The State of Healthcare B2B Marketing: What Buyers Want

The State of Healthcare B2B Marketing: What Buyers Want

On February 24, 2022, we hosted a campfire dedicated to B2B healthcare marketing: the trends, best practices, what buyers want, changes in buying journeys, and predictions about the future of in-person conferences and presentations. Special thanks to our rockstar panelists for 45 minutes of rapid-fire insights: Sarah Bennight, Lexi Dingman, Chris Hemphill, and Burt Rosen. Make sure to follow them on LinkedIn! 

What are the trends, marketing and selling to and for healthcare brands?

Let’s start by reflecting on trends impacting our buyers’ organizations: patients, customers and end users of their products and services. After all, the people whom we seek to serve (buyers of B2B solutions) want solutions that help them to serve their audiences: referring providers, patients, and other clients and customers.

The pandemic sped up a long-term trend: we now live in an on-demand world. 

Consumers want it NOW. They don’t want to wait for healthcare. They don’t want to wait to be seen, treated, and healed. 

How do your products and services solve for the end user’s expectations? Are you packaging and presenting your solutions in a way that resonates with what your B2B audiences need to deliver to their consumers and end users? 

This on-demand mentality transcends traditional consumers. It’s true of the audiences you are marketing and selling to within healthcare organizations. Your B2B audiences are experiencing major work demands: 

  • Shorter deadlines
  • Higher stress
  • Need to solve problems at a faster pace than ever before 

How do your products and services solve for your B2B buyers’ personal and professional needs? 

At Hailey Sault, we find these top the personal and professional needs of our B2B buying audiences:

  • Data clarity: a clear map of performance mapped back to business growth
  • Agility: flexibility with solutions and speed of delivery
  • Voice of Consumer: deep knowledge of the desires, preferences and behaviors of end user consumers


During our webinar, we talked about the recent trend many of us are experiencing in B2B marketing: filling the top of the sales funnel.

Throughout the pandemic, vendor contracting and exploration of new vendor selection was often put on hold or delayed to deal with other pressing matters (such as dealing with COVID-19 responses). That meant many B2B marketing efforts were spent nurturing late-stage opportunities and expanding existing relationships. 

As we approach the pandemic’s two-year mark, the sense from the panelists is that we’re reaching a new inflection point: filling the early-stage prospect funnels again. 

How are you driving new leads and engaging qualified prospects to grow the top of the marketing lead-generation funnel?

Here are a few suggestions from the Hailey Sault playbook:

  • Focus on “Value Per Minute” with your content. Chris Hemphill is involved in the AI technology for his company and produces many of the firm’s education-based webinars, videos, and podcasts. He shared that his firm’s long-form videos often receive more engagement than shorter, “byte-sized” clips. How can you increase the overall value of your content to your B2B buying audiences?
  • Expand your digital footprint. Go beyond traditional B2B marketing channels like LinkedIn and email marketing and invest in programmatic advertising buys that reach your audiences as they consume content generally—not just when they have their “work hats” on.
  • Make it personal. Personalized marketing can be as sophisticated or as simple as you have the resources to allow. Regardless of what’s available to you, aim for personalizing your marketing outreach: content and resources that are honed to the exact needs of your audiences; experiences on your digital platforms that resonate; and creating enough insight with your data so that you can make intentional, informed decisions about the next opportunity to create engaging impact with your B2B audiences. 
2022 Trends Report

What are organizations, decision-makers and other B2B stakeholders asking for these days?

Of course, B2B buyers are asking for what they’ve always asked for: better service, better results, and better cost structures. In our On-Demand World, buyers want speed, precision, reliability, and performance. To the extent that your organization can deliver on those expectations, your ability to market and sell is greatly improved. 

But we asked the panelists to take a step back and reflect on what they’re hearing from their B2B clients, and the conversations they’re having in presentations with stakeholders.

Sarah Bennight was the first to bring up that healthcare companies are looking for vendor partners who are aligned on mission, purpose, values and social change. Since the pandemic, America has seen a great awakening of social causes and the desire to impact positive change. 

How is your organization communicating its leadership in driving positive social change? 

In Hailey Sault’s 2022 Healthcare Marketing Trends Report, we write about the trend of “Return to Purpose”: organizations realigning around shared values and casting vision for better days ahead, and how organizations are coalescing around these important messages and actions. 

Communicate in your marketing and sales materials how your organization is a great corporate partner to your clients. Align with a common mission and shared purpose, and how your organization is going beyond the bottom line to impact positive change. 

B2B buying audiences are also asking for more insights on how to better serve their clients, customers and end users of their products and services. 

Remembering that your B2B audiences are busy and stressed out, they’ll find value if your marketing can help them better understand their desired audiences. After all, a “value bomb” in your marketing content, that your prospect reads then shares in a business meeting to the compliments of her boss and team, is a large step forward in solidifying a business relationship. 

Burt Rosen also cautioned against having a too-assertive sales mindset. He recounted stories of coaching sales teams to enter presentations with the mantra, “How can I help you today?” versus “How can I sell you today?” In fact, Burt shared that in his experience leading B2B marketing efforts for multiple companies, the least important section of a presentation deck is the “About Us” section. Instead, begin presentations with how your organization can solve your prospects’ challenges. 

How have B2B buyer journeys changed since the pandemic?

Lexi Dingman supports a leading children’s hospital sales outreach program with marketing strategies and data insights. Her sales team misses the face-to-face interaction with referring providers. These “heart to heart” moments are essential to strong relationships, which is key to great sales engagement. In lieu of having these face-to-face moments, Lexi is driving more insights to the sales and outreach team, sharing how providers are engaging with content and resources, and creating new tools to bring value to provider sources.  

