Sunday, July 24, 2016

Providers- Is it time to stop learning about social media and finally use it?

I know, the headline may be a bit misleading, but it got your attention, didn’t it?  We never stop learning if the organizational focus is to grow organically. But 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 the change.

In the new world of healthcare where price, quality and a newly insured healthcare consumer is paying more out-of-pocket costs for healthcare, social media marketing represents an opportunity that can be used advantageously to meet healthcare consumer and patient demands for a better experience.

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 as 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 is that you have deemed valuable to you, but carries neither relevant meaning 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.


Michael is an independent 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.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Can QR codes finally find a place in healthcare marketing?

Let’s go back in time shall, we? Remember in 2010 when QR codes were all the rage? QR codes promised a vast mobile-tagging world where the consumer could reach out and just scan the QR code to access information or buy stuff. 

It was back then that I authored a post in Healthcare Marketing Matters explaining what QR codes were and how they could benefit healthcare marketing. It was really about the engagement and experience of the healthcare consumer or patient. The post was published on December 13, 2010, entitled, Using QR Codes in Healthcare Marketing and it’s a live link for your convenience should one care to revisit.

That sure was a long time ago.

Well, like all things in our “what have you done lately for me” society, the excitement soon fell by the wayside at the lack of consumer adoption. Occasionally one will see a QR code here and there (see Snapchat), but it never really caught on with the general consumer for a variety of reasons. But maybe it was because one had to download a QR code app scanner and people were too busy downloading and playing Subway Surfer or some other game of the moment.

For Apple and Samsung, it would be great if I could just turn my camera on and scan the QR code without an app.  No charge either for the useful product update suggestion.

But maybe that is about to change?

What’s funny about all of this is the adage that nothing is new in healthcare marketing, it's either been discussed and tried to varying degrees of success or failure in the past, or somebody is already doing it today. Staying abreast of changes in the market, even if it’s another vertical and putting the old’ thinking cap on, can keep the healthcare marketer ahead of the game.

And isn’t that what healthcare marketing is supposed to be all about, identifying a need and providing a solution? Especially in consumer/patient engagement and experience, which we all know providers excel at all the time.

Food manufacturers, GMOs and what they have to do with all of this.

In an article by Greg Trotter, Chicago Tribune published on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, QR CODES? Consumers may need to scan packages for GMO information, summarizes the attempts by the food companies to use QR codes in place of on-packaging labeling in a bill before the U.S. House. The passage of this bill could very well alter the consumer perceptions and use of QR codes opening a new world of engagement and experience possibilities for providers. Here comes the customer using QR Codes because they do like to eat, but not necessarily eat GMOs.

What are QR Codes?

As a memory refresh, QR codes were developed by Toyota subsidiary Denso-Wave in 1994 for tracking parts in vehicle manufacturing.   QR Code means Quick Response Code because it is intended for its content to be decoded at high speed. The QR Code is a two-dimensional code consisting of black modules arranged in a square on white background. It is readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera and smartphones. QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave Incorporated.

A convenience application aimed at mobile phone users. And they fit very well into Inbound Marketing too. 

I think QR Codes have great application potential for use in the healthcare industry.

Tag you’re it!

Mobile-tagging provides the ability to communicate information to a user, be it the URL to your website or microsite, phone number of an account representative, display text or used to compose an email or text message. The QR Code can be placed nearly anywhere and in just about any medium you can think.

Immediate Response for Return on Marketing Investment

Now instead of asking someone to dial a number, go to a website, your QR Code in whatever medium you are using can be scanned immediately with the user’s phone. It could even connect the user’s phone to a wireless network and place the call to you.  It could be to a website, specific page health information, the patient portal. Find-a-Doc or anything else one is marketing.

Use your imagination!

Six years ago the thought of using QR codes for in healthcare marketing for engaging the healthcare consumer or patient and managing the experience may have been a wee bit ahead of its time. 

It could be the use of QR codes time has finally come in healthcare marketing.

Maybe I should be a futurist too.

Don’t think so, see, “How to Use Patient Satisfaction Data to Improve Healthcare Quality”, by Ralph Bell Ph.D. and Michael J Krivich, January 2000, ASQ Press. A book back-in-the-day that explored the uses of patient satisfaction data to improve quality, a full ten years before the healthcare industry figured out it can be a game changer in care. And if you go back into the archives of Healthcare Marketing Matters, I have written on strategic marketing topics and strategies that are three to four years ahead of where providers are today.

Michael is an independent healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters has over 20,000 page views a month.  He is also 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 Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Healthcare Vendor Sales Growth Strategy, Thought Leadership & Social Media Selling?

