Why are so many in the UAE getting healthcare marketing wrong? - Gulf Business
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Why are so many in the UAE getting healthcare marketing wrong?

Why are so many in the UAE getting healthcare marketing wrong?

Here are seven “musts” when it comes to healthcare marketing in the UAE

Yes, there was a time when the main reason for liaising with your marketing department was to get glossy brochures produced for client meetings or sales pitches.

To say things have changed is an understatement.

Today, a company ignores marketing experts at its peril. And that’s because things have gotten complicated when it comes to digital. Analytics, segmentation, social media, content creation – it’s a lot of work and requires a lot of knowledge.

Working with a savvy marketing specialist when pushing your proposition is necessary.

When it comes to marketing in the UAE – a country with unique demographics and seven distinct regions each with their own regulations – many healthcare companies still have a long way to go when it comes not only to the new digital marketing landscape, but also with respect to some of the basic marketing fundamentals that are pillars of any marketing campaign, whether digital or traditional.

With that in mind, let’s look at seven “musts” when it comes to healthcare marketing in the UAE.

1. Lead with content: Content is king. We have heard this for a while and it still holds. But how are you thinking about content? For many healthcare organisations, it’s time for a change. As marketing guru Seth Godin describes, it’s less about gaining immediately measurable revenue from your content but rather beginning a process of using content to build trust – the most valuable asset any business can have.

So the message is to deliver quality, something that has genuine value to your readers. Then put it out across your distribution channels: Website, email, social media, blogs, the press. Your brand will go from strength-to-strength and establish you and your organisation as a thought leader.

2. Build a focused healthcare brand: The power of a well-built brand shouldn’t be overlooked – and that means your message and your tone of voice has to be clear and recognisable from the start.

In the digital era, you are part of a community and that means your brand needs to ‘speak’ about your values. It must engage. If we look to the United States for an example, a company such as United Healthcare started a hashtag on social media as a way of encouraging people to share the steps they were taking each month to live a healthier life. It worked. People liked it and a dialogue started – a conversation with direct relevance to the company offering. This initiative was on-brand and highlighted how a business can be an active part of a community – the conversation was two-way.

3. Understand culture: In a country as diverse as the UAE, it’s not just about language. It’s about culture. Yes, a mistake in language translation can cause a lot of embarrassment, but as Simon Anholt points out in ‘Another one bites the grass: Making sense out of international advertising’, it’s more than just errors in translation, but truly understanding cultural differences. A mistake here can convey a lack of respect for the audience and make you appear an impersonal brand.

Think of how often you have seen a joke or a one-liner in marketing that has caught your eye – chances are that it had some root in the culture or idioms of the country.

4. Get into analytics: Ask yourself this question: Is your company driven by personalities or by data? In ‘Cult of Analytics: Data Analytics for Marketing’, author Steve Jackson points out that ‘there is an abundance of data. There are hundreds of tools. But there is a fundamental lack of analytics culture.’ It’s not going to be easy for many companies to make this shift in culture – any change must come from the top – but the sooner you’re able to put data at the top of your list, the sooner you will benefit from greater insights into your customers, and thus be able to produce more targeted content.

5. Think ‘SEO’: In order to reach your reader, you must first get through a wall. That wall is a Google ‘bot’ that is analysing the piece of content before it ranks it in the results of someone’s search. It goes without saying you want to be on the first page. Get ranked on page six, and you might as well not have bothered.

Equally, stuffing your article with keywords isn’t going to solve the problem either. So this is where it’s important to bring in expertise to work on search engine optimisation (SEO) which is an ever-changing and surprisingly subtle discipline. Yes, you can pay for your content to appear in the advertising listings at the top of the page, but genuine success also rests on ranking highly in the ‘organic’ listings.

6. Find a great agency fit: An agency can be a valuable extension of your in-house marketing function. They can provide market insights, skilled copywriters, social media experts and specialists in email campaigns. They will be able to provide valuable guidance and direction when it comes to segmentation of the market, brand, imagery and article production.

The sheer time and resources required to run effective campaigns will often mean that even the most efficient in-house operation will struggle to produce results as effective as a marketing agency. Do the groundwork to ensure you feel comfortable with your chosen agency and find that balance that allows you to have great lines of communication and transparency. Allow them to get a good feel for your organisation and they’ll be able to translate your message into one the market will really grasp.

7. Know your target audience and your customers and truly connect with them: For me this is one of the most important points: Truly understanding your target audience of existing and prospective patients and their concerns so you can properly connect with them.

For new patients it is about being confident that your range of specialties, your price points and most importantly your level of customer care are spot on. On top of this, knowing their interests is what will let you connect with them through your marketing. Regarding your existing patients, well, there is nothing more important than strengthening your relationship with them, as patient loyalty translates into valuable word-of-mouth marketing. So investing in patient care from A-Z is crucial for building that loyalty, and one part of this is communication. Ensure that your

Regarding your existing patients, well, there is nothing more important than strengthening your relationship with them, as patient loyalty translates into valuable word-of-mouth marketing. So investing in patient care from A-Z is crucial for building that loyalty, and one part of this is communication. Ensure that your patients in particular are on your mailing list and receive the valuable health information you are distributing.

That, coupled with the tremendous care you are providing them, will likely result in them forwarding those newsletters to friends, encouraging others to visit your medical centres, etc. There is no greater salesperson than the satisfied customer.

Pull it all together

Without a cohesive marketing campaign, you face an uphill struggle to promote your service, develop a strong brand or gain any traction. The healthcare market in the UAE is crowded, and the seven distinct areas of the country have their own specific regulations that must be observed. In fact, it’s this level of regulation across healthcare in all corners of the world that has traditionally been an additional issue that healthcare marketers must consider – unlike their colleagues working in many other industries.

But that doesn’t mean creativity cannot flourish, and whether it’s using social media to raise awareness of a particular form of cancer or creating an online community that becomes a meeting place for people suffering from a specific condition, it’s all about engagement. And while traditionally healthcare marketing has tended to use more print and less digital, that trend is changing.

In the end, it’s about understanding culture, aligning yourself with experts in the right fields, learning from best-practices in other countries and adapting those insights to UAE-specific campaigns. Yes, it takes time and a genuine change in thinking – allowing your marketing efforts to be data-driven while finding that perfect way of expressing your company’s voice. But it’s possible, and in the UAE, with its dynamic environment, the opportunities are there for you to lead the way.

Mark Adams is the founder and CEO of Anglo Arabian Healthcare


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