Showing posts with label #brand. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #brand. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Time Has Come to Make Hospital Marketing Sticky, Here’s How

With all the things that hospital leadership have on their plates and keeping them up at night, there is one area that could improve their marketing. That is making the hospital marketing stickier by being more creative.

Image by ptra from Pixabay

Creativity in hospital marketing is not a sin. 

Now that being said, the creative and production values of cable and broadcast television advertisements are particularly good and of excellent quality for the most part. Where the hospital marketing fails is on the creative side is with email, digital, paid social, print advertisements, and direct mail. 

Nobody remembers the advertisements.  But the healthcare and patient remembers what they saw on social media or the Internet. The healthcare consumer is talking and searching for healthcare information to learn and make choices.  But is the hospital or health system listening? 

Welcome to the experience economy, where the experience of care trumps the products and services of care. 

“In an experience economy, it’s not about what you do, but more about how you do it.”, Grant Leboff, Sticker Marketing- How To Win Customers In A Digital Age.

Now what? 

Time for a change. 

To grow and thrive in the experience economy, it means moving from traditional marketing to experiential marketing that addresses the needs of and meets the experience expectations of the patient. Stickier marketing is even more important during a pandemic when trust is low, and people are not returning to healthcare providers. The hospital experience has changed, and hospitals need to be creative on how to address and communicate that change. 


Image by Gerd Atlmann from Pixabay

Making provider marketing sticky is all about communicating care experience and engagement on a personal level. And given the multitude of ways, one of the most effective will be social media. 

Social media is about amplification and your ability to amplify the experience and brand messaging.  

Here are ten new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier: 

1.       Understand fully and completely, the healthcare consumer and person experience. There are over 147 touchpoints for patient experience within a hospital. It’s vital in the experience economy that marketing understands what information they are seeking and deliver it to them at the right occasion touchpoint with the right call-to-action. 

2.       Content is king. Make it memorable. It’s how you drive engagement through effective and compelling storytelling around the experience of care, not the how of the care, from the web site to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, etc., by focusing on the experience, not features, and benefits. Be visual. Be compelling. 

3.       Identify and work with key influencers.  Local influencers can provide amplification of your message through social media. Encourage user-generated content. 

4.       Testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and families are needed for the digital stories as proof points. 

5.       Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages, and brand promise across all channels. 

6.       Use social media and SEO to amplify your message. Influencer’s and patient’s providing testimonials need to complete online reviews to raise your placement in Google and other search engine results. 

7.       Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms the connected patient uses- desktop, smartphone, tablet, etc. for a seamless experience. No disconnects. The patient moves freely between all devices, now expecting the same experience on all of them. 

8.       Traditional marketing now needs to focus more on price, outcomes, experience, and engagement.  No more pretty building, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment. 

9.       Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider. 

10.   Teach the healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.

Some will say that marketing has no place in the experience or engagement management process.  When you look at that advice, what success have you had in managing the experience and engaging the patient on their terms, not the hospitals? Or, are you just treading water until the next healthcare market catches you unawares. 

There is no escaping or slowing down the experience economy as it overtakes providers—time to make the hospital marketing stickier. 

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 is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, and now TikTok. The opinions expressed are my own.

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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Increase the Power of Hospital Brand Marketing Using Your Triple Aim – Earned Media, Public Relations & Social Media


Given the extraordinary competing needs in hospitals to meet the of the healthcare marketplace from EMRs to employed physician, too new treatment and diagnostic modalities and declining reimbursements, marketing gets the short straw most of the time in those resource allocation decisions.  And that is a dangerous position to be in with a healthcare market that is a semi-retail, consumer-centric model with numerous consumer choices available for diagnosis and treatment that is far more convenient, accessible and affordable then a hospital setting.

When you have constrained marketing resources, with the requirement to have a continuous presence in the marketplace to shift healthcare consumer’s attitudes, preferences and choices, the triple combination of earned media, public relations and social media working in an integrated strategic fashion can achieve that end for you.

Make no mistake about it, combining social media, public relations, and earned media is hard. It is much more than a press release or an event. It’s about relationships, experience. Outreach and having content and information of value. That means understanding the needs of your stakeholders in an omnichannel world by developing content that meets their needs, not the need of the hospital to tell them how great the hospital with its shiny new building is, technology or smiling doctors looking skyward.