The other panelists involved in C-suite marketing and sales agreed that not having to fly and travel to present to every prospect has been a good thing. B2B buyers aren’t expecting (or encouraging) in-person meetings. But the flip side is that it’s much harder to build deeper relationships via Microsoft Teams or Zoom. 

Because of that, marketers and salespeople must avoid the risk of “transactional status”: being perceived as just another vendor in a sea of many. B2B marketers can support sales in finding new ways to bring value to key relationships: through consumer and marketplace insights, and providing data that indicate the unaddressed needs of B2B buyers. 

In our B2B practice with clients, we’ve observed that B2B buyers are waiting longer and longer to initiate first contact with vendors for product/service information and demos. There are two ripple effects of this trend: 

1. B2B buyers are making more of the buying decision without benefit of vendor engagement. This limits vendor organizations’ ability to influence the buying decision.

2. B2B buyer timelines for contracting and deployment of new solutions are tighter and less flexible. These shrunken timelines are a product of the “On-Demand World” we live in, and are also due to the challenges organizations are experiencing in aligning stakeholders, many of whom are still working remotely. The lag time in building internal consensus means a reduction on the vendor’s end for deployment once the contract is signed.


As one of the panelists shared, we’re in a period of unprecedented creativity. We have access to data, tools and deployment strategies the likes of which we’ve never seen before. We’re also seeing an incredible trend: salespeople are leaning into their marketing counterparts like never before. This is likely due to salespeople not having their “traditional” access to face-to-face meetings and presentation demos with buyers, along with the next generation of salespeople who are digital natives and see the benefit of digital marketing to enhance and encourage high quality sales conversations.

As we find our footing in what feels like (as of late February 2022) a turning point of the pandemic, we think it’s an exciting and engaging time to be B2B healthcare marketers. End users and consumers of our B2B clients are tuned into their health like never before, and are demanding healthcare brands step up and deliver. Our B2B buyers have growing challenges, which encourages reviewing the vendor landscape with a fresh lens to see who can service those challenges. These trends are ripe opportunities for B2B marketers. 

How will you leverage this time?

2022 Trends Report

Facing Health System Capacity Challenges? Leverage Rapid-Response Marketing.

Facing Health System Capacity Challenges? Leverage Rapid-Response Marketing.

Watch our complete 2022 Healthcare Marketing Trends Campfire Webinar

Supply chain and labor shortages. Higher acuity patients. The unpredictability of what’s next for COVID-19 and hospitalization rates. 

Geez. And we thought healthcare marketing was challenging before now!

So what do we do?

A. Sit on our hands and wait for clarity.

B. Pin strategic directions to a dartboard and see what the darts say to do.

C. Create rapid-response marketing strategies. 

We suggest C. 

Here’s why. Marketers need a more agile approach to marketing. An approach that still drives the mission of your organization while accounting for the need for flexibility. After all, the unpredictable nature of our current healthcare landscape requires marketers to approach planning and campaign deployment with an agile mindset: one that can account for the crises and “pivots” of the day while also still honoring the organization’s strategic goals.

We call this approach to planning rapid-response marketing, and we also refer to it with our health system clients as “Capacity Marketing,” as quite often, the capacity to deliver care is a key constraint for health systems. By planning around capacity challenges and opportunities, healthcare marketers can deliver value back into the organizations while helping to guide patients into the appropriate site of care.

Let’s look deeper at the concept of rapid-response marketing and key use cases.

2022 Trends Report


1. Guide Patients to the Appropriate Site of Care

Our job is to connect patients with providers and health solutions. Yet many health systems are reporting staffing shortages in excess of 20%. Reduced staff often means reduced capacity to serve patients, or at the very least, provide a level of customer experience that health systems strive for. 

That’s why the first principle of rapid-response marketing is to guide your patients to the appropriate site of care, such as:

  • Emergency Departments with shorter waits for care
  • Urgent care centers with more capacity
  • Physicians with same-day or next-day appointments
  • Telehealth visits over in-person appointments

In addition, we’re working with our health system clients now to deploy enhanced telehealth appointments using retail technology. These enhanced telehealth solutions share vital health stats to the provider, forgoing the need for in-person visits to diagnose health needs like ear infections. 

2. Real-Time Feedback for Service Line Utilization

Rapid-response marketing encourages marketers, providers, and clinical professionals to remain in constant communication to identify which services can handle more patient volume, and which service lines are hovering at or exceeding capacity. 

Rapid-response marketing seeks to answer the question: day to day, what are the services that can benefit from new patient acquisition, and what are the service lines that are at or over capacity to handle new patients? 

At Hailey Sault, we aid our clients to manage capacity planning through our real-time dashboard systems: collecting both clinical and marketing performance data to aid our clients in insightful service line planning decision-making.

But don’t let data gaps stop you from leveraging rapid-response marketing. Good old-fashioned communication with key stakeholders will help you: 

  • Get a real-time pulse on which service lines can handle new clients
  • Know where to encourage patients to seek care
  • Determine which services you should pause marketing efforts until capacity is back online

3. Leverage Brand Engagement During Peak Capacity

During the first phase of the pandemic, when hospitals were closed to patients other than emergencies and COVID-19 responses, one of our wise clients chose to keep a brand presence in the marketplace. Her strategy was to simply keep her health system’s brand name out there in digital marketing as a top-of-mind reminder, along with positive messages of remaining safe.

She bet that as hospitals reopened, her health system would rebound its patient volume. 

It worked.

