Looking to Promote Classes but Trying to Cut Costs?

4 06 2010

Are you still printing a quarterly, comprehensive list of all health education classes? Does this taking more time and budget than you can afford?  Then maybe it’s time to ditch the mailer and look for more effective and efficient ways to fill up your sessions.

If your core service area is relatively tight and you have a primary print media outlet in your market, you may benefit from a full page or large print ad featuring your upcoming classes (assuming readership is high and reaches your target audience). This approach is often more successful than a quarterly mailer and less costly than printing and mailing materials.  Your media buy will depend on the number of classes offered. You may need to run an ad weekly but monthly may suffice if you offer fewer programs.

Be sure to print copies of your ad so you have a sales sheet available when you are out at community events. Print enough so you can leave them in high-volume areas of your site(s) and also have them available at each class. I have also found that leaving ad reprints at public libraries, pharmacies and major day care facilities can help to extend your reach.

The challenge is that only specific topics will appeal to select individuals at any given point in time. A comprehensive list is appealing to those inside the hospital walls but rarely to those outside. Instead consider working to position yourself as the leading healthcare resource in the community and then driving folks online to search for available classes, screenings and support groups (and ideally to register there too). Or route them to a phone line with staff dedicated to providing class info andscheduling. Either way staff and infrastructure are both needed to support such efforts.

I have found that classes fill up best when you attach them to specific service line messaging targeted to a symptomatic audience. So if you have a chest pain center ad (print, radio or TV), cross sell your cardiac classes for the next quarter — make them your call to action. Or package all of your cardiac-related sessions and promote them on cafeteria tray liners and table tents within your hospital and in the food court at your local mall. And consider rotating your service line messages and rotating in general wellness programming. If you are promoting a new physician, be sure to cross sell the classes related to his/her specialty or that he or she is conducting. And don’t forget to reference your educational programming in your brand ads by listing a way to get more information.

Be sure to also monitor event attendance and measure the satisfaction of attendees. Some classes just don’t have consumer appeal. If time after time you cannot fill a class, it may simply be time to give the topic a break or redesign it to be more consumer friendly and benefit driven.

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