Sunday, April 16, 2017

14 Steps for Crisis Communications in an Age of Social Media & Customers as the Paparazzi

I am not going to pile on United, though they have had a bad few weeks with two full-blown public relations crisis’s in social media in the last three weeks.  But it does make one wonder if United has any capacity to learn from their mistakes given the flow of events and missteps of the past few days.

Are you paying attention?

If companies are not paying attention, especially hospital and health systems, on how the public is the paparazzi, then they can expect sooner rather than later,  that they will experience a meltdown of the provider brand and reputation through their carelessness and folly.

What happens when the social media channel turns bad on the hospital or health system?

Conventional wisdom used to say that a public relations crisis were a three-day story. Ten years ago that was the case.  Today, however, it’s a different story with social media, Facebook live and any of the other distribution channels now available.  Before, a PR crisis could be contained locally or regionally. Now with live video and social media streaming, it can become a global crisis in a mere matter of minutes.



I am not minimizing in any fashion the seriousness of what is taking place. It’s to get one’s attention. Sometimes it becomes way too easy to panic. And that needs to be avoided at all costs. Just ask United.

Take these steps to mitigate the social media communications crisis to protect the brand and organizational reputation. Many of the steps are parallel and not sequential.

The 14 steps for a public relations crisis driven by the consumer paparazzi and social media:

1.)    Do treat this as a communications failure and have a social media crisis communications plan already in place. 
2.)    Care, concern, and compassion still rule the message and the days that follow. 
3.)    Don’t jump right to the “we followed policy and staff acted appropriately.”  That makes you tone deaf and unresponsive. Plus those kinds of remarks will just further add more combustible fuel to the raging fire. 
4.)    Don’t change your message or position every day. You will look foolish and unprepared. 
5.)    Understand what happened and why. 
6.)     Identify who the influencers will be to add voice and impact the conversation. 
7.)    Actively monitor your online reputation. 
8.)    Avoid the informational black hole.  Be ready with appropriate information and press statements.  You can’t hold a news conference every time you want to say something. 
9.)    Have social media appropriate messaging that is clear and concise.
10.) Integrate your response across all social media activities. Remember that some reporters use Twitter as a basis for information and facts without verifying the authenticity of the information. 
11.) If the organization blew it, take ownership.  No excuses, the appearances of excuses or rude behavior are allowed.  Social media users are a pretty savvy group and will see right through it. It will only make matters worse.  
12.) Integrate paid and earned media.  
13.) Have clear rules of social media engagement by employees.   
14.)  Don’t forget to use your staff and their access to social media and how they can influence the conversation.  Employees are your secret weapon in this battle.

And lastly, learn from United. Hundreds of millions of dollars in lost equity and capitalization with a negative brand reputation that will take years to recover. Here is hoping that a social media crisis never comes to your doorstep.

But you can always call me when it does. Have the checkbook ready too
.
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, April 2, 2017

Has Influencer Marketing’s Time Arrived for Providers?

Influencer marketing is generating a lot of attention.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of activity but the little strategy behind the marketing. Oh, and let me be clear before going much further,  that I do not mean hiring celebrities to be the spokesperson for the providers B2C marketing.

Hiring a celebrity to be the spokesperson the hospital or health system can be an expensive and risky proposition. Not everyone in the entertainment segment or sport they represent may have a large enough following in your market.

What is influencer marketing?

Simply put, a person of influence can effect action.  Fans, friends, and followers are meaningless; it’s not about going after the most famous person. It’s about finding the influencer who can best move your audience to take action that brings benefit to you and them.  An influencer may be an industry expert. It may be someone internally. 

Think of influencer marketing as a relationship that co-creates meaningful content within a strategic marketing plan with defined goals that is measurable. Influencer marketing is not creating isolated pieces of content or campaigns. You want to build respective value beyond compensation.

Influencer marketing missteps to avoid.

There has been a limited effort to date on providers part in using influencer marketing. But from what I have seen, here are five things to avoid.  

