Showing posts with label #providers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #providers. 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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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, May 15, 2017

Are You Using a Hospital Clinical Service Line Brand Evangelist for Differentiation?

Do you know who your patient hospital brand, evangelists are? I ask this question for a critical reason.  In an age of little provider differentiation in the actual retail medical marketplace with me-too messaging, how is a healthcare consumer to make a choice?

Now that being said, I realize that many health care leaders will dispute the above statement.  But the fact is is that there is little if any messaging differentiation.  I knew as I was there too but made a conscious effort to move away from the “me too” messaging. And that was in the early 2000s.

So where am I going with this?

Consumers are demanding price and quality transparency. 

Maybe in reality what they want is more cost certainty and knowing what the value is they are receiving for the dollar paid?  But few in hospitals or health systems are listening to the needs and demands of the healthcare consumer. Then they howl loudly than a third party releases data that is publically available on the hospitals or health systems prices and quality.

Consumers of healthcare are shopping.

Consumers are now paying one-third of the cost of care out of pocket.

An individual uses the internet and social media 41 percent of the time in gathering information to make provider choice.

Consumers no longer rely on word of mouth to choose doctors and hospitals but on the Internet of things and social sharing sites.

And the answer by hospitals and health systems is to market the “trust our expertise” with messages that are full of vague claims and statements.

One way to answer those questions is through the use of patient testimonials, aka the clinical service line brand evangelist. 

Let me give you an example. When at the multihospital health system, I developed The Third Opinion Oncology campaign.  Upon an individual receiving a cancer diagnosis, the next step is the second medical opinion.  But we found that there was a third phase. The patient then talks to everyone and anyone that went through that cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Instead of going to the market with a look at our great oncologists, technology, expertise and it’s all about your messaging, we went in a very different direction. The campaign focused on three individuals along with common cancer diagnoses of breast, colon, and prostate. By the way, it was hard to find those three brand evangelists. That tells one a lot about the hospital brand and experience too.

The simple message-  “Ask me how I beat breast cancer,”  Jane@hosptial.org with a professional photo of the individual, email, print, billboard, and direct mail. Calls and emails went to my RN based call center. Before the campaign launch, a detailed Q&A was developed and conducted with the three individuals, clinicians and oncologists to identify the type of questions they had and the answers.  When a question came in that, we did not have any answer for we went back to the individuals and clinicians for a reply.

The entire campaign pulled the consumer to the hospital, pushed through to the oncologist, then pulled the oncologist to the hospital.

I did not message quality, technology, drugs, surgery; we care about you or anything else. I didn't say best and brightest; it’s all about you, or we are the only choices. Those are arrogant and pejorative vague claims that are indefensible. One message that was clear and unambiguous offer a solution to a serious medical situation bu providing alternatives and choices by clearly answering health-related consumer questions that are life and death in nature.

The use of a patient brand evangelist clearly differentiated the systems oncology services and established a position in the market that no other provider could claim.  The campaign drove appropriate utilization, built the oncologist practices, and increased hospital revenue, market share, and brand awareness.

And all of that was before a change in the market that is becoming retail medical in nature.  Today the stake is even higher, and the hospital or health system brand needs to mean more than ever.

The hospital of 2017  operates in a market that is more value and risk than fee-for-service. And where the consumer has a growing portion of the expense and choice of providers brand and value is everything.

Changing your marketing today from ambiguous we are all the same features and benefits marketing to patient brand evangelists and solutions marketing, will set one up for success whatever the payment system is.  A strong established brand will be in narrow networks, the provider of choice in consumer-driven exchange plans, and the dominant provider in the market.

What one does today in creating an indelible hospital or system brand will impact tomorrow's growth, revenue, and profitability.

Is it that hard to be responsive to a consumer's need for healthcare problem solutions? 

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 8, 2017

How You Can Market Providers in Healthcare 2.0

When one looks across providers delivering healthcare and marketing, one has to wonder if there is an understanding of the importance of marketing in healthcare 2.0. Which begs the question, will big box hospitals have a chance of surviving in a highly competitive, efficient retail medical marketplace without clear and unambiguous marketing?