If your organization is experiencing capacity challenges, whether it be through staffing shortages, supply chain issues, spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations, or serving a backlog of patients who put off care during the pandemic, we recommend deploying brand-driven messages in your marketing channels. These brand messages aren’t designed to drive immediate volume, but rather, long-term brand loyalty and utilization of your organization’s services: when your health system is ready to care for an influx of new patients.

4. Develop Campaigns at Stages of Market Readiness

To address the often daily changes in service line marketing needs, at Hailey Sault we began deploying the creation of multiple service line campaigns at one time for our clients, and pulsing out the completion of these campaigns—based on market need and capacity opportunities.

As a contrast to this model, in the “old days,” agencies and in-house teams would focus on one service line campaign effort at one time, concepting and creating finished assets for deployment. But this model didn’t account for the real-time and agile planning and deployment needs of health systems. Just because you have a service line marketing campaign ready to launch doesn’t mean the service line is ready to handle new patients. 

To solve for this, we began creating multiple service line campaigns at one time, phasing in and staggering the completion as the marketplace and health system have the need and opportunity to engage patient audiences. 

With this rapid-response marketing principle, the time to finalize and deploy new campaigns is cut in half or more, as campaigns are already near completion. Reducing the runway to deployment by having multiple service line campaigns at near-completion stage allows health system marketers to have more agility and flexibility to address the needs of the day. 


At the time of this writing, late February 2022, it’s still too soon to predict what the future holds for COVID-19. But one thing we know is certain: the future is hard to predict. 

Should we sit on our hands?

Throw darts on the dartboard to determine our next moves?

Or create strategies that are agile and responsive to the needs of the day?

You know how we feel. What about you?

2022 Trends Report

3 Healthcare Marketing Predictions for 2022 That Should Be In Your Next Strategy Brief

3 Healthcare Marketing Predictions for 2022 That Should Be In Your Next Strategy Brief

I recently hosted a live discussion with four of my favorite minds and voices in the healthcare marketing community: Chris Boyer, Colin Hung, Rob Klein, and Curtis Munlin. I posed a simple question to the panel: What are your 2022 predictions for healthcare marketers?

I distilled our far-ranging conversation into three categories of predictions:

Prediction 1: Expect a big shake-up among healthcare brands as new competitors enter the marketplace and consumers migrate to other providers and sources of care.

Prediction 2: After a brief hiatus in branding investment, healthcare organizations will seek to restore trust or gain trust from new consumers through focused and consistent branding strategies. 

Prediction 3: Marketers will enact and refine campaign strategies (aka “Capacity Marketing”) around bottlenecks in healthcare service delivery such as, supply chain shortages, labor shortages and high ER volumes. 

I’ll hit the highlights now and share ideas you can use in developing your next healthcare marketing strategy.

PREDICTION ONE: The Great Healthcare Brand Switch

During the discussion, Colin Hung, advisor, CMO and editor of HITMC predicted that healthcare consumers will migrate to new providers and different sources of care in 2022, which he calls the “Great Migration.”

We think the “Great Migration” is likely to become “The Great Healthcare Brand Shake-up.”

Patients are switching providers. In fact, Hailey Sault market research suggests that at any given time, 30% or more of patients are thinking about switching providers. COVID-19 and the increase of new competition in the healthcare space will accelerate consumers seeking new providers and healthcare solutions.

Where are patients switching their current providers or healthcare sources? To other providers, of course—and non-traditional providers. Emerging care healthcare brands like Parsley Health and Maven are attracting venture capital money and new patients who don’t feel traditional healthcare models are serving their needs and being respectful of their time.

Patients, like all consumers during the pandemic, are going to think twice before spending money with the same healthcare source again. 

We see organizations being split in half on this prediction.

Organization One doesn’t perceive patient migration to other sources of care as a big deal. It’s, as the kids say, a Nothing Burger.

Organization Two says, “People are willing to give different sources of healthcare a shot? And their bar is already horribly low? Let’s go win new healthcare consumers!” 

If you are within organization number two, here are strategy ideas to leverage patient migration.


Improve key elements of your consumers’ brand experience.

I’m not encouraging you to rebuild the entire patient experience from the ground up. Think instead of conducting small, focused experiments. Earlier this summer, I hosted a webinar with digital leaders from Johns Hopkins and Sharp Healthcare who agreed: find stakeholders within your organization who champion change, and improve patient experience with those leaders and services first. Then, get other colleagues on board the “change train.”

During our predictions discussion, Rob Klein, a leading healthcare brand consumer researcher, shared a key insight on consumer preference: “Time is the new currency.” 

Do you like to wait? Neither do your consumers. Pick a service line or service in your organization, and work to improve wait times, or reduce the time it takes for the patient to get what she wants. 

Consumers are evaluating healthcare with brands outside the traditional healthcare lens, like Amazon. Aim to keep your loyal patients loyal, and let those great experiences lead to greater share of word-of-mouth and online reviews.

In fact, a recent Forbes article suggests that the era of healthcare consumerism is finally here (after many, many years of waiting and seeing if this trend would ever materialize). The Forbes columnist wrote:

  • More than half (51%) of consumers surveyed reported using the internet to find and select a new primary care provider. 
  • Respondents were more than twice as likely to use digital sources than a doctor’s referral to choose a primary care doctor.
  • Each year, the trend toward consumerism—patients relying more on their own online research and comparison shopping than on referrals from others—has increased, according to Andrei Zimiles, senior vice president of consumerism solutions at Press Ganey.
  • “Providers no longer are the gatekeepers of access to care,” Zimiles said. “The internet is democratizing the power of the patient and really putting them in the driver seat of their health.”