1.       One-off campaigns: Using influencers once then abandoning the effort only to start again does little to change or influence the potential healthcare consumer. You must aim for sustainability. 
2.       Don’t focus on celebrities. Stars granted have a broad audience, but they are hard to reach, expensive to activate and may not be the most relevant. 
3.       Using Influence marketing for ads only: Sure the endorsement looks great in the ad, and it makes the board and doctors happy. But, is that driving the healthcare consumer to you? Doubtful. You need to co-create content and let the influencer step out and work on your behalf. 
4.       Pay-to-Play: I am not saying that you should not pay influencers. But what I am saying is that if the only value exchange between you and the influencer is cash, and you are not co-creating great content; then there is no mutual benefit. The benefit is one-sided, theirs. 
5.       Not measuring the right metrics: You can measure the business value of influencer marketing, not just social media engagements and brand lift. Start with the right goals and metrics to measure these aims.

What you need to in influencer marketing. 

1.       Have an adequate budget. It’s important to understand the opportunity for return on investment. What does it cost to implement the program measured against the cost of losing access to the top influencers in your market when the competition gets there first.  Think about it as a program, not unique projects. Long-term relationships create the most value for your spend. 
2.       Follow the insight.  That means doing your market research to understand the hospitals market and identify those influencers who can affect change and move the market. Don’t guess, know. 
3.       Identify the top influencer marketing goals. The influencer marketing program is about ROI, not brand lift and awareness. Make sure your goals and the influencers goals are in alignment. 
4.       Identify what areas are most impacted by influencer marketing. Social media marketing and content marketing are your best areas. Remember that social media is a baseline. Look to your make your program highly integrated across the organization and commercialization channels. The healthcare consumer is omnichannel which means that your influencer marketing needs to be omnichannel as well.

It is easy to get started in influencer marketing. From those first steps, you can grow your efforts in creating a sustainable long-term program built on relationships and moving markets.

Remember influencer marketing is additive, not exclusive, and long-term not short-term.
Influencer marketing’s time has come for providers, but it’s not celebrity driven, and one-off campaigns.  It’s about long-term beneficial relationships that create value for sustained success.

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, March 26, 2017

Can Health Care in The U.S. Be Reformed?

No.

Not with the health care delivery system and financing model that exists.

Tinkering around the edges and playing the little Dutch boy putting his fingers in holes in the dike to stop the water accomplishes nothing and doesn’t work. We find time and time again; this is the direction elected officials at all levels and policy wonks take while listening to the lobbyists for the different provider and insurer groups, who are more concerned about increasing their share of the trillion dollar health care industry than they are about patients.

I have worked in healthcare with the introduction of DRGs in 1983.

I have worked in healthcare during the 1990s and HMOs, capitation payment systems, the employment of physicians, the formation of health systems, provider driven insurance plans, etc.

I have worked in healthcare during the 2000s when the cost of medical care skyrocketed; the ACA was passed because nothing from the tinkering and experience of the previous 20 years worked.

I work and watch in healthcare during the 2010s, as we revisit the failed models of the 1990s and 2000s.

And here we are nearly 40 years later, with the same problems only bigger and more expensive.

We continue to “reform” a health care delivery system and financing model that is unsustainable.

This is just craziness.

The following is not a political statement but an observation.

For seven years we have heard the loud carrion cry of Conservatives doing the repeal and replace ACA dance. Now given a chance after all that wailing and whining the Republicans were: 1) never ready with any replacement; 2) incapable of articulating a coherent health care policy, delivery and financing model; and 3) are incapable of governing given a chance. Some old song. Same old story. Same old Washington.

The question is and always been, for which there has never been the national dialogue, is health care a privilege or a right? Then comes the consideration that also requires a national debate, how do we pay for care?

It’s not a matter of reform of the reimbursement models. It’s a matter of needing to change the health care delivery and financing model entirely.

Both parties only tinker around the edges bringing about unintended consequences that only make matters worse and solve nothing.

Understand that people have always gotten care, of which the cost of care was off-loaded onto the backs of healthcare providers, meaning doctors and hospitals. It is the medicalization of a societal issue. People do get care; it may be in an inappropriate care setting (ER) and at the wrong time, but care nonetheless.

