Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone.  
Best wishes for a successful & prosperous 2016!

And thank you for reading.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Top 10 posts from Healthcare Marketing Matters in 2015

What a year for healthcare marketing 2015 has been. The changes taking place in healthcare marketing for providers and vendors are moving faster than a light saber.  And the market demand for adequately meeting needs, be it patient, the healthcare consumer, physician or providers will grow exponentially in 2016. Healthcare consumerism is at the forefront, and the shift has begun from interruptive outbound marketing to inbound value and solution marketing. Have it your way could be a theme in 2016 for providers and vendors for responding with value and solution oriented marketing to market dynamic shifts and competition.

With that in mind, here are the top 10 posts from Healthcare Marketing Matters in 2015.

As 2015 comes to a close, this is my last post until 2016. Thank you for reading Healthcare Marketing Matters. 

1. November 7,  1,169 views – 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.

     2. July 26, 953 views - Defiant to the end, hospital closes. Nobody cares?

Dateline Anywhere USA. Hospital anywhere closed today after serving the community for 80 years. Beset by changes in reimbursement, competition from retail medicine, telehealth, innovation and an empowered healthcare consumer, hospital leadership and Board of Directors could not adapt to the new healthcare market.  Several hundred employees lost their jobs.  No one in the community seemed to care, as reported in the local paper.

     3. January 31, 895 views – What does a customer focused hospital or healthcare enterprise look like?

The question was indeed fortuitous, as the news coverage this week in various hospitals and provider focused news outlets, reported that consumerism is one of the top concerns on CEO minds these days.

 But the answer to the question is not a simple as it may seem. There is no checklist of “if I do this and this, I will be a customer focused hospital or health system, and the healthcare consumer will think so too”. The answer to the question is a two-part answer. And a hospital cannot arrive at the promised land of being a customer-focused healthcare enterprise unless it accomplishes part two of the answer. 
         4.  August 16, 896 views -  Is it time to make hospital marketing stickier?

With all the things that hospital leadership and healthcare marketing executives have on their plates and keeping them up at night, here’s a new one.  And unfortunately, it’s out of one’s control, and no exceptions are allowed.

The economy has shifted from a product and service economy to an experience economy. Hospitals and health systems, any healthcare provider, is operating in an economy that is radically different than the past.

5. September 6, 850 views - How do you market quality in a healthcare consumer-driven market?

The interesting question isn't it?  Well, I posed a similar question in my  Healthcare Marketing Matters blog back on March 31, 2013. And so far it’s had 5,200 page views.  Some questions never seem to get answered or go away.  So this is an update looking through the lens of the market changes occurring during the last couple of years.
It presupposes that healthcare consumers have some idea of what they need in the way of healthcare services. 

      6. August 30,  839 views – Is healthcare consumer/ patient engagement all of the time the new reality?

As healthcare continues its rapid evolution into a far more accountable, cost-effective, quality outcome and consumer-driven model, it begs the question, is engagement now an all of the time a new reality? Secondary to that question is, are healthcare providers prepared for that new marketing reality?

      7.  May 9, 804 views – Is the smartphone the new doctor for physician independence?

The healthcare consumer will shell out $345 billion dollars this year for health insurance, co-payments, and deductibles. On top of that, they will spend another $271 billion on health-related items like gyms memberships, weight loss programs, exercise equipment, etc. That's a whopping $626 billion dollars out-of-pocket that is expected to rise for the foreseeable future.

The healthcare consumer and patient are demanding value, price and quality transparency from healthcare providers. Customers want retail medicine, mHealth, and Telemedicine. All the while healthcare providers focus on market dominance and acquire physician practices to create market heft and then wonder why consumers are cranky?

      8.  January 4, 790 views – Really? The hospital doesn’t do social media?

Imagine my surprise when I heard some hospital leadership types make the statement that “the hospital does not do social media.” And proudly I may say as if it’s some badge of honor. That kind of leadership points to a healthcare enterprise that has hunkered down with self-imposed barriers, unable to adequately understand the nature or respond appropriately, to business model changes required in today’s healthcare environment.

