“Cultural Brand Performance” – A New Indicator of Sales Growth and Consumer Engagement

“Cultural Brand Performance” – A New Indicator of Sales Growth and Consumer Engagement

There have been important, game-changing strategies associated with marketing performance over the years.  For example, “value proposition and differentiation,” “brand positioning,” and “corporate social responsibility.”  Each has evolved from the previous and all have demonstrated revenue growth. The latest idea being integrated into brand and marketing strategies is that of cultural relevance.  Simply (easier said than done), integrating what’s most relevant and important in our culture, social consciousness, and personal responsibilities with brand personas and communications strategies…no easy task. Take a look at a couple recent failed attempts of seeking cultural relevance: Peloton lost almost a $1 Billion in market value as a result of backlash from a TV commercial perceived as depicting men encouraging women to stay in shape. Hallmark pulled, then re-instated, a “wedding” commercial for Zola featuring the marriage of two women. Cultural amplification forced their turnaround in thinking. Watch any video today, on cable, network, or social media, and you’ll see brands seeking that fine balance with cultural relevance.  Whether it’s interfaith and interracial relationships, political or satirical points-of-view, or gender defining/neutralizing, how a brand performs and reflects cultural relevance has a direct and significant impact on its bottom-line.  I refer to this as “Cultural Brand Performance,” a new indicator and strategy for sales growth and consumer engagement. More fuel for this perspective:  in September, Merriam-Webster added the singular pronoun “they,” used to refer to “a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary,” or “to a person whose gender is unknown or is intentionally not revealed.” Earlier this month, the publication went a step further and chose the pronoun as its “Word of the Year.” Cultural Brand Performance is a new, important strategic consideration in today’s marketplace.   Finding the right equation in your market, while sometimes ‘like walking on eggshells’, is key to a brand’s long-term success.  More than ever, it’s paramount to stay on top of what’s trending culturally in your marketplace.  While I have never been a big proponent of creative testing, it seems to be worth every penny.  And can save hundreds of millions. Just ask...
8 Changes to Make in 2020 to Improve Your Healthcare Marketing Success

8 Changes to Make in 2020 to Improve Your Healthcare Marketing Success

As 2020 approaches, there are important changes to make in order to help improve your personal and professional success in healthcare marketing. 1. Focus on growth and business building, not marketing Marketing in many healthcare organizations still lands on the promotional side of the equation.  Successful marketers are those who understand the growth goals of their organization and develop strategies, beyond campaigns and clicks, to generate revenue and support new customer acquisition.  Marketers need to shift their “frame of reference” from “doing marketing” to “leading organizational growth through marketing.”  This will earn you a more favorable spot in the C-Suite and among your team.   2. Develop the right dashboards You’re too focused on the promotional side of things when your marketing “dashboard” consists of primarily digital terms that leave the C-Suite in the dust.  When you include business metrics, your dashboard will light up and provide a snapshot of your organization’s marketing success in terms of share-of-wallet, customer acquisition, profit margin, and conversion rates.  CEO’s consistently state they don’t really understand digital metrics (nor care to) but want to know how this investment translates to new revenue and growth opportunities.   3. Conduct market research to learn about your customers Most market research studies ask a lot of questions about the brand, not about the customer.  Other than demographics at the end, very few ask consumers about their interests and passions, what’s important to them, and the issues they’re most interested in.  Look at your customer research from their POV and you’ll gain great insights on how to make your marketing strategies much more relevant and engaging.   4. Develop a clearly defined brand position It’s head scratching and nail biting to develop a brand position that your organization can own; one that fits like a glove and is different in the marketplace.  But, oh is it so worthwhile.  Without this, your brand defaults to a “me too” position and means everything to everybody.  Absolutely the opposite of what a brand position should be about.  Take the time and resources required to really understand how what your organization stands for and how it should be thought of in the marketplace.   5. Create a message strategy around “heartbeat,” not chest beat It takes great insights about your customer and a continuous nature of learning, observation, and discovery about your marketplace to develop a “heartbeat” for your brand.  The opposite of this is a chest beat brand, one that talks primarily about itself and reels off a list of attributes and features.  I’m sure you can guess the approach that is more interesting and engaging to customers and encourages them to share or co-author a brand story.   6. Remember the 8-second rule With over 5,000 messages a day vying for the average person’s attention, studies show an approximate 8-second time span exists to make your point.  This is why more communications are going visual; to capture attention, gain engagement, and motivate toward an action. There is always an important place for content, but keep it relevant, and short.   7. Be Social, but not too “social” Social media is powerful, but it doesn’t need to be “too” social.  Brand strategies should drive your posts and, as with every other media, shouldn’t be “all things to all people.”  Overly social posts don’t benefit from optimization of keywords and tend not to stay on brand, rather, they take your message in an entirely different direction.  You can drive engagement and interaction without sacrificing the integrity of your posts and brand platform.   8. Make your internal audience a priority The role of internal communications has evolved over the years from a preview of an ad campaign to an engagement strategy with real ROI.  Hospitals experiencing “leakage” often find that employees are unaware of the scope of services provided by their health system.  Physician practices find that making in-system referrals can be tedious and time-consuming, and therefore default to old referral habits.  As healthcare companies grow through merger and acquisition, it’s more imperative than ever to not only educate, but facilitate communications from within.   At the time of this writing, we are six weeks away from 2020. There is still time and opportunity to strengthen your healthcare branding and marketing strategies.  Time flies, so take a moment to reflect on these suggestions and avoid defaulting to old habits that weaken your position, both personally and professionally. For more information on your healthcare marketing success, contact...
7 Tips (and 15 Tactics) to Grow your Healthcare Brand by Connecting Your Brand Promise to the Patient Experience

