5 Key Things That Make Mayo Clinic a Marketing Machine

The Mayo Clinic, a health system based in Minnesota with a global reach, has used stellar marketing to establish themselves as a true leader in healthcare. How did they do it? What are they doing differently than their competitors? And, most importantly, what can we learn to take your own marketing to the next level?

 The Secrets of Mayo Clinic’s Marketing Success

The Mayo Clinic is a massive organization that not only takes care of patients–they also provide medical education, training and research. Trying to keep track of all the marketing they do can get overwhelming in a hurry. But they stand out as a shining example of the kind of brand-building and healthcare marketing that hospitals can invest in, as they are one of only a few hospitals whose name is instantly recognized across the U.S. With that said, their overall strategy relies on a few key principles. By understanding and applying them, you can make your healthcare marketing strategy truly world-class.

1. Fully Embracing Digital

Unlike most other health systems, the Mayo Clinic jumped into digital marketing early on. They registered their domain name all the way back in 1997, and they’ve been steadily expanding their online presence (including social media) ever since! A lot of this focus comes from simply recognizing how technology has changed the way today’s consumer gathers information and makes healthcare decisions. According to John Weston, Mayo Clinic’s CMO: “Digital marketing allows healthcare organizations to meet the consumers where they are, targeting patients at their specific moment of need…” Mayo Clinic’s strategy is so successful because it uses its extensive library of online content to make these early connections. When a potential patient doing research types something into Google and finds one of their doctor-approved articles, the Mayo Clinic immediately establishes itself as a hospital brand to trust. Note that this content isn’t spammy or loaded with keywords to increase their SEO. It’s actually good content that provides real benefits to the consumers who read it. Mayo Clinic already devotes about two thirds of its marketing budget on digital–with no signs of slowing down. They’ve focused on making useful content available (both when and where people are looking for it), and every piece of content they create is another asset in their online portfolio.

2. A “Followers First” Social Media Approach

Did you know the Mayo Clinic has over million followers on X (formerly Twitter) and over 1.2M likes on Facebook? It’s true! Those insane numbers are a testament to social media’s incredible potential in the healthcare world. Mayo Clinic has taken this potentially “boring” topic (to some) and turned it into a hotbed for conversations and engagement. How? By focusing on empowering social media followers to become better advocates for their health. Instead of just promoting themselves like many health systems do, Mayo Clinic has its followers take center stage. They use social media to answer questions, share patient stories, and raise awareness for better health. It’s a conversation, not a broadcast. In the summer of 2015, the Mayo Clinic launched the #StrongArmSelfie campaign. Thousands of people took pictures of themselves flexing their biceps and posted them to social media with the hash tag, all to spread awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer screenings.

3. Building Patient Communities

The Mayo Clinic doesn’t just offer quality health information and treatment. They also build communities where patients can belong. These communities, made up of people spread out across the world, are perfect places to share their stories and get ongoing support. The process of researching and getting healthcare treatment can be a lonely one. Even family and friends, who mean well, don’t quite understand your experience without going through it themselves… So imagine the relief patients feel when they come across the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog. This blog, which features content from patients, their family, and Mayo Clinic staff, makes patients feel truly understood. It shows them they aren’t alone. The topics range from research and alternative medicine, to rehabilitation and pain management. One of the coolest features is the Mayo Clinic’s inclusion of user-generated content. This strategy, which MD Anderson also uses, saves the Mayo Clinic marketing team the time and expense of writing so many articles. Showcasing patients’ stories is the perfect way to make them feel appreciated and resonate with readers going through the same thing!

4. Bringing Different Marketing Tactics Together

If you analyze the Mayo Clinic’s marketing, it’s hard to figure out where one campaign ends and another begins. That’s intentional. One thing that makes the Mayo Clinic so successful is how well they integrate different marketing tactics. They don’t just write an article about skin cancer, for instance, and call it a day. They’ll share it on their social media platforms. Maybe they’ll even make a YouTube video about it, or connect it to a patient experience submitted to the Sharing Mayo Clinic blog. Remember the #StrongArmSelfie social media campaign to raise awareness about colorectal cancer?
That wasn’t where that story ended. Mayo Clinic also made a YouTube video about the campaign that racked up over 47,000 views and counting.

Using different channels and technologies helps you find a wide audience of potential customers. But pulling them together is where the magic happens! Each channel supports the others and paves the way to stronger relationships.

5. Constantly Innovating 

The Mayo Clinic was innovating back in 1997 when they bought a domain name…and surely raised more than a few eyebrows from health professionals committed to more traditional marketing strategies. 20+ years later and they’re still just as innovating today. Not everything they try succeeds, but the ones that do increase brand awareness, engage customers, and build stronger relationships.

Here are just a few of the Mayo Clinic’s recent innovations:

  • Mobile apps – The Mayo Clinic has developed a few apps for patients to download on their phones. They realize smartphones are becoming bigger parts of our lives, and they decided to embrace this new communication channel. The Patient app lets patients access health information and schedule appointments. Their Pregnancy app helps guide new mothers on what to expect during the first few months of their babies’ lives.
  • Surgeries on YouTube – The Mayo Clinic has also uploaded videos of different procedures to YouTube. After reading about a procedure, you might not fully understand the steps involved, so these YouTube videos give potential patients an easy way to find out more, all in a digestible visual form which answers questions and eases fears.
  • Virtual Q&A with doctors – The Mayo Clinic also allows potential patients to approach some doctors before ever stepping foot in their office. You’re able to ask questions and get the answers you need, as well as a chance to digitally “meet” your doctor first. This creates trust and fosters better doctor-patient relationships.

Your Turn

Your outfit probably isn’t nearly as big as the Mayo Clinic, and you probably haven’t been in the digital marketing world as long as they have either. That’s okay. The principles that have made the Mayo Clinic’s marketing so successful can work wonders for you too! No need to try them all at once. Start with one or two areas you think you can improve, and take it from there. The better you can embrace these principles, the better you’ll bond with customers for years to come.

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