One needs to develop relationships with consumers and reporters to plant and cultivate story ideas. You must respond to the reporter's requests for more information. It takes time. It takes patience in a period where all we ask daily, "What did you do for me today?"  The payoff is providing across three channels of content that provides value. Value-focused content that gives the reporter and the healthcare consumer the reason why it’s you.

You need to find ways for reporters and editors to follow your tweets. Reporters can follow your blog or your company pages on LinkedIn, YouTube, or Facebook. That’s the value in earned media and public relations by integrating those efforts with social media. It becomes your ability to establish a powerful continuous presence by expanding human resources with the talent in your marketing operation with little financial outflow. And the payoff by combining the three in an integrated strategic fashion can be huge.

Earned media and public relations driving social media have value.

All that content that goes online comes from somewhere and goes somewhere.  A reporter writes.   A network broadcaster covers. Columnists look for it.  Content that goes out on Facebook, websites, YouTube, Twitter and electronic/print editions of magazines, daily newspapers, and specialty publications.

With the right content and strategy, public relations can become viral in social media because it has so many different outlets that turn into earned media due to the coverage.  When a news outlet or publication carries your brand messages, it makes what you are doing seems more believable.  Once the story runs about a topic and you're the first, it's much harder for your competitors to get out there with the same message.  A powerful way to differentiate yourself which also has a considerable number of aftermarket uses.

There is a bigger payoff too.

Every organization will experience a communications crisis. Taking the time to develop positive relationships with reporters, blog writers, broadcast media and others has a big payoff in a media-driven crisis. The development and cultivation of a relationship with media don't mean the story won't run. But what it can mean is the difference between a story that is balanced and fairly reported, versus a story that is one-sided against you.  As we all know, negative news travels farther and faster than positive news, which does more harm than good over the long haul.

Maybe it's time to rethink in an era of declining healthcare marketing resources traditional marketing activities, or flavor of the day social media strategies, to approaching your markets with a triple aim of earned media, public relations, and social media?

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,  and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is an established influencer. Inquires 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, June 10, 2018

It’s Not Social Media Anymore. Social Has Become the New Mainstream Media. Now what?

A funny thing happened to what was ‘social’ media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Instagram, etc., where communities of people formed and came together to share funny videos of baby’s and dogs and photos of “here are the dishes I am having for dinner” postings.

Social media platforms have evolved for better or for worse into the new mainstream media #NMM. Twitter and other platforms now drive the news cycle. A racist tweet comes out, and a TV show canceled. The last petulant Twitter escapades of POTUS make headlines. Reporters post their stories on Twitter, Facebook, Flipboard for example, before they ever hit the website or print editions. 

Reporters who previously loathed the ICYMT in an email, now use the acronym to accompany their story posts and reposts.

Action and reaction drive the news cycle. Everyone is a reporter without the benefit of an editor or having to fact check. “If it’s on the Internet and social media than it must be true.” A statement that has gone from being a standard joke to some ridiculousness posted, to the new standard of acceptability as true without verification.

What does the mean for hospitals and health systems?  

It means a new approach strategically and tactically to social media. Strategy and tactics that are proactive for media news generation that is much more serious and refined. An evolution from the look at what we do, evolving to the significant news of the day that will have an impact on your health and wellness. From pretty pictures of buildings and smiling staff, to content and messaging that will impact the news cycles. From hoping someone will follow the hospital to following reporters and editors to pitch the news.

Consider the following hypotheticals. A person decides to examine the hospital history of malpractice settlement and tweets out the findings. Someone takes the mortality rate information from CMS and computes the number of patients that die in the hospital each year and say it is from preventable medical errors.

No warning. No anonymous news tips to reporters or assignments editors. A tweet. Blog posts. A Facebook post. A YouTube commentary. The story goes viral. News media outlets pick it up, and now there is a media crisis communications situation.

Do you still think social media is unimportant or just fluff?

It’s the new mainstream media.

And if you aren’t finding ways to leverage and build relationships with reporters and key influencers using the new mainstream media, then you risk losing control of the narrative you want in the market.

It’s time to stop calling them ‘social.’

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,  and a Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is an established influencer. Inquires 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, June 3, 2018

What is Your Hospital Marketing Strategy Around Micro-Influencers?

