B2B Healthcare Brands Need a Heartbeat

B2B Healthcare Brands Need a Heartbeat

Many years ago, when I was on the client side of B2B marketing fence, our messaging beat its chest about how our product was bigger, better, faster, stronger and could make our customers more money. Years later, after time on the agency side of both B2B and B2C marketing, we’re seeing a massive shift in how B2B buyers at various levels need to be engaged. Sure, there’s a procurement officer that’s all about specs and cost, but we’re assuming you’d like to move up the chain a bit. Consider this B2B value pyramid from a Bain & Company study earlier this year. This illustrates from the bottom of the pyramid to the tip top:   The bottom of the pyramid – where many B2B marketers stop. This is where no one wants to be – it’s commodity-land. Living on specs and price will not keep you in business. Neither will simply addressing your buyer’s economic or performance needs with features and functions. As someone recently told us, don’t talk to me about the horsepower and the convertible top – tell me how cool I look driving that car…   The middle of the pyramid – where sustainable and valuable relationships begin. Here, your messaging is centered around benefits that are important to the buyer and enhance their subjective judgments about your product or service. Attributes like decreasing hassles and your expertise help you form this relationship.   The top of the pyramid – deepen your relationship by engaging with a heartbeat message that speaks to personal and career related priorities. Your work here requires empathy and establishes trust –...
5 Great Marketing Strategies for Medical Practice Growth

5 Great Marketing Strategies for Medical Practice Growth

The best healthcare marketing strategies, offline, online, traditional and new media all have to work together to reach, motivate, and engage healthcare consumers. In order reach and motivate your target audiences to choose you over another practice, your brand needs a “heartbeat.” A heartbeat creates an emotional statement about your organization. A promise to the marketplace that focuses on the benefits consumers will gain by becoming a patient of your practice. Whether yours is a large medical practice or small physician office, it’s important to ask yourself the following on a regular basis: Does your strategy deliver on your customers’ expectations? Is your brand’s messaging delivering on that strategy? Is your creative really breaking through? What’s the competition up to? Working to develop your brand’s heartbeat, and a strategy to address all of these things is crucial to creating a creative and compelling message that will engage your specific target audiences. The next goal of your brand should be to meet your key audiences’ interests, needs and passions, and creating and executing a tactical plan to reach those audiences. Below are some strategies for taking this next step – Offline/Traditional Offline marketing, also referred to as traditional marketing, includes such things as radio, television, billboards, print collateral and direct mail, among others. These can be considered antiquated and ineffective but should still be considered as part of an overall, integrated marketing plan. There’s a reason you see so many healthcare/pharmaceutical ads on TV and receive so many special offers via the mail. For the right demographics and with the right strategy behind them, they still work. Especially when combined...
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,” and “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 in terms of presenting the brand 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, although soft reminders are sometimes needed for family physicians who would rather treat their patient rather than “lose” them to a referral. Key here is to develop protocols which 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....
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 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...
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