Healthcare Marketing: Men are Cheap!

April 16, 2013

It’s costs less to reach men on Facebook than women.

101891266Women dominate Facebook.  They are the ones constantly posting and engaging in social activity on Facebook.  So it makes sense to use the social network to reach women.  But although it makes sense, maybe we should wait a minute.

Against common thought, men cost less to reach on Facebook and respond better.  Noreen O’Leary reported in Adweek  that the surprising conclusion comes from an analysis of 65 billion Facebook ad impressions and 20 million ad clicks in a 12 month study conducted by Resolution Media.   While 58% of Facebook users are women, men see and click through more ads than women. 58% of men see Facebook ads compared to only 42% of women who notice them.  And men have a click volume of 60% compared to 40%b for women.

The study concluded that men are more focused on their activities when interacting on Facebook while women do more browsing, sharing and communicating.  And men have shorter attention spans on Facebook, which means they are more easily distracted and more likely to be persuaded by relevant advertising messages.  As a result, men click on Facebook ads at a higher rate than women.

So the cost-per-thousand impressions for men was 16 cents compared to 20 cents for women while cost per click for men was 51 cents compared to 68 cents for women.

Many healthcare marketers use Facebook advertising as a means to reach women.  And it can certainly be effective.  But this research shows we shouldn’t discount men on Facebook.  They are there, and although in lower numbers that are more likely to see our ads and even click on them.   So it’s true after all.  Women are right. Men are cheap!!!


Healthcare Marketing: Media as the “Big Idea”

April 12, 2013

Media strategy is just as important as the creative strategy.  Sometimes maybe more.

96284895As marketers we are always looking for the “Big Idea”.  And by the “Big Idea” we are usually referring to the creative concept.  The creative that will interrupt an audience and profoundly establish our brand identity.  And we should never stop our pursuit of that very thing.  That “Just Do it” or “Got milk?” creative idea.

But sometimes that “Big Idea” could be about media and not creative.  Sometimes the media strategy can be just as important, or perhaps even more important.  Antony Young, CEO of Mindshare  writing for Ad Age Mediaworks listed several reasons why media is as important as creative in developing effective advertising.  A synopsis of some of his points is worthy of considering

1.    We’ve moved from a world of Mad Men to Math Men (and Women).

Advertising has become a math game.  Where can we get the most impressions?  The right impressions? What is most effective?  And most efficient?  How can we achieve a favorable ROI?  And prove it?  What is the “right” amount of advertising investment to maximize results without diminishing returns?  All of these questions are important.  And in today’s world of fractured media and financial pressure these questions become equally as important as the creative approach.

2.    Instead of the creative idea, it may be more about small, smartly placed relevant ideas. 

There are those brilliant creative ideas, like those introduced by Nike, Apple, Dove and others.  But quite honestly they are few and far between.  We can work all our lives and rarely, if ever, develop a concept that becomes iconic.    But maybe in today’s marketplace it’s can be just as effective to tactically use custom messages in different media at relevant times, locations and environments that creative engagement.  The ability to target a very narrowly defined audience with today’s media tools certainly makes this a viable approach.  Axe has used it very effectively over the past few years.

3.    Matching the message with the media.

It may prove helpful to determine how we are going to reach our desired audience before we decide the creative.  Because the medium(s) will determine the way we present our message.  We can have the best concept in the world but if it doesn’t fit the medium needed to reach our target audience it’s a waste.  And what will be effective in the appropriate and effective medium may not lean itself to “out of the box” creative.  It may just need to be solid effective communication.

4.    Content is king.  But which content?

There are so many platforms for communication.  And advertising effectiveness may require several types.  Long form video, sponsored programming, video pre-rolls, mobile apps, interactive creative are all options in addition to traditional media.   More and more brand decisions are being influenced by sources beyond advertising.  These options should be considered and then develop the creative necessary for each.

5.    Adaptive marketing.

There are now opportunities to use data collected from web behavior to develop an appropriate message and deliver it to the targeted audience in real time.

6.    Media is more than a venue for ads

There is huge media events…destination TV.  The Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, the Grammys, finals for American Idol and others.  There is so much more potential than just buying an ad during these highly rated programs.  Tablets and social media have made these events interactive and even bigger marketing opportunities.   Take advantage of social interaction surrounding these events to increase your advertising effectiveness.

Yes, as healthcare marketers, we are always in search of the “Big Idea”.  But it might not just be in the realm of creative.  It could be media-induced.  We would be wise to pursue these kinds of “Big Ideas” too.


Healthcare Marketing: In Defense of Hospital Ad Spending

March 27, 2013

Healthcare marketers should stand up and defend the value of hospital advertising.  We should not be timid or hesitant.

