Midwest County Hospitals: Marketing Budget

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Midwest County Hospitals: Marketing Budget

While there is no publicly available information to fully answer the question, we've used available data to pull together key findings of digital marketing is now around 50% of overall hospital marketing spend, though hospitals still invest heavily in traditional marketing channels like TV and print. Below is an outline of our research strategies to better understand why the information requested is publicly unavailable, as well as a deep dive into our findings.

Helpful Findings

  • The average US hospital budget in 2017 was $875 million, of which marketing/communications comprised only around $5.4 million, less than 1%.
  • Hospitals reportedly still invest heavily in traditional marketing channels like TV, OOH and print. The average TV spend was $270,859, $143,810 on newspaper, $101,495 on SEO, $54,584 on social media, $153,278 on outdoor, $55,227 on magazine and $98,237 on direct mail.
  • Another study found that hospitals are slowly waking up to digital marketing. In 2017, the share of digital vs. offline advertising rose to around 50%.
  • Ascension Health (St. Louis, MO) spent $56,000 on a TV ad campaign called "Everyday Life". The ad reached 6.9 million viewers.
  • Shriners Hospitals for Children (Chicago, IL) spent $194,000 on its "Imagine" TV campaign. It reached 13.4 million impressions.

Research Strategy

Our first approach was to browse through a multitude of annual reports and financial statements from county hospitals in the Midwest. After checking several, it became apparent that hospitals do not usually report their advertising/marketing spend. None of the reports we found published in the public domain listed any kind of expenditure on marketing efforts. What we found is that the only information available on any kind of marketing spend came from large health systems, which would not spend at the same rate as a county hospital.

We therefore changed strategies and then searched for expert analysis, media articles and other sources that discuss marketing spend by hospitals. This led us to several sources discussing marketing expenditure for today's US hospitals, but all data was generic to the US. We checked for any regional differences listed in these articles, but none were mentioned.

As a final technique, we then checked the Hospital Marketing National Conference Advertising Awards and other sources for Midwestern hospitals that have won marketing awards. We had hoped to find information about hospitals' overall marketing spend or some indicator that could tell us more about marketing spend trends among Midwestern hospitals. The 2019 winners were all health systems or city-based hospitals. We were unable to find any prominent or award-winning marketing campaigns mentioned in the public domain from county hospitals. After checking even some of the healthcare systems and city-based winners, we were unable to still find any insights on actual marketing spend, even among these award-winning entities. We did find one article from Fierce Healthcare about prominent hospital TV ad campaigns, which we did convey in our Findings. However, it should be noticed one is a large health system and the other is a city hospital.

Overall, we were forced to conclude that individual hospitals rarely, if ever, report their marketing spend. The only insights possible are the result of marketing surveys, which of course anonymize the results, but at least allow us to draw conclusions about US hospitals as a whole.
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