What Hospital Marketing Can Learn From Restaurants

Five marketing takeaways from the dining industry

To optimize marketing efforts to women, sometimes it helps to step outside our industry and borrow cues from another one. Here are five marketing insights from the restaurant industry to help spark ideas for customer satisfaction, online search, growth strategies, damage control and patient convenience.

1. We are in the customer service business.

Let’s start with the obvious. The terms “hospital” and “hospitality” are derived from the same root: hospitalis, Latin for “of a guest.” So, what are you doing to cater to your female guests? According to a Harvard Business Review study of Starbucks, a satisfied customer visits 4.3 times per month, spends $4.06 per visit, and is a customer for 4.4 years. A highly satisfied customer visits 7.2 times per month, spends $4.42 per visit, and is a customer for 8.3 years. That’s a difference of $2,247.89, and that’s just one person. Put “Develop experiential marketing to women” on every agenda and at the top of every job description.

2. Aim for the Local 3-Pack.

Most women know where to find the biggest hospitals nearby. But they may not know about your urgent care locations. Let’s take an SEO tip from the restaurant industry. Google “restaurants near me” and see what comes up first. And second. And third. And with a map to boot! These premier listings are known as the Local 3-Pack, and they just might be the key to attracting new patients. When moms are seeking urgent care, they’re not interested in page two results.

3. Understand the franchise model.

Healthcare franchises are rapidly growing in popularity, with 14 home-care franchises appearing on the Franchise Times list of best-performing franchises in the world. The reason? The number of Americans age 65 and older is projected to more than double to 98 million by 2060, creating an enormous demand for products and services geared toward the senior set, from fitness and massage services to in-home care and assisted living. What niche for women can your organization fill? Can you create a sustainable, replicable business model to compete?

4. Respond to negative reviews.

Nobody complains like hungry people who receive bad service — or sick people who have to wait in line. Restaurants spent lots of time and money extinguishing small fires on social media and other digital platforms. This is no secret. Successful consumer engagement entails constant monitoring and responding to all reviews — including sites like Healthgrades, RateMDs, Vitals and more. Women are more active on social media, and more likely to share their opinions with their networks.

5. Use the food truck strategy.

Sometimes you have to take your product to the people, especially if you’re not in their consideration set. Contrary to what seems logical, food trucks do not detract from on-site restaurant sales, but rather help increase them. Hospitals should take note. In addition to mobile mammogram and cardiac screening units, consider delivering primary care via vehicles or video chats straight to the decision makers — women. For restaurants and hospitals these days, home delivery can be a crucial consideration factor.

Kathy Selker
I’m Kathy Selker. My work as managing director of Stratos and previously as CEO of Northlich, 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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