Health and Wellness Marketing
The Role of Marketing in Campus Health and Wellness
Health and wellness services marketing and communication play a particularly important role in the higher education environment and go beyond the traditional marketing roles of brand management, program and service promotion, and social media maintenance. Marketing activities do not always fall under one area or department. The nature and variety of the activities, plus the challenges of marketing to a constantly changing student population, can present difficulties coordinating the marketing and communication functions within a health or wellness service. An overall strategic plan for marketing along with clearly assigned areas of responsibility can be helpful.
Some of the aspects of marketing within college health and wellness include:
- Marketing health and wellness center programs and services to students and their families and the campus community)
- Marketing healthy behaviors
- Health messaging
- Wellness services
- Website maintenance and messaging
- New student and family orientation programs
- Health- and wellness-affiliated student groups (e.g. advisory groups, peer educators)
Marketing Health and Wellness Center Programs and Services
Since the size and budget of the health or wellness service determines the staff required and available for marketing and communication activities, the roles and responsibilities of staff are highly variable and can be a duty of administrative staff or may be delegated elsewhere.
Marketing to the student population should include mediums highly used by students (social media and other emerging technology). Traditional marketing principles can still be engaged, including analyzing and selecting target markets, designing marketing strategies, and planning and organizing marketing programs. Health and wellness services can benefit from collaborating with campus communications and marketing departments and utilizing available expertise.
Marketing Healthy Behaviors
When a health or wellness service is of the size and budget to provide expert health promotion staff in marketing healthy behaviors, marketing and education in this area is generally delegated to those with such expertise. However, promoting health and wellness are not the sole purview of the health promotion department, but the responsibility of all who deliver care and services. Most health and wellness services offer regular programming and education to help students build skills in this area.
Website Maintenance and Messaging
The health or wellness service website is a significant source of current information about programs, services, and health issues for students, faculty and staff. Many of the marketing materials and program information will be accessed through website and social media sites. The importance of a current and easy-to-navigate website cannot be overemphasized. Seek student/user input on website design and terminology, as traditional organizational departmental categories do not always describe best, to a user, where to find services. Again, depending on the size of the organization, staff skills, and support from the campus IT department, website creation and maintenance duties may be performed by health/wellness services IT or administrative staff. Links from the website can also direct students to helpful community and campus resources.
New Student and Family Orientation
New Student Orientation is an opportunity to provide incoming students and their families with health and wellness information and a description of services. It is difficult to design an effective marketing program for an audience often overwhelmed with campus information. Also, New Student Orientations are rapidly changing in design, as campus coordinators have similar challenges. If an orientation presentation is interactive or can include a brief visit or a way-finding exercise to locate campus health/wellness services, it is often more effective at promoting awareness of these services to new students. Also, families are often more focused than students on health- and wellness-related issues during orientation and can encourage their students to access resources when health issues present during the school year.
Health- and Wellness-Affiliated Student Groups
Student health- and wellness-affiliated student groups can assist with distribution of information about services. Either through peer health education programs or as campus ambassadors for health and wellness services, students often enthusiastically reach out to other students to describe the services available to students. They can also be an excellent source of information regarding student barriers to use of health and wellness services and can drive changes in marketing materials or medium.