After all, it's already apparent, even though hospitals and health system leaders have their heads in the sand, that the consumer only needs you for three things:  emergency care; intensive care, and care for acute complex, medical conditions.

 And here’s a new one, physicians don't need the hospital or health system either.

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 in nature, the sole focus is on understanding and meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer.  Note the importance of that sentence.  It’s focused on addressing 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 a healthcare business model that meets the needs of the healthcare consumer regardless of clinical service, time, and place.

What is healthcare marketing’s role? These five will determine growth and success. Failure to change means you are looking at joining the growing pile of the ash heap of history.

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 and engagement

Patient experience and engagement mean 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 organization. 

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 health care 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; providers 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 an in-depth 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 why non-traditional competitors are leading the way and taking revenue and share from providers?  Their deep understanding of the consumer and the dynamics of price, choice, convenience, experience, and engagement give these companies and others an edge that providers 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 about 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 provider has to offer.

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

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, March 14, 2016

Are providers that challenged in delivering on patient experience?

Eighty-one percent of healthcare consumers are unimpressed with the healthcare experience as reported in The State of Consumer Healthcare: A Study of Patient Experience by Prophet and the GE Healthcare Camden Group, 2016.

Let me repeat, 81 percent of healthcare consumers are unimpressed with the healthcare experience.

That is just wrong.

And no defense or excuses are offered why providers are apparently so bad at creating and managing an acceptable level of experience for patients either. I think we all get that the patient experience is complex and interrelated.  The complexity of the experience concept is illustrated by the chart below. There are over 147 experience touch-points of experience with a provider across the patient experience journey.

But what seems to be happening each time a new experience survey or CEO top issues list comes out, leadership talks about it, makes profound statements about the importance of experience without much action, or token action at best.

That is the old way of doing business.

Where to start? Well, at the beginning because there are no easy button answers.

It all begins with the culture.

Patient experience improvement doesn’t happen overnight, especially in healthcare enterprises that have a cultural focus that it’s all about us, instead of a culture that focuses on the external patient or healthcare consumer. It isn’t driven by technology though that is a tactic and solution. Nor a one and done a training program. And experience is not a passing mention of the business or strategic plan.


The time between understanding and action in the healthcare consumer or patient experience expectations can be measured in minutes, not days or months or when one gets around to it. Notoriously slow in adapting is to new technologies and trends; providers need to start managing the experience across all touch-points.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Is there any difference between provider bad publicity and PR in social media?

I wonder anymore with the individuals now being the new paparazzi if there is any longer a real difference between the concepts of the difference between publicity and public relations, good or bad in health care?  The power of the Internet of Things and social media is undeniable in defining a brand, company or even an individual for that matter, for better or worse.

So when some major visual branding mistakes by companies that I recently wrote about and termed as bad PR in a blog post, I was admonished for making a mistake and calling it bad PR when it was deemed publicity.

Well, that got me to thinking.

Now that being said, I appreciate the viewpoint of the commenter.  But so many things have changed in marketing and public relations with social media and the Internet of Things,  is there such a clear line anymore between it's just bad publicity, not PR, or are they now one in the same?

That is not to say that companies and PR firms should not continue to engage in publicity generating activities. That I do think remains a valued tactic to promote and build brand awareness when the tactics, messages and visuals are under one's control.

But when adverse publicity by the new paparazzi, namely the individual using social media and it goes viral, is it any longer just “bad publicity” or does it move to the world of Public Relations?  How much damage is there to the credibility and brand of the company in the process? Is it simply oh look at those idiots?  Or, does the brand suffer in the eyes of a particular audience causing lost sales?

And just what does the difference in the semantic distinction of is it just bad publicity in social media, not PR mean for healthcare providers?

That is the crux of the question.  

In an enormous sense, the choice of whether or not its publicity or PR, will have a lasting impact on the brand of the healthcare provider. The positive or negative publicity generated by an individual in healthcare social media and the Internet of Things stays around forever. With 41 percent of individuals using social media and the Internet of Things to find out about providers and use that information to make a choice, it’s just not bad publicity anymore.

I guess the decision of its just bad publicity and not PR will always be in the eye of the beholder. But for my money if I were at a healthcare provider, I would consider it bad PR in the new healthcare consumer-oriented retail health care market.

