In which I offer some advice to the Marketing Department at Ranken-Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital

Have you ever heard of the Ranken-Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital?  Neither had I, until they started paying for full-page ads in the print version of the Wall Street Journal.  And they are massively wasting their ad spend in the WSJ, which must be a LOT of money!  There are so many mistakes and missing elements in their campaign, I don’t even know where to start.  But I’ll give it a try. [disclaimer: I am not any kind of marketing guru-I just grew up in a marketing family, and took a marketing class in community college while studying Purchasing Management]

First, the hospital has no indication in their full-page ad of where the hospital is located.  And they do not define what a “pediatric bridge hospital” does that sets it apart from a regular pediatric hospital.  Thirdly, they begin at the top of the page by asking for money!  That was a big turnoff for me, and I’m betting I’m not the only reader who gets that same impression.

So, if you are a specialty children’s hospital, and you wish to solicit donations, here is a better way of getting readers to give you money.  First, you would describe in easy-to-understand language exactly what makes your institution different from others of its kind.  Take a page from St. Jude’s, and describe a typical patient, both in words and pictures, so you bring home to the public the benefits which your hospital provides to its patients, their parents, and the surrounding community (here’s where you tell people where the hospital is located).  Tell the story of the hospital-who started it, when, and why. Give readers a concrete reason to donate to your institution.

Only after you have described the institution, its patients, and its benefits, should you get around to asking for donations.  And you need a better way of asking, instead of just saying “we need your money to provide our services”, which is a bit crude and obvious.  Don’t just hit a reader by asking for money before you tell him why he should donate-don’t make him work for the information he needs to make a decision.  And give an address and phone number for the institution, as well as the Web site address.  Many who read the print WSJ might be old-fashioned enough to need a physical address.

I don’t imagine that anyone from the hospital would ever read this blog post, but if they do, I hope they can learn from it, to make their expensive advertising campaign pay off for them.

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