Brand is the identity of a product, service or an organisation. It is a symbol that represents the essence of the commodity it symbolises. Building or enhancing this symbol through advertising campaigns and promotions is brand building. As every business, be it the healthcare sector or the service industry like hospitality and travel sector, is operating on the internet, it is very essential to have quality branding.
The brand recognition provides more business as compared to the competitor’s business. For example, a hospital builds its brand around service and care while another one does the same focusing on its world renowned physicians and surgeons The internet provides a huge amount of choice to the customer and therefore the brand image of a certain business will give the edge over other featured companies.
The purpose of brand building essentially is to retain the existing customers. It is the connectivity between the healthcare unit and the customers. This interaction is sustained in the business. The connectivity is established after a brand identity is created where everything about a company is conveyed to the customers, like for example, what the company represents, what is its ethics, what are its policies and so on.
Once this identity is created, then the branding is in place as the customer is able to associate the brand to its identity.
The Evolving Brand Building Scenario
Search Engines and Online Sales
In the brand recognition of a business, the search engine acts as an effective tool to enhance business. The role of search engines is very important as millions of businesses work from the internet and to survive and grow in this market is extremely competitive. Thus, the search engine provides the best platform for a hospital and this is done by optimising the search engine. The ranking of the hospital needs to be high on a search engine to give optimum business. Improving the website content and attaching it to other good sites help in getting high ranking. The search engines also help improve the ranking of the websites in other ways like:
Good content which is useful to the visitor can enhance the website’s position as the visitor confirms that there is valuable content to gather. The content guarantees repeat visits as other sites may not have the same content.
It is essential to plan the website in a user friendly manner for easy navigation. This too gives good results for the search engines.
Appropriate keywords in the subject matter should be chosen with care and repeated often.
Linking the website to other websites is very essential as the very nature of the internet is web like and thus the linking should be there with related content on other websites. Directories and forums are good platforms to establish links.
With the optimisation of search engines and the website’s position high in rankings, there will be an increase in online sales. A business that has online sales of products or services benefits from the brand built and high rank in the search engine. A hospital which ranks high in the search engine or has an attractive content will draw more customers for services than any other hospital. Some other online sales strategies are:
Online sales also get a boost from strategic partners in the website like an affiliation with another company with links provided in the right places for easy access.
Keep customers engaged and moving towards the billing counter of the website. A good clean, easily navigable website helps in the free movement of customers.
Online sales improve with the interaction of other services along with the engagement of the website. A customer may find it easy to browse products online, buy on the phone and maybe collect it from a shop. Displaying the URL in as many possible places as possible like, signatures, prints on brochures, shipping boxes, bags and such other places also boosts sales.
Giving personalised attention to customers makes them feels valued and this confirms loyalty amongst customers. This promotes online sales.
Being precise and specific about the offers, be it products or services brings credibility into the business and customers appreciate the trust factor established.
Good after sales policy, feedback facility, after sales service (in the case of a serviceable product) and refund or exchange policies are very important to good sales.
Web Designing, Promotion, E-Publicity and Advertising Online
In brand building, the customers are offered a set a values or a promise of services. Customers identify a company through this built up brand and expect all that is promised to them through the brand. For example, a hospital takes pride in its efficient emergency unit and this is the promise that is conveyed through the brand. Another hospital may focus on its illness specific specialty treatment. These specific keywords become the recognizable aspect of the particular hospital. The promotion of services and products by e-marketing the brand is done through attractive web designing and skillful advertising on the internet.
Web designing is done on the specifics of the industry it caters to. Depending on the major characteristics of the industry, the website is created with the relevant information. There are a number of marketing agencies who market and promote industry specific companies.
The healthcare sector is promoted and advertised like other industries. The pharmaceutical companies advertise aggressively. Promotions like advertising of world renowned doctors affiliated to a hospital create excellent advertising. A hospital which is open 24 hours a day has a website that is taken care by a help desk for the services to be considered.
Promotional campaigns in the free awareness camps advertised on the internet also boost e-marketing. New medical equipment and accessories also get promotions during industry based fairs and industry related websites. Advertising on the internet is done either by the business’s own portal or through related services and products websites.
Publicity is an integral part of marketing that can boost sales. Publicity is an attempt by a person, group, company or a business to create a perception that is in the subject’s interest. Publicity is a component of promotion in the marketing arena and is used by service providers and businesses.
Internet publicity is used by the vendors of medical apparatus for prospective buyers as well as by the hospitals themselves. For example, publicising a hospital through the vendor site increases the visibility of the hospital and its services.