All health care is local and is shaped by events nationally, regionally, and locally. Changes in healthcare policy and reimbursement such as the Affordable Care Act, state regulatory action, and new or experimental payment methodologies change the game on a regular basis. 

But in the end, it still comes down to medical care delivered in the physician’s office, the local hospital and other alternative and nearby ambulatory care settings that may or may not be hospital-based. Places of care where the healthcare consumer forms opinions and then shares in a variety of ways.

Even with all the market uncertainty, growing healthcare consumerism, data transparency driven by third parties along price and outcomes, retail innovation and non-traditional competition, health care is still a game of influence.  

Many hospitals and health systems are turning to micro-influencers to promote the brand in pithy clever campaigns. Then you see the same macro-influencers in the same market promoting other non-healthcare brands.  One must ask if they are really influencing the hospital brand in the market or just causing confusion? And what happens when the macro-influencers go bad?

The time had come for creating a brand strategy around the micro-influencer.

Instead of macro-influencers like celebrities which have a limited lifespan and are fraught with their endorsement dangers from ill-advised behavior or comments in social media on a much larger scale, it’s time for a better influencer strategy.

The age of impactful micro-influencers is here.

Micro-influencers are based in the community in the local hospital market and carry more significant weight with the brand endorsements than many realize. Think of it this way, what is of more value to the hospital in swaying the healthcare consumer? The celebrity with millions of followers all over the world, tweeting or blogging about the hospital, or the micro-local influencer with several thousand followers who are blogging about the hospital in the community?

Since most of the healthcare a consumer searching for hospital and physician services are online, then the value of using local micro-influencers in the hospital service area increases exponentially.

Micro-influencers are the new word-of-mouth influencers for the hospital and physician.

So how can a hospital or health system influence the influencers?

What it is about is identifying who the micro-influencers are in your local market and building long-term relationships. It’s like making a friend. Would one make a friend just by tweeting or commenting on a Facebook post or reading a blog? No magic bag of tricks here.  It takes hard work, but the micro-influencer of choice payoff for you is brand growth and revenue. Now, who doesn’t want that?

Since influencing the influencers is all about relationship building, it’s about getting them to an event, getting them on the phone, writing a personal email.  Influencing the influencers is traditional stuff that healthcare marketers use to do and still do to a certain extent, but instead, chase the shiny new channel or technique. Its old-fashioned relationship-building applied to a new way of reaching people.

Consider the following.

Micro-influencers can assist in recommending insurance plans one is a provider member of in the exchanges. Influencers can recommend hospital friendly physicians.  Influencers can make a great difference and speed up the brand and reputation recovery efforts after a major public relations or media disaster. Micro-influencers work and live in the community and our friends, family members, community leaders, and local radio personalities, etc.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Adding an influence, the micro- influencer’s component into your integrated marketing has the potential to pay some very large long-term brand, reputation, and revenue impacts.

Why isn’t a micro-influencing strategy part of your hospital marketing?

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 inquires 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, June 4, 2017

Ten Steps to Make Hospital Marketing Sticker.

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.

With the economic shift from a product and service economy to an experience economy, providers are at a clear disadvantage by continuing to market like it is the 1990s.  Now that being said, it’s not all providers, but the vast majority.  

Being paid for the production of care in the fee-for-service model is a product and service approach to healthcare.  Though the payment mechanism is changing, little has changed in provider marketing.  

A vast majority of healthcare providers still taking the product marketing features approach. Notice that I did not say features and benefits marketing. Providers only go halfway choosing features or warm fuzzy improbable benefits but not both in their marketing.  I have yet to see a provider or provider system provide me with compelling reasons for the advantages of using them. It’s no wonder then that little differentiation exists in the market resulting in provider marketing that is not sticky.

Nobody remembers the advertisements.  But the healthcare and patient remember what they saw on social media or the Internet. The healthcare consumer is talking and searching for healthcare information to learn and make choices. 

Welcome to the experience economy, where the experience of care trumps the products and services of care.

Now what?

Time for a change.

To grow and thrive in the experience economy while all else is in flames around the hospital or health system, it means moving from traditional marketing to experiential marketing that addresses the needs of and meets the experience expectations of the healthcare consumer and patient.

Making provider marketing sticky is all about the care experience and engagement of the person on a very personal level. And given the multitude of ways, one of the most efficient will be social media.

