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Learning Objectives


  • Discuss the reasons for modification of the traditional Four Ps of Marketing in healthcare.

  • Compare the characteristics and purposes of inbound and outbound marketing.

  • Distinguish among advertising, publicity, promotion, and public relations.

  • Compare traditional and social marketing strategies.

  • Compare the cost and effectiveness of branding and other marketing tools.

  • Discuss the need to consult with marketing professionals.


Despite the long history of marketing, its role as a management tool is relatively new to health-care organizations. Marketers seek to define new relationships with healthcare stakeholders and to face the challenges of evolving healthcare policy. Patients are more likely to take the initiative in finding the healthcare information they need and to ask providers more questions about their personal healthcare. More than ever, people seek healthcare relationships that are based on an exchange of information and direct participation in decisions made. Along with these system changes, new hospital executives have brought trusted business tools, including marketing plans, with them from other industries. As a result, marketing is now enmeshed in the responsibilities of managers at all levels of all healthcare organizations.

According to the American Marketing Association, "marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."1 Some examples in healthcare of the exchange of something of value include the following: a physical therapist treats a patient in exchange for money from the patient and/or from a third-party payer, a physician receives staff privileges at a hospital in exchange for admitting patients there, or an employer pays insurance premiums in exchange for healthcare coverage for its employees. Marketing is the process for these exchanges and relationships that is considered successful when the goals of both parties are met.2

Many marketing professionals have modified or abandoned traditional marketing approaches for healthcare because of the uniqueness of its business. For example, a classic approach to marketing is control of the Four Ps of marketing—product, price, place, and promotion—which may be applied in healthcare as follows:

  • PRODUCT: the goods, services, and ideas offered by an organization. A lasting, loyal relationship is often considered the product of healthcare for marketing purposes.

  • PRICE: the charge for the product including professional fees, insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-payments. Effort costs are often included in healthcare marketing. In addition to money, patients and clients must relate costs to long-term benefits of care, including lifestyle changes that demand a great deal of effort on their part.

  • PLACE: the manner in which goods and services are distributed to consumers. Place often enhances the perceptions of quality in health-care. Place includes communications that are not face-to-face such as online information, 24-hour nursing consultations, and the ability to share medical records electronically.

  • PROMOTION: any means used to inform a market that ...

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