What Healthcare Marketers Can Learn from the B2B Sales Funnel
BY: BRIAN HUGHES ON FRIDAY, MARCH 18, 2016
You’ve heard the stats before: the average consumer is bombarded with over 5,000 marketing messages and brand exposures each day – and only 12 of these ads or brand mentions actually make an impression and lead to engagement. Increasing engagement is key to breaking through this clutter. But engaging your target audience amidst this chaos can seem impossible, especially in the healthcare industry.
Is effective healthcare marketing an oxymoron? Not at all: you simply need to target the right consumers with the right message depending on their specific needs as they change over time. One way to think about this is to apply the B2B sales cycle to the development of healthcare marketing messages.
Here’s how you can apply the B2B sales funnel to your healthcare content marketing help:
Phase 1: Awareness
Content goal: Provide valuable, honest, authentic information that defines the healthcare problem and begins establishing your company as a solution provider
During the “awareness” phase, consumers are just beginning to be aware of a potential health concern. Oftentimes this nascent awareness comes through media news coverage of health research studies, such as the recent media frenzy over the link between processed meats and cancer. Other times information could come through a public service awareness campaign, like Vitamin D Day, designed to raise awareness that one-third of the world is deficient in Vitamin D. These consumers are interested in learning more, but they are not yet motivated to take specific actions. During the “Awareness” phase, your mission is to provide valuable content that’s honest and accurate without any sales pitch. For example, if your company sells supplements, then you could launch a public awareness campaign in conjunction with “Vitamin D” Day.
Phase 2: Evaluation
Content goal: Ongoing engagement, standing out as the preferred solution provider
During the evaluation phase, consumers are beginning to actively engage with potential healthcare solution providers. Using the “Vitamin D Day” example from above, let’s say your business sells supplements and wants to target individuals who have a Vitamin D deficiency. At this stage in the process, consumers are gathering information about different supplement providers and trying to determine which might be right for their needs. Personalized content is most effective at this stage. For example, you might try a responsive email marketing campaign that delivers relevant, personalized messages to consumers about the benefits of your product’s specific supplements, along with a discount coupon or offer for a free product trial.
Phase 3: Decision
Content goal: Eliminate sales barriers and drive consensus.
In the B2B sales funnel, the decision phase is the final phase, where the main goal is to reach consensus amongst the different decision makers. With consumer healthcare decision-making, the process is a bit different: you’re not up against a giant corporate board or C-suite team. Instead, remember that healthcare decisions are highly personal and individual. Your communication materials need to reflect this fact. Messages that emphasize “do what’s right for you” or “meet your unique health needs” resonate best with consumers.
Consumers also draw comfort when they can look at positive, real-life examples. In the case of Vitamin D, consider a content program that features real people who were deficient but took supplements and now feel healthier than before. Healthcare businesses need to be carefully about privacy concerns, HIPAA compliance, and not running afoul of FDA regulations. However, it’s still possible to create a marketing campaign around real-world success examples to assuage potential customer’s concerns and drive conversions.
Just like with the B2B sales funnel, healthcare businesses need to continually fine-tune their understanding of their target audience and the audience’s needs. Tuning into audience insights will help your business better craft the right message and understand when and how to best deliver this message.
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