Given how many consumers are shopping for better healthcare solutions, we recommend the following for both traditional healthcare providers (like hospitals) and emerging care providers alike:

Tell your brand story to as many new prospective patients as possible in 2022. 

Consumers are looking to make a healthcare brand switch. Your brand has the potential for a much greater well of consumers in the Consideration and Intent phase of their buyer journey like no other time in recent history. Be out there with your brand story!

See what's working

PREDICTION TWO: The Time for Meaningful Brands 

So many people lost loved ones and livelihoods during this pandemic. Some of us (like myself) have skated through the pandemic reasonably unscathed, thanks to a laptop and a spare bedroom that serves as a home office. But all of us have our pandemic bruises. The impact of COVID means that we are rethinking our priorities and values, and are making different choices about where we spend our dollars—including healthcare dollars. 

That’s a large reason for the Great Brand Switch Up. But at the heart of this shift is a desire that healthcare brands should seek to fill in 2022: being a brand that is meaningful to consumers’ lives. 

Consumers have largely been put through the wringer, and have a different set of holistic wants and needs than before the pandemic. Consumers want healthcare brands that work hard to keep their promises to their patients to care well for them, and to address larger, societal needs.

We predict that the brands that outperform in 2022 will be the brands that index high as being perceived as meaningful: important, significant, relevant and present in their consumers’ lives. 


Coming Together Again 

If your brand serves a region and the region is divided politically, tell stories that neighbors can agree on, which are likely central to your mission, vision, and core values. This story platform can also help your workers recommit under a shared goal and purpose. 

Help Patients Get Healthy

If your patient population is less healthy than before COVID (like most consumers), then help them by making it easier to take steps to better health: like scheduling an appointment with a primary care provider or booking a health screening. 

Keep Your Brand Top-of-Heart

As a brand researcher for top healthcare brands, Rob’s advice to marketers in 2022 is to keep your brand the star of the show. Many people are still operating out of fear and worry, which reduces their ability to take in nuance. So your advertising should keep your brand name front and center. Keep the brand story simple—and meaningful. 

Avoid the “Sick Care” Pigeonhole Positioning

The definition of what constitutes a healthcare brand is blurring beyond recognition. CVS, Walmart, Amazon, Microsoft and other brand giants are investing billions in redefining healthcare and how consumers choose and pay for healthcare solutions. If traditional healthcare sources like hospitals aren’t proactive, they’ll be repositioned by the brand giants as  “sick care” brands: not delivering proactive care, and only to be used when you’re really, really sick (aka, “the last resort”). 

In 2022, we are advising our traditional hospital and health system clients to regain control over their brand stories before brands like CVS and Microsoft pigeonhole hospitals as reactive and antiquated models of healthcare. 

Think about the holistic impact your brand seeks to make in consumers’ lives. What’s the vision for your brand moving forward? What’s the change you seek to make in a patient’s life? Make sure to hone your brand positioning and story—before Walmart and Amazon redefine your brand value in consumers’ eyes. 

Go Analog to Reach the Non-Zoomers

Curtis Munlin, VP of Hospital Partnerships at Doximity, shared during the discussion how vital it is for healthcare organizations to not neglect those consumer audiences who don’t have easy access to the internet and fast computers. Yes, having a digital-first communications platform is on trend and appeals to the majority of consumers who would prefer engaging with healthcare brands digitally. 

But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t consumers who slip through the cracks. Those are the consumers who very well may need your services most. How can your brand reach and engage those consumers in non-digital ways? We saw the success rates that many healthcare brands had by personally calling patients and inviting them back for care after hospitals reopened for care in the early months of the pandemic. That’s an excellent example of using an “analog” strategy to reach certain patient populations. 

Many health systems also engaged in community-based healthcare strategies to ensure they had PPE and groceries. While we endorse using digital media and strategies to reach consumer audiences, make sure your brand has an analog communications strategy to ensure that your entire patient population is engaged on their road to health. 

Let’s look next at the final prediction to help you with your 2022 healthcare marketing strategic planning. 

PREDICTION THREE: Supply Chain, Busy ERs and Labor Shortages Are Driving Up the Need for Capacity Marketing

During our Campfire discussion, Chris Boyer, VP of Digital Strategy and Market Intelligence for Beth Israel Lahey Health, talked about the burden that supply chain shortages, labor shortages, and higher acuity, non-COVID patients are having on his health system and on health systems across the country.

These three issues are gnarly, to be sure, and won’t be solved with simple fixes. So what’s the healthcare marketer to do? 

Our strategic recommendation for 2022 is to refine your Capacity Marketing strategies.

Capacity marketing is the proactive planning strategy that accounts for bottlenecks in your healthcare system, and informs the messaging, services and calls-to-action for patient consumers to avoid creating further bottlenecks; and, as a consequence, a less than ideal patient experience. 


Triage Messaging

Chris shared how he and his team are developing communications strategies to encourage patients to make better informed decisions about where and how to receive medical treatment—for example, encouraging patients to visit urgent care clinics and their primary care doctor over going to the ER unless it’s a true emergency. 

Remember Rob’s quote that “Time is the new currency.” Helping your consumers know where to go to be seen quickly is a meaningful and valuable resource for your audiences.  

Pulse Media Buys Based on Capacity and Areas of Greatest Need

As you develop your media buying strategies, address performance in real time, and engage operations to address capacity challenges in real time. That way, you can turn the volume down (or off) on key service line marketing strategies if demand is too high on the health system. Ongoing huddles with operations and clinical team leaders will help to ensure that your marketing is pacing with what your healthcare brand can deliver.

