% from $395.3 million to $369.3 million, according to data from Kantar Media, a media consulting firm based in New York. In 2010, while TV advertising rose 10% to $407.9 million, Internet ad spending more than tripled to $202.1 million.
Since then, digital advertising expenditures—on tools such as websites, social media, search engine optimization and banner ads—have continued to edge higher, even though they haven't significantly cut into outlays for television, newspaper, radio or even outdoor advertising such as billboards and ads displayed on public transit. Only magazine ads have seen a consistent decline in dollars spent over the past five years, dropping by about 20% since 2008.
“On one hand, we're seeing a shift of healthcare brands putting more dollars into the digital space—search campaigns, display ads, social outreach—but they're lagging behind larger brands outside of healthcare,” Moegling says. According to Franklin Street's 2013 Healthcare Marketing Trends Report, the average hospital spends about 9% of its media dollars on the Web, but Moegling says spending is closer to 25% for brands in other industries.