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Making the Most of Your 2024 Paid Media (Part 2): Provider Marketing

In part two of this series on paid media, Jenny welcomes back Hedy & Hopp’s own Director of Activation, Lindsey Brown, and Director of Marketing, Julia Pitlyk. This time, the group covers paid media strategies for healthcare marketers targeting physicians and other healthcare marketers. The group discusses the importance of providing a clinical yet compelling message in any marketing channel to capture the attention of these audiences, and also cover the specific channels that tend to reach more providers than others. Jenny, Lindsey and Julia also talk about the importance of sales and marketing teams working together to create the right provider messages and campaigns, and also provide suggestions for how both teams can map out patient journeys and provider workflows to identify the right areas to reach target audiences.

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Jenny: [00:00:00] Hi friends. Welcome to today’s episode of We Are Marketing Happy, A Healthcare Marketing Podcast. My name is Jenny Bristow. I am the CEO and founder at Hedy & Hopp, a full service, fully healthcare marketing agency. And I am so excited today to do part two of our paid media strategy and planning series.

Today, we are talking about provider marketing. I’m joined today with Lindsey Brown, our Director of Activation and Julia Pitlyk, our Director of Marketing. So welcome ladies. So let’s jump right in. We just did a part one talking specifically about patient acquisition. When you’re thinking about paid media going into the new calendar year, everybody we’re talking to you right now is doing planning, even if they’re in a fiscal year, everybody is kind of revisiting their planning because of all of the shifts that have been happening related to COVID 19, consumer privacy, shifting budgets.

It really is not [00:01:00] business as usual for most of the groups that we’re chatting with. So I’d love to spend a little bit of time thinking or talking about provider marketing, specifically when it comes to paid, but overall acquisition tactics. We had a really great conversation with a new client a couple of weeks ago, and they kind of had been struggling because they had an agency that was doing all of their patient marketing. And then they were trying to just use those exact same tactics over on the provider marketing side, right? So thinking about, like, search marketing, social marketing, and it just isn’t a one to one.

So Lindsey, I would love if you could start us off by kind of doing an overview of like, psychologically, if you’re approaching a provider marketing strategy, where do you start? What’s different? How does that look like? 

Lindsey: Yeah, so I think it’s always gonna start with your objectives. What are you trying to do?

So depending on what your business is, are you actually trying to get new providers or new clinicians to be part of your [00:02:00] network? Are you getting them to join a referral program? Are you getting them to refer? Many times, at least in my experience, there isn’t necessarily a specific conversion. I’m going to use those air quotes for provider marketing, because you’re not trying to capture a lead gen like you don’t already know who they are.

You already know who you’re trying to target. What you’re trying to do is get them to take an action that is not necessarily measurable. So that can be the really tricky part about provider marketing. But what that does offer is there’s a wide gamut of tactics that you can try and that you can think about as you’re moving into the planning phase.

For example, your standard digital things are going to be helpful, but one way that you would want to approach it differently is your message is going to be different. A lot of times clinicians when they’re in that mindset, and they’re thinking as a clinician and not as just a regular person, they want to see words that sound clinical.

They don’t want to use everyday words. They don’t want to see those kinds of things because that’s not going to put them in the right mindset. They want to know those clinical terms and those clinical things. [00:03:00] From like a social media perspective, they’re not consuming in social media platforms in quite the same way when it comes to their work.

A lot of us are on LinkedIn for our work, right? And then we’re on Facebook Meta or on all the other things for our personal things. And yeah, you can still target clinicians in a more personal social space, but they may not be in the right mindset or the right time to really hear that message. So think about again where, who you’re trying to talk to, how you’re trying to talk to them.

And things like LinkedIn might be a more applicable network, or maybe social media isn’t the right network for the clinicians you’re trying to talk to. A lot of them use closed social media platforms for that specific reason. So thinking about your things to that effect. Those are still things that are up for, that are applicable and available to HCPs if you’re trying to reach them, and there’s a lot of different targeting that you can do to make sure those funds aren’t wasted.

But that’s kind of where I start again, objective. What are we trying to get them to do? And then kind of build your plan around that. 

Julia: Yeah, I love that, Lindsey. I love what you said about thinking about the message. And to me, provider marketing is a [00:04:00] very unique flavor of B2B because it’s still, still very user centric.

But I think the messaging there, when I think about any type of good B2B approach, no matter the industry, people that are professionals, like they want to get better at their craft. They want to get better at what they’re doing. And I think providers have that tenfold, right? They’re constantly trying to improve and learn and understand the best things that they can do to treat the patients that are on their desk today, so to speak.

And, we feel the same way when it comes to, we’re constantly learning, trying to educate ourselves so we can bring the best knowledge to our clients. So I like to try to find some of that empathy and commonality when it comes to, what is the type of content that we’re going to create and put out, be it in earned channels, paid channels and a CRM type of campaign to really help them accomplish that objective.

