Sunday, March 25, 2018

10 Learnings for Hospital Marketers from Loyola University Chicago Men’s Basketball in the NCAA Tournament

It’s been an eye-opener watching the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers men’s basketball team compete in the NCAA Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness.  

And I say eye-opening as this team is no Cinderella. A quaint expression but at this point not true. Loyola has reached this place because of the unwavering vision, plan, process, and leadership of Coach Porter Moser. Cinderella’s are great fairy tales but in life an idea that never really happens.

And in thinking about these basketball team building lessons, there are some healthcare marketing learnings that I believe can make you more successful.

As a marketing professional and mentor, one must learn how to handle success and failure. Endure leadership changes, people who don’t know what they are talking about but think they do, or the long-tenured leadership that looks at you and your recommendations with the “I have seen women and men like you to come and go, and I am still here,” attitude.

In the end,  the important lesson here is that it’s all about the vision, plan and process, leadership, accountability, teamwork, and hard work.

Here are my ten Loyola Ramblers lessons for hospital marketers: 
1.       Create a sustainable marketing culture. Culture is everything. It’s the basis for organizational performance. A strong marketing culture takes time to develop, but it’s worth the effort. It also takes patience not only on your part but the part of hospital leadership. It takes vision, process, strategy, accountability, leadership, and team players to succeed in today’s healthcare market. 
2.       No Finish Line. Another key element in the strategy is the concept of a no finish line. You never reach a destination because it’s a journey. Just because you successfully executed a marketing plan in no way means mission accomplished. What No Finish Line means for you, is that your hospital marketing is a continuous process that builds momentum and adjusts for what is coming next. You can’t just repeat what you have done. There may be elements that move to the next plan, but it’s not just repeating what’s been successful without change. 
3.       Fail Fast. Mistakes happen because of errors, and that is just a fact of life. Call a timeout and fix it, Plans don’t always work as intended. So like winning sports teams when things go wrong, stop, and change to get a better result. 
4.       Change up your marketing channels. Delivering the same message, the same way every time is a prescription for disaster. People stop paying attention, so one must move the messages around and use all the channels available. Your audience regardless of age is omnichannel. Make one more pass. Look for the open channel. Then stick the shot. 
5.       Build the marketing team capability and chemistry around your marketing culture.  That may mean new players. Change is good, and everyone needs to learn new marketing skills and to play nice in the sandbox.  One cannot be successful if there is no team chemistry and the team members can’t fill in for another. New skills breed new ideas and capabilities. 
6.       Trust your coaches, i.e., leadership. It may seem like an oxymoron sometimes especially with marketing because anyone can do it, but you need to be at the leadership table and understand the business strategy, operational plans, and financial challenges. Only then can one make a positive contribution. 
7.       Play hard and trust the vision.  That keeps your competition off balance. One can build the organizational marketing story and meets the healthcare consumer’s needs before anyone else has the chance. 
8.       Know the strengths and weaknesses of the team and competitors. Put team members in positions and situations to win. Go after competitors at their weakest point. If they can’t figure it out, keep doing it until they learn how then change. 
9.       You win some; you lose some. No organization is perfect, place the loss behind you and learn.  Enjoy the wins for a moment but move on to the next game. Learn from the past and adapt strategically and in your execution. 
10.   Have fun and play with passion. I think that is the biggest lesson from all of this. Life is about passion, friendships, success, and learning from failure.

No one remembers who lost. Work is the same. Have fun and play with passion, and always remember that two visions should drive your hospital marketing:

Created by Culture
No Finish Line



Image courtesy of Loyola University Chicago. Best of luck Ramblers. And Coach Porter, thank you for the hospital marketing lessons! #OnwardLU #LUC #NCAA #MarchMadness

Go Ramblers!

Oh, and I am no bandwagon jumper. My daughter is a Junior at LUC. Well done Alex. Well done.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquiries for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.

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

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Is Communicating Value the Hospital Marketing Currency for Today?

How are you, the hospital marketing and communications expert, engaging the consumer and patient by telling your brand value story? Not the features and benefits story of what you do, but the value of what all that technology and bricks and mortar means to consumers and patients of your medical services?   

It is an important question. 

With healthcare turned upside down, and consumers are making choices based on diagnosis and treatment alternatives that are more price efficient, convenient and accessible that exclude the hospital options, how you answer the question will quickly determine success or failure in engaging or influencing choice.

The hospital and health system are in an undifferentiated market.