Until the healthcare delivery and finance model is addressed at its root failure cause, and an honest national discussion is held, nothing more will happen except for the wild back and forth political swings of both parties.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, and communications executive, 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, March 12, 2017

Provider’s, calculating RMOI on your marketing efforts? No, well here’s how.

With so many changes in the healthcare market and resource constraints in hospitals, it’s a wonder they attempt any marketing at all. As much has healthcare has changed, provider marketing just hasn’t kept up. In hospitals saying your brand awareness is up is essentially a waste of marketing resources.

Big deal.

Your outcomes, patient satisfaction, price, experience and preventable death rate tell another story which negates the undifferentiated all about you feel good marketing. The healthcare consumer and patient isn’t dumb you know. They see the numbers and can figure it out.

What must I do?

To do Return on Marketing Investment analysis, you must market something that is measurable. Surprise!  Brand ads just won’t do it. It won’t tell you what to sell and how, as that is not the focus of the blog post. If you can’t figure it out then maybe it’s time for a different profession.

Moving forward.

Below is an example of an actual ROMI computation for a multi-hospital organization. I am assuming that you can identify and pull down the information that you need across many platforms of the organization to produce such a result.  If you can’t measure, then broaden your technological capability and move towards a higher level of computerization and system integration that you already experience.

The role finance plays.

Work with your finance department. They are a great source of information. With a high degree of collaboration and understanding their viewpoints and perspectives regarding marketing, you can lead and make a difference. By answering questions, concerns and opinions with solid data, you can move the discussion from marketing does “stuff’ to marketing is a financial contributor to the organization.

The formula and method.

The way forward below can be adapted to any campaign and provides you with the data fields, and logical analysis one needs.  This is an actual RMOI calculation on a physician referral campaign and call center.

PRCC ROI

An analysis was undertaken to look at the ROI of the Physician Referral Call Center. The study matched a database of call center name records for the period to financial records which had already been downloaded.  The data produced the following results:

*      9,102 call records were matched with utilization and financial data.
*      9,102 calls led to a total of 9,121 encounters in the ER, Inpatient and Outpatient categories of service.
*      751 contacts were ER
o   177 returning encounters
o   573 first time encounters
*      1,105 contacts were Inpatient
o    530 returning encounters
o    699 first time encounters
*      7,267 were Outpatient
o   2,014 returning encounters
o   5,253 first time encounters
*      Total charges for all encounters equaled $22,522,649
*      Charges for new encounters all services totaled $16,085,198 or 71 percent of the total charges
*      Average charge per ER Encounter  $1,304
*      Average charge per  Inpatient Encounter $13,581
*      Average charge per Outpatient Encounter  $903
*      Gallup measures loyalty at 68 percent (would return for service) which means that for every 100 patients 32 would not return for care- therefore:
o   ED- 57 returning encounters captured that would not have returned
o   Inpatient – 170 returning patients that would not have returned
o   Outpatient- 645 returning visits that would not have returned
*      Incremental charges counted returning consumers not loyal
o   ER - $74,337
o   Inpatient- $2,308,851
o   Outpatient-  $582,505
o   Subtotal charges counted:  $2,965,693
*      Overall market share in primary and secondary service area is 14.53 percent. The number of first-time encounters has utilized us above market presence is, therefore:
o   ER 573 first time visits,  83 not countered, 490 counted –
o   Inpatient – 699 first time admissions, 101 not used,  598 admissions used
o   Outpatient – 5,253 first time encounters, 763 encounters not counted, 4,490 counted
*      Based on an overall market share of  14.5  percent the  incremental charges counted for new  encounters, not because of market presence:
o   ER - $638,960
o   Inpatient – $8,121,438
o   Outpatient –  $4,054,470
*      Total Charges counted: $12,814,868
*      Discount from gross charges for Medicare, Medicaid, Managed Care, Bad Debt and Charity Care @ 65% is $8,326,644
*      Net Revenue:  $4,488,224
*      PRCC program costs:  $233,410
*      Net contribution:  $4,254,814
*      ROI 18.22:1

Much is written and made of the importance of calculating a Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) for healthcare organizations.  Most often regulated to producing brochures and other items, healthcare marketing departments need to exercise a leadership position and talk the financial language of senior management.

