Sunday, February 12, 2017

Nine Strategies For Changing Provider Marketing. Do You Have The Courage?

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, to talk of many things: “Of shoes and ships, and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings.”  The Walrus and The Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

From what I have seen it’s pretty much the status quo when it comes to hospital marketing. Smiling happy patients, fluffy messaging that are all about you, shiny and dramatic shots of hi-tech equipment, new buildings with different other visuals, and copy that leaves one with more questions than answers. Not much really in the way of experience, outcomes or framing of expectations that a healthcare consumer could use to make a reasonable decision about seeking treatment.

Sadly, provider marketing can be unintentionally arrogant, pejorative and in many cases oxymoronic. For example, has it ever occurred to anyone that messaging your markets that you care and it’s all about the patient when the data indicates otherwise, is disingenuous?

And having been in the trenches for a very long time trying to bring about change in how providers market, the current methods, and messages of marketing can be traced back to the 80s, on thru the 90s into the 2000s. Lo and behold, we arrive in the 2010s still doing the messaging, with same interruptive approaches, with little if any meaningful differentiation. Spoiler alert- providers are all looking the same.

Given the evolution of the healthcare consumer leaving the provider in its wake, what can be done by hospital marketing to change the tide, find some measure of market dominance and along the way grow revenue, market share and brand?

Here are nine marketing strategies for improving provider marketing.

1.  Brand and competitive position.
Consumers and patients are ready for convenient technology-enabled access to care. Use of mobile healthcare apps is on the rise. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying users needs, and how they want their healthcare needs meet through technology focused on them, will gain new patients and the next generation of physicians. 

2. Engage existing customers and patients.
An individual is only a patient 1/3rd of the time they come in contact with you.  That is during the diagnosis, treatment and recovery phase.  Pre and post this; they are a consumer, not a patient.  So why then is it the only time you meaningfully engage them is during the period when they are a patient?  That doesn't seem like a lot of common sense. Consumer and patient engagement is about all of the time, not just some of the time.  Engaging the individual on a continuous basis builds loyalty and return use or repurchases behavior.

3. Engage the physicians and focus on the doctor experience.
No matter the payment model you will still need a doctors or physician extenders order to get anything done in a healthcare setting. That means engaging physicians in meaningful ways, using the methods, technology, and systems that will make their life easier, improve their productivity and protect or increase their income. An effective and efficient physician has more to do with the impact of cost, quality in your organization then may other factors.

How hard is it for a doctor or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization?  Understand their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in separate care segments. Fix what is broken, keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially.

4. Focus on the consumer/patient experience.
A healthcare provider's ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its patients and potential patients from its competitors - traditional and non-traditional - serves to increase their spending and loyalty to the brand. You need to actively manage the customer experience in total by understanding the client's point of view.  That is, all touch points internally and externally that a healthcare consumer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue.

5. Embrace innovation in healthcare.
Traditional ways of delivering healthcare are going by the wayside.  Price, convenience, access are the drivers in local healthcare.  Find the need, understand the consumer’s behavior, design offering to meet the need not you in a convenient location and price it appropriately. If you can't compete in this way, your market position, share, and revenue will erode.

6. Agility is the name of the game.
Be nimble. Be agile. Be quick.  Healthcare marketing needs to move from the tried and failed to the exceptional, the innovative, the engaged and the motivational. You can't reach the healthcare consumer on an emotional level to make the right choices, treatment and lifestyle decisions as well as purchase decisions in your favor unless you are sufficiently engaged.

7. Get moving on the social media program.
A hospital or health system needs to be where the healthcare consumer is living. And the healthcare consumer is on social media finding the information they need to make choices.  Social media is not a billboard, but an efficient and effective engagement strategy that can enhance the relationship.

8. Understand the multiplicity of markets.
You have five markets: Medicare; Medicaid; Commercial; Exchanges; and Uninsured. Baby Boomers are starting to demand that their health care experience is delivered their way, the way they want when they want. Retail medicine will continue to expand so tailor the health care offerings to the market accordingly. One size does not fit all. Outcomes and price transparency, access and convenience are the future, and the future is now.

9. Quality Transparency will set one free.
An idea that causes the most fear and trepidation among hospital executives and physicians is patients getting access to relevant quality data that they can understand and use to make meaningful choices. Get ready it's here whether you like it or not, and it's just not a marketing technique. It's the right thing to do. Because if you don't have someone else will.  And your quality and price data is out there. All it takes to some creativity to develop a Kayak type website for healthcare and you're at the bottom of the food chain. No circling the wagons. The genie is out of the bottle and never going back.

