Last week, I introduced the phrase, the “Modern Marketing Operating System.” Yes, I know this sounds like jargon, but it’s not. In fact, there are fewer things I’ve had more clarity about in my career than the power and effectiveness in Patient Journey Mapping and its role in creating the new marketing operating system. In this blog, I’ll highlight what I believe the differences are between the “old way” and the “new way,” then identify three core tenets of the new way that make it so much more effective.

The Old Way

I’d like to ask you to step back in time—anywhere from last week to five years ago. Imagine you’re in the early stages of developing what you hoped to be an incredibly successful marketing campaign. You’re meeting with your agency in your conference room or their super cool hipster space. (I digress). That discussion probably focused on “creating an integrated campaign targeting Women 25-44 who are thinking about [fill in the blank] to affect a [fill in the blank] percent increase in volume over the next quarter.” 

Then it was off to the races with strategy, creative and media. Then you went through, like, 4-6 rounds of revisions. You got organizational buy in. You made the logo bigger. Then you put it in-market and let it do its magic. Finally, about 3-6 months later, you asked for revenue, volume or other similar figures to gauge success. At this point, depending on whether the campaign was successful or not, you either hailed the genius of your team or threw the agency under the bus. 

Here’s the point: when you look back on how campaigns were developed, this model left a. lot. to. chance!  We were all essentially flying blind, betting that the creative and media placement created enough resonance to generate the impact we hoped. Then we took credit when it worked and shrugged it off when it didn’t.

The New Way: a Modern Marketing Operating System for Patient Acquisition, Engagement and Advocacy

Today’s OS leaves little to chance. Ambiguous targeting is replaced by deep personas that clearly convey human experience. Downstream goals are replaced with measured, intermittent metrics. Broad, fixed creative is replaced by focused, deliberate, and fluid messaging. 

All of this starts with Patient Journey Mapping. If you’re not already implementing PJM within a new marketing model, here are three things you should be doing immediately.

1. Define your audiences intimately. 

First, we have to understand that the people we want to influence aren’t walking around thinking about a healthcare choice. Just like you and me, they’re tending to their own lives and getting through their day. In fact, according to our research, only 1 in 5 have actively considered a healthcare choice, and 1 in 3 has ever made a change in providers or health systems. 

But when people do experience a trigger event and become prospective patients, their feelings, behaviors and intent can be more deeply defined. And more importantly: personalized. Instead of a broad, bland demographic description, the process starts with creating a powerful human persona. (Next week, we’ll dive into this more deeply.)

Sample Persona Image

If you do nothing else with this information, please start here. Take the time to define your audiences in real, human language.  You won’t regret it. 

2. Use marketing channels more efficiently.

Speaking of a trigger event, the ability to nurture someone who’s experienced one is a lot more effective than in the past. Previous marketing efforts—even those that we labeled integrated—rarely provided the clarity necessary to ensure that goals would be met. It was more of a “set it and forget it” model where media was placed at the beginning of the campaign and left to run its course. (#fingerscrossed)

I’m not suggesting that traditional media is dead, despite the many rumors of its demise. But the way you use it has to change. TV, print and outdoor don’t generate inquiries, volume or market share. They generate awareness. Period.

Prospective patients are nurtured in the Consideration and Decision phases. There, channels like search, display, native and organic content, connected TV, and marketing automation are employed around a set of analytics tools. These are the channels that deliver conversions and, ultimately, new patients. 

Start recognizing and embracing different channels with how they align along the patient journey. Once you do, you’ll discover newfound efficiencies and effectiveness.

3. Measure critical markers along the patient journey.

In the past, our efforts were too focused on the end goal. We hoped that people would be impacted by the campaign in some way and make an appointment. Maybe they went to the website first? Either way, it was hard to really attribute any gains directly to marketing.

Today, success is determined by meeting identifiable markers along the patient journey. We know when our initial efforts generate a response. We can track if that response was the right one. If not, we retarget with different content until we move someone along the path or, conversely, out of the path. 

PJM Graphic

If you use Patient Journey Mapping effectively, you’ll know which of your messages, and which of your platforms is making an impact. Ultimately, as with any effective “sales funnel,” you’ll have clarity about growth and your team’s impact on it.

The new marketing operating system for patient acquisition, engagement and advocacy is changing the competitive landscape in markets across the country. If you’re not already doing these three things, please consider them now. The more you wait, the further off you put real results.

We wrote a comprehensive workbook on how to approach and leverage patient journey mapping for your organization. Click this link to download the workbook now—and help your patients take the next step with your brand.