Monday, March 1, 2021

Lessons from the Field - 10 Deadly Sins Stopping Midsized Healthcare Vendor Growth

 

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

Part one of a two-part series.

I have had the privilege of working for some great healthcare providers and vendors over my career, from the midsized regional and national companies to the multi-billion-dollar national and international healthcare providers and vendors.

While there are many different growth strategies, there are several commonalities on why the vendor has trouble growing organically. It is not usually a defective product or service sold in the healthcare provider market. Vendor product updates or enhancements may be late in responding to innovation in the market, but in most cases can be overcome. The factors are more related to the organization and how it is managed. Being beat in the market by competitors is one thing. 

Beating yourself is far more deadly than competitors.

From these experiences, I have identified the ten deadly sins being made that inhibit organic growth. In part one, we’ll look at deadly sins inhibiting growth one through five. Next week in part two, we’ll finish with deadly sins inhibiting growth six – 10.

While it's easy to say not me or my company, a look in the mirror will result in the identification of some of the ten deadly management sins at work in your enterprise. Identifying and correcting internal obstacles to growth is the mark of a company taking the good to great step.

Image by Klaus Hausmann from Pixabay

On to the first five of ten deadly sins stalling growth. 

1.       The person or group who started the company or came in and grew it to a certain level is still there. Sometimes leaders have capabilities more aligned to startup creation, driving deals, or expanding to a specific size.  After that, the Peter Principle kicks in. They work 20-hour days, seven days a week at the start, and continue to work 20 hours, seven days a week years later, and they tread water in the pool of growth. The company reaches a specific size and stays there. As hard as it is, implement your exit strategy or step back and bring in the management heft to take the company to the next level and get out of the way. 

2.       The entire focus of the management team is making money. Now, I understand the no money, no mission. Management teams that are only bottom-line focused lose sight of what is essential to drive growth.  They are micromanagers with one and only one objective - today’s bottom-line.  Management is by what did you do for me financially today. According to Peter Drucker, the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. Making money is a prerequisite of business. If you do not make money, you’re out of business. Create and keep the customer to grow the bottom-line. 

3.       A comprehensive business vision and strategy are lacking. When asked what your vision for the company is, the small to the midsized company often does not have a clear communicable vision that unites everyone under a common Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG).  They confuse process with strategy, resulting in a promising approach. If we do this, and this, and this and this, it will lead to this outcome.  That is not a strategy; it is a process. It is hoping that the desired outcome will occur because of a process. Clearly define what you want to be when you grow up, create measurable goals, communicate, and focus the company's total energy on those goals and the steps necessary to get there. 

4.       Internal communication is limited and focused on a transactional basis. It’s the need-to-know view of internal communications that more often than not impedes business success. That is not to say everyone needs to know every financial detail. Employees do need to understand how their efforts contribute to the success of the company. Employees need to know the competitive pressures, who the competitors are, the year's primary initiatives, and company growth goals. Vision and strategy updates need to be shared and communicated regularly. If a business unit achieved a quarterly benchmark and a bonus paid was good enough misses the point. That is a transactional view that the only thing that matters to the individual is money. People want to know that their contribution is valued and appreciated. 

5.       There is no organizational culture, or the culture is broken. Culture is one of those successful business attributes most often misunderstood and mismanaged. Company culture is an era where acquisition is more straightforward and a substitute for growth, which doesn’t happen by itself. Different companies have different cultures with good and bad points. Merely changing the logo and integrating the acquisition into your company doesn’t make the culture whole or even desirable. Actions speak louder than words. Positive, healthy company cultures must be created and nurtured. Many small to mid-sized vendor’s cultures are designed for better or worse, as transactional when there is a single dominant leader. The employees will take their cue to act based on leadership’s verbal and nonverbal actions. When you tell employees, the culture is that everyone’s contribution matters. Your important statement, followed by body language and vocal tone perceived as condescending, arrogant, and conceited, is what employees will believe, not what you say. Telling employees that they matter, then visibly shunning employees who voluntarily leave, sends a far more powerful message than words.

Your choice. Remove the barriers, change, and grow, or believe what you think and tread water.

Next week we will focus on deadly sins six-ten that inhibit growth in midsized healthcare vendors.

