Practical Approaches to Outreach Marketing
Marketing is an essential discipline of any successful laboratory outreach program. While specific marketing goals and audiences will differ for every program, most of them will certainly involve driving awareness and growth. A strong partnership with the organization’s marketing team will allow the laboratory to capitalize on the organization’s brand, connect with customers, and generate business.
For a busy laboratory, the first step in marketing is often knowing where to focus the team’s valuable resources. Here are some practical marketing strategies any outreach laboratory can apply.
Consider the target audience
Understanding the target audience — where they are and how they consume information — is critical to choosing the right tactics. Do they spend most of their time on a computer or a mobile device? Do they prefer in-person meetings to stay informed? Do they have a dedicated desk where they can keep print pieces? Do they have time to read long-form pieces, or do they need quick reads? Answering these questions will inform what media may work best to reach the target audience.
Apply a digital-first mentality
Besides the obvious benefit of being inexpensive, digital tactics are usually easier to keep up-to-date, accessible on the go, and more interactive. They also don’t require physical space to store. All these reasons make digital a great first choice when considering how to deliver your messages.
If you like having print materials to leave behind with customers, consider developing small pieces with timeless, high-level content and a QR code that directs them to a webpage with more information. These will likely have a longer shelf-life than a detailed brochure, for example, and the webpage can be updated in real time as needed.
Leverage the organization’s brand
The laboratory’s organization or health system likely has established websites, social media accounts, and perhaps email programs it regularly uses with dedicated followers. Partner with the marketing team to suggest relevant lab content for these channels. If there is someone in the laboratory who likes to write or has a knack for social media, suggest that they develop messages they can package and send to the marketing team to plug in where appropriate. Connecting the laboratory with its established overarching brand will remind community members of the value that the laboratory adds to patient care.
Use storytelling to create impactful content
Every clinical story has a lab angle to it. Lab data is the critical link between the unknown and a diagnosis that facilitates treatment. Seek out these stories and create content that humanizes and highlights the lab’s services. Describe what makes the laboratory and its people unique and take advantage of ways to infuse the lab angle in the organization’s media channels. By continuously creating new content, a laboratory is generating ongoing opportunities for individuals, physicians, and organizations to engage with it.
Encourage word of mouth
Just as consumers have a choice where they seek healthcare, physicians have a choice where they send their patients’ specimens. Referrals and word-of-mouth marketing are incredibly powerful marketing tools. Every positive client or patient interaction is another potential referral. Oftentimes the most memorable form of marketing is hearing from a trusted physician, colleague, friend, or loved one that they had a great experience with the organization.
As with every healthcare discipline, collaboration with others is key to a strong laboratory outreach program. Partnerships with marketing, communications, sales, education, business development, and patient experience teams will help inform the right messages and tactics to deliver to your target audiences. While there are many facets to an integrated marketing strategy, these practical approaches can be applied to ensure thoughtful implementation.