And I think that’s kind of unique to B2B because they’re not necessarily. scrolling through Instagram shopping for things right from a provider marketing perspective. They’re really looking to get educated and get better. [00:05:00] So I think the more, to your point, the more kind of clinical points of view and types of educational information that marketing plans can bring to the table, the more they’re going to resonate with the provider audience. 

Lindsey: Something else I would love to bring up is just how sales and marketing really need to be working really closely together when it comes to provider marketing because salespeople are still going to be kind of the number one seller of your product or of what you’re trying to achieve.

And so if they’re in the hospital with you, the message that they are telling to those clinicians should be the same message that they’re hearing in your non personal tactics or in your other marketing tactics so that they’re hearing the same message and they’re really understanding again how you are coming to the table to educate them, make their lives better and make their patients lives better and just making sure that there’s really good cohesion between those two functions.

Julia: Totally agree. That’s a such a good point.

Jenny: It really is. I would love to chat about, this has been a really fun conversation that we’ve had specifically around our clients that are doing HCP marketing right now, is really identifying: Is it the [00:06:00] physician that’s the decision maker, or is it actually the nurse practitioner or the office manager?

Like, who are we talking to within the physician office that’s actually going to begin driving referrals, introducing the service of the product, service, whatever. How do we have a really, like, we have cool processes and ways that we approach this. So I’d love Lindsey, if you could talk a little bit, like, how do you figure out who that right person is and what does that look like?

Lindsey: So typically where we would like to start is in some kind of a patient journey, because understanding how your patient interacts or gets to your service or product at the end of the day and all those decisions they make leading up to it is really beneficial. I think you brought up a really great point of, a lot of times, we want to reach out to the doctors themselves, the physicians themselves, but many times it’s going to be the nurse practitioner. It’s going to be the physician’s assistant. It’s going to be a variety of other clinical support staff that are going to be interacting with your patient.

A really good example of that is when you’re pregnant. Like you were talking to a lot of people when you are pregnant.[00:07:00] And then when you actually go into have said child you are interacting with a whole slew of other people that you’ve never met before, but you are, as a new mom, I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing.

I will take help from any single person in this hospital right now to help us figure out what we are doing with this new tiny baby. So you have to really think about what are all of those touch points because that is an opportunity to not only help show up, help your brand show up in multiple ways, but also to reinforce those key messages and the key benefits of what your service and what you provide.

And I think really thinking about all of those things are important. And not to discount that support staff is really the ones that usually your patients are going to be listening to more. They tend to be in there a little bit longer. They tend to have more interaction with you. They tend to have more quality interaction with you.

They’re like your first touch point for the doctor comes in the office. So I think that kind of that thinking about those additional staff members are going to be really helpful. And then thinking about how your budget that needs to split to make sure you’re supporting them. 

Julia: Yeah, [00:08:00] I love that.

I think starting with that patient journey is critical and then almost layering in, and we do this a lot, is okay, What is the workflow amongst the provider and all of the support staff supporting that patient journey, like you said, all of those different touch points, but kind of what’s going on behind the scenes? Because especially if you’re working with provider offices, different clinics, different offices, they’ve got a workflow that maybe they would always want to be more efficient, but they’ve got their processes at least to a degree of a well-oiled machine. So understanding that I think is so key for both sales and marketing. And I think that’s a point where sales often being in that physical location can bring a lot of insight back to marketing and create a good dialogue, I think is really critical because, marketing may be creating, we’ll get very analog here, but they may be creating leave behinds or brochures or things that are going to wind up in the back table of a clinic based off of how it’s set up. So I think there’s a degree of workflow personalization when it comes to bringing [00:09:00] marketing into the clinic or the physical location that needs to be considered.

Jenny: Absolutely. And I think it would be kind of to bring it back specifically around paid and execution there, it’s a completely different set of platforms that are in consideration, right? You talk specifically about closed social channels, one of the big things that we’ve seen over the last, I guess, five years is physician or specialty specific social channels popping up, right?

A general social media platform or like physician specific platform is beneficial. But if you’re wanting to learn more about your specific practice area, that’s where clinicians are more likely to spend their time. And I think going with and having conversations with a group that can actually kind of introduce those concepts to you and help do a little bit of research is really beneficial, especially if you’re trying to revamp your provider marketing and be more, be a little bit more targeted going into 2024.

One question again, I hate the dreaded P word privacy, but yeah. Folks that are doing B2B marketing don’t have [00:10:00] to be as concerned about it? Right? Like they don’t have to be as worried. ’cause HIPAA really isn’t applying. Exactly. You’re nodding your head. I see that side to side, Lindsey, break it down.

They still have to care, right? Like, talk to me about this. 

Lindsey: They still have to care what? What? They don’t have to worry about as much as the PH, the H in the PHI. Right. But there’s still personal information and FTC is fairly clear. I won’t say 100 percent clear because none of these guidances are 100 percent clear, but they’re fairly clear that any human that is interacting with you digitally and providing you any kind of information, including your personally identifiable information, your name, any of that stuff.