This coordinated strategy between marketing, clinical leaders and operations might not have been possible pre-COVID. Healthcare, like many industries, had departments working in silos. But COVID forced innovation, and many health systems and providers today report much higher rates of cross-departmental collaboration. 

Leverage these new organizational skill sets to pulse your campaigns to address those areas of greatest need, and turn the volume down (or temporarily off) marketing for services that have capacity challenges. 

Conversely, we recommend our healthcare clients monitor areas within their service delivery that can handle additional patient volume: for example, shuttling new patients to providers who have open appointments, or services that are not negatively impacted by labor shortages. This strategy allows healthcare brands to maintain a consistent marketing presence and drive new patient acquisition without placing a heavy burden on already stressed providers and services. 


It’s been a challenging 20+ months. Take some time to acknowledge your contributions, along with your team members. Fill yourself back up so you can return refreshed and ready to reengage in the new year ahead. Remember: all pandemics end. Be ready to enjoy and leverage better days ahead. 

Sign up now to be notified of our next Campfire: live discussions about the ideas that help healthcare marketers the most. 

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Is Recruitment the Next Health Care Marketing Crisis?

Is Recruitment the Next Health Care Marketing Crisis?

According to recent studies, between 20% and 30% of front-line U.S. health care workers say they are now considering leaving their profession—for good. Traditionally, health care HR and marketing departments have worked independently. But given the staffing crisis, these departments are teaming up to address the latest pandemic crisis: recruitment. On our September 9, 2021 Campfire Chat, we discussed ways marketing can support HR in recruitment efforts. 

Read below for highlights or watch the replay video. And make sure to sign up below to get notified of our next Campfire Chats webinars

Ah, the good old days of health care marketing. Remember them? We promoted key services like heart care, cancer care and joint replacement. We could predict how many patients would need care at any given time and market accordingly. Our consumer audiences were consistent in their views and attitudes about health care. When our plans were dialed in, we could reasonably anticipate what tomorrow might bring.  

Then the pandemic hit. 

We’ve written and spoken extensively about how health consumer audiences have changed after COVID-19, along with our strategies for helping people return for care in this “next normal”. Today, we wanted to share highlights from a recent Campfire Chat we hosted on how marketing can support health care worker recruitment. 


  • Create Employer Value Propositions (EVPs) to shore up the reasons why your organization is a magnet for top talent
  • Leverage consumer-facing digital channels such as Instagram and Facebook to reach hard-to-find health care workers
  • Develop personalized recruitment journey experiences to attract more and better-qualified job candidates


Fun fact: remember that classic scene in Jaws when Roy Scheider, playing Chief Martin Brody, sees “Jaws” for the first time and says, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”? Turns out, that line was ad-libbed. It was brilliant for the movie and prescient for this moment in health care. The traditional HR recruitment strategies that filled medical worker roles worked … until now. 

The Washington Post reports that due to pandemic burnout, 3 in 10 health care workers are considering leaving the profession. 

Not quitting to join another hospital.

Just simply quitting. What’s driving this mass exodus? 

The article points to what I call the “Three Horsemen of the Recruitment Apocalypse”:

1. Burnout: the sheer grind of caring for COVID patients and other patients for such a prolonged time period

2. Trauma: witnessing more suffering and death than anyone can bear without emotional scars

3. Disillusionment: in the medical profession, in administrators and in others whom these medical care workers deem as having not done enough to care for them or treat this pandemic seriously 

There’s also another reason for the health care worker shortage: good old-fashioned capitalism. 

As health care organizations race to fill roles and shoes, a recent study reports that 93% of organizations are focused on attracting top talent and retaining them through enhanced benefits packages. 

Signing bonuses of $15,000, $30,000 and more for highly sought-after medical workers are not unique in highly competitive markets these days. 

What if you’re an organization that can’t throw endless stacks of money at the problem?

And what if you’re like many of our marketing clients who have operated independently from their HR counterparts, but who are starting to see a long lineup at their doors from HR colleagues asking for help with recruitment?

Well, you came to the right article.


Marketing has traditionally been the department responsible for organizational branding. For good reason. Specialist firms like Hailey Sault and our clients are classically-trained in branding and brand strategy. 

Those brand strategies have traditionally focused on one audience endpoint: consumers. But that’s not quite accurate. Service brands—such as most health care brands—are made up of the people who provide the service: the nurses, the doctors, the techs, and the wonderful people who greet patients and visitors and provide so much of the incredible brand experience. In traditional brand strategy, you focus on the end user while addressing those who deliver the brand experience. Great service brands are the sum of the people who deliver those services. 

Health care marketers get this. Which is why we advocate that marketing plays a pivotal role in shaping Employer Value Propositions (EVPs for short). EVPs are the distillation of the reasons why top talent should flock to the organization. Employer Value Propositions inform key messaging pillars and media channels. And, given the consensus-driven culture of many health care organizations, EVPs also help get internal teams (marketing, HR, administration, for example) on the same page. 

The 3 Core Elements of Employer Value Propositions (EVPs) 

1. Define why your organization’s brand is valuable and unique among medical workers

2. Describe what your ideal job candidate cares about, believes and wants to experience in a job role

3. Envision what an ideal employee can expect to create and do together with your organization

Let’s unpack these three elements. 

Why is Your Brand Valuable?

What makes your organization a “great place to work”? What is the relevant, engaging and meaningful brand story of your organization? For example, why do you exist? Why and how are you improving lives and caring for your community and audiences?

What Does Your Ideal Job Candidate Care About? 

The secret to great branding is a higher understanding of the ideal audience the brand seeks to serve. (More on that in a moment with regard to audience personas.) In this element, we explore what makes the ideal job candidate tick: why do they get up in the morning, what’s in their hearts and minds that your organization wants to help to cultivate with a great career? 