It’s not about the quality of medical technology, or buildings, or caring. In the end, it's all the same in the consumer's mind. We all know it’s not, but hospitals have done remarkable work using marketing communications without any substantial proof points to back up the claims.  It’s the adage if one says something loud enough and long enough, people will believe. As an inadvertent effect of the effort, those items as a differentiator is off the table for the healthcare consumer. As the new adage states, seen one hospital, seen them all.

It’s not about clinical services and programs because hospitals try to be everything to everyone and have similar if not the same offerings. Most of the marketing communications when one analyzes the content across the spectrum of hospitals in a market is pretty much the same.

So if it’s not about the quality of what the hospital or health systems have in the way of capability, now what?

In today's world, it's about value for the healthcare consumer.
                                                                                
Can you answer the healthcare consumer’s question of why should I use the hospital or health system? After all, with all the diagnostic and treatment options available to the healthcare consumer that is far more cost-efficient, convenient, and accessible, the hospital is only needed for three things, emergency care, intensive care, and acute care for medically complex conditions. 

In light of the continuing demise of the big box hospital and little differentiation among hospitals, value marketing is the only way to differentiate, engage, and influence.

After all, if the marketing department is not engaging and influencing, then why bother at all?

Enter Value Marketing

Value marketing is making the case to the health care consumer how you are solving their medical problem, offering a solution, giving results, and even making them happy.  

Value marketing communications are about a creative exchange between people and organizations in the marketplace.  It is a dynamic transaction that always changes based on the needs of the individual compared to what the hospital has to offer.

So instead of communicating about the mundane everyday activity, talk meaningfully about value and benefit. Compelling content with the right context can engage, influence, build relationships, and prove value.

Instead of talking about programs and services, talk about the value and benefits those same programs and services and what they bring to the healthcare consumer, i.e., outcomes, price, experience, and convenience.

Relegate those new buildings and high-tech diagnostic gizmos to the back page. Instead, create the story of the value and benefit of those objects in what they bring to the healthcare consumer and patient.

The healthcare consumer is awake and demanding more.  More value and benefit for them, not the hospital or health system enterprise.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquiries for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.


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

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Healthcare Consumer Buyers vs. Hospital Sellers, Seven Actions for Hospital Marketers in a Buyers’ Market

Healthcare consumerism is no longer an “it will happen someday,” but a market reality. And signs are apparent that market power has shifted from the hospitals as the dominant seller controlling the relationship, to the healthcare consumer as the dominant buyer.  Little has been written regarding this quite shift in the market, but it does add a layer of complexity to the task at hand for hospital marketers.

It’s no longer about the seller but the buyer.

In this kind of environment, the buyer is king and queen. It now comes down to brand, price, quality, experience, and engagement.  Why, because all hospitals and health systems are the same. And you all brought this lack of market differentiation upon yourself with your cutesy, touchy-feely marketing and not providing meaningful proof points on why you. I am still amazed at the number of ways “we care about you” is said today, even considering the publicly available data that states otherwise.

The question needing to be answered is, what value does the hospital or health system bring to physicians, consumers, and patients? That is the question at hand. And in a buyers’ market, it’s the only question you can answer successfully. A buyers’ market in many ways is about accountability to the consumers of your offerings regardless of the segment they may live.

To respond appropriately to a buyers’ market, hospital marketers need to change their approach and techniques dramatically.

Moving forward with seven ways to respond to a buyer’s market

1.  Brand and competitive position.
Consumers and patients are ready for transparency and convenient technology-enabled access to care. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying meeting these needs and how they want their healthcare needs met 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 experience; they are a healthcare consumer, not a patient.  So why then is it the only time one chooses to meaningfully engage them is during the period when they are a patient?   Engaging the healthcare consumer on a continuous basis builds loyalty and importantly keeps them in the network, which has some pretty significant financial ramifications in a risk-based reimbursement model.

3. Engage the physicians.
No matter the payment model the hospital or health system still needs a physician or physician extender’s 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 and quality in the hospital than any other factor.

4. Improve the physician experience.
How hard is it for a physician or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization?  Have you looked at the hassle factor that physicians encounter when they try to get things done in the hospital setting?  Understand how the physician experiences your organization at every touch-point they encounter in the hospital. Understand their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment. Fix what is broken, keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially.

5. 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 loyalty to the brand. One needs to actively manage the customer experience in totality by understanding the customer's point of view.  That is, all touchpoints internally and externally that a customer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue.

