Sunday, September 18, 2016

Complexity does not equal excellence in B2B healthcare marketing.

Do you agree or disagree with the headline?

With the basic premise, that complexity does not equal excellence in healthcare marketing. And I have seen a lot of complexity that looks great, but when you peel back the curtain, accomplishes very little. And along the way it may even sow confusion that few if any will understand or question because they don’t have the time. Well, except for maybe scratching their head with that quizzical look.

So why is it important to remove unnecessary complexity?

Because at the end of the day, marketing is about understanding your markets, competitors, and the buyer's journey taken by personas driven by their need for a solution. Then delivering in the clearest, most understandable terms what your solutions bring them to ease their pain.

Now that being said understanding your markets can be a complex undertaking. But that does not mean the marketing strategy and tactical execution has to carry the same level of complexity in design, resources, and activity.

The health care market is moving at breakneck speed and is more a buyer’s market in the B2B space than a seller’s market.  That means innovation, customer centricity, price, outcomes, convenience, accessibility, waste elimination and responsiveness to the needs of the healthcare provider ruling the day.  It means what an organization did in the past will probably not work in the future.

And this is important, an overly complicated marketing plan or marketing systems defeat the purpose of what the company is trying to accomplish. And if the marketing methods one uses require high levels of complexity to get them to work together, then you have the wrong systems.

Marketing resources are now needed to manage highly complex systems and process taking marketing away from what it is supposed to do, which as I see it, is generating high quality leads for sales, grow revenue and differentiate the company brand to dominate in your healthcare vertical.

Marketing is not as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be.

What I recommend is to follow a social media methodology in your overall marketing. Social media execution relies on you to be crystal clear in your messaging, offer, or solution. If you think about it, social media is the polar opposite of complexity.

So when you build that B2B website that has thousands of pages and links, look at all the time it doesn’t work because of the complexity. Think of all the daily resources expended to fix the process and system breakdowns, when they could be accomplishing actual marketing and driving differentiation, leads, revenue and growth.

Don’t make it harder than it is already. Find ways to remove the complexity of what you do and focus not on your “great systems,” but on how that complexity impacts the customer experience and consumes marketing resources diverting attention from the real task at hand. And that is growth.

Still think that marketing complexity equals excellence?

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Social selling in healthcare takes work and commitment. Can you?

I am pretty amazed really, about all the attention, viewpoints, and content that is available about social selling and why that’s the new paradigm for sales and marketing. It’s obvious that marketing and sales professionals are starved for information about the how.  But, and this is a big but, may be looking for the pixy dust to sprinkle on their efforts and make it easy.

Sorry, but social selling in healthcare is not easy. It’s damn hard.

Why? It’s simple really.  Sales have to put the time in themselves to comment on clients/prospects company's blog posts. Use LinkedIn to its fullest potential with updates, liking others content, shares, and group activity. Share relevant industry information on Twitter and other platforms where customers and prospects are present.

Marketing can’t do that for you, but it does require a very high level of sales and marketing integration.

And though marketing and sales integration is claimed by many, few companies have done it. Social media and social selling take a lot of work.  But when you supplement what you know from traditional efforts, with who they follow, how they comment, share and follow specific issues, a very different picture emerges.

So from a previous blog post of mine, here is your nine-step process, edited to focus entirely on sales. Now, stop talking about it and start doing it.

Nine steps for social selling success  

1.       Commit to social media all the time. The challenge is to keep in front of your audience with relevant information, all the time.  Attention spans are short.  If someone sees no changes on a pretty regular basis in your content or information, they will fall away. 
2.       Follow the client and prospect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for example. Discover what groups they belong to on LinkedIn and join them. 
3.       Spend at least 10-15 hours per week engaged in social media activities.   Share articles and comment on appropriate topics in their LinkedIn groups. Comment and share your company blog. This all about knowledge and value. 
4.       Make sure social media selling is part of your sales sequences for establishing trusted advisor status with your client or prospect. 
5.       Make sure that everyone in sales is using the same social media tactics, techniques and materials. All sales and marketing materials should be content appropriate and provide value, not features and benefits. Does the content for sharing answer the questions, how does this help me? One size does not fit all. 
6.       Revisit and change as needed, the ideal company profile and buyer personas.  Why? Because as you learn via social media and social selling one can infer intentions, pain points and challenges they are looking to solve by what they read, comment on or share. All clues in developing your social media and social selling approach. 
7.       Once one understands the publications and interests of the client and prospect search out relevant content to share. Do not limit yourself to content that is created in-house. Become the well informed, eclectic sales person with a wide variety of thought leadership sources. 
8.        Make sure that the entire organization knows what you are doing.  Nothing more embarrassing or damaging when someone at any level of the organization is clueless and can't be supportive of the sales efforts.  Makes you look like you do not know what you are doing. 
9.       Evaluate, monitor performance, make changes as needed in the program or staff and start the cycle again.