What Does Success Look Like For Both Your Ideal Job Candidate and Your Organization?

What can your organization and your ideal job candidate expect to achieve together? What’s that grand rallying cry that only a dedicated, talented workforce can achieve when the organization does its part to provide for a great job, career, tools and support? 

Steps to Developing Employer Value Propositions for Health Care Organizations

I’ll share next the basic steps for developing EVPs. For brevity purposes, I’ve kept this “topline”. (Reach out to me if you’d like more detail.)

1. Conduct an Employer Brand Diagnostic

  • Interview current high-performing team members
  • Interview prospective job candidates
  • Interview alumni (those who have since moved on to other careers or organizations)
  • Conduct a competitive analysis of what others are promoting, messaging, incentivizing) 

2. Develop a summary of key benefits that employees should experience working at your organization

3. Develop your message pillars: the key messages that are authentic and resonate with your brand and top talent

Putting It All Together

Below is an example of an Employer Value Proposition framework for health care organizations. There’s no one “right” way to deliver an EVP. But this framework should give you a starting point for the employer brand journey. 

Healthcare worker taking blood pressure

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If you’ve read our articles or seen us speak, you know we’re raving fans of human-centered audience personas. Personas are exceptional tools for developing strategies to inspire purchases, patient acquisition and other traditional marketing outcomes. In this competitive health care recruitment landscape, Recruitment Audience Personas are especially helpful in messaging, channel selection and converting potential job seekers into actively interviewing with your organization.

Here is the basic framework for Audience Recruitment Personas:

1. Demographic information about the ideal candidate type

2. Triggers for seeking new employment: why is he or she passively or actively looking for a new career opportunity?

3. What does the prospect need to hear from us as an organization that resonates and inspires action?

4. What is unique about us? (Among the many reasons why EVPs are so substantial in highly competitive recruitment markets.) 

5. What are the barriers to job application? (Identifying how to reduce the friction from interest to job application submission.)

6. How to reach the job candidate? (Via media channels.)

How Many Audience Personas Do You Need?

Simple answer: it depends. 

More nuanced answer: we like to look with our clients at the job roles of greatest need, then determine the number of audience personas to develop. For example, if any organization has three highly competitive job roles to fill, our starting point for audience persona development is three: one for each job role. Quite often, though, in our research process, we identify two or more subsets of ideal candidates to fill one medical worker role that are uniquely different enough to require their own audience personas. 

So the simple answer of how many audience personas do you need stands: it depends. But the key takeaway here is to do the work. It’s valuable and essential for achieving your recruitment goal of not just getting “warm bodies” but getting the right people to fill the right shoes. 

Putting It All Together

Here’s a snapshot of what a completed Hailey Sault Human-Centered Recruitment Audience Persona looks like. 

Persona text and image


Traditional job posting and recruitment platforms aren’t going away. But they’re simply not enough anymore to fill key roles. 

That’s why we work with our marketing clients and HR contemporaries to broaden the circumference of their media channel spend and reach. We want to be in the places our job seekers spend time—Instagram, TikTok and other social channels, and to reach them in unexpected ways: through programmatic and native advertising. 

Why’s that? Because using nontraditional media channels for recruitment increases the overall pool of qualified and engaged job candidates. If everyone is shouting the same thing (as is the case in traditional recruitment media channels), it’s easy to be ignored. 

But! When you gain intelligence and insight on where your job seekers are spending their time, you find new and creative ways to show up in their lives. Added bonus: we have way more flexibility in message development and overall digital experience using nontraditional recruitment channels. That flexibility and digital experience creates a “stickier” connection with your audience, inviting more qualified candidates to apply. 


Another one of our soapboxes is the need to personalize marketing messages and journeys to create higher engagement and conversions. This is true of both the advertising itself and the landing page experience. The same logic should be applied to your job seeker. If you’re recruiting for highly competitive roles, why would you give each candidate the same-old, same-old message and experience?

We recommend modeling the entire job-seeking journey so you identify the key inflection points to intersect with job candidates. The more personalized the experience, the better. That way, you’re delivering messaging, offers and opportunities that resonate with your audience. As we frequently hear from patients and job seekers via our marketing clients, “It’s like you know exactly what I’m thinking, feeling, and wanting”.

Exactly! That’s the ideal marketing experience: to deliver extreme value to your audiences. 

We advocate creating customized landing pages for key job roles that are aligned with your audience personas. For example, we helped a client recruit urban medical workers to relocate to rural areas two hours from the city, along with recruiting within the rural area where our client’s sites of care are located. Those two audiences—urban and rural—had different messaging and landing page experiences. 

Which makes sense, of course. And that’s why we helped our client to fill those critical job roles far quicker than our client’s HR counterparts could have hoped or dreamed.

But too often, especially in a highly competitive, crisis-like scenario, which we are facing with the medical worker shortage, we do what’s easy, fast or what has been done before. New times, such as these, call for new ideas, new strategies. 

Which is why marketing is getting so many knocks on the office door from HR asking for help. We need new thinking to solve these new challenges. 

Last Thing: Lending Support Without Inheriting Headaches

Recently, I spoke to the digital division lead for a large, national health care organization about this topic. I shared we’d been getting requested by more and more marketing teams to help them support their HR counterparts in recruitment. The digital division lead looked at me and said, “Yeah, we’ve been getting the same request for help from HR, too. So far, we’ve declined to help.”

It wasn’t because the digital lead or the marketing department didn’t want to support or help HR. It was because, let’s face it, marketing has a lot on its plate these days. As Roy Scheider said in Jaws, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” How much support are you willing and able to give?

