Healthcare Branding: 8 Ideas for Managing the “8 Second Rule” for Healthcare Brands

Healthcare Branding: 8 Ideas for Managing the “8 Second Rule” for Healthcare Brands

When it comes to reaching and motivating consumers, healthcare marketers face a double “whammy.” First, studies show that the average person is exposed to 7,500 brand messages and marketing content every day.  The School of Human Sciences and Technology estimates that people switch between screens up to 21 times an hour. As a result of this overload, the average person’s attention span is eight seconds! What makes this even more complicated for healthcare marketers is the second whammy; making healthcare messaging engaging, simple, digestible, and differentiating in less time than it takes to say “multi-disciplinary, comprehensive, continuum of care.” As healthcare systems continue to grow adding new capabilities, physician practices, and other services, messaging becomes more complex – all the while consumers are giving them less time. Here are 8 ideas on how you can manage the “8 Second Rule” for healthcare brands A long-time colleague, copywriter and tagline maestro friend of mine, Jim Morris, developed a great tagline for taglines, “Long story, short.” I’ve always loved the power and simplicity of this idea. A tagline becomes a part of the brand’s lore and legacy.  Healthcare brands still sound unimaginably similar. And the development of a unique, crafty tagline is one way to stand out and live on after your eight seconds are up.  So much more to say on this, but I’ll keep it short. Consistency of messaging from one medium to next, one screen to the next, is also another important idea. Too many brands have too many different “faces” from one screen to the next. Knowing your time is limited, should limit this practice. Become a...
Healthcare Marketers: Lessons from the Shark Tank

Healthcare Marketers: Lessons from the Shark Tank

I had the pleasure to present at the SHSMD Connections conference in Seattle a few weeks ago.  My co-presenter, and fellow disruptor, Paul Szablowski and I were thrilled to see a full house for our session.  Healthcare marketers were eager to learn business lessons from the hit reality television show “Shark Tank.” Healthcare marketers are under constant scrutiny from their CEO’s to demonstrate value and Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI).  Walking into a shark tank each time budgeting and annual planning rolls around is all too much a reality. Here’s a recap of our presentation.  If it leaves you swimming with questions or additional thoughts, I look forward to hearing from you. The Waters are Murky for Healthcare Marketers Marketers in all industries are facing intense pressure to perform for their organization.  Many studies suggest that there is definitely a realignment needed between the C-Suite and marketing department in terms of expectations, accountability, and responsibilities.  Nearly three quarters of CEO’s want their marketing department to focus on growth goals and new customer acquisition. And the same percentage of healthcare marketers believe their jobs are not designed to let them achieve this for their organizations. Perhaps this is why the average tenure of a Chief Marketing Officer is only four years – the shortest length of any position in the C-Suite. Another reason is that healthcare marketers have focused too much on “marketing” and not enough on growth goals.  So before walking into your “shark tank,” this mindset  has to shift or you’ll be quick to sink in your organization. Lesson 1:  Know your role Yes, you’re The Director of...
Healthcare Brands Require Strong Internal Engagement

Healthcare Brands Require Strong Internal Engagement

Whether a hospital system, specialty practice, medical association, or device company, healthcare brands will only thrive with strong internal engagement. This is especially important with the rapid consolidation in the healthcare industry today. For providers, where referrals among medical staff members and sub-specialties make or break the system, engagement is paramount. When we conduct focus groups with internal teams at leading health systems, most employees do not know the “5 W’s and H” within their own organization: “who it consists of” “what’s expected of them” “why should they care” “where they should refer” “when” “how” As a result, organizations experience great leakage of patients, and revenue. Communications strategies help address many of the unknowns. Internal campaigns including brand overviews, videos, books, and other tactics can explain the size and scope of the organization. Of course, graphic standards manuals are essential. Especially in terms of presenting healthcare brands in a consistent and unified manner, no matter which architecture strategy is being developed. Online tools and staff profiles will also help facilitate referrals from one practice to another or among sub-specialties. Most healthcare professionals understand “when” referrals should be made.  However, soft reminders are sometimes needed for family physicians who would rather treat their patient than “lose” them to a referral. Key here is to develop protocols.  These ensure the primary care provider gets their patient back after specialty procedures or consultations are performed. That takes care of most of the W’s and H. Let’s focus on the “why”. Really(!?), employees have to be told why they need to care about keeping patients within the health system? Unfortunately, they do. It’s...
Can you write a healthcare ad without using the seven “deadly” words?

Can you write a healthcare ad without using the seven “deadly” words?

George Carlin will always be remembered as an original with many great comedic acts, but his “seven deadly words” bit (what you can’t say on network television, back then…) is a classic. Under this theme, branding expert Paul Szablowski (former Senior V.P., Brand Engagement of Texas Health Resources, CHW, etc.) and I teamed up on an article of a similar title for a popular healthcare ad / marketing publication. It’s been about ten years since it was published, but that article generated more talk value than any I’ve received since. The article was about the seven “deadly” words you shouldn’t use in hospital advertising because they make little sense to consumers and are non-differentiating for the brand. After attending a recent healthcare advertising trade show and competition, I am prompted to again write about these words and why hospital marketers should not be using them. Because I heard a lot of them! Okay, here’s the list: Interdisciplinary Ask ten consumers on the street what this means to them and their health and you’ll quickly understand why it’s a waste of space and benefit. Other like words that don’t officially make the list, but should, include continuum, integrated, and coordinated. World-class Technically two words, but often used as one thought in healthcare. After a decade, there is still no need nor regulatory act to substantiate such claims and as a result even a two-bed hospital in you know where, can claim to be “world class.” By the way, in case you’re looking to be less global and more local, “nationally-recognized” doesn’t do it, either. Quality – okay healthcare folks, it’s...
Why some brand identities make you cringe

Why some brand identities make you cringe

When you stop for a brief moment, and let’s face it – a very brief moment, to look at a brand identity, there are some that make you nod approval and others that make you cringe. You know, that look on your face when nose and lips almost meet and your eyes squint. What makes a brand identity cringe-worthy? Why can’t they all be simple and powerful like Apple, Nike, and FedEx; each telling a story well beyond the icon or tagline. After studying and creating various identities over the years, here’s a quick list of some reasons brand identities might make you cringe: What is that? These are the brand identities that you can’t even identify. They contain strange symbols, layers of “brand” elements, and iconic images that only a client would love. Typically, these are client-led ideas that nobody had the guts to say, “this looks like guts.” The remedy – listen to what the client meant, not what they said. And translate into an identity accordingly. Size matters Agency folks, especially art directors, for years have told tales about the client “wanting to make the logo bigger.” I’ve secretly sided with clients on this request because, after all, it’s important to know the brand anchor behind the ad, brochure, or other piece of communications you’re reading. Interesting that today, where digital media receives the majority of brand spend, identities are getting smaller and more difficult to read on social media posts, banners, and other applications. The remedy – brand identities need to be responsive (like websites) to adapt to the space that’s allotted. This means there needs to be flexibility built into graphic standards so different...
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