Put in the time. Reap the rewards. Don’t and you fall behind your competition and fail.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Writings are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Is your healthcare marketing agile? Do you even know what that means?

Agile Marketing is a corporate buzzword being thrown around a lot lately.  But unless you’re familiar with the Agile Software Development process which Agile Marketing is adapted from, is much more than what some may think means doing something fast and shifting tactical marketing on a dime.

At its heart, Agile Marketing is a tactical marketing approach in which teams identify and focus their collective efforts on high-value projects, complete those projects cooperatively, measure the impact, and then continuously and incrementally improve the results over time.

Hardly a short tactical strike as some may think.

So what are the hallmarks of an Agile Marketing organization?
1.       Responding to change instead of following a plan.
2.       Rapid tactical iterations over big loud campaigns.
3.       Testing and data over opinion and conventions.
4.       Many small experiments over a few large bets.
5.        A focus on individuals and interactions, not target markets.
6.       Collaboration over silos and hierarchy.

I would maintain that in a healthcare vendor B2B environment, where technological developments, new entrants, and shifting market dynamics are creating future uncertainty, is a great place for Agile Marketing.

For the healthcare provider side of B2C, it would work as well, but would require too much organizational, attitudinal and cultural change in hospitals and health systems.  Those big bang campaigns for hospitals and health systems make the board, docs, and management feel good but have little impact on the market. 

Agile marketing and even what some are terming Agile Social Media is sustainable marketing that requires you to keep a constant pace and pipeline.  It also requires a very high degree of integration between the business, marketing, sales, and development.

Marketing programs are delivered from every couple of weeks to a couple of months with a bias towards the shorter cycles. Successful Agile Marketing also requires the organization to learn though PDCA or OODA feedback loops. Failure is acceptable as long as one does not make the same marketing mistake twice.

The moral of the story here is that Agile Marketing is not as simple as some may think it is, or that they have a clear understanding of the concept.

Unless marketing is organized into focused teams with collaborative input from other critical areas of the business, focusing on the individuals and interactions, it’s not Agile Marketing.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Is dark social marketing the next big thing?

It’s estimated that two-thirds of internet social media activity occur in what has been termed dark social. I am not speaking of the nefarious activities of drug dealers, gun runner’s, blackmailers, etc. using TOR or another program that allows one to search the web anonymously. I am referring to all the social media activity that can’t be traced such as email link sharing, some applications and one-on-one messaging for example.

For example, a healthcare provider is looking for a solution to a problem.  They do the research on the IoT, speak with colleagues and others, possibly read some thought leadership and examine social media.  But in this process, friends and others may send an email or direct message with a link to a source of information or solution that would be of interest. It is the method of sharing information that makes it dark and at this time untraceable.

And what is of interest to me at least, is not the quantity of dark social traffic, but the quality of that sharing traffic that goes on unseen.

Think about this for a moment. How powerful is the recommendation from someone you know about a service or solution when you receive a link to a website or shares some meaningful information? It’s one-on-one messaging as compared to the mass messaging which has some traits of personalization, but still a mass market message.

That’s what I thought too.

Therein lays the opportunity. Remember all the talk and activity about word-of-mouth marketing that was always the perceived key to success over the years? Well, word-of-mouth marketing hasn’t gone away, it’s just gone dark.  

Pun intended.

So how do you reach the two-thirds of the internet that are currently not visible to you? Most marketers use some form of marketing automation providing us at least the very basic information of  “this was shared”. But what most do not know is shared with whom?

Was it shared externally to the recipient’s organization or internally?  Important to know as dark sharing impacts and influences the buyer’s journey and sales process.

Changing how we track what’s going on.

We are early in the process of discovering the hidden treasure trove of data in dark social, but there are ways to begin to understand how your information is being shared and used.

One way is to add trackable code to URLs someone may copy and paste in messages. Another way is to add trackable code to your website content for when it is copied and pasted.  When publishers participate with you, a short trackable code can be added any text for when it is copied and pasted into a message.

It’s early, and more ways are being developed to track the activity on dark social. But all marketers need to begin to understand and respond to the influence of dark social on their marketing and find ways to leverage what before now, was greatly unseen.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.