Few, if any, doctors entered practice because they wanted to run a business. But healthcare long ago became a major business in the United States, at least for large providers and payers. And businesses require a steady stream of customers.

A key fundamental to attracting and retaining customers is differentiation.

Do you know what you measurably do better than your market competitors? What’s the compelling reason customers should choose you over others? Equally important, do you effectively communicate that difference to your prospective customers/patients?

While you may know how you stand out against others in your market, customers have come to expect more than the category status quo in their experience with you. The bar has been raised for every business, in every category, by the likes of Amazon, Apple and Starbucks.

Marketing-led work to identify and communicate a provider’s unique identity to the marketplace may be anathema to some who want the business to focus on delivering care. Still, we need only look to Rochester, Minnesota — home of the Mayo Clinic — for proof of how marketing can shape market perception and build a successful business.

Lessons for all from Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic (which now extends across multiple states and two continents) was an early innovator in provider marketing. They identified a differentiator on which they could deliver — excellence in diagnosis and results — and marketed that brand experience directly to consumers with spectacular success.

That original differentiator, though, has been matched by many competitors (in their marketing claims, at least), so even the world-famous Mayo Clinic had to evolve its messaging strategies over the years to remain in front — for example, during the height of the pandemic, by emphasizing its leadership in telehealth. Differentiation requires vigilant monitoring of what’s currently essential to customers.

Nicklaus Children's Hospital elements of both the paid social and programmatic refreshed creative mix.

Most recently, Mayo Clinic launched a national TV campaign with the tagline “We are doing what’s never been done.” So, while they began their consumer-marketing journey differentiating with an unrivaled diagnosis and treatment practice, they acknowledged that’s now just table stakes and moved forward to a message that will keep them out front.

Notably, Mayo Clinic maintains a balance in its messaging. More than one thing matters to customers. So, Mayo includes with their medical-innovation message meaningful statements such as “You come first.” The Mayo Clinic website states, “Treatment at Mayo Clinic is a truly human experience. You’re cared for as a person first.”

Mayo Clinic identifies other messages that matter to consumers and uses them strategically in marketing. But the lead message — “We are doing what’s never been done” — differentiates them.

Health marketers: Discover better ways to market with data-driven, next-gen solutions

Customers don’t just care about care

The promise of innovation and leading-edge treatments isn’t the only way healthcare providers can offer differentiated market value and messaging.

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital (NCH), a pediatric hospital in Miami, has positioned itself as a provider that celebrates the joy and vitality of youth. For instance, their multichannel campaign (above) features the headline “Dedicated to Your Young Athlete’s Performance.” It shows happy kids — a hockey player in one version, a gymnast in another, an ice skater in a third — in peak form. The campaign, which promotes NCH’s Orthopedic, Sports Medicine & Spine Institute, moves beyond the status quo of messaging around treating sick or injured kids to promote the ultimate benefit of their care — well kids doing what kids should be doing.

Rise Interactive, a Quad company, has been working with NCH on its multichannel campaign. The goal was to revamp and unify creative and messaging across all marketing channels. Notably, Rise’s work with the hospital just earned gold at the 2023 Hermes Creative Awards, a creative competition administered by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals. (Rise previously won other Hermes nods for its NCH work, including Best Website: Medical/Healthcare and Best Digital Marketing Campaign.)

Any healthcare provider’s ultimate reward and ongoing success is helping their customers be well. NCH is building more opportunities to deliver that success by promoting a differentiated value proposition that matters to its customers — kids and their parents.

Relevant different wins

“It’s not easy to find the one thing your brand stands for, believes in and absolutely delivers every time,” says Jennifer Hickman, VP, Quad. “And to have that be something people genuinely want is even more challenging. But it’s not impossible and can be done through data-driven insights and collaboration across an organization.”

What does your brand deliver to customers/patients that they value and that none of your competitors can do? Are you leading the way with some special practice approach, as Mayo Clinic does? Might you have a different point of view on the goal of your care, like Nicklaus Children’s Hospital?

Ultimately, is your entire organization clear on that differentiated value? And does your marketing consistently communicate that brand experience?

Through data-driven market insights, your Quad team can help you uncover and validate that critical difference. That’s where we start. Our creative wizards at Periscope can craft that into a brand voice that communicates your message in powerful ways that connect with your customers across all media and tactics. Rise can help implement the digital tactics required for success.  And Quad’s full suite of other agency services can be brought forward in planning and execution, as needed, to help you reach your goals.

That’s our big differentiator — we have the people and tools to make your job as a marketer easier so you can deliver even greater results. We call that optimizing the marketing experience (MX).

Let’s get started and make sure the market knows your difference and its value.

You can contact Jennifer Hickman, VP, Quad at jhickman@quad.com