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How to practice promotional medicine with the hospital and health care industries

April 2011 By Michael Cornnell
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Despite the loss of pharmaceutical income a few years back, the health care market still has a reputation for being a huge buyer of promotional products. There are many submarkets to the health care world, from orthodontists and chiropractors to local gyms and Weight Watchers groups. While all these subdivisions are worth pursuing, it would be a mistake not to give some thought to one of the bigger buyers in the group: hospitals.

Hospitals are not only a potentially huge source of business because of their overall depth of wealth, but because of the diversity of their marketing needs. Within your standard hospital, you can find niches for stationary and writing items, children's products, fundraiser items, illness-related awareness programs, advertising for the hospital as a whole, advertising for specific new programs of the hospital, employee rewards and incentive programs, employee recruitment, and gift shops just to name a few options. With so much opportunity, it's safe to say that hospitals have the potential to be extremely lucrative clients. Getting in and working with one isn't much different than working with other businesses either. All it takes is a little background knowledge, insight into their internal management structure and attention to their needs as clients.

WHAT'S GOING ON
If you've never worked within the health care industry, let alone hospitals, you may be wondering about the market's overall financial health. After all, even though the huge amount of money flowing in and out of most institutions might support assumptions of stability, it's not like the American health care system is known for its overall fiscal strength (and that's not even factoring in any damage the recession might have caused). Luckily, it seems that most of the market's financial issues are either past or passing.

"The health care market is growing, but that doesn't always mean their marketing budgets are growing with them," said Jerry Milwit, owner of Dominion Promotions, Glen Allen, Va., part of Adventures in Advertising, Neenah, Wis. "The good news is these organizations are continuously looking to build their brands and they generally enjoy implementing promotional marketing into their mix," he said. "The challenge is that their budgets can sometimes hinder getting the most out of their dollar, which could impact their R.O.I. That's precisely why they need a professional promotional consultant to help them stretch their dollar by choosing the right items tied to the right program and for the right audience."

 
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