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 influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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

Monday, February 22, 2021

Healthcare Vendor Center of Excellence, what is Old is New- Eleven Strategies for Impact

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I see a trend among various healthcare vendors reviving the outdated and misused Center of Excellence moniker that became popular with hospitals in the 1990s. What is old is new, I guess. Remember those hospitals' "Centers of Excellence"? Some hospitals still use that term today to differentiate themselves from competing hospitals.

The idea is good, but like in the 90s, the claim of having a Center of Excellence or program within a "center" is meaningless without benchmarks and proof points that provide validity and substance to the claim.

To coin a past popular phrase, "Where's the beef?"

Are you trying to find a differentiating answer in a highly competitive market, or just throwing stuff up against the wall to see what sticks to feed your ego? In a day and age when data is readily available and undocumented claims are easily refuted in the market, are your prospects doing an eye roll and chuckling at the mere mention of a Center of Excellence?

Marketing the Center of Excellence- it's about building perception, trust, and transparency.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay
The opportunity immediately before you are to correct past marketing mistakes and make the Center of Excellence an actual entity, not vaporware or in your mind. 

The most critical thought correction for a Center of Excellence is to scrap the creation of a new logo, color palette, and messaging. Too many organizations went down the path of needing a new logo, tagline, color palette, etc., from the organization's already established brand—shame on the marketing departments for not exercising the leadership to stop the madness.

Your brand is everything.

The only logo that matters is your brand logo, color palette, and messaging.  Period. Change it at your own risk.  Leverage what you have because it makes life a lot easier and more cost-effective.

1.       Create a value proposition that shows the benefit to the provider. 

2.       Back you Center of Excellence claims up with meaningful data against accepted industry benchmarks for performance. 

3.       Create a client case study or two around the Center of Excellence performance. 

4.       Create sales content that speaks of the benefits and the business problem solved, not the features. 

5.       Identify key client influencers who can speak to and be brand ambassadors for the centers. 

6.       Always focus on and talk about outcomes and performance indicators and why they are essential with data transparency. 

7.       Use all communication channels- print, email, website, LinkedIn, social media, trade shows, and call center.  Integrate the messaging across platforms. 

8.       Make your marketing efforts sustainable.  Fund them accordingly to last a long period to be in front of the provider for months at a time. Presence builds preference. 

9.       Be creative. Be interactive.  Start and maintain a conversation with the provider on their terms and needs, not yours. 

10.   Take a market position of superiority along either the product, price, or service offering and dominate. Pick one, set meaningful benchmarks in the others. 

11.   Don't overpromise and under-deliver.

If you're going to call something Center of Excellence, do it right and differentiate.

Image by SplitShire from Pixabay 

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 influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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

The opinions expressed are my own.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

How Agile is the Hospital's Marketing Budget in 2021 for Meeting a Crisis?

 

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay

If the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic taught us in 2020, hospital marketers need to be agile and pivot on a dime. How have you allocated the hospital marketing spend for 2021? Can the hospital quickly change tactical direction by moving dollars to where they are needed?  Can one change messaging quickly to leverage a new opportunity brought about by the unknown?

Now, I am not making light of a bad situation with the pandemic, as there is an opportunity to be leveraged. The leverage is not driving revenue, but as your community's source leader with credible, reliable information and care in combating the viral community spread. The influence is also being able to engage your patients on a meaningful level so that when the pandemic eventually comes under some measure of control, the patient would return to you because the hospital established trust.

Enter 2021

Much of the allocations assigned to the strategies and tactics in the marketing plan are based on the hospital's strategic, operational, and financial plan.  Be that as it may, the question now is have you evaluated how swiftly you can change messages and tactics to meet the unexpected?

An important question.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Healthcare has transformed lightyears from where it was at the beginning of 2020 in digital health, telemedicine, and distributive care delivery. That transformation will continue at breakneck speed, which will not slow down or stop anytime soon.  The resulting changes require the ability to be agile, changing marketing tactics and budget allocations to reach patients where they are, with the messaging they need, not where you want them to be.