Healthcare sales are involved. But when one isn’t utilizing the social media tools of LinkedIn, Twitter,  company blog,  trade publication news articles, thought leadership, etc.,  the job just got harder. Social media use in sales is about amplification.  An amplification tool for what you’re selling utilizing the Internet of Things that key channel segments pay attention too.

Use of social media isn’t a feature and benefits selling approach. Use of social media is a solution/thought leadership selling approach. It’s an inbound advisory approach as opposed to outbound cold selling. Social media is not only sales and marketing intelligence but about sales and marketing demand generation as well.

Let me explain.

In an age where messaging is quickly becoming undifferentiated and looking like me too,  how then can the sales client executive hunter find ways to differentiate one’s company’s message?

I am not slamming any marketing department or product managers.   Marketing and product managers need to be integrated closely with sales. In the end, though, messaging for sales faces the “rubber meets the road” test at every prospect or client interaction. 

Still more challenges.

Another challenge sales face is how providers and others for that matter go out with RFPs and RFIs sent to a select few vendors. When a supplier receives an RFP or RFI, the sender has already done 75 percent of the detailed search work.  The prospect company has already identified the problem, a solution and potential vendors to talk too.

You don’t become a trusted adviser without thought leadership or social media selling.

Notice that I said provides the answer to solving the problem. Through the Internet of Things and other social media sources, providers have done their homework in understanding who the market leaders are that can provide solutions to the business challenge at hand. Companies want to know what people are saying about the vendor, and what the seller is offering up in thought leadership.

Social media amplifies. It’s a ready-made sales executive bullhorn.  

So it reasons that if the vendor is not expanding the message with social media and thought leadership on the Internet of Things, then it’s not a surprise that the vendor is left out.

The point is this, social media such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and other outlets can become a useful tool in the arsenal of the sales client executive. Just add compelling content and sharing of pertinent articles.

Client executives need to be on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and sharing news articles; the company thought leadership and your thoughts about topics.  

One needs to be using the social media sharing buttons commonly found on publication website stories, blogs, and other thought leadership venues to your audiences. One needs to subscribe to the major story email newsletters in your vendor segment to share those articles.

Client executives and marketing need to collaborate closely with social media and the use thereof for the benefit of the company.

When that RFP, RFI or call comes in the door out of the blue, the client is already in the decision stage of the buyer’s journey.  Tag, you’re part of the final section process.

Now you are considered a thought leader and a solution provider, not a salesperson just trying to meet a quota.

Michael is an independent healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters has over 20,000 page views a month.  He is also 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 Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Ten steps for a successful & engaging hospital social media program. Are you ready?

Social media for many hospitals and health systems are an underutilized marketing strategy.  For a variety of reasons some hospitals and health systems only dabble in social media as a marketing strategy.  We won’t go in any great depth into those reasons or why, but more into how to construct a social media marketing strategy, that will educate, engage and build the brand in some significant ways for the hospital or health system.

The days of saying “we don’t do social media” or only doing it part-time are over.  Healthcare consumers, patients, doctors, employees, volunteers and other stakeholders are already on and interacting in many social media channels. They engage, share information, recommend, praise and complain. 

The why.

A social media strategy is just not about attracting the Young Invincible or the newly insured or Medicare population. It’s about your strategy to build the brand, engage healthcare consumers and patients manage your reputation and grow the healthcare enterprise. Remember that growth is good.


What to do.

What follows for your consideration are the steps for a hospital or health system to embark on with a fully integrated and efficient 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.  Take a step back and look at the marketing operations. Find efficiencies and increase effectiveness. Stop doing what doesn’t work and move those resources to social media. 
3.       Do the market research to understand consumers and patient use of social media, content they are looking for and their needs. Do not guess. 
4.       Create the social media communications plan and content calendar. Map out for the next 12 months what you are doing and when.  Make sure it’s integrated into the master marketing plan. 
5.       Find internally or hire the staff that knows social media for the job full-time.  It takes dedicated  FTE  for successfully running an integrated, efficient, engaging and effective social media program. 
6.       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. By regular basis I mean, several times a day, every day, seven days a week. 
7.       Measure everything.  Evaluate.  Adjust based on your findings. Redeploy budget as needed. 
8.       Use social media with your physicians and employees to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty. Engage you employees and have them follow, re-tweet and share. Follow your staff, key doctors, etc. Understand, who you key community influencers, are and follow them. Get them to follow you as well. 
9.       Use marketing automation in social media to follow your competitors, key doctors, schedule tweets, measure engagement, schedule key physicians tweets, links content, etc. 
10.   Consider outsourcing as a last resort.

The bottom line is that the healthcare consumer and patients are out in social media searching for the hospital, health system or physician. So it is probably about time that the hospital, health system or physician is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

Michael is an independent healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters has over 20,000 page views a month.  He is also 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 Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.