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...
What’s your healthcare brand’s Digital EKG?

What’s your healthcare brand’s Digital EKG?

During an annual exam, your physician can get a good sense of your heart health with an EKG.   As healthcare marketers, a Brand EKG can also give you a quick read of your brand’s health.  Several years ago, this model was introduced to help hospitals, namely C-Suite representatives, understand consumer research findings and implications. As indicated above and based on the classic consumer marketing behavior model, a brand has to have established a strong sense of awareness and preference before leading to trial.  This model has been expanded to include brand attributes such as likability, intent to recommend, and other layers of behavior.  Based on an analysis of nearly 100 consumer studies, and validated by leading healthcare researchers, we concluded that a “healthy” brand EKG would have a variance of 12-15 percentage points between key indicators.  A larger number would indicate an “unhealthy” brand that is not converting on the preceding attitude.  For example, a brand with a preference score 20 percentage points higher than usage is not converting market share.  This could be the result of many factors including accessibility, customer service, and operational considerations (schedule, capacity, etc.).  Those brands not converting awareness to preference indicate a lack of differentiation or strong consumer brand relevance. Fast forward to 2019, and the same model can be used to assess the health of your digital marketing efforts. Springboard’s Digital EKG Healthcare marketers can add to their digital dashboards by providing a Digital Brand EKG indicating the level of conversion being established from a preceding behavior. For example, if impressions served (or similar metric) are significantly higher than CTR, you’ve done a good job targeting and delivering your digital message but you have not enticed anyone to take action.  If you’re creating an action and people are clicking through but not engaging, then your landing page, website, or other content “hub” is not compelling enough. Adding an EKG to your current digital dashboard will help you and your team understand the layers of consumer behavior that are taking place with each online activity.  Better yet, you’ll be able to develop content strategies and tactics to improve upon your ability to convert consumers through the behavior model. Better still, you’ll be able to strengthen the other metrics on your dashboard and impress the C-Suite with the health of your brand and EKG in terms (and formats) they’ll understand and appreciate.  You might even be able to include B.D. initials after your name – Brand Doctor. Happy to help you assess your brand and digital health. Contact us...
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