Summer is typically that season when, between vacations and short attention spans, your hospital brand pretty much runs on autopilot. Hello fall and the brisk change in colors and temperatures. Suddenly, it seems that everything is due at once and demands on the marketing department have gone full throttle.
Before you jump right back into it, now is the perfect time to give your hospital brand a check-up to make sure it’s healthy, vibrant, and able to keep pace with the changing market. The year-end is fast approaching, budgets are due, and performances will be measured.
A suggested brand check-up is below and I recommend you schedule it on an annual basis. There is just too much happening in the industry today to have your hospital brand be at risk for the ills of “same ol’, same ol’.”
Cleanse, clear your head, and breathe
The best prep and start for your brand check-up is to clear your head and breathe. There are several hospital marketing conferences coming up (SHSMD Connections ’16, Hospital Marketing National, state-wide conferences) that you can attend and bring back new ideas to your team; they’re a terrific way to “cleanse” and begin your check-up with fresh thinking and a clean slate.
Know your numbers
Before plotting where your brand should be, diagnose where it is now in the minds of your key stakeholders. Review and/or refresh your market research to better understand your brand equity in terms of awareness, preference, and usage. Dig into other methodologies to get a firm grasp of the knowledge and attitudes people have about your brand compared to others in the marketplace.
Take your internal temperature
Make sure you know where leadership is in terms of their vision for the brand. Schedule one-on-one interviews with senior team members to discuss their perceptions and expectations for your marketing efforts. Additionally, conduct a few internal focus groups with a cross-section of employees to gain their insights on the brand promise and how they support it on a daily basis.
Stretch your thinking
The biggest risk that hospital and other marketers face is being invisible or “vanilla” in the marketplace. You might think you’ve uncovered the perfect strategy but consumer taste tests will probably reveal that there’s nothing memorable or unique about your messaging strategies. Or, the brand down the road has already beat you to the punch. Demand that new ideas be brought to the table and really try to engage with your audiences – it’s about them, not you! It’s a heartbeat, not a chest beat.
Exercise your plan
Work it, work it, work it. That’s it! You’ve put together a great plan that integrates all media, platforms, messages, and channels. Stick to it and you’ll begin to see results.
Add muscle to the routine
Consumers want to be engaged with their favorite brands and appreciate immersive experiences. Strengthen your presence in this regard by creating events and community outreach that capture their imagination and make your brand stand up and be noticed.
Don’t wait for year-end to determine if you’ve been successful. Digital analytics can be measured daily and there’s nothing wrong with conducting quick turnaround online surveys to help determine if your messaging and other marketing strategies are taking shape. Of course, hold yourself accountable to the goals you’ve created and the plan you developed. Evaluate and adjust on an as-needed basis.
This is the time of year when months turn into weeks and, before you know it, you’ll be hearing holiday songs as you browse your favorite stores. Act now to reinvigorate your brand and give it the pulse it needs to thrive in today’s climate. I hope this check (-up) list helps and you are ready to move and shake. If you want a second opinion or if your hospital brand still doesn’t feel right, call me in the morning.
Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, is a brand strategy and communications firm specializing in hospital branding located in the Chicagoland area. For more information on Springboard or to discuss hospital brand and other ideas, please contact Rob at 847.398.4920 or firstname.lastname@example.org.