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Apr. 27, 2022

Top 5 Questions from Rural Healthcare Marketing Managers


By Patty Kitowski, MBA, senior marketing manager Legato Healthcare Marketing

With more than twenty years of healthcare marketing experience, I sometimes think I’ve seen – and heard – it all! So when Legato Healthcare Marketing’s blog editors asked if I would do a Q&A this month, I said, “Have I got some material for you!”

This is a great space to share some of my client’s regular questions (they might even be things that you’re wondering about too!). Below, you’ll see five of the most common rural health marketing questions I’ve received from clients, then my explanation, and examples of what we’ve recently done for our clients to help them stay at the top of their game.

Q: What steps should we take when we’re opening a new location or facility?

PK: We’re just wrapping up a big project with Edgewater Health, who is opening a new clinic in a new community, where they haven’t had a presence before. It’s been a lot of fun and super exciting to plan with them!

To celebrate their ribbon cutting and open house events, we’ve worked on a couple of tactics for them to help get the word out to the community:

  • Press release
  • Direct mail
  • Handout for networking and community events
  • Billboards
  • Paid digital ads
  • Organic social media posts
  • Media advisory
  • Website updates

We’ve also helped them with all of the nitty-gritty pieces too: from themed giveaway items for the open house to the materials they’ll need at the ribbon cutting (don’t forget the scissors!). You can see how the campaign came together here:

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Q: What are the benefits to producing a community magazine?

PK: We’re asked about this a lot: In an age when it seems that everyone does nothing but talk about digital marketing strategies, some people mistakenly think that printing a community magazine is an outdated tactic.

But there are a lot of reasons that our rural clients find real value in their magazines; for one, spotty internet service in some rural communities doesn’t always make digital the right choice for every community and every marketing objective.

Also, clients are usually surprised to find out how affordable and customizable community magazines can be. For instance, many of our clients have service lines that don’t receive an outright marketing campaign due to budget or priority – but a magazine is an affordable way to showcase such service lines for the community, keeping these products top of mind without a major campaign.

Take a look at this community magazine we recently produced for Langdon Prairie Health; this issue of On the Horizon highlights three distinct areas – colonoscopies, physical therapy, and preventative care health screenings; features like these are a cost-effective way to build awareness and provide education about services within their rural community: https://www.lph.hospital/Data/Sites/49/media/community/horizon/horizon-2021-winter.pdf

Q: Is a website refresh too big of an undertaking for our small community hospital?

PK: Not at all! In fact, updating your website should constantly be at the top of your “to do list” – refreshing the images and information should be a regular step taken by your organization because it increases your brand exposure and boosts your SEO. Not only that, refreshing your website gives returning customers something new, both in terms of visuals and information.

Remember that a website redesign is a big undertaking that you want to consider every few years – but refreshing your website is something you want to be doing continuously. Here’s a look at how one of our clients handles their website: https://www.rochellehospital.com

Q: Can marketing assist our HR department in recruitment efforts?

PK: This is an interesting one, because we’ve done a lot of these recently! When it comes to marketing rural health organizations’ recruitment efforts, we mainly do two things.

First, our team works to soften the language of the postings, making them more welcoming to potential applicants: Your HR department knows the ins and outs of your organization’s available positions and the necessary requirements of what has to appear in a job listing – but as marketing professionals, we are always considering how the audience receives information, and we can make recommendations about attracting quality candidates to your organization, helping you stand out from your competitors.

The second thing we help many of our clients with is examining where and how they’re promoting job openings – it seems as if every business is seeking high-quality employees today, and we’re here to help our clients get their message in front of the best potential applicants for their organization.

As you can see in the example below, for Syracuse Area Health, we recently rewrote the job descriptions for a few of their key positions and then helped boost them to their target audience on Indeed. Their marketing team said it was incredibly successful: The first two positions we did this for were filled quickly, and we’re currently in the process of revising two more job descriptions for them, and helping them continue to revamp how they get the word out in today’s competitive hiring arena:

Q: How can I better manage my reputation online?

PK: This is an easy one – in fact, it’s so easy, it’s always surprising to clients when we recommend this obvious step: Respond to those online reviews!

We always recommend that clients dedicate one of their team members to this task (and keep it a high-priority one, because it is!). Replying to all reviews, whether negative or positive, is a great reputation management strategy because it’s one of the simplest ways to interact with consumers.

Another simple tactic: Share those positive reviews when a patient gives a shout out to a particular provider – your community members love to see their provider recognized!

QR codes on lobby signage or on handouts at the end of an appointment are also an easy, cost-efficient way to encourage positive online reviews from your consumers. Here’s an example of what Wisconsin River Orthopedics did for its online reputation management: https://www.wroinstitute.com/testimonials

Looking for advice about any of the above – or a different topic altogether – for your rural healthcare organization? We’ve got you covered: email Legato Healthcare Marketing’s Senior Marketing Manager Patty Kitowski at pattyk@golegato.com, or call her directly at 920.544.8102 ext. 106.