Our counsel is to leverage the strategies presented in this article as a way to give your HR colleagues support via strategic branding, a higher-grade approach to modeling key audiences, and developing personalized journey experiences. 

These tools are foundational to leading marketing departments—and, though I’m biased, I think a firm like Hailey Sault and many leading Chief Marketing Officers are well-qualified to guide this strategy. 

But that doesn’t mean you need to become responsible for the whole kit and kaboodle. It doesn’t mean inheriting a whole new scope of work to manage. It just means working collaboratively. Flexing each other’s strengths. So you can tackle this next “all-hands” initiative. 

Do you like learning new things and connecting with fun, smart people? Then you should sign up to be notified of our next Hailey Sault Campfire webinars: they’re lively video conversations without the boring bullet point slides. Sign up below to be notified of the next Campfire and get early access to our latest thinking and strategies on how to create human connections with health care marketing.

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Building a campaign patient audiences are ready to hear (post COVID-19)

Building a campaign patient audiences are ready to hear (post COVID-19)

Let’s begin with your patient’s mindset coming out of COVID-19. For over a year, patients have looked to their local health care system for health news. According to the research we conducted for our Engage: 2021 Trends Report

90 percent of health care decision makers indicated that regular information from their health care provider was of value to them. 

They told us their number one trusted source of information was their individual provider. 

They said that they trusted their local health system’s website and social media channels more than news from major news networks. 

Connecting with relevance and impact

We know that coming out of COVID-19, patients have become more attuned to their health and their health risks than ever before. We also know that people in general have developed unhealthy habits during COVID-19 lockdowns and have put off routine care and screenings due to COVID-19 concerns.

This rare environment of provider trust and health consciousness has opened an extraordinary patient advocacy and relationship-building opportunity for health systems.

This was true for our client, CHI Memorial, when it tasked us with nurturing a connection between itself and those who may be at risk for specific health conditions.

Laying the groundwork for a healthy relationship

CHI Memorial was in the early stages of launching a new service line. Research conducted on its behalf indicated:

  1. At least 36 percent of consumers in the CHI Memorial service area who had specific health conditions were self-aware of their condition and risk factors and open to an invitation to make healthy lifestyle choices.
  2. Consumers were more likely to take the counsel of a primary care physician concerning which specialist they should see versus conducting their own research. 

This provided the perfect opportunity to connect with audiences who were ready to get off the couch and who were open to healthier lifestyle messaging—especially those at high risk. We recommended creating a lifestyle intervention campaign that would:

  1. Engage audiences in making conscious, simple changes to increase health and wellness.
  2. Encourage audiences to access CHI Memorial lifestyle resources.
  3. Move audiences into making appointments with CHI Memorial primary care physicians.
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The right approach

We used an approach that invited people to simply start—because we all know that starting is often the hardest part of any lifestyle change. The prompt to start acted as a baked-in call to action for the campaign, which addressed risk factors such as:

  • Anxiety, depression and high stress levels
  • Eating unhealthy foods
  • Not getting regular physical activity
  • Drinking alcohol 
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Smoking 

We kept it fun in order to:

  • be non-preachy and non-threatening 
  • address audiences’ top-of-mind concerns at an opportune time 
  • present CHI Memorial as a resource for tips, inspiration and the place to begin (or continue) a relationship with a CHI primary care physician
Moving audiences to make appointments

The digital and social campaign relied heavily on a robust landing page that educated, informed and invited audiences to take important next steps, such as modifying their lifestyle and engaging in a CHI Memorial primary care relationship.

9,689 new primary care appointment requests

Within the first 60 days of the campaign, nearly 10,000 prospective patients clicked from the advertising to view and request appointments with CHI Memorial physicians. 

Which goes to show: meet your prospective patients where they are, offer compassionate support, and invite them to take the next step in their healing journey. And they will.

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The Road to Digital Health Transformation: Are We There Yet?

The Road to Digital Health Transformation: Are We There Yet?

Digital front doors … Data visualization … Patient pathways … and Chimeras. These were just a few of the topics we discussed during our 8/13/21 Campfire Chat with Christina Campo from Scripps Health, Therese Lockemy from Johns Hopkins Medicine, and our very own Brittney Hanson, Director of Digital for Hailey Sault.   

Read below for highlights or watch the replay video. And sign up below to get notified of our next Campfire Chats webinars.

Ah, the road to digital transformation. Cruising down the information superhighway with the top down, wind whipping through your hair, and nothing but open roads and music blaring as you make your way to that coveted destination. 

I’m sure that’s your exact experience leading and implementing digital transformation projects at your health care organization, right? 

If your experience has felt more like a journey of endless winding roads rather than getting to a destination, you’re not alone. Whether you’re part of a large team or a department of one, digital transformation is an ongoing process. During our Campfire Chat, we checked in with our colleagues at Scripps Health and Johns Hopkins Medicine to find out what’s on their To Do List, and what data puzzles they’re solving these days as they advance their transformation initiatives. 


The fundamental business of health care hasn’t changed since its inception: caring for people who are sick or need medical care. How we deliver that care has, of course, evolved. Same goes for our digital transformation efforts. Most of us are still addressing the same issues and opportunities we’ve been addressing throughout our careers:

  • Driving patients to seek care solutions
  • Filling lines of business and service lines that have capacity and can support new patient acquisition
  • Growing brand affinity

How we’re addressing these perennial challenges is evolving, though. Digital transformation projects are increasingly addressing opportunities such as:

  • Improving and enhancing patient experience
  • Identifying the nuances and needs of diverse patient populations
  • Connecting data points
  • Structuring and streamlining patient pathways to care solutions

During our webinar, Therese addressed that it’s not just the technology that is part of the transformational change—cultural transformation within our organizations is trending, too.  