Otherwise, marketing is just a cost center and not an organizational asset.

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.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dark Social, It's Far More Important for Success than Bright Social.

Bright social, where you can see your handiwork, and revel in the brilliance of your content driving the unsuspecting company or individual to your site,  where you immediately being to inundate them with AdRoll programs, emails and other forms of intrusive marketing, may be on the way to the trash bin.

Oh, I bet that got your attention!

Not entirely mind you, but with the changes in Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and other social media platforms becoming content publishing houses without the links, and they don’t want your links. The social platforms crave and are demanding inspiring, relevant, game-changing content for their members. But you know, that is only 25 percent of your audience reach.

Where in the world is this going?

Two-thirds of internet social media activity occur in what has been termed dark social. I am not speaking of the nefarious activities of drug dealers, gun runner’s, blackmailers, etc. using TOR or another program that allows one to search the web anonymously. I am referring to all the social media activity that can’t be traced such as email link sharing, some applications and one-on-one messaging.

Don’t believe me? Then I suggest you read this article, “ The best free privacy software in 2017,”  on techradar.com

Now what?

For example, a healthcare provider is looking for a solution to a problem.  They do the research on the IoT, speak with colleagues and others, possibly read some thought leadership and examine social media.  But in this process, friends and others may send an email or direct message with a link to a source of information or solution that would be of interest. It is the method of sharing information that makes it dark and at this time untraceable.

And what is of interest to me at least, is not the quantity of dark social traffic, but the quality of that sharing traffic that goes on unseen.

Think about this for a moment. How important is the recommendation from someone you know about a service or solution when you receive a link to a website or shares some meaningful information? It’s one-on-one messaging as compared to the mass messaging which has some traits of personalization, but still a mass market message.

That’s what I thought too.

Therein lays the opportunity. Remember all the talk and activity about word-of-mouth marketing that was always the perceived key to success over the years? Well, word-of-mouth marketing hasn’t gone away, it’s just gone dark. 

Pun intended.

So how do you reach the two-thirds of the internet that are currently not visible to you? Most marketers use some form of marketing automation providing us at least the very basic information of  “shared.” Seeing the word “SHARED” can be the equivalent of shouting the word  “squirrel” and having the dog reaction of quickly turning around as in the Disney movie Up.  Does your neck hurt yet?

But by whom and where was it shared?

Was it shared externally or internally in the recipient’s organization?  Was it shared with a  supportive recommendation message,  or, reaching high in the chuckle factor? Important to know as dark sharing impacts and influences the buyer’s journey and sales process.

Changing how we track what’s going on.

We are early in the process of discovering the hidden treasure trove of data in dark social, but there are ways to begin to understand how your information is being shared and used.

One way is to add trackable code to URLs someone may copy and paste in messages. Another way is to add trackable code to your website content for when it is copied and pasted.  When publishers participate with you, a short trackable code added to any text for when it is copied and pasted into a message.

It’s early, and more ways are being developed to track the activity on dark social. But all marketers need to begin to understand and respond to the influence of dark social on their marketing and find ways to leverage what is unseen.

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, February 26, 2017

Dear Vendor Sales Exec, Social Selling is Not Marketing’s Thing. It’s Yours.

There is a fair amount of writing that goes on nowadays about the importance of social selling.  The genesis of which is a dramatic change in the market from the sellers to a buyer’s controlled matrix, and a new customer journey process to purchase. 

Here is where I hear, I don’t have the time or the best one, “that’s marketing’s role.” No, it’s not marketing’s job.  Social media selling is an organizational participatory event.  Marketing does have a role, a critical role, but it’s not their sole responsibility to social sell.

It’s really about a high degree of individual sales executive’s effort.

The sales executive has to know what is going on in the market, who is reading what publication and e-newsletters.

The sales executive has to read to stay current.