      9.  January 10, 790 views – How can a hospital start the social media effort?

Social media is here to stay and is becoming an ever increasing focus on the healthcare consumer in searching out hospital and health care information.  As the healthcare consumer becomes more adept at using mHealth, informational websites for price and quality data,  Facebook, Yelp, Twitter and other outlets, the trend for hospitals not playing effectively,  or engaging the healthcare consumers in social media is lost market share and revenue.  It’s a straight line to the bottom line by not engaging in and meeting the informational and communication needs of the healthcare consumer.

     10.   February 15, 767 views – The healthcare consumer lives in a multichannel environment; the response is?


The other day I was updating my Healthcare Consumer & Patient Experience Matrix, when from the sheer size; I counted over 145 different touch-points along eight dimensions of interaction, that a healthcare consumer is exposed to for engagement and experience. That is an awful lot of information used consciously and subconsciously by a healthcare consumer or patient.  And there probably a few more as well that play a role in the process.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you.  Best wishes for a prosperous and successful 2016.

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Are you using an OODA Loop in your healthcare marketing?

The healthcare vendor world regardless of product or channel is a very competitive place with clear winners and losers. It’s a winner take all proposition with hospital and health systems, hence the need for a sales and marketing strategy that can give an edge. And that can be difficult in a parallel world of messages, product capability and solutions.

Let’s first start with what is an OODA Loop? Developed by USAF military strategist Colonel John Boyd, OODA- Observe, Orient, Decide and Act applied it to military combat operation process at the strategic level. It is now making its way into the business world and how a competitive edge can be gained resulting in sales, growth, and revenue. This approach cycle favors agility over raw power in dealing with individuals or groups of individuals in any endeavor.

Besides the obvious goal of winning the sales, the activity of sales and marketing is to get inside the decision-making process of a company.  Boyd has postulated that decision-making takes place in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. Now, any sales and marketing team of a company that can process this cycle quickly observing and reacting to events more rapidly than a competitor, or to a competitor’s mistake, can get inside of the process and again a competitive and tactical advantage.

But first, let me take a moment to apologize my readers. The above-shortened explanation does not do the nature or complexity of OODA Loops justice. It serves in a small way to at least provide a conceptual framework worthy of further investigation.

Now think about how this applies to sales and marketing cycles for healthcare vendors in the provider space. 

Depending on the healthcare product or service, the sales and marketing cycle can be over a very long time span that could be defined in months or some cases a year or more. Sales and marketing gather information (observe), form a plan of action around customer activity, their intentions and competitors (orient), make decisions and act on them. This cycle is continuous in nature given the changing market dynamics, companies, needs, and requirements. 

The precise application of this process gives the healthcare vendor the advantage over a competitor who is merely reacting to conditions as they happen, or just isn’t paying attention to the opportunity. It also allows for the sale and marketing team of the healthcare vendor to recognize and capitalize on competitor mistakes, forcing them to spend time and resources in correcting the error.  By the time the competitor realizes what has happened and reacts, the headline and story have already been written. It’s too late, and they have lost any tactical advantage.

A word of caution is in order. More often than not, teams working the OODA Loop often get stuck in the D (decision) and no action is taken allowing the competitor to gain the upper hand. If a healthcare vendor is going to use the OODA Loop process, then they have to understand that decisions need to be made.  Otherwise, it is just a waste of time, energy, and resources.

So what does it take?
  • A far more sophisticated understanding of the OODA process than what is here.
  • Sales and marketing team which is highly integrated, collaborative and responsive.
  • Sales and marketing operations built on agility.
  •  Creation of an OODA Loop Team.
  •  An ability to respond rapidly to changing conditions measured in minutes and hours, not days or weeks.
  • A culture that accepts ambiguity and can tolerate rapid shifts in strategy and tactics.
  • An aggressive mindset that recognizes competitor mistakes and can drive action and accountability in responding. 
  • The ability to rapidly shift sales and marketing resources.
  •  Abilities to be different and succeed.

Nine steps that are a tall order for most healthcare vendors and many in their wildest dreams will never be able to do this.  But then, all you have to do is learn and use OODA Loops to beat your healthcare vendor competitors into submission in the market.

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Success in 2016 will be due to pipeline marketing?

Smart healthcare vendors converted to pipeline marketing, and that may be the answer as to why you are losing sales and revenue.