Nowadays, the game has changed, and the lines blurred between what is bad publicity or PR.

What would you do?


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

Monday, November 23, 2015

Does image, font, and ethnicity choices matter in marketing?

Maybe it’s a just a case of product managers and marketing just not paying attention? Or, could it be that an issue of group think took place, and no one was willing to raise their hand and say, “This is wrong.” and explain why? 

Here are two images making its way around social media most likely causing some brand embarrassment and bad PR to the companies involved.  If they are lucky, it becomes more of a consumer going really and chuckling.  But the visual loss via social media sharing can label the company and brand as “idiots”.   

Here are the two images. You be the judge.






In the end, though, images, fonts and ethnicity always matter and matter greatly. Pretty embarrassing to the brand because it seems that no one was thinking or paying attention.

Healthcare providers are not immune either.

Consider nationally recognized health system, running a marketing campaign on prostate screening campaign that started the day after national guidelines with the national PR that came out about the ineffectiveness of prostate screening?  It was pretty funny to see that commercial run right after the news segment on the topic. It looks like the health system is driving inappropriate utilization.

Or the hospital that was laying the claim to being a top cardiovascular performer with the award logo in the current advertisement proclaiming greatness. Never mind that the award logo was from three years ago with the year of the award in the logo?  And that they hadn’t won the “quality award” for the three prior years. Maybe the unintended consequence was the healthcare consumer was asking why you weren’t a top performer for the past three years.

The point is that marketing needs to exercise leadership, not stupidity.  We need to pay attention to images, fonts, and ethnicity in our campaigns.  Mistakes happen, and no one is immune, but these? 

That is a lack of focus and understanding. If it’s wrong, don’t do it or pull it. Better yet, correct it if you can.

Mistakes like theses in marketing are inexcusable.

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

Monday, November 16, 2015

What is required of hospital marketing in healthcare 2.0?


When one looks across providers delivering healthcare and the marketing, one has to wonder if there is an understanding of the importance of marketing in healthcare 2.0.   Which begs the question in the title, will big box hospitals have a chance of surviving in a highly competitive, efficient retail medical marketplace without clear and unambiguous marketing involvement and leadership?

I don’t know is the honest answer.

Here’s why.

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 in nature, the sole focus is on understanding and meeting the needs of the healthcare consumer.  Note this 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 being 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 for 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 touch points.  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 organization. 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 a 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 the market research and internal data to draw actionable insights to meet the healthcare consumer’s needs and competition. 

Is it any wonder that Walgreens, 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 about 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.

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

What does it take to implement a strategic healthcare social media program?

A lot of discussions occurs nearly every day regarding social media in healthcare.  Providers and some vendors still continue to lag in taking advantage of this channel for amplification of the brand message. The need for healthcare companies to actively use and mine the social media channels in reaching, engaging and influencing favorable decision and choices is no longer a nice to have but a business critical skill competency.

It’s easy to talk about the rationale and the importance of an effective and efficient social media program.  Or, to suggest social media channels as a starting point to drive engagement and business. It’s another thing to discuss the how you do it in a time of scarce marketing resources, lack of knowledge or the willingness to lead change.

What follows for your consideration are steps that need to be taken within providers and vendors to embark on an integrated and measurable 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. Let face it, we all do things that don’t make any sense or has become so ingrained we react without thinking. Take a step back and look at the marketing processes. Find efficiencies and increase effectiveness. Stop doing what doesn’t work and move those resources to social media.
 
3.       Find the one person in the organization that knows social media and put them full time on the job or hire someone.  It takes an FTE dedicated to run a successfully integrated, efficient, and engaging social media program.
 
4.       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.
 
5.       Measure everything.  Evaluate.  Adjust based on your findings. Redeploy budget as needed.
 
6.       Use social media with brand evangelists, followers, customers, physicians, employees, etc., to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.
 
7.       Develop a content plan and editorial calendar.
 
8.       Repurpose all content across social media channels.
 
9.        Make it interesting and about the challenges the organization is solving.  All about you is boring and glossed over.  All about your customer’s or patient’s and how you are helping will.
 
10.   In the end if the human resources are not available in the department, consider outsourcing the social media function.
 