7 Tips (and 15 Tactics) to Grow your Healthcare Brand by Connecting Your Brand Promise to the Patient Experience

Growth isn’t a “nice to have,” it’s a “must have” for almost all healthcare brands. And as a healthcare marketer, you are uniquely positioned to lead a growth strategy that connects your brand promise to the patient experience. Many healthcare organizations have identified that elevating the patient experience will fuel growth in terms of repeat usage, positive word of mouth (reviews) and brand loyalty. The following explores some of the ways healthcare marketers can lead this important growth initiative: 1. Create an elevating and differentiating brand promise One that emerges as the benefit of your brand’s unique position in the marketplace. Importantly, it has to align with the internal culture to impact patient experience. Tactic:  Discuss and test this promise internally to ensure it resonates, is culturally authentic and instills a sense of pride. 2. Understand that internal buy-in and advocacy are critical to the success of this engagement strategy. Identify and involve internal influencers and stakeholders from all levels of the organization, as brand ambassadors, early to gain support for your patient experience approach. Tactic:  Translate your promise to an inspirational internal theme.  It should provide a rallying cry for your employees and stakeholders to grab onto. 3. Empower your brand ambassadors with the tools they need to gain adoption from their teams. Connect your internal theme with “the why” behind this patient experience initiative – for the employees. It’s important for each to understand “what’s in it for them” in order to gain engagement, adoption and compliance. Tactic:  Develop interactive tools that enable your ambassadors to present, discuss and roleplay with their team members. These tools may include an internal engagement workbook that allows each employee to develop their own unique story and approach to improving the patient experience. 4. Expressing and “living” the brand promise starts at the top. The executive suite must lead by example, as well as, communicate and demonstrate to those around them how they are living the brand’s promise in their roles. Tactics:  Conduct a series of leadership town hall meetings accompanied by an internal engagement video that speaks to the impact your brand promise has on the patient experience. This same video can be featured in an email from the CEO to the employees and should live on appropriately themed intranet landing and support pages. 5. Engage around accountability. A patient has one experience, but that often includes 10+ interactions. So, it’s critical that all employees, at all levels, live the brand – expressed in their role and interpersonal (employee, patient and visitor) interactions. Tactics:  Showcasing peers has proven to be an effective way to inspire, engage and motivate employees. These “testimonials” may be executed through videos, social media posts, digital signage, posters, table tents, etc. 6. Create a patient-centric culture early on in the hiring process. Patients want to connect with their caregivers on a personal and emotional level.  So make sure the employees you bring into the organization complement the culture you’re building. Tactic:  Work with HR to extend the importance of your brand promise and the patient experience to your hiring process. Providing engagement worksheets for use in the interview process will seed the organization with people who want to live your brand promise. Bonus tip:  Be sure to include your call center employees – as their interactions have a surprising impact on patient acquisition and retention. 7. Know that living the brand is never a set it and forget it All brands must be nurtured and living the brand requires constant measurement and refinement. Tactics:  Meet regularly with your brand ambassadors to gauge their feedback and input on the patient experience performance of their teams. Follow this up by measuring longer-term progress through employee and patient satisfaction surveys. To learn more about how to enhance the patient experience through your brand promise, email me at mike@springboardbrand.com or call Springboard at...
Healthcare Brand Naming | What comes first – the position or the name?

Healthcare Brand Naming | What comes first – the position or the name?

