So, What CAN Brands Do Now?

So, What CAN Brands Do Now?

8 important shifts that can keep your brand relevant and meaningful in uncertain times. As people find themselves risking their own health to help others or sheltering-in-place to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, brands can provide reassurance in unique and thoughtful ways. From car manufacturers to restaurants, healthcare systems to hotels, brands are shifting their messaging to offer reassurance, safety, and even new ideas on delivering their products and services.  It’s amazing how quickly they’ve been able to turnaround their messaging and production strategies!  Already, there are best practices being established and amplified throughout the branding and advertising industries. The following are strategies you can act on quickly to keep your brand relevant and meaningful during these stressful, game-changing times: Communicate in an empathetic tone – start by acknowledging that your audience is experiencing losses and lifestyle changes in ways never felt before. Great brands have relationships with their consumers, and now is the time to communicate from the heart. Production values can be simple – there isn’t the time or the luxury of resources to pour into new brand executions.  The idea is to connect quickly with your customers and let them know you’re there for them in whatever ways are most meaningful.   There have been excellent new commercials featuring infographics, re-purposed video content, and simple interview formats. Corporate/social responsibility is every brand’s responsibility – if there’s ever a good time to be a great corporate citizen, it’s now. Informing people of how your brand is supporting social distancing, its employees, and safety regulations is paramount to being relevant.  Creatively, it can also be unique; McDonald’s, Coke, and others are among those finding interesting ways to convey social responsibilities. A special “shout out” to your employees – For essential businesses, especially in healthcare, a little recognition goes a long way!  There are real heroes out there, working tirelessly and risking their lives, and they should be acknowledged. Shift engagement to today’s channels – it’s rare that consumers are (almost) always at home and resorting to more traditional media vehicles and channels. News ratings are exploding (of course) and readership of social media – even email – is up as well.  There are many details to provide in terms of how your organization and brand is responding to the current situation and there’s a good chance they’re being read. Educate your audience around operations that keep them safe – safety is near and dear to everyone. Whether you’re setting up testing sites outside your hospital or providing contactless interactions in drive-thru’s and grocery stores, it’s imperative to communicate the operational changes your products and services are making to keep your customer’s as safe as possible.  Telehealth has never been more popular and will create a new normal when this storm clears. Embrace remote collaboration and virtual “events” – your brand can still engage its customer’s – you just have to do it on their turf, not yours. It’s amazing how many great, creative ways there are to interact with consumers using videos, apps, and constant updates to your website. Your website has never been more important – with “extra” time and the need for up-to-date information on your brand – especially among service organizations – your web traffic must be exploding. Make sure it’s up-to-date, accurate, and you’re letting your customers know how you’re dealing with this crisis. When challenged, marketing leaders and brand innovators rise above with creative solutions. This current situation just faces us to think differently, talk empathetically, and connect in new ways.  Keep innovating and be...
Want to Add Value to Your Medical Society Members . . . Brand Them!

Want to Add Value to Your Medical Society Members . . . Brand Them!

Medical societies and associations exist to add value to their members through education, networking and providing other resources to support personal and professional growth. This is why professionals join and pay their annual membership fees. As competition in every medical field and specialty heats up, members are demanding more from society leadership; specifically marketing to consumers and referral sources to help them distinguish their expertise and build their practice (aka “Branding”). Often, patients (and other professionals) are confused over what different medical specialists do and branding your members will help provide clarity and growth. This is where medical societies can add value. From our experience, branding members and their specialty has become one of the top requests from society leaderships. So, where do you start? Start with research, to gain insight into the following: Vision – where do your members see themselves now and in the future? Equity – what are the unique capabilities and greatest benefits your members bring to patient care? Perceptions – how do patients, referral sources and other providers, hospital administrators and payors perceive your members? Access – what are the patient/referral pathways for your members? This will help you determine the audiences for your message. Communication – how do your target audiences keep up on medical and peer information? Once you understand where your members want to go and challenges that may be involved in getting them there, you can start to develop a unique brand strategy – position and value proposition – for them. A strong brand for your medical society members will: Differentiate them in a crowded and confusing marketplace Elevate their specialty in the healthcare landscape Resonate with target audiences Align with the society’s and member’s strategic goals and plans Be sustainable This last point is where many medical societies fall off – they budget and strategize for how to build their member’s brand, but fail to develop the methodologies to sustain and carry the initiative forward. Building a strong brand for your members is never one and done.  Be sure to nurture and support it over time. Once you have established a unique position, value proposition and the creative messaging to bring your medical society member’s “story” to market, your society’s efforts will inspire and fuel preference (and business) for your members – now that’s adding value! To learn more about how Springboard has helped medical societies and associations add value for their medical society members, visit www.springboardbrand.com or email me at...
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...
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: ...
Brand Thinking Outside the (Blue) Box

Brand Thinking Outside the (Blue) Box

The blue box has never been hotter. Sales and stock prices are at record highs and Tiffany appears to be soaring; even with some of the highest price points in the retail jewelry sector. The reason for this performance is that Tiffany is thinking outside its box and embracing new customers, lifestyles, and preferences with innovative products and open-armed service. Long regarded as a stodgy, conservative brand for those consumers who step right off a print advertisement, Tiffany also has recognized that brands change at the speed of culture, and it was time for a different course. After 178 years in business, the company is recognizing that marriages are different as are household compositions and it’s paying off for them. One excellent example of this is Tiffany’s first advertising campaign targeting same-sex couples. A series of print ads is being introduced.  Not only do they feature these couples, but are also showing traditional marriages which represent more than husband and wife. Today, there are kids and other family members involved and new messages and products are hitting that sweet spot. Heartbeat Branding We talk about “Heartbeat Branding” at Springboard. Tiffany is doing just that. They have found the “sweeter spot” at the intersection of brand benefits, consumer needs, and cultural influences. Their brand attributes include excellence and elegance. Their consumers want excitement and commitment. Cultural influences also include new marriages, household composition and a stronger economy. Mix it all together and they’ve hit the “Heartbeat” of their brand. Branding today is about heartbeat, not chest beat. Tiffany is one example of making your brand super relevant. Brands that are looking for their heartbeat need to think outside their own box and more into the lifestyle, needs, and passions of their audience. That’s what Tiffany is doing and what heartbeat branding is all about. Contact Springboard today to learn...
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