You still have to be very thoughtful about how you are collecting that, how that is being shared back. And ensuring that it’s not being shared back specifically with those third parties. So making sure that you are having your forms go to a closed CRM and that you’ve got some kind of a service agreement in place with that CRM to ensure that data never leaves their offices or their [00:11:00] servers, so to speak, those kinds of things are going to be really important.

And so that’s really important. Even the pixels that we’ve talked about on the patient side of things, those can still be constituted as, or be considered sharing information back. So you still want to be really careful and thoughtful about how you use those.

Something that we haven’t talked a lot about though is when you are targeting providers you, a lot of times you can target them by their NPI number. And so that’s not really something that has come up a lot in our conversations like is that personally identifiable? Is it not? My point of view is that it’s still is personally identifiable because every single clinician has a unique number. That’s how you know who they are. So those numbers also are included and need to be a little bit, need to be handled with care. And that includes using those kinds of lists to retarget or target them outside of, again, your CRM programs.

Jenny: And I think it’s really important to also note something that some groups we’ve chatted with say, Oh no, we’re just B2B. It doesn’t matter. Well, there’s a lot of consumer focused messaging on the website, right? Maybe you sell through a [00:12:00] provider, but if you have consumer or patient related educational materials and maybe a contact form for them to reach out.

Then you still have to have the same level of care and consideration, even if you are not a covered entity. So I think I don’t want to go down the privacy rabbit hole, but just wanted to share that like it does not give you an ability to just go back to the old ways of doing targeting and marketing and tagging and whatnot, just because you’re not a covered entity.

Julia: Okay, I want to go in the rabbit hole just for a minute. Let’s do it. I want to go in the rabbit hole briefly because I do think, when we’re talking about, Lindsey, such a great point on the NPI and that’s great data to have and data to maybe model with and you can activate on it, but I think to your point, you really have to be privacy forward when you do it. And my hypothesis with a lot of these privacy guidelines that are coming out both in the healthcare space, the HIPAA space, healthcare adjacent, and just general consumer, I think that a privacy [00:13:00] forward type of approach is going to become part of a branding approach for a lot of organizations, be them healthcare or otherwise. So for me, if I am a provider and I am being targeted in some ways that maybe feel shady, inauthentic, questionable at best, and you’re marketing something to me that I’m then going to use and apply to my patients, it’s going to make me think pretty hard about what you’re going to do with the data from my patients that I’m using, referring to you or ordering a product from before. So I think that we’re going to see this privacy conversation bleed a bit into a brand positioning conversation as well. And so I would just encourage B2B HCP focus brands to really think about that when it comes to how they treat their provider audiences.

Jenny: Oh, that’s smart and accurate. We’ve already seen so many articles be published based off of fines that organizations have been levied based off of inappropriate [00:14:00] collection and handling of data, and you can bet if as an individual, whether I am an HCP consumer or whatever, if I Google the company name and the first thing that comes up is they were hit with a huge fine for mishandling of data, that definitely would give me pause when doing business with the organization. So great point.

Ladies, anything else about provider marketing that we want to touch on before we wrap up today? 

Lindsey: I would just reiterate something that we talked about in the patient, in the patient segment is creative is still going to be really important with these folks.

A lot of times what we see with health care companies targeting HCP is it tends to be pretty direct and not always the most exciting and informative. You can still use clinical language and clinical imagery and things to that effect in a creative way that is engaging. And that helps a lot. Again, stop people in their tracks to pay attention.

So I would just encourage agencies not to discount the creative aspect with these folks either. 

Julia: Ooh, I love that. Clinica, yes, but also stopping, grabbing [00:15:00] attention, I think is huge and a fun, creative challenge too. I love that. I think the thing that I’ll leave with is especially when it comes to paid tactics, thinking about layering those on top of things that are already in your sales and marketing calendar, specifically like congresses, conferences, events coming up. How can you use paid to amplify your presence? Or I like to say like your surround sound leading up to that event, during that event, after that event. I think that’s a great way to be really mindful of paid budget, too, is say, we’re going to spike it around these events where parties are already happening with providers and we don’t have to kind of create our own and really get some some benefit and some efficiencies there.

Jenny: I love that. There’s such an opportunity to test and iterate, right? Just because we’re talking on the HCP, I feel like on the HCP side, for some reason, people don’t think about the same level of testing and iteration that they do on the patient acquisition side. And so just like you said on the last episode, Julia, like having a portion of your budget set aside for testing and [00:16:00] understanding what’s working and not working is just as equally as important here.

Ladies, thank you so much for joining us today. If you’re listening to this podcast and you’re struggling with your provider marketing strategies, give us a call. We would love to brainstorm with you and help provide some guidance about where you should be thinking going into 2024 so that we are able to more effectively spend those dollars.

Thanks for tuning in today. We will see you on a future episode of We Are, Marketing Happy. Take care.



About the Author

Jenny Bristow is the CEO and Founder of Hedy & Hopp. Prior to starting Hedy & Hopp, Jenny launched, grew and sold a digital agency in Seattle and worked at Amazon. She was named one of St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 under 30, won a Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018 and speaks regularly at healthcare marketing industry events.

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