St. Elizabeth's is located town-center in Belleville, IL, a 150-year-old German immigrant community 25 miles east of St. Louis, MO, and had not aggressively marketed themselves in recent memory. Their closest rival is located in the suburbs of this southern Illinois community and has a much more upscale local population. This hospital was significantly more aggressive in contracting physicians and, subsequently, St. Elizabeth’s was losing money to the tune of $29 million for the fiscal year ending in June. Hospital census was down, as was employee morale and there were rumors that St. Elizabeth’s was going under.
In March of 2008, the agency was hired to help reverse these trends, and partnered with Mediacomp for media planning & buying. Mediacomp’s expertise of strategic media planning and buying implementation created the perfect synergy for a successful marketing strategy execution. With extensive qualitative and demographic research provided by Mediacomp’s plethora of resources, a media plan came to life with a defined target in mind. This annual plan was laid out and included print, outdoor, online, broadcast television, cable, MLB All-Star sponsorship packages, and a multi-platform “Ask the Doctor” Sponsorship on the number 1 station in St. Louis. All of the media elements on the plan were negotiated and placed below budget, thus allowing the client to use those dollars to leverage additional guerilla-type marketing for St. Elizabeth’s.
This done, the strategy and marketing plan, complete with creative materials was presented to the senior officers of the hospital in early October with a mandate to begin all advertising on November 1. This included TV, Outdoor and Newspaper advertising. The TV was designed for brand building and rapid regional awareness, as was the outdoor. The plan was readily accepted and approved – even with a price tag of $1.5 million. TV and outdoor were the awareness vehicles and long form full page newspaper ads were used to tell the intricate story of how good this hospital actually was at providing top notch care to Southern Illinois.
By January census was at an all time high for this 500 bed hospital, employee moral had completely reversed, physicians were referring patients again and people not only in Belleville, but also in St. Louis were taking notice of this bold and, to many, previously unknown hospital. Within 90 days all major hospitals on each side of the river were advertising to try to keep up with St. Elizabeth’s. And more importantly, by the end of the fiscal year the hospital’s $29 million deficit was eliminated. Not bad for a $1.5 million investment.