Fall is a season of great transformation.  From colorful leaves to kick-offs and playoffs, the season brings change, reflection and hope. In the healthcare industry, fall also unearths many metamorphoses among companies, hospitals, and health systems.   After months of planning, studying, researching, and “cocooning” new ideas, brands emerge and dot the landscapes across U.S. markets.  Many of these names surface from the multitude of mergers and acquisitions that have also been in the planning stages during the summer months. I always enjoy reading about these new brands and learning their story as told by a new name, logo, and tagline.  Some, you can tell, are thoughtful, customer-based, and research-influenced.  Others seem to come out of the blue (healthcare’s favorite color, of course) with little explanation and depth. This always begs the question in brand evolution; what comes first – the name or the position? By “position,” I’m referring to the classic marketing discipline of determining the “why” of your enterprise and “where” it intends to be established in the minds of your key audiences. Without stringing you along, I’ll provide my viewpoint on the discussion of what comes first; I strongly believe every healthcare brand naming opportunity should start with and revolve around an evaluation/evolution of a brand position.  This provides the opportunity to develop a unique marketing strategy and reinforce it with a name, identity, and tagline that communicate your story.  How great is that!  A name and identity which actually makes sense in the context of your brand.  Its equity and relevance, and not just comprised of clever or computer-generated terms that offer little differentiation and no value proposition. Working with clients of all sizes, and in all segments of the healthcare industry, the nature of a request determines their level of sophistication and long-term view of a new brand and name.  If the request is, “we need a new name,” there’s a good chance they’ll want the same exercise again in two years.  If it’s “we need a new brand,” this typically implies the desire for a new market position and corresponding branding elements. So, while the argument around the chicken and the egg continues, I believe there’s less of one with healthcare brand naming and positioning.  It starts with a strong, desired market position and all the branding elements, including the name, work to support it.   Just coming up with names that will “work” and then determining the brand position is an exercise in futility; and success will not be what it’s cracked up to be. Contact Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy for more...
4 Strategies for Branding Medical Practices

4 Strategies for Branding Medical Practices

Branding Your “Branded” Medical Practice When you hear the word “brand,” your first thought may be a logo or a tagline, especially if you are tied to a branded health system. However, branding your medical practice is much more than that, and more complicated. Your medical practice brand should create a unique space in the minds of your key customers and help you attract new patients. The goal behind a branding campaign is to develop messaging that will raise awareness and engagement among potential customers.  It should help you stand out from the crowd and then get customers to use and prefer your practice so that when the need for your services arises, they automatically think of, and choose, YOU. So, what does this mean to your medical practice? Defining your brand will help you identify where you are now, and where you want to be in the minds of your customers. With this information, you will be able to chart your future course, prioritize your plans, use your resources effectively, inspire your staff and stakeholders, and ultimately increase patient volumes. So, how do you go about building a brand for your practice? Here are four strategies: 1. Identify your core competencies You must first identify your where your practice is now, in terms of core competencies, including: competition market trends key services unique benefits target audiences as well as customer knowledge, attitude and usage The goal is to identify the unique equity (your overarching market position) for your medical practice and the appropriate strategy.  This includes brand platform, essence, and overall “story” to the marketplace that appeals to the unique traits and needs of your prospective patients. 2. Determine your brand story Uncovering your unique equity will help your practice discover your core brand story. In addition, you have the challenge of complementing the system brand for your enterprise. Springboard’s approach to positioning engenders a greater appreciation of your brand essence and generates an in-depth understanding of your brand promise to the marketplace. Your medical practice story should encompass the common strengths, personalities and competencies of your physicians and office staff. This will help develop the most effective and powerful ideas to communicate the new brand platform. 3. Engage internal audiences Once the desired brand position has been established, you must ensure that brand is reinforced by all members of the practice. Your brand is something your patients feel, hear or see when they visit your office, interact with you or deal with your staff. It includes all touchpoints with of your practice; from the sign over your door and the usability of your website to the educational and promotional collateral you provide to patients, such as brochures and direct mail. The success of your brand ultimately depends on your patients’ experiences, and how they perceive your practice. Energizing and engaging your internal audiences is key. 4. Promote your story to external audiences Now it is time to deliver your story to your target audience. This process involves developing the most effective and powerful ideas to communicate your new brand platform, then promoting your messaging via online and traditional marketing tactics such as websites, landing pages, digital and social marketing, print ads, online videos, etc. In terms of communications, Springboard believes there should be a smooth transition of the brand strategy into creative execution and market implementation.  The key here is that the brand strategy does not get “lost in translation” when bringing it to the marketplace. Springboard has full-service capabilities in the development and implementation of brand strategies and communications programs, bringing campaigns to life in all media; traditional and digital.  Contact us today to learn more about how we can help develop and tell your brand...
How to Pitch Your Marketing Plan and Budget to Leadership

How to Pitch Your Marketing Plan and Budget to Leadership

Lessons from the Shark Tank Smart marketers will treat C-suite presentations as if they were walking into the “Shark Tank” to sell not only their marketing plan, but the strategic vision and value they bring to the organization. If you’re like millions of Americans, you’ve seen the award-winning television show “Shark Tank,” in which entrepreneurs have 10 minutes to sell investors on their business idea. Now transfer that image to the last time you walked into the C-suite to sell your annual strategic marketing plan and budget. “It can be a similar experience,” said marketing consultant Rob Rosenberg, president of Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, Ltd., in Chicago. “You have a limited time to give your presentation to a skeptical audience who has typically been sitting in a conference room for hours listening to numerous other pitches involving new investments or the request for more resources.” Read more on SHSMD’s newsletter Spectrum that features an interview with Rob Rosenberg and Paul Szablowski. Contact Springboard for more...
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