80407780Healthcare advertising has always been the target of criticism.  In the past few months there has been a new wave of criticism.  As healthcare reform is being discussed and debated there are some who claim reform should include a ban on advertising.  We strongly disagree!

Recently in HealthLeaders Media,  Marianne Aiello offered a defense of hospital advertising.  Although her arguments are not exhaustive, she makes a strong case in favor of hospital advertising and outlines the central principles and beliefs that support her defense. The majority of her article is reprinted here

Hospital advertising has long been an easy target, from both internal and external critics. It seems that whenever it’s time for a healthcare organization to tighten its belt, the marketing team and its budget takes the biggest hit.

And yet, the media and general public decry the fact that a hospital needs to promote itself at all.

It’s funny—for being professionals geared around boosting their organizations’ brands, hospital marketers are hard pressed to enhance their own reputations.

Every once in a while—this month, for example—a slew of media criticisms are published in short succession, reporting on the thousands or millions of dollars hospitals spend on advertising while failing to mention the percentage of the total organizational budget that it accounts for.

Normally, we grin and bear it and move on. Not this time.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently published an article dissecting its competitive healthcare market. While the reporting is balanced, it starts with a markedly negative tone by quoting Sidney Wolfe, director of the non-profit consumer advocacy group, Public Citizen.

“Hospitals seem to be spending money left and right trying to get more patients,” he said. “Absent significant costs controls, there’s nothing to stop them. It’s siphoning money away from healthcare. Advertising shouldn’t be confused with taking care of patients or improving patient care.”

I think we can all agree that his last sentence isn’t worth addressing. But in this column I will explain why, in the vast majority of hospitals, advertising and marketing spending is necessary, effective, and does not take away from quality of care.

Ads as patient education

I’ve spoken to hundreds of hospital marketers over the years. Ask any one of them the most important aspect of their marketing strategy, and each one will point to patient education.

Without targeted advertising, a patient may not know he or she can receive cancer treatment closer to home, or that his or her community medical center is holding a lecture series on diabetes management, or that his or her primary care provider now uses an online patient portal.

Marketing and advertising is “core to our mission to educate the public,” Missouri Hospital Association spokesman David Dillon told the Post-Dispatch. And I think you’ll find that most hospitals and health systems include patient education in their organization’s mission as well. It’s difficult to care for the community if they don’t know who you are, what you stand for, and the services you provide.

St. Louis University Hospital spokesperson Laura Keller told the paper that hospitals advertise for noble reasons as well as realistic ones.

“I don’t think it ever hurts to remind someone that there are lots of choices that you have if you’re dealing with a major health issue,” she says. “We need to educate the patient, and there are good messages there. On the business side, people need to understand that without money we cannot support our mission.”

The business case

The hospital advertising critics always seem to forget about the business side. Aside from staying true to their mission, hospitals need to advertise to maintain or enhance revenue flow. Even non-profit hospitals need to market to insured patients and promote high-grossing service lines so that they are able to continue to care for the uninsured.

And while some larger health systems spend what seems like large amounts of money on advertising, on average, the hospital marketing budget accounts for a tiny portion of the overall organizational budget.

“While we do spend money on marketing and advertising, far less than a penny of every dollar of our expenses goes to that and we try to be prudent in those expenses,” Bob Porter, chief strategy officer for the non-profit SSM Healthcare-St. Louis said. “For us, healthcare is a social good, not a commodity.”


Healthcare Marketing: Do You Know Where Your Hospital’s Digital Ads Are?

March 21, 2013

Many web ads bought through digital ad exchanges are appearing to no one and some are even appearing on sites with objectionable content.

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Those digital ad exchanges appear to be a great deal.  You provide the information concerning whom you want to reach and they’ll take your digital ad and place it across a wide range of websites that will deliver the audience you are seeking.  You provide the ad and they do all the work.

But now research is indicating that your ads are not appearing where you might think or even want your ads to appear.  Comscore  conducted research to see where digital ads are actually appearing and the results were alarming.  The research was conducted on behalf of twelve major brands including Ford and Kellogg.  The results reported by Jeff Roberts in paidcontent.org indicated as much as 31% of the 1.8 billion ad impressions purchased by these companies were not seen at all.  The ads were shown to non-humans – bots or spiders that induce a web page to display an ad.

In addition, 72% of all their ad campaigns resulted in brands having their ads placed next to questionable content.  Sites dedicated to pornography, piracy or malware.

This is not to say all digital ad exchanges are bad.  It’s just to point out there are risks involved in placing digital ads across multiple sites with ad exchanges.  Unlike radio, TV or print advertising, with digital advertising it’s hard to know exactly where your online ad appears.