The bottom line is that the multiple stakeholders and audiences are out in social media searching for answers.  So it is probably about time that the provider or vendor is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

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

Monday, October 19, 2015

When was the last time you said "thank you" in ending the patient engagement?

Sometimes, the simplest of actions for patient or healthcare consumer engagement have the most dramatic effect.  Now that is not to say that technology like patient portals, educational materials, online appointment scheduling, use of social media, texting, outreach calls etc., don't make a difference.  They do but are in reality just a technological solution or a process leading to an end. 

The danger in a single focus on the shiny new technologies to engage can lead to unintended consequences, inadvertently alienating the individual or set back the engagement efforts. Engagement is a personal one-on-one experience in a time when all that organization looks for is a quick fix thinking that technology can save the day.

Successful engagement of patients and healthcare consumers is a two-pronged approach that is both technological and human in nature.  I have written much in the past about the technological approach and the need for effective interaction and engagement. But today’s post is really about the human side of engagement.  And that is simply saying thank you at the end.

Thank you to the doctor for trusting the provider with his or her patients.

Thank you to the family member or significant other for visiting and being part of the person’s care network.

Thank you for the healthcare consumer or patient for choosing you as the provider.

Thank you to your staff for their work.

I know that is not sexy technologically-driven marketing.  But it meets a basic human need to be appreciated and recognized as an individual. Everyone will say we do that already in one form or another. But I ask you to examine that statement or thought. Spend some time watching and listening in on how that thank you is delivered.   You may be very surprised.

Patient or healthcare consumer engagement is more than pushing messages out, using social media, or population health analytics providing on some level predictive actions based on data what an individual will need. 

Don’t forget that on the other side of those care alerts, smartphones, emails and educational materials that there is a person.  Not a member of a population health group. Not just a member of an insurance plan.  But a breathing living human being, whose needs, desires, hopes, dreams and actions crave to be effectively and meaningfully engaged.

Saying thank you to the patient or healthcare consumer ends the process on the right foot.   

Sometimes the simplest of actions can lead to the greatest engagement benefits.

Thank you for reading and being engaged.

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

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Where is the hospital service line patient brand evangelist?

Do you know who your patient hospital brand, evangelists are? I ask this question for a very important reason.  In an age of little provider differentiation in the actual retail medical marketplace with me too messaging, how is a healthcare consumer to make a choice?

Now that being said, I realize that many a health care leader will dispute the above statement.  But the fact is there is little if any messaging differentiation.  I know as I was there too but made a conscious effort to move away from the “me too” messaging. And that was in the early 2000s.

So where am I going with this?

Consumers are demanding price and quality transparency.  Maybe in reality what they want is more price certainty and know what the value is they are receiving for the dollar paid?  But few in the Provider segment are listening to the needs and demands of the healthcare consumer. Then they howl loudly then a third party releases data that is publically available on the hospitals or health systems prices and quality.

Consumers of healthcare are shopping.

Consumers are now paying one-third of the cost of care out of pocket.

A consumer uses the internet and social media 41 percent of the time in gathering information to make provider choice.

And the answer by hospitals and health systems is to market trust our expertise with messages that are full of ambiguous claims and statements.

One way to answer those questions is through the use of patient testimonials, aka the service line patient brand evangelist. 

Let me give you an example. When at a multihospital health system, I developed with BVK the Third Opinion Oncology campaign.  Upon an individual receiving a cancer diagnosis, the next step is the second medical opinion.  But we found that there was a third step. The patient then talks to everyone and anyone that went through that cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Instead of going to the market with a look at our great oncologists, technology, expertise and it’s all about you messaging we went in a very different direction. The campaign focused on three individuals along common cancer diagnoses of breast, colon, and prostate. By the way, it was hard to find those three brand evangelists. That tells one a lot about the hospital brand and experience too.

The simple message-  “Ask me how I beat breast cancer”,  Jane@hosptial.org with a professional photo of the individual, email, print, billboard and direct mail. Calls and emails went to my RN based call center. Prior to the campaign launch, a detailed Q&A was conducted with the three individuals, clinicians and oncologists to identify the type of questions they had and the answers.  When a question came in that, we did not have any answer for we went back to the individuals and clinicians for an answer.

