Sunday, March 15, 2009

Strategy vs Tactical Marketing

Stewart vs. Cramer

First this message. If you did not see the Jon Stewart's interview of Mad Money Jim Cramer from CNBC on Comedy Central Daily Show, you really need to see what everyone is talking about. I actually felt sorry for Cramer, but hey, CNBC needs to get its act together and figure out what their responsibility is in financial reporting. Yea for the little guy! Thanks Jon.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program........

Hospital Advertising, my favorite subject

Seeing an increase in hospital advertising. Once again, it’s not clear what people are attempting to accomplish. That's because the strategic essence of marketing is missing.

Look, anybody can create an ad.

Anybody can hear the CEO, run out, spend some money and throw it up against the wall to see what sticks. How is your advertising supporting the business objectives? What is your brand message? Is a billboard on a busy expressway where people zip along at 65 miles an hour really that memorable? How about a call to action? What does your brand stand for and how is that supported by advertising? Do you even know what your brand is?

Please stop insulting consumers with promises of "World Class Healthcare". Unless you are Mayo, The Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins etc, you don't have a world class healthcare offering.

Maybe you have missed the headlines and stories, but the US has the most expensive healthcare in the world, with some pretty dismal outcomes. There is nothing about a community hospital that is world-class. Unless you have people coming from around the world for care; not a believable message for me. And that goes for a lot of consumers too.

Really now. No awards like The Top 100 Hospitals, US News and World Reports ranking, Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award or even a JD Powers Patient Satisfaction award, how can you say with a straight face that your healthcare is world-class?

With that kind of marketing coming from agencies and marketing departments, this is what makes it so difficult to get people to understand the true nature of marketing. It is all about the marketing strategy. And there is a great gaping hole lacking some serious marketing strategy.

Figure out the right strategy first, then the rest comes easy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Billions and Billions and Billions......

$150 billion dollars for healthcare in the stimulus bill, $19 billion of which is for IT. Think everyone is trying to figure out how they get theirs? And I don't mean the hospitals and IDNs. I figure McKesson and Cerner are well on their way, including a host of other niche players (small and large) healthcare IT providers trying to figure out (as if they haven't already) what's in it for them.

With all the different systems and no common standards will this turn into a really more expensive version of the Betamax vs VHS video tape format wars from the mid 1980s with that ancient technology of VCR?

Now the budget contains another $600 billion plus for healthcare reform. All told, this totals in excess of $700 billion. Just the first down payment for fixing the system folks. I bet the AHA and AMA are busy figuring out how much they can get without having to change anything.

Like I said in previous blogs, its all about politics. Obama being a veteran of Chicago politics, knows that when he figured out how everybody gets theirs, reform happens. It has to happen. It is going to be expensive.

Now for all you CEOs out there who think they can hold on for a couple more years and things will go back to the way they were, hold on for the ride. If we can come up with a European style healthcare system- maybe. If we have the Great Britain Universal Healthcare System- here comes rationing and long waits.

To all those hospital marketing departments out there, here is a clue for future activity regardless of the system. Americans hate to wait in lines. So, your job is to figure out who can pay privately to not wait in queues for service. That's the nugget.

Why? Think about what happens when you suddenly increase demand and all those hospital beds that have been taken out of service. Combine that with a primary care physician shortage and lack of RNs, you get the idea.

Anything else and you have to hire me as a consultant.