Hirons is proud to be a newly WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise. Learn more. 

Close this search box.
House In Rural Area

ZIP code v. genetic code: Marketing in rural communities

“Your ZIP code is a better predictor of your health than your genetic code.”

In 2014, Melody Goodman, an assistant professor at Washington University, spoke to a Harvard School of Public Health audience: “Your ZIP code is a better predictor of your health than your genetic code.” While she was citing an example in the urban neighborhoods of St. Louis, the same statement certainly rings true when applied to rural communities like the one I came from.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, rural Americans are more likely than their urban counterparts to be at risk of developing diabetes, coronary heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Access to health care needed to either treat or mitigate these conditions is often limited in rural areas. This is sometimes due to physical location – many rural Americans must travel great distances to reach the nearest hospital. Other times, it comes down to affordability.

“If you go to less populated areas — rural areas — access to a car that functions well [and] the costs for gas become such an essential element,” says Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California at San Francisco.

Health care is just one of the many factors in which rural and urban populations diverge. And just as different care strategies are needed to ensure Americans reach optimal health outcomes, our marketing strategies cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, we must get to know each community and its members in-depth.

When do they work? What media do they consume? Whom do they listen to in the community? Who or what influences their decisions?

For health care marketers trying to reach multiple demographics, every element in your marketing campaign must show each unique audience that you truly understand them, right down to the ZIP code.

Effective marketing is about reaching the audience you want to reach at moments when they are most receptive to your message. Much like a trip to the doctor, the consumer journey for a rural American is different from that of someone living in an urban or suburban community. That means your strategies and tactics must be different for each audience.

Learn more about Hirons’ expertise engaging rural audiences.

Don't miss these posts