Here are ten new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier: 
1.       Understand fully and comprehensively the healthcare consumer and person experience. With over 147 touch-points for the customer and patient experience with a hospital. It’s vital in the experience economy that marketing understands what information they are seeking, and deliver it to them at the right experience touch-point with the right call-to-action. 
2.       Content is king. Make it memorable. It’s how you drive engagement through effective and compelling storytelling around the experience of care, not the how of the care.  From the website to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, etc., focus on the experience. Be visual. Be compelling. 
3.       Identify and work with the leading influencers.  Providers need community influencers to amplify the message through social media. Encourage user-generated content. 
4.       Develop testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and healthcare consumers. 
5.       Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages and brand promise across all channels. 
6.       Use social media and SEO to amplify your message. Influencer’s and patients providing testimonials need to complete online reviews to raise your placement in Google and other search engine results. 
7.       Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms that consumers will use- desktop, smartphone, or tablet for a seamless experience. No disconnects. The healthcare consumer moves freely between all three devices expecting the same experience across all three. 
8.       Traditional marketing needs to focus more on the price, outcomes, experience, and drive engagement.  No more buildings, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment.  
9.       Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider. 
10.   Show a healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.

There is no escaping or slowing down the experience economy as it overtakes healthcare.

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, July 4, 2016

Ten steps for a successful & engaging hospital social media program. Are you ready?

Social media for many hospitals and health systems are an underutilized marketing strategy.  For a variety of reasons some hospitals and health systems only dabble in social media as a marketing strategy.  We won’t go in any great depth into those reasons or why, but more into how to construct a social media marketing strategy, that will educate, engage and build the brand in some significant ways for the hospital or health system.

The days of saying “we don’t do social media” or only doing it part-time are over.  Healthcare consumers, patients, doctors, employees, volunteers and other stakeholders are already on and interacting in many social media channels. They engage, share information, recommend, praise and complain. 

The why.

A social media strategy is just not about attracting the Young Invincible or the newly insured or Medicare population. It’s about your strategy to build the brand, engage healthcare consumers and patients manage your reputation and grow the healthcare enterprise. Remember that growth is good.


What to do.

What follows for your consideration are the steps for a hospital or health system to embark on with a fully integrated and efficient social media program.

1.       It starts with leadership. If marketing does not have Board, CEO and executive leadership support, it’s not going anywhere. Why- because it all about resource allocation and slaying some sacred cows. 
2.       Improve the organizational marketing process.  Take a step back and look at the marketing operations. Find efficiencies and increase effectiveness. Stop doing what doesn’t work and move those resources to social media. 
3.       Do the market research to understand consumers and patient use of social media, content they are looking for and their needs. Do not guess. 
4.       Create the social media communications plan and content calendar. Map out for the next 12 months what you are doing and when.  Make sure it’s integrated into the master marketing plan. 
5.       Find internally or hire the staff that knows social media for the job full-time.  It takes dedicated  FTE  for successfully running an integrated, efficient, engaging and effective social media program. 
6.       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. By regular basis I mean, several times a day, every day, seven days a week. 
7.       Measure everything.  Evaluate.  Adjust based on your findings. Redeploy budget as needed. 
8.       Use social media with your physicians and employees to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty. Engage you employees and have them follow, re-tweet and share. Follow your staff, key doctors, etc. Understand, who you key community influencers, are and follow them. Get them to follow you as well. 
9.       Use marketing automation in social media to follow your competitors, key doctors, schedule tweets, measure engagement, schedule key physicians tweets, links content, etc. 
10.   Consider outsourcing as a last resort.

The bottom line is that the healthcare consumer and patients are out in social media searching for the hospital, health system or physician. So it is probably about time that the hospital, health system or physician is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

Michael is an independent healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters has over 20,000 page views a month.  He is also a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.


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

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Seven Steps for Dominating the Five Healthcare Markets

Simplify your focus during these turbulent times and focus on five primary markets you need for success. Population health will come as will risk and value-based contracts as the tipping point away from fee-for-service draws closer. But, by having a laser-like focus today, will position the hospital or health system for a better tomorrow. The five markets are Commercial; Exchanges; Medicare; Medicaid; and Uninsured.

