Why Marketing Hospitals to Women Means More Than Pink

Why Marketing Hospitals to Women Means More Than Pink

Following a few key do’s and don’ts can make the difference in driving preference among women for your hospital brand.

In 2012, Bic infamously introduced pink and purple “For Her” pens, packaged in pastel and adorned with a dainty font. The internet took notice and snarky Amazon reviews ensued: “It’s good,” one reviewer wrote, “that Bic [is] finally doing something to aid the plight of women.” Undoubtedly, executives at Bic had hoped to cash in by targeting a female demographic — but without a true understanding of what their female consumers wanted, the effort fell flat.

Since women make the majority of healthcare-related decisions, it’s important to gain a deep understanding of what drives their decisions. Doing so in a way that adds real value, shows commitment to understanding the whole person and fosters dialogue will demonstrate to women why your brand stands apart from the pack — in a good way. 

Don’t Unnecessarily Gender Products …

Men and women don’t need different pens, and women don’t want to be condescended to. Be sure you’re not using stereotypically gendered images or copy in your marketing materials (images of lipstick or high heels, dainty, girlish fonts, the color pink), or you risk looking lazy and, worse, alienating your most important demographic.

… But Avoid Gender Washing

You know not to “shrink it and pink it” — but how exactly do you market hospitals specifically to women? Unlike selling pens, hospital marketing presents distinct opportunities that align with women’s distinct needs, and hospital marketers can and should capitalize on that. Don’t shy away from emphasizing gender-specific screenings, such as mammograms and bone-density scans. But don’t forget that women, as the chief medical officers of the home, usually make decisions for the entire household. That means you need to talk directly to them about their husband’s prostate cancer treatment options or their daughter’s sports physical.

Do Be Real — and Provide Real Value

As Adweek puts it, brands must “truly understand women’s wellness needs and explain how products and services can help them meet specific goals.” In an age when a plethora of reviews, comparison shopping sites and alternate-therapy treatment plans are readily available online, women rightly feel entitled to be empowered about their healthcare options. Using data to understand the whole person — what her user experience was like at a wellness check for her child, for example, or what information she’d like to receive about surgery aftercare — can lead to insights that inspire nuanced messaging and drive results.

Do Foster Dialogue to Empower Women Consumers

Make emotional connections with women by prioritizing long-term relationships over short-term sales. What does your hospital do to truly care for its women patients, and how do you make that clear in your messaging? Foster dialogue: Be open to feedback by asking patients about their experiences. When patients weigh in with a positive or negative experience on your social media pages, respond promptly and empathetically. Work to build genuine relationships with your women patients and reap the benefits for years to come.

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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