Marketing Hospitals to Men via Women

Reaching the male audience through wives and moms

According to Sheconomy, women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases in America. The healthcare sector is no exception, with 80 percent of men reporting that their spouse or significant other influences their decision to visit a doctor. How can we as hospital marketers capitalize on these statistics? Here are five tips for talking to women about men’s healthcare.

  1. Don’t alienate men when talking to women about them.

We all remember the Super Bowl ad: Isaiah Mustafa sitting on a white horse, directly addressing female viewers. “Ladies, look at your man. Now look at me.” Did the stunt work? Sales of Old Spice body wash rose 11 percent in less than one year. But maybe Old Spice wasn’t so radical after all. Women purchase 70 percent of all male toiletry products. What Old Spice did well was to include men in the messaging. Humorous lines about men trying to appeal to women resonated with both sexes.

  1. Help men overcome healthcare anxiety.

Sixty percent of men refuse to go to the doctor unless they fear a serious problem; ninety percent of women have physicians, but only 62 percent of men do. Men claim they are too busy, they’re afraid of what might be wrong or they’re uncomfortable with certain exams. We can often reach these men by talking to women about men’s health issues. When women know signs and symptoms, how age affects men’s health, and more, they’re more likely to encourage the men in their lives to pay attention to their health. From an operations standpoint, consider incorporating a little man-cave aesthetic into your waiting rooms.

  1. Choose subjects with equal gender appeal for your hospital advertisements.

Focus on what men and women have in common. We all want to live longer, be healthier, be adventurous, connect with other people, escape from our jobs, be more informed, spend more time with our kids and be more attractive. According to a study by Millward Brown, men and women respond very similarly to most TV viewing measures (enjoyment, active involvement, branding, news, credibility, emotions and relevance). The differences appear when advertisers include dark humor or sexual imagery.

  1. Advertise hospital services for men’s health issues on female-targeted channels.

Coors and Michelob Ultra have both made significant advances in growing their female audience by running on media channels traditionally targeted to women. Michelob Ultra runs advertisements in Shape and Women’s Health; since 2014, they have grown their female customer base by 10 percent. The brand messages are the same; this is no “shrink and pink.” The only difference is the media channel selection.

  1. Help men solve problems.

Women can help men make informed decisions if they understand what drives men’s thinking. Most men are looking to prevent negatives, such as hair loss. Men like to hear about benefits that are functional and backed by credible numbers or facts. Share your research with men. While not everyone agrees, the male brain tends to be hard-wired to be systematic. Men like to evaluate data, look for patterns and understand the system. We can provide them with the tools to make informed, inductive choices.

Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as CEO of Northlich, a Cincinnati-based healthcare marketing agency, has taught me a great deal about how hospitals and health systems can best connect with women to make the most positive impact in their lives.
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