The entire campaign pulled the consumer to the hospital, pushed through to the oncologist, then pulled the oncologist to the hospital.

I did not message quality, technology, drugs, surgery; we care about you or anything else. I didn't say best and brightest; it’s all about you or we are the only choices. Those are arrogant and pejorative vague claims that are indefensible. One message that was clear and unambiguous offer a solution to a serious medical situation. Answering healthcare consumer questions that are life and death in nature that a healthcare consumer has. That came in the answers to real questions from real consumers.

Use of a patient brand evangelist clearly differentiated the systems oncology services and established a position in the market that no other provider could claim.  The campaign drove appropriate utilization, built the oncologist practices and increased hospital revenue, market share and brand awareness.

And all of that was before a change in the market that is becoming retail medical in nature.  Today the stake are even higher, and the hospital or health system brand needs to mean more than ever.
The hospital of 2015 still operates in a market dominated by fee for service and the production of care.  In a market shift to value and risk where the consumer has a growing portion of the expense and choice of providers brand and value is everything.

Changing your marketing today from ambiguous we are all the same features and benefits marketing to patient brand evangelists and solutions marketing, will set one up for success in the future whatever the payment system is.  A strong established brand will be in narrow networks, the provider of choice in consumer-driven exchange plans and the dominant provider in the market.

What one does today in creating a strong hospital or system brand will impact tomorrow's ability to survive in a retail medical consumer choice driven market.

Is it really that hard?

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

Monday, September 21, 2015

What can providers learn from physician sales, engagement in specialty pharmacy?

I was thinking the other day about what lessons in physician engagement in specialty pharmacy and how that could transfer to providers. That is a meaningful engagement for managing population health, changing health behaviors, keeping referrals and members in the network as well as experience improvement.

It occurred to me that specialty pharmacy have been engaging physicians through the sales process for a long time now, and there are lessons applicable to hospitals and other healthcare providers. Specialty pharmacy with a physician is transactional in nature, and many a specialty pharmacy utilize a Huitwaite SPIN based approach. This approach is highly applicable to selling to physicians in the provider network as well.

Nine  lessons to learn from:

Lesson One: Reach out and touch someone. If you want a doc to be engaged, you have to establish a personal connection. That means a human connection all of the time, not just when the patient is in the hospital or sales is in the doctor's office.  Without a human connection to the organization, engagement never has a chance.

Lesson Two: Do what you tell the physician you are going to do right now.  Saying you are going to take an action with a patient or commit to an action with a follow-up report of the outcome to a physician is usually right now not days later.  

Lesson Three: Invest in sales and marketing training in whatever sales methodology is being used so that it's done right the first time, every time.  Marketing to be effective and collaborative with sales needs to understand how the sale takes place.  In a situational selling environment, the right pieces need to created for a level behind.  Now, a piece of collateral never sold anything.  But the right price ate the right time can enhance the presentation or discussion.

Lesson Four: The same high standards you have for interaction with physicians for sales are the same high standards you have for your employees interacting with one another.  That means the right training, creating the right culture and having the right performance measurement.  If your employees are not engaged and happy, then the physician won't be happy when they encounter others for the provider.  In specialty, the sales are only the start of the engagement.  View the provider engagement as a whole.

Lesson Five:  Computerize the encounter. Not just scripting but an integrated approach using current physician information utilizing branching logic in response to questions and follow-ups. It is not only more effective and efficient but can enhance the encounter medically, personally and result in better outcomes.

Lesson Six: The same salesperson interacts with the physician on a regular basis.  Constant turnover of client executives destroys any potential for engagement. It creates uncertainty, doubt, and fear and is negative because the physician loses confidence.  People go on vacation, take days off, get ill, and life happens, doctors get that.

Lesson Seven: Understand, the physician you are talking too, what they want from you, and how they want the engagement to take place will define to a great extent your engagement strategy.  Physician engagement in specialty pharmacy is a personal one-on-one encounter, and one size does not fit all. Yes, you have process and systems, but they need to be adaptable and ever-changing.

Lesson Eight: It’s not uncommon in specialty sales and marketing to have a difficult patient program. Every physician has one or several difficulty patients in specialty pharmacy, so a difficult patient solution is usually the preferred course of action.   You gain trust and utilization. The physician gains a compliant patient and improved outcomes.