Those of us who have worked in health care—especially larger organizations—know the challenges of working in silos: departments working independently to problem-solve. Yet, if there’s a silver lining in this time of COVID-19, it’s that health care organizations have removed those unnecessary barriers, allowing different departments to work more collaboratively on shared goals and desired outcomes.

Christina shared how beneficial it’s been for her and her marketing colleagues to work directly with clinical leaders and IT counterparts on shared goals such as improved patient experience: from online appointment scheduling to patient care communications.

Which brings us to Chimeras.

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What is a “Chimera,” you ask?

It’s a mythological creature that has a lion’s head, a goat’s body, and a serpent’s tail … and according to Christina, it’s what we need more of in digital marketing. 

The thinking is, our digital transformation efforts today blur the lines between traditional marketing, IT, and clinical practice. Take patient experience, for example. On one hand, digital marketing can help drive prospective patient engagement and demand for a service line or product line. But what happens next? Well, that’s often the role of IT to develop the infrastructure necessary to support online appointment functionality. But what happens after that prospective patient books an appointment? Then it’s up to the clinical leader to ensure that the patient has a great experience. The old model had each of these three departments functioning almost independently: marketing did its thing, IT did its thing, and clinical teams did their thing. 

But working independently can quickly lead to gaps in the patient experience. 

Digital transformation in health care is rooted in the intersectionality of all these disciplines, and finding better ways to engage and create better experiences for patients and customers alike. 

That’s why you need Chimeras: people who understand the needs, perspectives, and even the language of different departments and functions. As Christina said, “We used to dismiss people who were ‘Jacks of all trades, but master of none,’ but now we’re realizing there is great value in generalists … and people who can communicate, project-manage and collaborate with colleagues with different backgrounds.”

Health care consumers have high expectations of their experiences with brands. They’re used to Amazon, Apple and other tech giants creating great online experiences. Digital transformation is quite often the process of seeking to enable technology to deliver outstanding experiences for patients. 

But technology, while lovely, doesn’t always work “as advertised.” 

If you’ve struggled to leverage new digital technology to achieve your business and strategic goals, then know this: you’re not alone.

Speaking of mythological creatures, Brittney, our digital practice lead, asked Christina and Therese if there is such a thing as a “perfect dashboard”—AKA, a unicorn. 

Short answer: no. 

There’s no one size fits all approach to dashboards. But our panelists all agreed that setting the right goals up front in a digital marketing effort furthers the ability to develop tracking for the right data, which can lead to the right results. 

One of the keys to effective digital transformation journeys is to leverage the data you currently have to drive business decisions. 

Tools like Data Studio, Datorama and Snowflake are closing data gaps and enabling better insights that lead to improved campaign performance and user/patient experience. In our experience, most digital transformation projects begin with a clear identification of how data will be sourced, the trustworthiness of that data, and what insights we seek to glean from the data. In other words, we seek to avoid GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. There will always be data gaps in health care, with “more noise than signal” than any of us prefer. After all, health care is a complex system. 

That can be overwhelming, if not downright frustrating. But Therese, Christina and Brittney offered insights on how they manage their digital transformation efforts, which can be of service to you.


“Try, learn, and go on a roadshow,” Christina advised. She advocates creating pilot projects: initiatives that may have promise, but are not mission-critical and do not have high visibility within the organization. Conduct a trial effort and glean learnings. From there, conduct a “roadshow” with your colleagues: share what you learned and how those learnings could be applied at a larger scale within the organization. This approach builds advocacy with colleagues and positive momentum to scale future initiatives with support and enthusiasm. 

Therese shared the philosophy of her marketing leader, Suzanne Sawyer, who encourages the team to create road maps for digital transformation efforts, and other marketing initiatives. Simplicity is the solution to complex problems. By diagramming the desired future state, and documenting clearly the steps to take, we make progress on those large-scale initiatives like digital transformations. 

Brittney repeated our mantra at Hailey Sault: “Test and learn.” We advocate testing our hypotheses in the marketplace in small, controlled settings, to learn what messages, platforms, and conversion-based experiences work best to drive the desired outcome. In turn, use the findings to optimize the campaign and design experience to achieve better outcomes.  


If there’s a “silver lining” to COVID-19, it’s that health care organizations have never worked more collaboratively. It was a requirement in the early days of the pandemic. Turns out, people really enjoy working with colleagues in different departments on common goals.

But working in a cross-functional team scenario isn’t without challenges: primarily, ensuring that the words we use, and their meanings, are shared universally. Christina advocates creating “Data Dictionaries,” so that when marketing, IT, finance, clinical and others are collaborating, they all agree on what “engagement” means, or a “conversion.” 

If you’re just beginning your digital transformation project and want to get everyone on the same page, or are feeling stuck on your efforts, then perhaps it’s worth checking in with your team: are you all in alignment with your success definitions? 

That sounds simple, I know. But remember what Therese said: “Digital transformation isn’t just what we’re doing, it’s how we’re doing it.” 

Working smarter, more collaboratively, and more inclusively, is a hallmark to digital transformations that actually get to the promised land. 

Do you like learning new things and connecting with fun, smart people? Then you should sign up to be notified of our next Hailey Sault Campfire webinars: they’re lively video conversations without the boring bullet point slides. Sign up below to be notified of the next Campfire and get early access to our latest thinking and strategies on how to create human connections with health care marketing. 

Mankato Recovery Campaign info