Change and thrive or stay the same and die your choice.

Healthcare Marketing Matters celebrates a birthday this week. I started writing the blog on February 17, 2007. Ten years is a long time to be writing about provider and vendor healthcare marketing strategy. From humble beginnings when I wondered of anyone would read it at all Healthcare Marketing Matters has grown to over 20,000 page views a month and is read in 52 countries.  My deepest thanks and appreciation for you continued readership and support. Thank you for reading

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, January 29, 2017

Dear CEO, this is how you use social media.

“But HIPAA keeps us from doing social media.”

In light of the above let’s make this simple today by asking this question.  How would the hospital or health system like to create a sustainable, engaging and experienced-based social media strategy and program?

The use of social media for engagement and experience management is one of the business plans for today to grow revenue, market share, and brand.  When one considers that the healthcare consumer and patient have over 145 hospital touch-points impacting experience, engagement and their decision making choices, social media is now a strategic business imperative, not a nice to have.

Marketing is no longer about puffery, grandiose statements or claims of excellence without proof.  That doesn’t work in a retail consumer- driven market.  Marketing in 2017, is now about meaningful engagement, managing the experience and meeting the healthcare consumer’s needs and expectations.

A tall order indeed that takes a strategic business outlook, an unrelenting focus on the meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer, is meaningfully engaging and manages the experience across all touch-points, not just one to two.

So let’s keep this simple and avoid the obvious telltale response of why we can’t do social media. And since the vast majority of providers are still enamored with bricks and mortar with shiny new high-tech equipment and messaging all about you and we care more than the next guy, here is how you can use social media to drive revenue, growth, and brand.

We start today’s lesson with how you would use social media to promote a new MRI. No worry about PHI here! It’s shiny, new and in a building.  

Start with the social media basics and integrate across and channels.

First is an understanding of the social media channels where the hospital or health system needs to be participating.  The following slide illustrates the easy button guide to the hospital using social media.



From the above, you have just used nine social media channels with integrated, clear and concise messaging about the provider and how you use a particular diagnostic tool that looks cool.  There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Now what?

It’s all about alignment in the new word-of-mouth world that is social media.

Effective social media utilization requires alignment and integration.  Danger alert- it can be very tempting to assign social media to one person and start publishing by throwing a lot of stuff against the wall.  To be successful in social media, it takes planning and execution that is in alignment with the healthcare enterprise. 

It comes down to the following seven key factors. 

1.       Do the market research. If you don’t know what social media platforms the healthcare consumer and patients are engaging in, then how can one decide what social media platforms to choose?  Know the audience. Know the markets. Know what information the healthcare consumer is seeking. Know what social media platforms they use to gather information and engage. Secondary research may give one a clue in how to proceed with primary market research in the hospital service area, but these are guides only.  
2.       Build a social media content plan integrated into the overall marketing plan and strategy of the hospital or health system. Include in your plan, goals and objectives, key messages, engagement strategies. How it will be measured and evaluated and who is responsible for executing the plan. What gets measured gets done. Obtain executive buy-in. If leadership does not support the plan or is not engaged in the effort, stop now and find something else to do. 
3.       Evaluate continuously and learn what the healthcare consumer likes and doesn’t like. Test messages. Test engagement strategies.  Fail fast and become the learning organization and not repeating the same mistakes. 
4.       Engage and build a meaningful relationship with the healthcare consumer. Stay away from meaningless fluff and anything that looks like it’s all about the organization.  Listen very carefully to the voice and content in social media and responds accordingly. 
5.       Allocate the resources for someone to do this full time all the time.  Don’t say the hospital doesn’t have it.  Reallocate the marketing budget to social media from more traditional areas. 
6.       Invest in staff training on social media, identifying the skills sets that may be lacking and if need be, hire from the outside. Experience counts as the healthcare enterprise does not have the time for trial and error. 
7.       Budget sufficient is marketing IT resources and systems for measurement, automation and reporting on social media channels and activities.

Social media done correctly will drive revenue, market share, growth, engagement, and brand. It will also provide the healthcare enterprise with a continuous presence in the market that supports and is part of all the other marketing activities. 

