Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Do You Know the Value of Your Healthcare Brand?

Changes at the speed of light in the various healthcare marketplaces, impact brands in very significant ways. Mergers, acquisition, new companies and non-traditional models for delivering care, are creating a dizzying array of healthcare brands for the consumer. Some brands go way. Some remain as hybrids, dying a slow death. Some even stay in the market with just a tag-line identifying the parent company.

Your brand image, brand promise and brand architecture have a value that impacts you organization in two ways, revenue and image. Have you quantified that the value your brand has on your revenue stream? And have you created a rock solid brand architecture that accounts for mergers and acquisitions, to eliminate the "my company name Is better" arguments that go on internally post acquisition, when the issues are not addressed up front?

Your brand has a dollar value.

For example, the Walgreens brand has been valued at $1 billion. What this means is that if Wal-Mart, or Target had the same brand awareness and image as Walgreens, their revenues would be $1 billion higher than currently reported. And that value carries over as WAG moves into retail healthcare, out- branding, out-pricing and out-delivering you, the traditional healthcare provider.

Healthcare is changing from a dominated provider model in the U.S. to an employer and consumer-driven model. And that means that your healthcare brand is everything. As you view changes in your organization to talk more about outcomes, quality and price, so should you be talking internally about what the value of your brand is, how it relates to consumers and the steps you need to take in the marketplace to improve.

If you do not know what the dollar value of your brand is, then you are missing an important leverage point negotiations. I mean really, my brand name can't go away because I believe that it has more value than you, or the ever popular, "our brands are equal keep them both". Nonsense. Data talks, all else walks. Know your brand value and it may have a better chance of surviving.

Now, that being said, if you are being acquired by a multibillion dollar company with a strong brand architecture, give it up and count your money. You will survive longer if you go with the program instead of fighting it.

Brand is important in a rapidly consolidating industry.

Healthcare is at the beginning start of a massive consolation from small individual cottage-industry type organizations e.g., specialty pharmacies, home agencies, infusion centers and hospitals to become part of larger organizations to survive. It is more important than ever, that you have clear and unbiased understanding of your brand, its strengths and weaknesses, but most importantly, its dollar revenue value in the marketplace.

As employers and consumer takes more control of their healthcare, your brand will be more important than it is today. But if you don't understand the value of that brand, then you are missing a golden opportunity.

You can continue the conversation with me on:
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For more information, or to discuss your strategic healthcare marketing, customer experience management, marketing/sales integration or start-up needs, you can learn more at my web site the michael J group; email- ;or phone by calling me at 815-293-1471.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is Your Healthcare Marketing Model Evolving?

Healthcare is changing as never before. There is a marketplace momentum developing that will never allow healthcare organizations to go back to the way they were. Accountability, transparency, price and value are the new expectations. Business models need to change to meet the needs and expectation of the evolving healthcare consumer. Which begs the question, is your healthcare marketing model evolving as well?

My guess is probably not.

Doctors, hospitals and insurers are going to have to change their marketing models. The old model of advertise it and they will come is slowly, but inexorably going by the wayside. Ads that are all about the provider, offering limited time discounts on certain test or exams due to the time of the year or date on the wellness calendar, are pretty standard. They offer little if any differentiation. Even the insurer plan ads are starting to look the same. Great offers about benefits, little transparent discussion of price and outcomes for choosing them. Ads across hospitals offer little in the way of building brand equity in the minds of consumers.

Where is the brand equity?

And you really have to figure out how to build brand equity for the consumer in the future healthcare world. Brand equity is not built overnight, it takes years. For insurers they are ahead of the game and probably most doctors, even though their brand equity is more by chance than actual effort and planning. But hospitals, they are way behind the brand equity curve unless you are a Mayo Clinic, M D Anderson, Cleveland Clinic, John Hopkins and a few select others.

Consumers are taking more control.

As employers figure out that not much has changed in the way of healthcare cost reduction, their strongest response will be to provide a fixed dollar contribution to employees, who will shop for their own healthcare plans from insurers and exchanges. They will build their own healthcare networks of who they want in and out. Consumers want choice. Their choice. Just as they have choice in any marketplace. And they are not going to pay for poor quality care or mistakes.