Today's marketing by hospitals should focus on value, engagement, and experience to give patients, physicians, or the community a reason for selecting you.  A new messaging mindset and execution are needed and tactics that meet the need and reach the audiences.  In responding to the patient and community's needs, appropriate utilization, revenue, and growth will occur, even in a pandemic.  It is a pretty simple straight line to brand and revenue growth.

Now answer how the hospital or multi-hospital system builds trust after upheaval and adds value to someone's life? The hospital can't do that if the marketing allocation and spend follow the past practice.

Everyone's budgets are different, so here are some recommendations in the new age of digital and distributive hospital care for your direct marketing spend and the percentage of dollars. 

·         Social Media, content, influencer, and inbound marketing - 60 percent allocation: Content creation, social media, SEO, website, mobile, blogging, thought leadership, emails, experience, engagement. 

·         Public Relation/Media Relations- 15 percent allocation: Press relations print and electronic, speakers and events. 

·         Patient engagement and experience research allocation: 10 percent. 

·         Outbound interruption marketing- 5 percent allocation: Sponsorships, advertisements, direct mail. 

·         Marketing systems-   10 percent allocation: CRM, marketing automation, marketing analytics, ROI measurement

Image by Willi Heidelbach from Pixabay
The task is for hospital marketers to build agility into the marketing budget for unforeseen changes in the healthcare ecosystem and not be cut as an unnecessary expense during a transition or crisis. 

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 influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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

The opinions expressed are my own.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Words Matter- How Does Your Hospital Content Speak to and Motivate the Patient?

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterian from Pixabay

 

Words are important, and that is something that I can think we can all agree on. Just as important is the context and tone of the writing. How a hospital uses and presents the written word, printed, on the website, emails, and text messages can significantly influence a positive or negative perception of the brand.

Words can drive an individual to take action, become motivational, inspire, and in some cases, in the contextual environment communicated become life-changing. And we all know that words can unintentionally, by use and connotation, reach a high giggle factor, be read as condescending, and raise more questions than answers. In some cases, words conveying a position on a topic become oxymoronic, resulting in a negative brand image.

With that in mind, how would you rate the hospital or health system use of words?

Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay

An important question as I see hospitals using words missing understandable context. Information on a page intending to convey a message, but essentially communicating features, not value. I increasingly see the use of jargon, or the other extreme, dumbed down to become condescending in tone hiding meaning. 

Creative marketing communications are needed to convey information in a content friendly, quickly understood contextual setting, in a tone that will motivate the reader. The correct word usage, tone, context, and design moves from a "nice to know" patient reception to an "I need to take action" reception.

The real question at hand is how do you convey information? Is the content full of medical jargon? Has the content been so dumbed down that it appears condensing to the patient? What do those words mean by the tone and context for an emotional response?  Do they raise more questions than they were intended to answer?  

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay
A hospital prints in an advertisement that we are patient-centered, and it's all features. The question then becomes, what does the patient think of and/or accept/reject in that statement?  Is the patient's reaction I get it because everyone else makes that statement, so how are you different? Or, how do I, the patient, benefit from what the hospital just communicated?  Is patient-centered claims an oxymoron based on the person's experience?

Words matter.

Let us consider the health system that opens a new physician and diagnostic center, for example. The only thing one reads about in the newspapers or hears in radio interviews with leadership, and sees in the advertisement are words defining the building as convenient location and patient-friendly. Generally, the communication lacks content and context regarding the quality of care or price.  

Take a step back, and ask yourself what words are conveying why the patient should seek medical care?  Answer the most intuitive questions of the patient, what is the benefit and value?

Words and their meanings matter, especially in a healthcare ecosystem overturned by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in how patients access care, the pandemic fear in returning, telemedicine acceptance, and the acceleration of medical care innovation, allowing the patient more choices in accessing affordable and convenient medical care.

At some point, the patient will find the benefit when we use the right words to convey the right message, at the right time, in the proper context. 

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 influencer in healthcare marketing strategy, communications, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. 

Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, Flipboard, and Triller.

Signup for the e-newsletter Healthcare Marketing Daily and have the latest healthcare marketing and business news for providers and vendors delivered right to your mailbox daily. Add your email address in the signup in the blog sidebar. You will not receive additional general or specific marketing emails.

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

The opinions expressed are my own.