The new dynamic added to this change is the evolution of the broader healthcare market into a consumer-centric, semi-retail market existing in a multitude of reimbursement schemes, each nuanced for a different market segment. Leading to the question, have you identified from a marketing perspective immediate actions to improve market position and revenue generation? 

Don’t necessarily at this point think about massive advertising campaigns, gimmicks, wellness programs, etc. It’s more about getting the basics right, understanding who pays for what and how that matches with the needs of your healthcare consumers. Marketing today, is not only driving demand but managing demand by moving the health care consumer to the right setting, which may not be the hospital or a hospital-based outpatient service. In some circumstances, it may even mean de-marketing certain services.

Very quickly then, here are seven ways to improve your market position, generate revenue and dominate categories of service.

1.  Brand and competitive position.
Consumers and patients are ready for convenient technology-enabled access to care. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying their needs and how they want their healthcare needs meet through technology focused on them will gain new patients and the next generation of physicians.  It's not a crime to use text messaging to send people information or confirmations about appointments, health reminders, or use QR codes to link to specific education or health offers.

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 engage meaningfully them is during the period when they are a patient?  This lack of focus or tactical engagement execution doesn’t make a lot of sense as a consumer, and patient engagement is about all of the time activity, not just some of the time.  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 doctor 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. Focus on the physician experience.
How hard is it for a doctor or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization?  Have you looked at the hassle factor that physician’s encounter when they try to get things done in the hospital setting?  Understand how the doctor experiences your organization at every touch-point they encounter the hospital. Follow their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment. Fix what’s 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. Actively manage the customer experience in totality by understanding the patient’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.

6. Embrace retail health care.
Traditional ways of delivering healthcare will go by the wayside in many cases.  Price convenience, access, and outcomes are the drivers.  Find the need, understand the consumer’s behavior controllers, design offering around the user, not the hospital in a convenient location and price it appropriately. If you can't compete in this way market position, share and revenue will erode.

7. Turn to social media and networks to engage, manage the experience and drive adherence. As the health care focus crystallizes around a healthy consumer making choices in a  semi-retail environment, social networks are an important marketing channel that is underutilized and underperforms today but holds great potential to improve engagement, experience, and adherence.

Seven step to achieve market and revenue growth in an evolving healthcare marketplace. Not an impossible task, but one that does require focus and a willingness to break from the past.

Michael is an internationally followed healthcare blogger, business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader. I am also HubSpot Academy- Email, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.

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

Sunday, February 7, 2016

And what is the hospital brand?



Over the last couple of weeks, we looked at the three buckets of healthcare consumer/patient engagement and the responding to health care consumerism. And as promised a couple of weeks ago, we now are going to take a look at the hospital brand. As a memory refresh, this was a topic in a recent hospital CEO survey of the top five concerns for 2016.

But before we go any further, engagement of the healthcare consumer and patient, consumerism and brand are all linked.

While these three concerns were separate topics, in reality, are not unrelated to the strategic discussion.  Engagement, consumerism and brand are three sides of the same triangle integrated to the point that action in one changes the other two.

What is in your brand?

Now one can say that it’s a relatively easy question to answer. In some providers, it may very well be while in others not so much.  That is not a shot at anyone, just a reality of the marketplace. Hospitals are highly undifferentiated and bordering on commodity status. And when an industry becomes a commodity in the minds of consumers it is not about what you do or provide any longer, it’s all about the price you charge.

And that my friends are why the hospital brand is so critical now in health care.

Living in a large metropolitan market with nearly 100 hospitals, I have the opportunity to see a lot of hospital advertising. And frankly, I have no idea what any of the brands promises are. I don’t know what their brand position is. I can’t tell what their brand pillars are.  And to top it off, I don’t even know what they do well.

What I do know is that they all care deeply about me.  They all have everything I would ever need. The area providers’ rank somewhere in a third party quality award and some are in multiple awards. The hospitals all have great looking buildings, wireless internet, private rooms and big HDTVs and technology and 100s of physicians’ with the best quality available.

Phrasing it differently, what is your brand? How is your brand different from all the other hospitals? And what is your brand promise to me, the healthcare consumer & patient? Is it that you care, and it’s just like a hotel? Meaningless!

Doesn’t one think that a better brand promise for a provider would be “the trusted hospital to meet your healthcare needs?”  This type of brand promise requires a dramatic cultural and organizational change in the hospital.

