Monday, November 23, 2015

Does image, font, and ethnicity choices matter in marketing?

Maybe it’s a just a case of product managers and marketing just not paying attention? Or, could it be that an issue of group think took place, and no one was willing to raise their hand and say, “This is wrong.” and explain why? 

Here are two images making its way around social media most likely causing some brand embarrassment and bad PR to the companies involved.  If they are lucky, it becomes more of a consumer going really and chuckling.  But the visual loss via social media sharing can label the company and brand as “idiots”.   

Here are the two images. You be the judge.

In the end, though, images, fonts and ethnicity always matter and matter greatly. Pretty embarrassing to the brand because it seems that no one was thinking or paying attention.

Healthcare providers are not immune either.

Consider nationally recognized health system, running a marketing campaign on prostate screening campaign that started the day after national guidelines with the national PR that came out about the ineffectiveness of prostate screening?  It was pretty funny to see that commercial run right after the news segment on the topic. It looks like the health system is driving inappropriate utilization.

Or the hospital that was laying the claim to being a top cardiovascular performer with the award logo in the current advertisement proclaiming greatness. Never mind that the award logo was from three years ago with the year of the award in the logo?  And that they hadn’t won the “quality award” for the three prior years. Maybe the unintended consequence was the healthcare consumer was asking why you weren’t a top performer for the past three years.

The point is that marketing needs to exercise leadership, not stupidity.  We need to pay attention to images, fonts, and ethnicity in our campaigns.  Mistakes happen, and no one is immune, but these? 

That is a lack of focus and understanding. If it’s wrong, don’t do it or pull it. Better yet, correct it if you can.

Mistakes like theses in marketing are inexcusable.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

What is required of hospital marketing in healthcare 2.0?

When one looks across providers delivering healthcare and the marketing, one has to wonder if there is an understanding of the importance of marketing in healthcare 2.0.   Which begs the question in the title, will big box hospitals have a chance of surviving in a highly competitive, efficient retail medical marketplace without clear and unambiguous marketing involvement and leadership?

I don’t know is the honest answer.

Here’s why.

Healthcare 2.0 is a market animal that is completely different than anything Hospital leadership has ever had to contend.  And this animal has teeth with little regard for whether a hospital or health system survives. Highly competitive, innovative and retail in nature, the sole focus is on understanding and meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer.  Note this importance of that sentence.  It’s focused on meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer, not the hospital or health system.

That implies that the hospital or health system evolves from being in the hospital business forever in search of a revenue stream to being in the healthcare business meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer regardless of clinical service, time, and place.

What is healthcare marketing’s role? Here are five areas for consideration.

1. Voice of the Customer

VoC is far more important now in healthcare.  There are over 147 healthcare consumer and patient touch-points in the typical hospital.  Each interaction is the opportunity to hear about organizational performance.  Then most importantly is the ability to use that information in an actionable way to identify and meet healthcare consumer needs.

2. Using market data to manage the patient experience

Patient experience means just that- not one isolated clinical or administrative service experience but understanding what that patient experience is at all touch points.  Next is the challenge of managing that experience to its fullest potential for the benefit of the patient and the organization. Patient experience is an integrative process across the entire organization internally and externally.  The rallying cry in any hospital should be one view of the patient, one patient view of the organization. It is not another quality program or flavor of the day. 

3. From demand generation to demand management

The hospital is no longer the center of the healthcare universe.   Marketing needs to understand what the demand for healthcare services will be, when required and manage service demand in making sure that the hospital or health system has the right resources, in the right place, at the right time to meet demand.  The days are rapidly slipping away where marketing will be driving demand to fill hospital beds. They will drive demand to the appropriate place and location of service.

4.  Preparing the hospital for enhanced competition

It’s a sad but true, hospitals and health systems continue to fall behind non-traditional providers and new entrants into the market. Hospitals are losing share and revenue to others.  There are many reasons for this, but the most striking is the inability of traditional providers to connect the dots through technology, data and a deep understanding of the healthcare consumer to meet their needs.   It’s about the capacity to have the market research and internal data to draw actionable insights to meet the healthcare consumer’s needs and competition. 

Is it any wonder that Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart are leading the way and taking revenue and share from providers?  Their deep understanding of the consumer and the dynamics of price, choice and convenience give these companies and others an edge that hospitals are missing.