In a retail medical environment, social media use builds presence and drives preference.  And you can’t grow revenue, market share, and brand without social media.

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, January 22, 2017

Dear CEO, this is why you need social media.

“We don’t do social media,” says the CEO.

I find that time, and again, CEOs and leaderships teams are making things more complicated than they need to be because of outmoded ideas or misconceptions, especially when it comes to social media. Maybe, though, it’s more about the fear of becoming more accountable, transparent and growth oriented.  Besides thinking you know it all and can do everyone’s job.

It does require letting go of the past, the way you have always done things and realize that you do not have all the answers.

Social media is a two-way conversation.  The vendor can engage and enhance the provider understanding of the issues and manage buyer journey with content that is delivered at the right time, in the right format to enhance the customer’s experience. The healthcare provider can engage the patient and healthcare consumer, position themselves as the solution to the search for high-quality, cost-effective healthcare across channels and build trusted status. 

After all, isn’t that what the surveys are saying? Buyers aka providers, vendors, healthcare consumers and patients, desire their choices in companies to be trusted and are active in social media channels to reach those audiences?

In the simplest of terms, it’s all about being where the audience can be found.

And in real world bottom-line results, you cannot grow revenue, market share, and brand without social media.

Ready, Set, Go -10 Steps for 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.       Create a following on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for example.
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. Social media is all about knowledge and value.
4.       Make sure social media is an active part of your marketing activities.
5.       Make sure that everyone is using the same social media tactics, techniques and materials. All 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.        Use marketing automation for accountability, tracking, etc., and make sure your marketing department has full access to the information.  Mine the data for strategy and new opportunities.
8.       Once one understands the publications and interests of the audience search out relevant content to share. Do not limit yourself to content that is created in-house. Become the well informed, eclectic CEO with a wide variety of thought leadership sources.
9.        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.
10.   Evaluate, monitor performance, make changes as needed in the program or staff and start the cycle again.

Understand that social media channels are living, breathing entities.  They have staying power in the market environment and provide a consistent presence for the enterprise to be easily found, tell the brand story, engage, influence choice, as well as manage experience.  

Don’t so social media?  Then be prepared not to grow.

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, January 15, 2017

This is How Providers Can Make Social Media a Relevant Strategy

“Nobody knows what they are doing” Ricky Gervais
“But it doesn’t have to be that way.” Mike Krivich

Those comments hit the mark regarding social media and providers.  What I see happening, except for a few isolated cases, are providers caught in learning loops for social media. More study, for more understanding in a process eerily similar to the strategic paralysis by analysis process that so many providers experience. Learning and analyzing the newest developments and fearing the future instead of embracing and driving change.

Social media represents a great opportunity for establishing a one-on-one relationship with the patient, aka the healthcare consumer, directed by the healthcare organization that breaks from the pack, by creating a social media healthcare experience that is memorable, exceeding an individual or families experience and expectations.

Most healthcare organizations are still stumbling with using social media and the online experience to drive differentiation, meaningful information, and expertise.   Think of this regarding a channel of communications and engagement that meets the healthcare consumer on their terms but with your messaging.

Social media is about branded content that uses pull-logic marketing instead of push-logic marketing.

In any case, when you look at your social media strategy and presence, does your social media experience:
  
 Ø  Delight your customer?   
Ø  Create sustainable differentiation? 
Ø  Is adaptable to new opportunities? 
Ø  Leverages your investment? 
Ø  Deliver in every situation? 
Ø  Connect with the newly insured? 
Ø  Does it engage the healthcare, consumer? 
Ø  Provide answers or guidance for those looking for solutions to medical challenges? 
Ø  Define experience, outcomes, price and value?

Or, is it just pushing out information that you have deemed valuable to you, but carries neither relevancy in the market nor addressing unmet needs?

The lens of honesty and critical evaluation is needed to evaluate social media efforts objectively.  If the social media program is not doing these things, then chances are nil in delivering an exceptional social media experience. 

Make your social and online presence not just "good enough" because we are still learning, but unique, by putting that learning into action.

And on another social media note.

Physician liaisons: 90% of providers are on social media - are you? Deborah Scheetz, physician relations professional, shares best practices on building physician relations through Facebook. Start connecting now!  This short video on YouTube by Deborah can be very helpful. 






Deborah can also be found on  LinkedIn  at  https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah-scheetz-msc-999a564

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.