For healthcare marketers, it’s safer to stay with purchasing ads on high-traffic local sites, like the local newspaper or television websites.   But even these local media companies are now partnering with ad exchanges to offer behavior-based buys across a wide range of websites.  So we must be careful and understand as much as possible about where our ads will actually appear.

It’s all part of the development and evolution of digital advertising.  There’s a lot of big numbers thrown out, even by reputable local digital sites.  But sometimes it’s difficult to have great confidence in some of those numbers and in the way they are presented by ad reps.   As the digital advertising industry develops, hopefully more precise and reliable results will be provided which will increase our level of confidence in online advertising.  In the meantime, we must be as careful, and as thoughtful as possible, in evaluating digital advertising options to make sure our ads are actually being seen by human beings and within a context that’s appropriate and suitable for our healthcare messages.  


Healthcare Marketing: Take Your TV to the Movies

March 5, 2013

Improve your hospitals brand and message recall. Run your television commercials on the big screen.

Television advertising continues to prove to be very effective.  And research indicates that running those same spots simultaneously as cinema ads significantly improves that effectiveness.  Research commissioned by NCM Media Networks concluded that TV commercials played in movie theatres substantially boost both recall and likability. Movie Marquee

A multi-media approach always has strong advantages over a single media campaign.   And this research indicates that combining two sight, sound and motion mediums is particularly effective.  Television provides broad reach and the cinema experience boosts engagement levels.

The research, reported by Joe Mandese in Media Daily News  is based on an eight-year study of more than 22,000 consumer responses across 29 product categories.  The results show the combination of TV and cinema, on average, generated a 65% lift in brand recall and a 94% boost in message recall.  Essentially, television provides the reach and cinema strongly reinforces the message seen on television.

So as healthcare marketers, if we are using television advertising as part of our media mix it might be helpful to consider running the same ads at the movies.  According to this research, it could significantly improve your television advertising effectiveness.


Healthcare Marketing: 9 Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People

January 21, 2013

The most successful people in business approach their work differently than most. See how they think–and why it works.

100092920Healthcare marketers are driven people. They wear a multitude of hats and must have many areas of competencies.  They have to multi-task.  They have to start early and stay late.  They have to be on top of their game at all times.  They are the keepers and protectors of their organization’s brand.  And it’s not easy!  It’s demanding.  But it can also be very rewarding.

Jeff Haden recently wrote two articles for Inc magazine about the beliefs and habits of extremely successful people.  It has some great points that I think can apply to healthcare marketers.  I share his first article here about the beliefs of remarkably successful persons:

I’m fortunate enough to know a number of remarkably successful people. Regardless of industry or profession, they all share the same perspectives and beliefs.

And they act on those beliefs:

1. Time doesn’t fill me. I fill time.

Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but typically not in a good way. The average person who is given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust his effort so it actually takes two weeks.

Forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then use your “free” time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.

Average people allow time to impose its will on them; remarkable people impose their will on their time.

2. The people around me are the people I chose.

Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.

You chose them. If the people around you make you unhappy it’s not their fault. It’s your fault. They’re in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you–and you let them remain.

Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.

Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Remarkable employees want to work for remarkable bosses.

Successful people are naturally drawn to successful people.

3. I have never paid my dues.

Dues aren’t paid, past tense. Dues get paid, each and every day. The only real measure of your value is the tangible contribution you make on a daily basis.

No matter what you’ve done or accomplished in the past, you’re never too good to roll up your sleeves, get dirty, and do the grunt work.  No job is ever too menial, no task ever too unskilled or boring.

Remarkably successful people never feel entitled–except to the fruits of their labor.

4. Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.

You have “10 years in the Web design business.” Whoopee. I don’t care how long you’ve been doing what you do. Years of service indicate nothing; you could be the worst 10-year programmer in the world.

I care about what you’ve done: how many sites you’ve created, how many back-end systems you’ve installed, how many customer-specific applications you’ve developed (and what kind)… all that matters is what you’ve done.

Successful people don’t need to describe themselves using hyperbolic adjectives like passionate, innovative, driven, etc. They can just describe, hopefully in a humble way, what they’ve done.

5. Failure is something I accomplish; it doesn’t just happen to me.

Ask people why they have been successful. Their answers will be filled with personal pronouns: I, me, and the sometimes too occasional we.

Ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and instinctively distance themselves, like the kid who says, “My toy got broken…” instead of, “I broke my toy.”

They’ll say the economy tanked. They’ll say the market wasn’t ready. They’ll say their suppliers couldn’t keep up.

They’ll say it was someone or something else.

And by distancing themselves, they don’t learn from their failures.

Occasionally something completely outside your control will cause you to fail. Most of the time, though, it’s you. And that’s okay. Every successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a lot more often than you. That’s why they’re successful now.