5. From outbound features and  interruptive marketing, to inbound value solutions marketing
Value marketing is making the case to the healthcare consumer how you are solving their medical problem, offering a solution, giving results and even making them happy.  

Value marketing is about a creative exchange between people and organizations in the marketplace.  It is a dynamic transaction that continually changes based on the needs of the individual compared to what the healthcare organization has to offer.

In the end, it’s all about giving the consumer what they want not what the hospital or system wants. That is healthcare 2.0. Welcome to the new marketing reality.

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What does it take to implement a strategic healthcare social media program?

A lot of discussions occurs nearly every day regarding social media in healthcare.  Providers and some vendors still continue to lag in taking advantage of this channel for amplification of the brand message. The need for healthcare companies to actively use and mine the social media channels in reaching, engaging and influencing favorable decision and choices is no longer a nice to have but a business critical skill competency.

It’s easy to talk about the rationale and the importance of an effective and efficient social media program.  Or, to suggest social media channels as a starting point to drive engagement and business. It’s another thing to discuss the how you do it in a time of scarce marketing resources, lack of knowledge or the willingness to lead change.

What follows for your consideration are steps that need to be taken within providers and vendors to embark on an integrated and measurable social media program.

      1.   It starts with leadership. If marketing does not have Board, CEO and executive leadership support, it’s not going anywhere. Why, because it all about resource allocation and slaying some sacred cows.
2.       Improve the organizational marketing process. Let face it, we all do things that don’t make any sense or has become so ingrained we react without thinking. Take a step back and look at the marketing processes. Find efficiencies and increase effectiveness. Stop doing what doesn’t work and move those resources to social media.
3.       Find the one person in the organization that knows social media and put them full time on the job or hire someone.  It takes an FTE dedicated to run a successfully integrated, efficient, and engaging social media program.
4.       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.
5.       Measure everything.  Evaluate.  Adjust based on your findings. Redeploy budget as needed.
6.       Use social media with brand evangelists, followers, customers, physicians, employees, etc., to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.
7.       Develop a content plan and editorial calendar.
8.       Repurpose all content across social media channels.
9.        Make it interesting and about the challenges the organization is solving.  All about you is boring and glossed over.  All about your customer’s or patient’s and how you are helping will.
10.   In the end if the human resources are not available in the department, consider outsourcing the social media function.
The bottom line is that the multiple stakeholders and audiences are out in social media searching for answers.  So it is probably about time that the provider or vendor is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

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

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Are hospital/systems missing the Health Insurance Exchange marketing opportunity?

The Federal government and insurers opened the health insurance exchanges on November 1 for 2016. In its third year now, individuals and families are renewing or selecting new health insurance products. And what are hospitals and health systems doing in the lead up to and the reopening of the exchanges?
Nothing. Nothing at all.   

Instead, hospitals and system are still engaged in interruptive outbound marketing with meaningless slogans and platitudes about our focus is on you, quality care, impressive facilities, technology and wellness programs that people have little interest.  All the while the healthcare consumer is looking for information on being able to choose plans that may or may not include the hospital or health system.

It’s like going to Vegas and rolling the dice to see what happens.  Ops threw snake eyes at the table. A group of newly insured and renewals went in a different direction, and the hospital is not in that plan or network.

I can sum it up with good…bye…revenue.

After all, the market in many ways is still to a great extent fee-for-service. Are hospitals and health systems paying attention to the needs of the healthcare consumer? 

Apparently not.

Providers have an enormous stake in participating actively and reaching out to the exchange marketplace buyers to choose plans that include you. So where is the marketing opportunity for hospitals because not everyone will be eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage?

In case, one thinks that all you have to do is sit back and deal with the new demand for care, how can one be sure that the newly insured healthcare consumer will choose plans inclusive of the provider? Right now one can't. Unless of course marketing starts an inbound marketing program that educates about insurance and the value brought to the healthcare consumer by the hospital as part of the choice of plans/networks. That also means giving them reason to choose based on price, experience, and outcome transparency.

One has a real opportunity to launch an effective inbound healthcare marketing campaign to influence choice at this point, which will have a direct bottom line impact. Wait and it will be too late to change the course of the healthcare consumer choosing the plan and network.

Now in my third year that I have been writing about this opportunity for hospitals and health systems, it would seem that hospitals and health systems still don’t get it.

Being customer focused means that you recognize the healthcare consumer’s needs and respond accordingly.

It’s not that hard. Really. It’s not.

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