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...
Reviving your Healthcare Brand’s Cultural Relevance with CSR

Reviving your Healthcare Brand’s Cultural Relevance with CSR

Twenty years ago, when some companies were “printing money,” corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategies were often developed as a way to deflect consumer attention away from big profits, write-off more expenses, and – in fairness to those who did – do good for the sake of society. Studies prove that CSR has a positive impact on a brand; increasing preference, loyalty, and engagement. The companies benefit, too, with less employee turnover and more revenue. That was then. This is now, and CSR seems to have taken a back seat. Not saying it doesn’t exist, but it appears less visible and instrumental in brand strategies. There are probably good reasons for this; certainly digital media is highly targeted and therefore these types of initiatives are not as mainstream as they once were, markets are much more competitive and some brands can’t afford to spread budgets too thin, and senior marketing people are less willing to take risks and implement programs that don’t generate an immediate ROI. After all, CMO’s are the most volatile in the C-suite with an average tenure under five years and constantly feel the heat in terms of performance – and CSR initiatives can’t always be measured in weeks or months. Beyond the economy and corporate performances, the world needs more CSR and it can do wonders for your brand relevance. We live in a time of social turmoil; whether it’s tragic mass shootings, political divide, acts of hatred and bullying, or just a general sense of uneasiness in our world. This is not a climate for strong brand “selling.” In fact, there are many audiences (i.e. Millennials) who don’t want to “buy.” They want to support, help, and heal. And your brand should focus on these initiatives, too. Brand relevance is created not only on what’s important to your consumers lifestyles, but also what’s meaningful in their lives. Marketers have reacted well to changing lifestyles by recognizing today’s “family” is vastly different from 20 years ago and showcasing these different profiles in their communications strategies. But the opportunity exists to also recognize social trends and create CSR strategies around how your brand is helping the world or community in which it lives. Take a stand. Have a POV. Make a case. Do more than “sell” your brand. Look for non-traditional ways to integrate your brand into the lives of your constituents, both inside and outside your organization. Years ago, a great client – Lehigh Valley Health Network – was willing to put its money where its heart was and developed and launched one of the nation’s first anti-texting/while driving campaigns. Using the theme, “Stop in the name of love,” the initiative underscored the dangers of distracted driving and created a multi-layered strategy including yard signs, community ed events, physician engagement, and traditional media to spread the word. Oh, they also were willing to invest in the Diana Ross’ music to make the effort more visible and memorable. Talk about being culturally relevant – engagement was never higher and the organization benefited from all the metrics; employee satisfaction, revenue, loyalty, you name it! Bottom-line, CSR isn’t about the bottom line. It’s about creating a “heartbeat” for your brand. Using its strength of it to do good and make people feel better. And in today’s world, there’s nothing more culturally relevant than...
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...
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