B2B Healthcare Brands Need a Heartbeat

B2B Healthcare Brands Need a Heartbeat

Many years ago, when I was on the client side of B2B healthcare marketing fence, our messaging beat its chest.  Mostly 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 also 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.  These benefits also enhance their subjective judgments about your product or service. Therefore, 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.  Will buying this product or service get me a promotion or better job? Or, will it get me fired – reducing anxiety can be a major point of emphasis here. This is where adopting a key best practice from the B2C world can help differentiate and elevate your product or service above the rest of your B2B healthcare competition. Paying special attention to your buyer’s hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations will allow you to customize solutions/messaging to meet them.  And this will also give your brand a heartbeat. A heartbeat will leave all the other brands, who lead with chest beat messages, in the dust.   The tip top – addresses the elements that are critical to the future of an organization, enhancing the organization’s perception in the marketplace. You may have the opportunity to meet with the CEO of the company you’re selling to. Understand that everything beneath the tip of the pyramid is beneath them as well. The CEO is focused on the future of their organization and the attributes that will enhance its perception in the marketplace. Again, a heartbeat message resonates here; one that speaks to how your product or service aligns with their vision for the future or boosts their social responsibility, will put you in the driver’s seat. For more information about how Springboard has helped B2B healthcare brands develop a heartbeat, please click here: ...
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.  They must 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: Do your marketing strategies 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 marketing strategies 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 marketing strategies for taking this next step – 1. Offline/Traditional Offline marketing, also known as traditional marketing, includes 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 with the right online tactics. 2. Website/SEO Increasing numbers of consumers begin their search for healthcare online. Having a website is one of the most important things you can do for your practice. If you don’t have one, get one! Having a website means more than just having a single page with your name, phone number and location. It’s important to be the “go to” source of information for your patients, and more importantly, your potential patients. You need to provide the most relevant and engaging content possible (and have a plan to continue to do so) to rank high in Google search results, attract patients, and to compel them to act (call, click or come in). 3. Social Media Social Media is a great, inexpensive, and fun way to promote your practice, special events, and your activities in the community, as well as for recruiting. Advertising here can be hyper-targeted to your desired potential patient pool. Of course, you must be careful to protect patient privacy and remain HIPAA compliant.  Establishing ground rules and a plan to implement your social media strategy is imperative. 4. Mobile According to Google, “People are making decisions faster than ever before, and they expect to be able to act on those decisions instantly.” People are using their mobile phones to search at the exact moment of need and looking for places that can meet their immediate need. In order to capitalize on this “micro moment” trend, you first need to ensure your website is optimized for mobile experiences (visit Test My Site to see how yours measures up), you can then develop a strategy, such as a click-to-call mobile campaign to drive traffic. 5. Email While many will say they get too many emails, email marketing can still be one of the most cost-effective ways to keep your patients engaged with your practice. Some important things to consider when embarking on an email marketing campaign include mobile optimization, creative subject lines, personalization, relevant content and clear and concise instructions. Your emails should be engaging, interesting and concise.  They should make the reader feel inspired to take the action you are requesting of them (click, call, share, etc.). Are you marketing your medical practice? Share your experiences, challenges or success stories with us. We’d love to hear from...
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 always eye-opening and mind-boggling when you meet with internal stakeholders and suggest they be accountable to their organization for patient referrals. And being accountable means knowing the who’s who and what’s what within the enterprise. The “why” should be answered with “because it’s your job, and you lose risking it because there won’t be enough money for your paycheck!” In all my years working with healthcare companies, I’ve only heard a couple CEO’s be this overt and direct with employees about keeping referrals in-house. There’s not an “I” in accountability, but there certainly is a “Y”. By the way, both of these CEO’s and their organizations are extremely successful. Most employees want to support their employer and do what’s necessary to see it be successful and remain gainfully employed. The issue is, most aren’t told the “why” in the most direct fashion.  As a result, they don’t pay enough attention to the other “W’s.” Internal engagement strategies are hugely important for brands to be successful, regardless of the industry. They just need to be bolder, more emphatic, and include language that hit both the heart and wallet of their employees. If this strikes a chord and stirs your senses, give me a call to discuss healthcare brands at 847.398.4920 or email Rob@springboardbrand.com. You can also contact us...
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 a cost of entry for your organization. Sort of like the word “trust” – if you have to say it, you probably aren’t. Good copy line, but not fit for a strong tagline or headline. State-of-the-Art Similar to “world-class” in that it is often used as one thought in advertising. In this industry, as soon as you say it, you’re out-of-date. Care See “quality.” That’s like a food brand talking about tasting good. At least use a unique adjective to describe your care. Close-to-home – another multi-word, single thought phrase often used by hospitals. Study after study reveals that being convenient is not a primary selection factor for certain kinds of specialty care beyond ER and primary care. Compassion – See “care,” see “quality,” see just about every hospital in the country. Back in the early days of hospital advertising, and most likely at a similar time as George Carlin’s original rant (1972), these words and phrases were common because the marketing discipline in the industry wasn’t. Amazingly, they are still being used today in a more sophisticated industry of brand development and differentiation. Go ahead and write your next headline or tagline for a healthcare ad. See if you can avoid these words. If so, you’re using terms and phrases that are more unique to your brand and the customer experience. This is such an important strategy in today’s keyword society. If you find yourself relying on these deadly words, kill them before they do the same to your brand. Did I miss any? — If you would like to learn more about Springboard and writing an healthcare ad, contact us...
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 applications can be used for different spaces. You know the old saying, “you can’t stuff ten pounds of you-know-what in a five pound bag! The lost symbol If you stand on one leg, look in the mirror, and close one eye, you’ll see it! Just like the FedEx arrow! We all know these identity types. With the over 6,000 forms of messages, symbols, icons, and other forms of communications we’re exposed to on a daily basis, good luck getting someone to spend more than an eye blink trying to get the hidden meaning within your brand identity. The remedy – design a brand identity that identifies and supports the position/promise first, and if there’s an element of it that tells a brand story over time, or is lore at internal meetings, that’s great. The blank slate Creating a brand identity is part of a brand strategy and should be developed within that context. Not on a design island all on its own. When your organization has determined the need to reevaluate its brand identity, it means you should be reevaluating your overarching brand position. What a great opportunity to use the brand identity as one element of bringing the brand position and promise to life! The remedy– don’t start with a blank piece of paper. It should be filled with research findings, goals, messaging considerations, and other brand insights that need to be taken into account when developing the identity. The sea of sameness Those same turbulent waters that capsize ad campaigns also swell around identity development. When creating a new brand, use the opportunity to be fresh and different. To stand out in a crowded market. To differentiate. The remedy – pin up the identities of other brands competing in your market. Evaluate what makes them the same (colors, shapes, type, etc.) and include those in your creative brief. Encourage your designer to go outside the norm and consider new ideas that will make new waves in the industry. The “two is better than one” With all the consolidation taking place in most industries today, identities tend to have split personalities. Borrow a little from pile A and a little from pile B and, wallah, we have a pile! The remedy – instead of trying to create a Reese’s cup, capture key elements of the merging entities and/or the value of the new enterprise to develop something new. Of course, if it can be as tasty as chocolate and peanut better, bring it on. I know there are other reasons some brand identities make you cringe. Feel free to add them here. My hope is that as a result of reading this, there will be one less snarled face out there trying to decipher the story, hidden meaning, or undifferentiated blob used as a brand identity. Contact us at Springboard to learn...
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