Medical associations used have gone from “behind the scenes” to “front and center” in terms of implementing branding and marketing strategies. This has evolved from the shifting goals of associations as they move from merely providing member education and networking opportunities to creating a unique niche in the marketplace and seeking to drive consumer behavior in the direction of members.
It seems members want more from their dues and have high expectations in terms of the value their membership should bring to their association and respective practice of medicine. Dermatologic surgeons, radiologists, plastic surgeons, orthopedists, to name only a few, have all realized significant value-add from their membership as their organization’s have invested in developing unique stories and strategies to help build their patient volume and overall reputation. Even hospital-based central service professionals have used branding and marketing to encourage member certification and tie their story to a quality patient experience.
Chances are, your medical association is considering some form of branding rejuvenation. If that’s the case, here are seven success factors for your consideration:
- Gain input from your members – Most likely, there’s a group of members who have been influencing you to launch a brand campaign. These are the perfect group to include in some sort of “marketing and/or public relations” committee. Learn what’s important to them and, more importantly, what differentiates the strategy from other organizations.
- Balance with customer research –Regardless of whether your customers are consumers, professionals, or another audience, it is imperative that you discover what’s important to them, and balance this with the internal impression of your organization as gleaned from the aforementioned work group.
- Create a strong brand message/story unique to your members – Based on your objectives and findings from both internal and external research, now is the time to develop your brand story and strategy. While there are several criteria and approaches to developing a strategy, make sure it’s unique to your organization and is supported by many “reasons to believe.”
- Include your members as organic messengers – Your primary channel for telling your story is your membership. Each and every member of your association should understand the thinking behind the strategy and have access to materials to help share it with their customers. Toolkits comprised of campaign materials are an excellent way to disseminate the information and achieve consistency in the marketplace. Of course, in today’s digital world, these materials should be available online via a campaign landing page or microsite.
- Never stop educating members about the campaign – You might get tired of telling members about the campaign and how they can contribute and benefit. You might think you’ve saturated them with reminders. Chances are, when you’ve reached this point – they are only beginning to “hear” you. You can’t do enough to keep your members apprised and engaged in the program and gaining their support to carry it through in their marketplace or practice. Your website and publications are excellent vehicles to keep the message front and center with your members.
- Quarterly reviews/meetings/analytics – Use the workgroup, not only for their input up-front, but throughout the course of the campaign to review its progress and make any necessary adjustments. You should be evaluating the success of the campaign on a quarterly basis and factoring in analytics from your digital efforts in the overall initiative.
- Brand reinforcement throughout all marketing activities – Once your brand strategy is determined, and your story is being told to the marketplace, think “consistency.” Let the brand strategy guide your other marketing communications efforts such as social media, publications, and your annual meetings. The beauty of a brand strategy is your organization now has a platform from which it can drive and orchestrate all other marketing messages and channels. Take advantage of your hard work!
For more information on branding and marketing your medical association, please contact Rob Rosenberg, President – Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 847.398.4920.