So in reading and staying current why aren’t you sharing those articles on Twitter. LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, etc.?

Success in social selling comes when the sales executive builds a following by providing relevant and current thought leadership that creates the perception of being seen as a subject matter expert. It’s not about what you know, which is probably not as much as you think you do from living in a fish bowl.

It’s not about marketing going into the sales executives LinkedIn page to post as a share.

That’s the easy way out for sales and an inefficient use of marketing resources and human capital.

So how is social selling done to gain credibility?

Social selling is every day. And it’s not that hard, especially with all is the sharing buttons available on websites that allow you to share on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Goggle+ and a million other platforms. Less than 30 seconds to point, click, share.

Plus, it’s not asking the sales execs to do anything out of the ordinary either.  If a sales exec is not getting industry e-newsletters and not doing research to stay abreast of industry developments, well, then there is a bigger problem.

Marketing can do an awful lot in creating the toolbox of content, shortened links and create the 144 character tweets so sales can copy and paste. It makes it even easier the company uses a social media crowdsource application like Thunderclap. Everyone in the organization having a personal Twitter account signs up on the business’s page. And then, when the company tweets, it goes out automatically to all followers on their Twitter account.  No fuse, no mus. Marketing can also create a training program on how to do. Once you get started with social sharing for social selling, not that hard. Not that hard at all.

In the end, it starts with sales identifying what social media their clients and prospects are using and following. It’s about connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on whatever social media platforms they use.  It’s about reading client and prospects company blogs leaving relevant comments and sharing their blogs.  It’s about sharing your companies blog post and thought leadership. It’s about marketing running an inbound solution oriented marketing program that gives a reason for prospects to call and inquire.

Social selling takes effort, time, and patience. Never said it would be easy or not take any dedicated time or work.  But, it is how the successful competitors are beating you day in and day out.

Back to the headline. Social selling is not just marketing’s thing.

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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

To blog, or not to blog? Today’s provider social media question for consideration.

One of the easiest ways for providers to take advantage of social media is blogging. There are thousands of stories of quality care. There are the stories of dedicated and highly educated and trained professional employees.  There are physicians on the medical staff whose collective knowledge and practice of medicine tallies in the hundreds of years with stories of quality, care, and compassion to tell.  Volunteers are coming in daily who have heartwarming stories of engagement and loyalty and most importantly the first-hand experience with their care or a loved one’s health care. 

No additional resources needed for this effort. The communications talent in your marketing department is already in the building, ready to provide compelling content and context surrounding the hospital or health system.

Best of all you control the message.  The hospital or health system can link to the website. Post to Facebook. Broadcast on Twitter. Engage potential employees and followers on the Hospital page on LinkedIn. And use the blog as a mechanism for establishing an active media relations program to develop a press following.

I don’t understand why, and please don’t site HIPAA.  There is nothing in blogging that requires the release of protected health information.  That is nothing but a smoke screen used to not engage in social media.

Let me pose to you this question.  How many times has the provider marketing team completed a Google search to see who is blogging and writing about the organization? Just because an organization doesn’t engage in an aspect of social media doesn’t mean that it’s not happening in the broader community.  Remember that the healthcare consumer is the new paparazzi.

But beyond that little exercise, blogging should be part of the structure of a strategic and fully integrated organizational marketing plan. It’s a method for communicating. It’s a method for building a brand.  It’s a process of engaging not only the patient but the newly minted health insured and the burgeoning healthcare consumer.  They are all out there searching for information, so why not provide them with meaningful content?

Now that being said, this isn’t about fluff. Oh, look at the new building. See our state-of-the-art cardiac cath lab.  Or the ever popular we have wireless internet and HD TVs!  Blogging is about controlling the message, experience and providing meaningful engagement content by using the blog innovatively.

Since so few providers blog, this is a blue ocean strategy for reaching out and engaging. You establish the tone, tenor, and terms of communication are determined via content that has contextual clarity.   And that ladies and gentleman, makes everyone else in the market-  me too.

 To blog or not to blog the hospital?  I think the question has been answered.

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, 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.