As a community-focused, mission-driven organization, Carroll Hospice is always looking to help more people. Founded in 1986 and affiliated with Carroll Hospital, the organization provides inpatient and in-home medical care and a broad range of emotional and spiritual support services to terminally ill patients and their families. While Carroll Hospice enjoyed a 70% market share in Carroll County, they knew they could serve more families.
A focus group with Carroll Hospice nurses and volunteers revealed that many patients’ family members had told them they wished they had called the hospice sooner. Staff and volunteers agreed that many families had a negative perception of hospice care, viewing it as ‘giving up.’ Together with its agency, Devaney & Associates, Carroll Hospice embarked on an awareness and education campaign with three main goals: increased awareness of the personalized and life-affirming experience the hospice provides, increased admissions, and an increase in the number of days a patient spends in hospice.
First, the campaign team developed creative pieces, using real patient stories, to showcase how Carroll Hospice can help patients and families celebrate life and enjoy their time together. Next, they developed a media plan. A small non-profit organization, Carroll Hospice had a limited budget and serves a community within a narrow geographic area – Carroll, Baltimore and Frederick counties – so it needed to be selective in its advertising choices and maximize each dollar spent. Devaney & Associates helped the hospice develop a targeted, hyperlocal strategy incorporating print, digital and broadcast media:
- Print advertising in publications that catered to local communities, such as Carroll Magazine
- Billboards in strategic locations along the Baltimore/Carroll/Frederick corridor
- Kiosk advertising in local shopping malls
- Online and mobile advertising, using behavioral, content and contextual tactics, including site retargeting, to reach adults age 45 and up in key service areas
- Geo- and user-targeted Facebook advertising
- Radio advertising on stations highly ranked with adults age 45 and up
During the eight-week advertising campaign, several hospital-bylined articles promoting the life-affirming and patient-centered care at Carroll Hospice appeared in regional publications as well as Carroll Hospital’s community magazine. The executive director was interviewed on Westminster-based WTTR’s weekly Health Chat program.
Carroll Hospice website visits increased 84%, Facebook ‘likes’ by more than 150%, with a 3.8% click-through rate (1,100 clicks) from the Facebook ad. Year-over-year admissions rose 6.8% in FY2016, with a 14% increase in patient days over the same time period.
Diane Devaney, president of Devaney & Associates, believes that “going to the frontlines and talking to the employees who work day-in and day-out with the people you are trying to reach,” is the key to success, citing the information gained in her team’s meetings with staff and volunteers to be invaluable to developing a campaign strategy. “They brought real-life stories and practical ideas to the table that we could have never gleaned on our own – stories and ideas that ended up becoming the bedrock of our strategy.”
Devaney added, “We knew going in that Carroll Hospice didn’t have the budget for a big traditional TV campaign, as other hospice care organizations do. This forced us to be creative with our media strategy. Through emotionally powerful creative and smart, hyperlocal media tactics, we were able to achieve impressive double- and triple-digit results on a very small, non-profit-sized budget.”
For more information on the Marketing Excellence Awards and the other winners, visit our news release.