6. Embrace retail healthcare.
Traditional ways of delivering healthcare will go by the wayside in many cases.  Price convenience, access, and outcomes are the drivers in retail healthcare.  Find the need, understand the consumer’s behavior drivers, design offering around the consumer, not the hospital in a convenient location and price it appropriately, and name it correctly. If you can't compete in the market in this way, the last one out can turn off the lights.

7. It’s an omnichannel world.
With the healthcare consumer living in an omnichannel world, turn to social media and influencer networks to engage, manage the experience, drive loyalty and referrals.  As healthcare continues the evolution to a healthcare consumer dominated the semi-retail environment, social networking is a healthcare marketing channel that is underutilized and underperforms today and holds great potential. But, that takes healthcare marketing leadership, executive vision, and meaningful action.

Seven steps for hospitals to achieve market and revenue growth in the new buyers’ market. Not an impossible task, but one that does require focus and a willingness to break from the past.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquiries for strategic consulting engagements can be sent to michael0753@comcast.net. Opinions expressed are my own.

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

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Surviving Health Care 2.0. Five Essential Strategies for Hospital Marketers.

When one looks at providers delivering healthcare and marketing, one must wonder if there is an understanding of the importance of marketing in healthcare 2.0.   

This begs the question in the title, can big box hospitals have a chance of surviving in a highly competitive, efficient retail medical marketplace without clear and unambiguous marketing involvement and leadership? And it doesn’t help any that the healthcare consumer is learning that they only need the hospital for three things, emergency care, intensive care, and care for acute complex medical conditions.

Healthcare 2.0

Healthcare 2.0 is a market animal that is completely different than anything Hospital leadership has ever had to contend.  And this animal has teeth with little regard for whether a hospital or health system survives.

Highly competitive, innovative, and retail, the sole focus is on understanding and meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer.  

Note the importance of that sentence.  It’s focused on meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer, not the hospital or health system.

That implies that the hospital or health system evolves from being in the hospital business forever in search of a revenue stream to be in the healthcare business meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer regardless of clinical service, time, and place.

What is healthcare marketing’s role? Here are five areas of consideration. 

1.       Voice of the Customer

VoC is far more important now in healthcare.  There are over 147 healthcare consumer and patient touch-points in the typical hospital.  Each interaction is the opportunity to hear about organizational performance.  Then most importantly is the ability to use that information in an actionable way to identify and meet healthcare consumer needs.

2.       Using market data to manage the patient experience

Patient experience means just that- not one isolated clinical or administrative service experience but understanding what that patient experience is at all touchpoints.  Next is the challenge of managing that experience to its fullest potential for the benefit of the patient and the organization. Patient experience is an integrative process across the entire organization internally and externally.  The rallying cry in any hospital should be one view of the patient, one patient view of the hospital. It is not another quality program or flavor of the day. 

3.       From demand generation to demand management

The hospital is no longer the center of the healthcare universe.   Marketing needs to understand what the demand for healthcare services will be, when required, and manage service demand in making sure that the hospital or health system has the right resources, in the right place, at the right time to meet demand.  The days are rapidly slipping away where marketing will be driving demand to fill hospital beds. They will drive demand to the appropriate place and location of service.

4.       Preparing the hospital for enhanced competition

It’s sad but true, hospitals and health systems continue to fall behind non-traditional providers and new entrants into the market. Hospitals are losing share and revenue to others.  There are many reasons for this, but the most striking is the inability of traditional providers to connect the dots through technology, data, and a deep understanding of the healthcare consumer to meet their needs.   It’s about the capacity to have market research and internal data to draw actionable insights to meet the healthcare consumer’s needs and competition. 

Is it any wonder that CVS and Walmart are leading the way and taking revenue and share from providers?  Their deep understanding of the consumer and the dynamics of price, choice, and convenience give these companies and others an edge that hospitals are missing. 

5.       From outbound features and interruptive marketing to inbound value solutions marketing

Value marketing is making the case to the healthcare consumer how you are solving their medical problem, offering a solution, giving results, and even making them happy.  

Value marketing is a creative exchange between people and organizations in the marketplace.  It is a dynamic transaction that continually changes based on the needs of the individual compared to what the healthcare organization has to offer.

In the end, it’s all about giving the consumer what they want not what the hospital or system wants. That is healthcare 2.0. Welcome to the new marketing reality.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in countries and is on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association.  Post opinions are my own. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, that places me in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. Michael is an established influencer. Opinions expressed are my own.


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