Creating Awareness for An Unknown Healthcare Brand


Healthcare marketing is tricky. It is like no other sort of marketing. A new soft drink comes along, the consuming public will try it. A gourmet burger chain opens up, we’ll give it a shot. All the new brand needs is some awareness and maybe a coupon. Then there’s the Internet. We search for something like lawn care on the web. We get a price, make an appointment. Maybe we do a little vetting. Maybe not. Done. Healthcare, however, is a totally different animal.

Creating awareness for an unfamiliar healthcare brand is a more complex proposition. Let me give you an example: Caron Treatment Centers. In their backyard of Pennsylvania, Caron is a pretty well known drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. But Texas is not Pennsylvania. Which explains the panicked call our Dallas advertising agency received one day a few years back. Caron had opened a substance abuse treatment center just a few minutes outside of Dallas. It was the proverbial “build it and they will come.” Only no one did.

Why did the Caron marketing team call Agency Creative? They were aware of our depth in healthcare marketing. We had recently branded a large hospital network in Arizona. We had a track record for marketing everything from bariatrics to LASIK to backbraces. But, most intriguing, our Dallas-based agency offered the Pennsylvania addiction treatment business some boots-on-the-ground intelligence about the North Texas area. Something their East Coast agency did not possess.

We swung into action. We dug into Caron’s rich treatment history. We analyzed the competitive marketplace. As part of our brand audit, we discovered that other treatment centers healthcare marketing was busy hyping the “science” of what they did. But nothing about the real life results. The thing that the competition was ignoring was the humanity of addiction: the addicts, their families, the lives of those impacted.

In short order, we put together an integrated marketing campaign that consisted of print, outdoor, a new website and some emotionally charged radio testimonials.

Getting the North Texas alcohol and drug abuse treatment center awareness was the easy part. But that alone would not be enough. The first two questions that the new advertising campaign needed to answer were these: 1) Who’s Caron? And 2) Do they get results?

Surprisingly, Caron Treatment Centers have helped more people battle drug and alcohol addictions than the world-famous Betty Ford Clinic. In the radio ads, we boiled this message down to the essentials: “Caron Treatment Centers have helped move thousands from addiction to recovery with individualized treatment.”
In both the outdoor boards and the radio spots we expressed these impressive statistics in a much more personal way: “I’m Amber. 3 years clean.”
As soon as the new campaign was put in market, inquiries increased, bed occupancy climbed and North Texans began to feel that Caron was a brand with a history of getting results.
A year later, awareness for Caron’s Texas treatment centers had increased by 35%. Call volume was up 70% and Caron was seeing greater receptivity from referring physicians, therapists and spiritual advisors.

So how do you increase awareness for an unknown healthcare brand? Here are the basics:

1) Leverage your brand’s history
As concisely as possible state your brand’s strength. Frame it in terms of efficacy not simply longevity.

2) Celebrate the patient
The cold hard facts will never lodge in the heart the way a truly human story will.

3) Be careful with testimonials
Testimonial-style commercials have their upsides and downsides. A celebrity patient might put the weight back on, fall off the wagon or cheat on their celebrity spouse. Most non-famous patients probably will want to guard their privacy. Authentic testimonials do not have to show the real patients or their names to be effective. HIPAA laws being what they are, it may be wise to consider a “factual but fictionalized” testimonial for your marketing materials.


4) Zig whenever the competition zags
Want your healthcare marketing to pop? Audit your competitors advertising and do the opposite. Your goal is to stand out. Not blend in.

5) Make sure everything integrates
Too much healthcare marketing feels disjointed. Make sure the look and messaging of what you are doing in broadcast matches what you are doing digitally and vice versa.
If you need help with healthcare marketing for your brand, give us a call toll free at 866.642.7559. We’d love to help make you famous.