What is needed today is for the hospital first to clarify its brand internally, and then in the market.

Take a step back and examine with outside help these three things.

      1. What is the hospital brand promise?
a.       What is the unwavering commitment to the healthcare consumer or patient?
      2, What are the brand pillars?
a.       How does the hospital deliver on the brand promise?
      3, What is the brand hospital personality?
a.       What is the way the hospital acts to deliver on its brand pillars?

Three questions for a market that is undifferentiated which are not at all easy to answer. But in answering these three inquiries, one will be able to execute tactically relevant marketing strategies and messages that have meaning, impact and drive growth.  Development of a meaningful and lasting brand is much more complicated than the above.  But it’s the most logical place to start.

After all, if the hospital doesn’t know what the brand is how can one expect the market to know? And judging from the lack of brand differentiation among hospitals, nobody knows.

On a professional note, I have recently completed the HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing courses and certification exam. I would highly recommend that healthcare marketers do the same.


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

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

How can the hospital respond to consumerism?




In the last post, the focus was on the three buckets of engagement that hospitals and health systems need to integrate into the engagement cycle of consumer, patient and brand loyalty. The post of January 25th was the first in the series of three posts regarding what CEOs are searching for solutions or paths to take in addressing those concerns.

This week, we consider steps that can be taken to resolve how the hospitals and health system can respond to and take advantage of the growing consumerism movement in health care.
Health care consumerism is already here.

Healthcare consumerism is no longer an “it will happen someday” issue. The evolution of a consumer-driven market will move slowly and be characterized by what seem to be fits and stops in the progression. The point for hospital leadership is that consumerism requires a fundamental change in the hospital to be responsive to the market.  

It is also imperative for leadership to understand, that being able to respond to consumerism starts now, not when the market flips. 

Changing the hospital to be consumer focused organization is a process.  A very long and grueling process, as lasting organizational change is not easy.  For further information on how to become the consumer-focused organization, please read, “What does a customer-focused hospital or healthcare enterprise look like?”

That fundamental change requires an unwavering commitment to meeting the needs of the consumer and having to market plays a critical role in that process.  Consumerism for the hospital translates into accountability and value along the dimensions of price, quality, engagement, and experience.
It’s really in many ways about market accountability of the hospital to the consumer’s of your offerings regardless of their selection journey or place in the care system.

Moving forward with seven ways to respond to consumerism

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 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 experience, they are a healthcare consumer, not a patient.  So why then is it the only time one chooses to engage meaningfully 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. A skilled physician has more to do with the impact of cost and quality in the hospital than any other factor.

4. Focus on 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 physician’s encounter when they try to get things done in the hospital setting?  Understand how the physician experiences your organization at every touch-point of an encounter with the hospital. Know the physician experience overall from beginning to end, not just in an isolated segment.

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 manage actively the experience in totality by understanding their point of view.   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 behaviors in play, design offering around them not the hospital in a convenient location and price it appropriately. If you can't compete in this way market position, share and revenue will erode.

7. Turn to social media and inbound marketing.
Social media and inbound marketing are channels and methods to engage, manage the experience and drive adherence. As healthcare continues the evolution to a healthcare consumer dominated the semi-retail environment, social networking is a healthcare marketing channel that underperforms today but holds great potential to improve engagement, experience, and adherence.

Seven steps for providers to achieve market and revenue growth in a consumer-driven market.  Not an impossible task, but one that does require focus and a willingness to break from the past.


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

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tired of bad & boring healthcare vendor webinars?

I don’t know about you, but I for one am becoming very tired of attending webinars that for lack of decorum or tack on my part, are frankly, boring. 

All that time spent by the sponsoring organization  developing  the topic and content, PPTs,  marketing slick titles with content learning promises, gaining an audience and then flatness. The speakers show few or any signs of being alive or even excited about the presentation.

Then there is the speaker or speakers attempting to sound professorial as if the attendee is hanging on every word of wisdom to flow from them. Better yet are the slide readers, who are followed by the going over the allotted time resulting in no Q&A. And my personal favorite, 60 minutes of why the company’s solution is the best thing since sliced bread. 

On a separate note, I am writing this as I listen half hardily to several people with a moderator do a preplanned Q&A. It’s as dead as a doorknob.

