For any marketing efforts to be successful, you have to start with a solid content marketing strategy and a committed leadership and staff. This was certainly true with Hurley Medical Center in Flint, MI, as Dr. Andrea Simon, corporate anthropologist and Founder/President of Simon Associates Marketing Consultants (SAMC), describes in her latest article, “Branding Hurley Medical Center: Take advantage of technology,” currently featured in FierceHealthcare's Hospital Impact.
Dr. Simon writes, “In my previous blog post, I discussed how to capture the essence of an organization and then turn that into the brand story–something that differentiates it in a way that resonates with the target audience it wants to attract. For Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich., it was about leveraging the deep bonds people in the region had with the children’s hospital and the trauma center. Once we landed on this branding story, the next question was: how to best relay that message to parents, kids and the rest of the community?”
Now that Dr. Simon had a story to tell, she turned her attention to Hurley’s website, which was an archaeological ruin. A brochure, basically, that had no personality, didn’t capture the power of the brand and was barely functional. Moreover, there was no social media, no Facebook or blogs, and therefore, no way to communicate what was happening within the hospital. There was no way for the community to engage with physicians, parents, patients and family.
Dr. Simon quickly realized that she and her team had to build an entirely new website (not just patch up the old), as well as create one for the new children’s hospital it was launching. The new architecture and functionality were extremely user-friendly, and created the overall impact of an up-and-coming healthcare institution. Hurley was no longer a lower tier “safety net” that you might never need. Rather, it was a sharp, up-to-date and approachable hospital that cared about the community. We then added new content to keep the site optimized for search and functional for the staff. You can check it out at www.hurleymc.com.
With Hurley’s new website in place, Dr. Simon’s research on social media showed how some hospitals and medical centers, in particular children’s hospitals, had really caught on to social media and were building huge fan clubs of “likes.” Other hospitals ignored the whole idea. Fortunately, Hurley had someone in marketing who intuitively understood that social media was all about storytelling, and that there was no better place than Facebook to start telling Hurley stories. Dr. Simon was also passionate about the medical center’s focus on children. Together with the hospital’s marketing staff, she initiated the social platforms and started to have conversations with the community, such as storytelling contests around Mother’s and Father’s Days.
But the key that made SAMC’s marketing efforts successful was the content marketing strategy was simple and straightforward. It allowed the community’s deeply-held affection for Hurley to shine through, along with the hospital’s equally affectionate bond with its patients. As a result, Hurley’s Facebook community grew slowly at first, but then exploded as a place to celebrate patients and their families, new babies, birthdays, survivor anniversaries and even physicians with stories to share. Today, Hurley has almost 8,000 “likes” and more than 37,000 visitors on its Facebook page. Its social media presence is vibrant, exciting and reflects the energy of the institution.
What else emerged, on the heels of all the “likes”? The brand identity is recognized far and wide. And little by little, engaging the members of Hurley’s community through social media became as important as caring for them when they needed medical care. Now that was something to celebrate!
To read Dr. Simon’s entire article in FierceHealth, please click here.