Synapse Marketing Consultancy

The 4A's of Healthcare Marketing

Every marketing effort has to begin with the right marketing mix.
Healthcare marketing is no different.

We all know the foundation 4P’s of marketing, which are namely – product, place, promotion and price.

But is Mr. Kotler finding relevance to healthcare marketing too.

With due respect, to make it more appropriate to healthcare marketing we will look at it in a different perspective.

The 4 A’s of healthcare marketing your brand must have:

  1. Actionable
  2. Advisable
  3. Affordable
  4. Available

1. Actionable
We do understand that a healthcare product or service can be tangible or intangible. Instead of just saying Product, let’s call it the first pillar of healthcare marketing – Actionable, because in healthcare the product can be a drug, a place, a procedure and even a piece of advice but creating ‘action’ to avail the benefit is what matters.

When it comes to this aspect of marketing, no matter what the desired outcome is, it always should be something ‘doable’.

Let’s understand how it all starts. The reason a person reaches out to the healthcare fraternity is because there is a need. The need could to prevent, control or treat. Irrespective of what stage of need there is, what is actually desired by the customer is for him to act in a certain way.

For instance, a diabetes clinic would desire a customer to act by visiting and testing when feeling excessive thirstiness and frequent urination.

Or a hospital emergency unit would expect the family to act by rushing to the hospital.

A hearing aid brand would want the patient to try it before they buy it, and a water purifier would want the mother to check her water quality so she is convinced she needs it.

Similarly, a doctor would want you to respect his advice and a dietician would want you to follow up regularly.

All these require some sort of ‘actionablity’ and the healthcare marketing mix’s first pillar has to be to drive action on the consumer’s part.

Creating not just products, but products that “create action” is the first step in healthcare marketing.

2. Advisable
Instead of Promotion, we choose to say ‘Advice’.

Promotion is all about communication, but healthcare companies cannot afford to make claims that are exaggerated, irrelevant or vague to entice a customer. The campaigns need to be specific in explaining the need and the possible outcome and the desired action.

Additionally, the advice needs to be backed by research, proof and have to be believable.

Customers cannot randomly try a product without knowing what it does and what would be the outcome and possible side effects of using it.

Most healthcare products needs to be studied in detail to check and counter check if it is suitable for the individual consuming, attempting or adhering to it.

Let’s look at advice, when it comes to hair care.

A therapist should know exactly which product to use for which condition. Advising the wrong ingredient can be a disaster, especially when it comes to the client’s aesthetics, and I don’t take away the importance of the same when it comes to an illness.

Making sure where, how, why and when your brand is ‘advisable’ and a clear communication to explain that, is an extremely essential piece of your healthcare marketing strategy.

3. Affordable
Price refers to the amount a customer pays for a product. In healthcare I chose to replace the word Pricing with Affordability.

Healthcare purchases are driven by need. Some patients will spend a lifetime of the earnings and take huge debts sometimes to survive an illness or save a loved on.

The strange part about healthcare is that you can get relief for free or you can get it for a million dollars for a similar outcome.

You can choose a low cost generic and you can choose the innovator that charges a premium.
Depending of the status of a consumer, patient, caregiver or government one can avail extreme ranges in terms of costs.

Making your product affordable for the target group you are catering to is a very important decision in your go-to-market plan.

Take for instance a situation when a woman is pregnant.

A family can choose to go to a government hospital and deliver the child for a bare basic cost, almost free, or can choose a 5 star suite with all the frills and fancies.

It is probable that both families will walk out of the hospital with a healthy baby and yet incur different costs.

Affordability in healthcare is sensitive as many times people chose not to start, or stay on therapy, switch the brand, adviser or even the city because of the cost.

A huge market of Medical tourism has been built on this one aspect. You have millions of patients traveling miles to get treated for something as simple as a dental issue. The cost of the flight ticket, stay in a good hotel, doctors fees, medication, stay in the hospital suite is all more affordable than getting it done it their hometown. Not just that, nowadays, medical tourism companies also offer sight seeing in their packages.

It all boils down to affordability and value for similar health outcomes.

4. Available
The Doctor is IN.

You have spent years acquiring your skill in treating or advising patients. But you aren’t available when a patient or customer walked in.

You have developed a product with years of effort and millions of dollars.

You created a campaign that’s reached every corner of the country.

But a customer inquired about the product at the local chemist and he wasn’t sure when stocks would come in next.

Availability is not restricted to just place, but what matters are being there when needed the most or having the required time to consult in depth till the consumer or patients is convinced.

Critical care drugs need to be available at the hospital when the patient is in absolute emergency.

A fitness instructor needs to have the patience to train the right technique so the client doesn’t suffer from an injury.

A business executive needs to be present at the conference to address a potential tie up.

Being Available is mandatory in your marketing mix, not just physically but mentally also.

Getting the 4A’s right is essential for any health brand.

It’s like getting 4A’s on your report card and building a strong foundation for the future.

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