At least they provided slides which look really interesting but have never been referred to at all.
Anyhow…

In an age when executive leadership in hospitals and health systems are looking for solutions to solve incredibly difficult business challenges, thought leadership webinars are a great way to reach that audience and generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) for becoming Sales Accepted Leads (SALs). 

Even better if one takes the content from the slides and recorded audio to produce a research or issue brief for after-market use. Better yet for the vendor is when webinar sponsorship is by an industry association, is cobranded and marketed, and has one of a client’s senior leaders to co-present.

One can really have the greatest thing since sliced bread but if it is presented in a flat sounding boring webinar, you may have already lost the sale.

Webinar “boringness” usually happens when marketing acquiesces  control of the development of the webinar and allows the content thought leaders do their thing.  Everyone knows that marketing is easy attitude.

Good webinars require marketing leadership and exercise of control. Period, end of discussion.

Now that being said, I am not saying that development of an engaging webinar is a marketing dictatorship. On the contrary, it is a collaborative shared effort where there is a free exchange between all the parties involved to arrive at the best possible product.
 
And that means people place their egos in the closet and work together, so that the webinar reflects the value proposition, delivers a problem solution orientation and a  way  for solving the business issue and positions the company with the solution as to go to leader. In turn, the webinar should generate MQLs that become SALs to become closed sales driving revenue and growth.

Stop with the boring, professorial sounding, talking head webinars.

Do make them:
  • Topic timely. Engaging. Enlightening. Participatory. Knowledgeable. Rehearsed. Delivered on time and solution focused. Deliver what you promised in the marketing campaign.
  • With plenty of time for Q&A.

Don’t:
  •  Provide slide versions of  War and Peace, less is more.
  • Tell people what they already know.
  • Give a history lesson of healthcare and how we got to where we are today. The audience is smart.  Read from the slides.
Remember:
  • Thought leadership in webinars is not about what one knows, but the application of that knowledge is a new and different way.


After all, the end result should be sales, revenue and growth. Not boredom, lack of interest and no sale.

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

Sunday, August 16, 2015

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 really, are operating in an economy that is radically different then the past.

Being paid for the production of care in fee-for-service model is a product and service approach to healthcare. Marketing to drive utilization to do more things is product and service marketing focused on feature and claims but not necessarily benefits. And with all the healthcare providers taking product marketing features approach, it’s no wonder then, that little differentiation exists in the market resulting in provider marketing that is not sticky.

Nobody remembers the advertisements.  But the healthcare and patient remembers what they saw on social media or the Internet. The healthcare consumer is talking and searching for healthcare information to learn and make choices.  But is the hospital or health system listening?

Welcome to the experience economy, where the experience of care trumps the products and services of care.

“In an experience economy, it’s not about what you do, but more about how you do it.”, Grant Leboff, Sticker Marketing- How To Win Customers In A Digital Age.
Now what?

Time for change.

To grow and thrive in the experience economy while all else is in flames around the hospital or health system, it means moving from traditional marketing, to experiential marketing that addresses  needs of and meets the experience expectations of the healthcare consumer and patient.

Making provider marketing sticky is all about the care experience and engagement of the person on a very personal level. And given the multitude of ways, one of the most effective will be social media.

Social media is about amplification. Amplification of the experience. Amplification of the brand messaging. Amplification of marketing that is sticky. 

Time to go where the healthcare consumer and patient can be found:

59 percent of adults look online for health information
39 percent use the Internet to figure out their diagnosis
53 percent discuss the information and their diagnosis they found online with a clinician
41 percent of consumer online diagnoses are confirmed by the clinician
41 percent say social media would influence their choice of hospital or doctor
Source: AIS Media, Social Media For Medical Marketing Webinar, August 12, 2015

What the above all represents is how in an experience economy consumers take action.  Not necessarily responding to traditional marketing, they are looking for the experience of what you do, not how you do it with technology, bricks and mortar or smiling physicians accepting new patients.

