HCP Advertising, Part 1: Understanding Healthcare Marketing Segmentation
This is part 1 of our 5-part series about HCP advertising and marketing. This part covers healthcare marketing segmentation for your target audiences. Part 2 explains how to create good content, followed by part 3, which discusses the best platforms to use to promote said content. Finally, we round out the series with part 4, which explains the ideal nurture strategy, and end with part 5, on measuring, optimizing, and replicating results.
When planning any campaign, the first step should include defining your target audience and utilizing healthcare marketing segmentation to differentiate between groups. By creating these highly targeted segments, you can create more targeted messaging that resonates with your audience.
HCP advertising and marketing is a complex and ever-changing field. Ensuring you’re targeting your core audience is essential for successful lead-generation campaigns.
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Healthcare Marketing Segmentation Components
While the overall tactics that work well for different healthcare providers are similar, good marketing depends on the details. Therefore, well-defined healthcare marketing segmentation includes clarifying the following:
- Job title/specialty: What type of healthcare provider are you reaching? Beyond specifying whether you’re talking to physicians, dentists, veterinarians, or advanced practice providers, hone in on the specialties within each category. For example, a cardiologist and an obstetrician will have different needs, as will a general dentist and an orthodontist. And don’t forget about other staff, like hospital administrators and C-suite execs.
- Business type: The differences between working at a hospital, owning your practice, and working for the government are notable. Clarify the type of business you’re targeting so you can consider the unique aspects of how it’s run, such as common payment models and the primary decision-makers for purchases.
- Geography: State and even local borders influence everything, such as regulations, common patient issues, income levels, and more. Limiting campaigns based on geography can be a straightforward method of optimizing spend.
- Prescribing behavior: Matching your advertising to known prescribing behavior can further sharpen your targeting. This is especially useful for creating high-value lists and profiles.
- Context: Healthcare providers will have different concerns and priorities based on whether they’re thinking as a healthcare provider, a business person, or a human. Consider which aspect of them you’re talking to when developing your messaging.
Since it takes a lot of time, effort, and funds to get HCP attention, ensure that you understand whose attention it is that you actually want.
Typically, it’s the person with purchasing power, but it can also be an influencer.
Healthcare Marketing Segmentation Audience Examples
Healthcare marketing segmentation starts with defining your audience and narrowing down who you’re talking to. From there, you’ll want to research (or hire someone) to understand the ins and outs of their jobs, common issues they deal with, and overall trends in their industry.
That’s a big job, but here’s a bit of a head start for some examples of the main types of healthcare providers you should be thinking about:
This is a broad category and the most heterogenous on this list. A doctor’s job varies considerably based on specialty—a general pediatrician’s day-to-day looks a lot different than a heart surgeon’s. The Association of American Medical Colleges lists over 160 total specialties and subspecialties.
In addition, there are big differences between providing healthcare in a hospital and a smaller private practice. For example, doctors in rural areas face a unique set of challenges compared to those in big cities. And even among those working in private practices, the practice’s size significantly influences their day-to-day needs and concerns. In other words, “marketing to doctors” can mean many different things, depending on how you define your audience of doctors.
But one thing physicians of all types have in common is the need to lead with clinical outcomes as the number one consideration. They care about the financial bottom line and improving efficiency like people in other professions, but those factors rank lower in priority than patient outcomes. When marketing to doctors, keep clinical impact top of message, usually followed by workflow, and then financial benefits when applicable.
Regardless of specialty, all physicians prioritize clinical patient outcomes.
Dentists share some priorities with the larger category of physicians, but as a defined target, they’re a lot easier to pin down. You can divide dentists into those who own practices and those who are employees at a practice. In most cases, marketing to dentists will focus on the practice owners, who will most likely have decision-making power for purchases. They also have the most to gain from investing in solutions that provide clinical and financial benefits.
Targeting dentists typically takes the marketing-to-business-owner approach.
Vets may see a different kind of patient, but many of their needs are similar to those of other types of healthcare providers—and there is sometimes overlap in the solutions they need. Like other healthcare settings, veterinary clinics faced many changes during the pandemic and came out on the other end facing worker shortages and burnout.
In addition, the veterinary industry has seen trends around consolidation and corporatization. Many small group practices have been bought by larger companies in recent years. That means many decision-makers now oversee multiple locations, so purchasing decisions across clinics are centralized. Businesses marketing to veterinarians will want to factor that into their approach.
The consolidation and corporatization of vet practices mean once-independent practices are now under a central manager who makes decisions for multiple practices.
Physician Assistants (PAs), Nurse Practitioners (NPs), and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)
Advanced practice providers (APPs) are often overlooked by companies marketing to HCPs, but they can be a very influential group in the medical profession. Physicians are time-strapped, so APPs are frequently tasked with taking on more of the work doctors can’t fit in.
Like MDs and DOs, APPs have a passion for learning, but they have more time to research products, trends, and innovations. That can make them easier to reach. Moreover, they tend to have more direct patient interactions. They’re often administering the products or services, meaning they have insights into what patients and the practice need.
Advanced practice providers are an often-overlooked group in HCP marketing but often have tremendous influential power.
Okay, you drilled down your target audience – now what?
Once you’ve determined who you’re trying to reach, you must create good content with audience-specific messaging. For example, even if you’re marketing the same product to independent doctors vs. nurse practitioners, each audience cares about different things – and you need content for all of them. Do you want to know what it takes to create content HCPs want to read?