Consumers aren't off the hook in all of this change. They will have to become more knowledgeable, accountable and involved. They will have to learn how to select a health plan, doctor or hospital. And that's your opportunity to begin to change your marketing model and branding efforts.

How can you build brand equity?

There is no simple answer, it is a combination of changing internal processes and systems (customer experience management) to become more consumer-friendly and efficient. It's about adapting technology that will reduce errors and improve decision-making. It's about changing marketing and communication activities from what you do, to the value of what you do. You will need to engage in meaningful ways the healthcare consumer. You will need become price and quality transparent. You will need to respond to each individual consumers healthcare needs.

You will need to build or rebuild your brand, around value-based performance that delivers better care at reasonable prices.

So, is your healthcare model evolving with the new healthcare consumer in mind, or are you still doing things the same way, looking for volume that may not exist?

You can continue the conversation with me on:

For more information, or to discuss your strategic healthcare marketing, customer experience management, marketing/sales integration or start-up needs, you can learn more at my web site the michael J group; email-; or phone by calling me at 815-293-1471.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How Do You Sell to Physicians?

Physicians are the lifeblood of many a healthcare organization. As competition increases for their attention whether it be a hospital, specialty pharmacy, medical device manufacturer, or pharmaceutical company, cutting through the din of messages and relationships can be a daunting task. So how do you cut through all of the chatter and have marketing and sales work together effectively?

Be the solutions provider!

You are supplying solutions to solve the physician practice challenges by providing data-driven or process solutions to those issues in practicing medicine in today's environment of change. And they must at a minimum, accomplish several things: A) practice medicine more efficiently; B) measurably improve the quality of care; C) assist in generating additional revenue; D) are cost effective; E) easy for the physician and office staff to use; and F) reduce the patient hassle factor by cutting down on complaints, or, as we like to say, increase patient satisfaction.

With that in mind, some basic rules of thumb apply:

1) Your sales people must be using a common sales strategy across the enterprise. I have seen too many organizations (hospitals mostly) where everybody's left to their own methods resulting in incorrect messaging and using poorly designed home-grown materials which could have some significant legal repercussions for the organization. Your sales force activities are about relationship selling and acting as the liaison for the physician to your organization. If you don't have a method and training, chances are you will not be as effective as your competition.

2) Use a sales database system to collect information and the marketing department needs to have full access. If your just starting to look at one, marketing needs to be at that table. Don't assume that sales or IT knows what marketing needs. They don't. Systems breed accountability on all sides of the ledger.

3) Create an interdisciplinary marketing and sales advisory committee. Where most organizations fall down is the poor communication and working relationships between sales and marketing. You have to get past the "the feet on the street" don't deliver the brand messages and promise in the right way, and all that marketing is good for is creating stuff, because I need more stuff to leave behind attitudes.

4) Train your marketing department in the sale approach that your sales people are using. This way marketing begins to understand the opportunities and challenges faced, and how your sales staff is trained to overcome them. This means that all marketing materials should be created to be applicable and useful at some point in the sales cycle. It's all about shortening the sales cycle. Effective materials will assist in that goal.

5) Let your marketing people go out on sales calls and major presentations. They can be a new set of eyes and ears as well as providing them with new perspectives on how difficult the job is. Insights from other areas will make you a stronger organization.

6) Cut down on the number of slide you use for presentations. An 80 page slide deck is all about you and nothing about your potential customer. If you have to use more than 10 slides, you don't know what you are talking about and don't understand your audience. Talking head are boring.

7) Have marketing attend you sales meetings and weekly funnel calls. It's about relationships and dialogue. Marketing should have a roll in explaining the organizational strategy, and what they are doing to generate meaningful leads for sales to follow-up on.

8) Joint marketing and sales goals and objectives should be established. Share in the pain and share in the gain.

9) Constantly evaluate and begin again.

As healthcare reform continues to be implemented and becomes more fully defined, the consolidation of healthcare providers will continue unabated. Physicians will play an exceedingly important role in the revenue opportunities for your organization. The physician is your partner. Ignore them at your own risk.

You can continue the conversation with me on:

For more information, or to discuss you marketing and sales integration needs, you can learn more at my web site the michael J group; email- ; or phone by calling me 815-293-1471.