Here are 10 new marketing rules in an experience economy for making provider marketing stickier:

  • Understand fully and completely the healthcare consumer and person experience. With over 147 touch-points for consumer and patient experience with a hospital. It’s vital in the experience economy that marketing understands what information they are seeking, and deliver it to them at the right experience touch-point with the right call-to-action.
  •  Content is king. Make it memorable. It’s how you drive engagement through effective and compelling storytelling around the experience of care, not the how of the care.  From the web site to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope etc, focus on the experience. Be visual. Be compelling.
  • Identify and work with key influencers.  They need to ample your message through social media. Encourage user generated content.
  • Testimonials about the experience of care and engagement from patients and healthcare consumers.
  • Integrate and communicate the value of the brand, key brand messages and brand promise across all channels.
  • Use social media and SEO to amplify your message. Influencer’s and patients providing testimonials need to complete online reviews to raise your placement in Google and other search engine results.
  • Integrate the information and experience across all channels and platforms that consumer will use- desk top, smartphone or tablet for a seamless experience. No disconnects. The healthcare consumer moves freely between all three devices expecting the same experience across all three.
  • Traditional marketing needs to focus more on the price, outcomes, experience and drive engagement.  No more pretty building, smiling doctors, shiny new equipment. 
  • Teach employees how to use their social media channels to amplify the provider.
  • Teach the healthcare organization that marketing today is no longer about transactions but value.  Transactions will come after the value is understood.


Many traditional healthcare consultants and firms will say this is just all nonsense.  That marketing really makes has no place in the experience or engagement management process.  But then when you look at that advice, have any real, tangible, and measurable results been accomplished outside of hearing what one desires to be told? Or, it just treading water until the next healthcare market move slaps one upside the head?

There is no escaping or slowing down the experience economy as it overtakes healthcare.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

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.

Is that the headline of a story being written across the country fueled by provider leadership? It’s a scary thought and unfortunately it is being written all too often. From a marketing perspective it’s not entirely avoidable but could be. 

In the end, the inability to adapt quickly enough and meet the needs of the healthcare consumer and patient utilizing less costly treatment alternatives and innovative services that meet their needs along the dimensions of price, outcomes, engagement and experience will write that story.

Blaming declining reimbursements as the sole contributor to the closure of a hospital would be a mistake. An important contributor as the leadership could not adapt or guide the healthcare enterprise through the transition to a quality based reimbursement system, yes.  But not the sole reason as some may have you believe.

Will anybody care if the hospital closes?

Unless the healthcare enterprise is the sole community provider probably not, there are always alternatives. If leadership is being honest, this is a new reality for many.

What to do.

This isn’t about P4P, capitation, risk-sharing, ACOs, Bundled Payments or any other of the myriad of reimbursement models being proposed, tested or put into operational practice.  This is about what providers can do from a marketing standpoint to mitigate the risk of that headline becoming a reality.

Marketing is an asset and not just there to make things look pretty.

Survival in today’s environment requires focus beyond readmissions, patient safety improvements, elimination of preventable deaths, cost reductions, quality improvements etc.  All very important business critical mandates as well as the cost of doing business in today’s healthcare world. While doing all of that you still have to find ways to grow.

Here’s how to grow along the four dimensions of price, outcomes, engagement and experience:

Become the customer focused organization in reality not thought.
It’s about focus on the healthcare consumer and patient, not the hospitals. It’s an external market focus compared to an internal focus. It’s about becoming the healthcare consumer/patient focused hospital. And saying that the healthcare enterprise is doesn’t make it so.  Measure the healthcare enterprise against the 20 MAKKOR scale attributes of a customer focused organization.  Then and only then will one know what it takes to be the customer focused organization and the improvement steps needed for that journey.

Evaluate the healthcare enterprise 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 meet though technology focused on them, will gain new patients and the next-generation of physicians. 

Engage healthcare customers and patients all of the time.
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 network, which has some pretty significant financial ramifications in a risk-based reimbursement model. 

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.

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 physician’s 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 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. 

Make the healthcare consumer/patient experience memorable.
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 touch points 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. 

Embrace and join the retail healthcare movement.
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. If you can't compete in this way market position, share and revenue will erode.

Social media is the currency for reaching audiences.
urn to social media and networks to engage, manage the experience and drive adherence. As healthcare continues the evolution to a healthcare consumer dominated semi-retail environment, social networking is a healthcare marketing channel that is underutilized and underperforms today, but holds great potential to improve engagement, experience and adherence.

All of this takes organizational change, leadership, vision and meaningful action.  Unless things change its over and done. The headline will be a reality.

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