And with solution value marketing, lead gen just doesn’t work very well.  Why may you ask? Simply put, in traditional lead generation marketing through plans, strategies and tactics create Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). In turn, the sales executives evaluate the lead to determine if they become Sales Accepted Leads (SALs).  

It’s akin to sales cold calling the difference being that marketing is driving the cold in calling. The “hook” is just using thought leadership, solution and value marketing to cast the widest possible audience in the hopes that someone will bite. Then when someone bites the marketing conversation goes something like this “Look we generated MQLs, and it only took 5 MQLs to get 1 SALs”. 
And I know because I did that too.

The measure of success is not how many MQLs were generated that became SALs for marketing, click through percentage or total touches.  The success measure is marketing’s impact on revenue and growth.  And that comes from pipeline marketing, not from lead gen marketing.

In pipeline marketing, the marketer prioritizes converting leads into revenue rather than generating leads.   Pipeline marketing is inclusive of all channels, campaigns, and activities.  Pipeline marketing is what you are doing, while content marketing, inbound marketing and growth hacking is how you do it.

The priority is on expanding the entire funnel and converting those opportunities into revenue. One uses down-funnel sales metrics as the measures of success not just the top of the funnel indicators.
The successful attributes of pipeline marketing include:

  • Complete marketing alignment with sales
  • Optimization of down-funnel sales metrics
  • Use of marketing automation tools, CRM and attribution models
  • An understanding of the customer persona, journey, and touch-points
  • A focus on content marketing, inbound marketing and growth hacking

I know it’s not just as simple as that. It takes a lot of work in changing the culture, interactions and process of an organization to successfully pipeline market.

Many will disagree with this, and some business development people I know will say marketing generates leads, period.

All I have to say is, have you looked at your financials lately? Just generating leads does not work.  You’re competitors have figured that out. Now it’s your turn.

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

Sunday, December 6, 2015

How is your hospital/system marketing allocated for 2016?

Marketing budgets for 2016 are almost completed if the provider is running on a calendar year or pretty close to it.  Though, I do know of some hospitals and systems that still haven’t figured marketing spend and won’t for a couple of months into the New Year.  But let’s assume for the discussion that at least one knows the total direct marketing spend allocated to tactics.
Much of the allocations assigned to the strategies/tactics by the marketing plan based on the strategic, operational and financial plan of the provider have been outlined.  But be that as it may, the question becomes has one seriously looked at the channel tactics, or was it just a rote exercise of assigning percentages based on what marketing has always accomplished?

This is an important question.

Health care is far more consumer and medical retail focused than in the previous year, and that trend is not slowing down or stopping anytime soon.  The result requires a change in tactics and the corresponding dollar allocations to reach patients and the healthcare consumers where they are, not where one wants them to be.  It is also important to shift from features and benefits marketing to value marketing to drive revenue and growth for the hospital or system.

Today’s marketing in providers should be all about value, price, outcomes, and experience to give patients, physicians or healthcare consumer a reason for choosing you.  A new messaging mindset and execution are needed as well as tactics to meet the needs of the audiences.  In considering and responding to the needs of the provider audiences, appropriate utilization, revenue and growth will occur.  It is a pretty simple straight line to brand and revenue growth.

That is if the provider is willing to change.

As a recommendation that takes into account all that we know about healthcare consumers and patient, how they make choices, search and spend the $350 billion they will shell out of pocket for premiums, co-pays, and deductibles, marketing needs to change.It’s all about adding value and how the hospital/system adds value to someone’s life. And one can’t do that in provider marketing if one continues to allocate and spend marketing dollars as always.

Everyone’s budgets are different so here is some food for thought and consideration on the direct marketing spend and percentage of dollars to apply.

Inbound Marketing 40 percent allocation:
Content creation, social media, SEO, website, mobile, blogging, thought leadership, behavioral emails, experience, engagement, value

Public Relation/Media Relations 25 percent
Press relations print and electronic, speakers and events

Voice of the Customer/research 15 percent

Outbound/ interruption marketing 10 percent
Sponsorships, emails, advertisements, direct mail

Marketing systems   10 percent
CRM, marketing automation, marketing analytics, ROI measurement

In a healthcare consumer retail medical retail focused marketing environment, it’s all about driving revenue and growth by giving individuals a reason to choose you. 

It’s simple, but hard to do.

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