Lesson Nine: Eliminate the hassle factor for the doctor and help improve the practice of medicine and patient care. And fix the most important hassle factor being the patient complaining about you to them.

There are more, of course, but these are the nine lessons I thought are most important in transferring knowledge on physician engagement and sales from one segment of the healthcare industry to another.

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

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Hey healthcare sales exec, can you please read LinkedIn profiles carefully?

I could have written a rant how healthcare sales executives are using LinkedIn to prospect. But in thinking it over, I decided to provide some helpful tips for using LinkedIn for becoming more sales productive.

And maybe in the process stop getting useless, poorly targeted, as well as disjointed sales emails and calls. Oh and this goes for their employing companies too.

Now that being said, I get that currency for being on LinkedIn is relationships, connections, networking and the ability to prospect. I am okay with that.  What I am not okay with is the seemingly increased amount of inappropriate prospecting that is going on from sales execs.
Your regularly scheduled program will begin shortly.

I am a marketing guy that is a Miller Heiman alumnus and Huthwaite SPIN trained as well. I also pride myself on having integrated sales and marketing in healthcare vendors. The end results were that marketing improved, sales improved, revenue and market share grew. Sales and marketing teams went from “if the feet-on-the-street would just sell as we said”, and “marketing just makes things look pretty” to highly collaborative, productive and successfully integrated operations.

Tip 1:

Pay attention to the profile. Carefully read what they are saying in their intro. Clearly understand their current employment status and industry. Pay attention to the groups they belong too. What companies are they following? Read any post and view their recent activity. All of the above will provide you with the clues to decide if that person is even a viable prospect.

Tip 2:

With all due respect to Richard Ogilvie, think the man in the chair to understand who we are. Answer those questions before hand and you will be more successful on LinkedIn and stop wasting so much of your time and mine. It may be old, but it’s still true today.


Tip 3:

When contacting someone, please write in English that is spell checked and grammatically correct. Enough said.

Tip 4:

When requesting me to make an introduction, how about a compelling reason on why I should take the time out of my day to help you?  Why should I risk my reputation and credibility on you and your product or service? It’s a simple request. I am not looking for payment or a quid pro quo.  Just a rock solid reason on why I should take that action.

Tip 5:

Don’t tell me what to do. Now that’s an easy one.  Emails that request an action or provide information for your benefit to selling me something go to the recycle bin. I especially like the cold calls and emails from the data list sellers. Please tell where in my profile you see that at this current time with my employment status that I need to buy an email or mail list of anything?

Tip 6:

Make it about me. It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, but it has to acknowledge in some form what’s important to me and how you can solve my business challenge. If you paid attention to my profile and the attendant activity you can pretty much figure out what is important to me and the issues that are keeping my up at night.  Make your introduction along these points of interest.  Not about what you are selling.

Tip 7:

Find a sales mentor in your company. Someone that is proficient at using LinkedIn and social media for that matter. Learn from them on how to use LinkedIn properly for prospecting and outreach.  Using LinkedIn to find prospects is an activity. I do have to admit that it looks great on your management reports. Using LinkedIn is not an outcome. Don’t confuse the two. To all vendor sales leadership, please help them out! It reflects just as much on the brand as it does the sales.

Tip 8:

Don’t argue with me!  I especially dislike the phone call that starts with “Hello Michael we are connected” on LinkedIn and then proceed to tell me about what they need.  Then the argument starts when I ask the simple question of did they read my LinkedIn profile and from understanding that what made them think that I was interested in whatever? I don’t mind the calls when someone has paid attention and what they have or want is relevant.

Tip 9:

Respond to me.   I understand sales compensation and the hard work it takes to be successful sales, person. Sales are not easy. Know that I try to be courteous and respectful of your time and efforts so that you don’t waste your time on a prospect that will bring little economic value for your efforts at this time.

When I respond to your email that I am not interested, or the offer isn’t relevant to me at this time, do yourself a big favor and respond with a thanks for letting me know. Today’s no interest no sale may be tomorrow’s client as things change. 

Tip 10:

Pay attention and act accordingly.  Now is that so hard?

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.