Embrace every failure: Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.

6. Volunteers always win.

Whenever you raise your hand you wind up being asked to do more.

That’s great. Doing more is an opportunity: to learn, to impress, to gain skills, to build new relationships–to do something more than you would otherwise been able to do.

Success is based on action. The more you volunteer, the more you get to act. Successful people step forward to create opportunities.

Remarkably successful people sprint forward.

7. As long as I’m paid well, it’s all good.

Specialization is good. Focus is good. Finding a niche is good. Generating revenue is great.

Anything a customer will pay you a reasonable price to do–as long as it isn’t unethical, immoral, or illegal–is something you should do. Your customers want you to deliver outside your normal territory? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. They want you to add services you don’t normally include? If they’ll pay you for it, fine. The customer wants you to perform some relatively manual labor and you’re a high-tech shop? Shut up, roll ‘em up, do the work, and get paid.

Only do what you want to do and you might build an okay business. Be willing to do what customers want you to do and you can build a successful business.

Be willing to do even more and you can build a remarkable business.

And speaking of customers…

8. People who pay me always have the right to tell me what to do.

Get over your cocky, pretentious, I-must-be-free-to-express-my-individuality self. Be that way on your own time.

The people who pay you, whether customers or employers, earn the right to dictate what you do and how you do it–sometimes down to the last detail.

Instead of complaining, work to align what you like to do with what the people who pay you want you to do.

Then you turn issues like control and micro-management into non-issues.

9. The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.

Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who go there think, “Wait… no one else is here… why am I doing this?” and leave, never to return.

That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.

That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.

Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Don’t just tell employees what to do–show them what to do and work beside them.

Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do–especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Sure, it’s hard.

But that’s what will make you different.

And over time, that’s what will make you incredibly successful.

Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business and technology as he worked his way up in the manufacturing industry. Everything else he picks up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest leaders he knows in business.


Pitfalls and Uses of QR Codes in Healthcare Marketing

January 18, 2013

QR codes can be useful in healthcare marketing but only if used correctly.  Effective use is dependent on understanding the context and following some basic guidelines.

QR with HQR codes are the cool thing these days in marketing.   Some have said it’s the next big thing because it brings physical interaction into the digital space.  And you have begun to see them everywhere.  Some places which are very creative and ingenious and some, which are questionable or downright stupid.

Just two years ago, only 1% of U.S. adults used QR codes.  But according to research from Forrester Research  just a year later that number grew to 5%.  Then a Temkin Group study  recently found that now 24% of adults are using them.   So use is increasing.  But just how effective are they?

Dan Wilkerson, a social media project manager at Luna Metrics (lunermetrics.com) outlined on masable.com some of the problems with QR codes for marketers.  He listed 5 problem areas.

1. Worthless Content

QR codes are easy to create, inexpensive and trackable.  They also open up a world of possibilities for consumer interaction.  However from a consumer’s point of view, scanning a code is a little cumbersome and requires time and effort.  Worse still, 90% of the time the link is to a website not optimized for mobile.  This is frustrating.

2. Consumer Awareness

Many consumers don’t know what QR codes are. An ArchRival study (archrival.com) of college students found that over 75% didn’t know how to scan a QR code.    These are statistics that are hard to believe. What looks cool for marketers may not be understood by the consumer.

3. Value as a Medium

QR codes are not considered a medium itself.  More often than not, QR codes are used simply to link to a company website.  Is it worth the effort to take your phone, unlock it, boot the app, get the code in focus and scan it, assuming you already have an app.  Is it worth the effort just to go to a brand’s website?

4. Location, Location, Location

QR codes are showing up in the most unlikely places.  Seemingly everywhere, on everything.  And many in very questionable locations with little or no thought for context.

5. Aesthetics

Too many QR codes are ugly.  And they are often confused with codes used for industrial purposes.  Many think they are tracking barcodes instead of a marketing tool.

So there are limitations to QR codes.  That’s not to say they are useless.  They can be effective for healthcare marketer f used correctly.

Here are some basic guidelines to improve effectiveness.

1. Make it worthwhile to the consumer. 

Provide information that is useful and valuable to the consumer.

2. Include instructions with a recommended app spelling out how to use the code.

3. Make sure using the code doesn’t take more than 6-10 seconds.  Otherwise you will lose the consumer.

4. Walk through your QR code implementation in a real-world scenario to make sure it’s actually useable.

5. Make the code as attractive as possible and distinguish it from packaging barcodes. 

You can use Photoshop to round off the corners and sometimes remove portions of the code for better aesthetics.

QR codes are not just marketing gimmicks.  If they are used that way, they will not be effective.  But they can be very useful if they are the results of a defined marketing strategy and provide value to the consumer.


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