Managing Your Hospital’s Reputation

Why Reputation Management Is Key for Hospital Marketing

At the doctor's office, a female doctor is performing a checkup on a young girl.

Reputation is everything in business. It’s even more important for hospital marketing because a hospital’s reputation is its most important asset.

Without a strong reputation, your hospital’s patient intake will suffer. After all, people don’t want to entrust their health to a hospital that has a poor reputation.

Your hospital’s reputation should be protected through reputation management. It takes an active and ongoing effort to manage brand perceptions and communicate positively with patients.


The Basics of Reputation Management

Reputation management involves two activities that are always ongoing:

  • Proactively creating favorable brand impressions
  • Handling the hospital’s reputation in the public eye

Traditional advertising can help do the former; an active presence online can help do the latter.

For example, although a brand’s reputation is what others think of it – not what you think of it yourself – you can influence that perception through carefully-crafted ad campaigns.

Hand putting wooden five star shape on table. The best excellent business services rating customer experience concept

You can also use social media to respond to comments and online reviews from patients, whether they’re negative or positive.

In fact, it’s even more important to use reputation management if there are negative comments online, such as on Facebook or a review website. You never want to let a negative impression go unaddressed.


Tips for Responding to Negativity Online

The main rule of effective PR is to be honest and transparent, without violating confidentiality or other laws and regulations.

Don’t delete negative comments unless they’re vulgar or inappropriate. Instead, respond positively and calmly. Show the commentor or reviewer that you’re listening to them and you hear their complaints. Then choose a response that addresses the concerns and makes amends if necessary.

Shot of a young businesswoman looking stressed while working on her

A lot of hospitals are afraid to admit fault in any way. This is understandable, giving the litigious society in which we live. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ever admit that something wasn’t handled the right way, or that your patients have valid complaints.

Work with your legal department to craft responses, but don’t be afraid to address negative comments or reviews head-on.

Be authentic, too. Avoid slogans or jargon that sounds too much like PR spin. You should be sincere and genuine, not fake or contrived.

Reputation management also involves monitoring what’s being said. You can set up Google alerts, and you can also subscribe to a social media monitoring service that lets you know what people are saying, as soon as they say it.

Reputation management is crucial. A hospital has to protect its reputation, and that means viewing reputation management as a priority.

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information or view our previous work and see what stories we can tell for you.

Make Your Community Hospital Standout with Hospital Marketing

How to Make Your Community Hospital Stand Out with Hospital Marketing

Medical staff and patients with hands togetherRunning a community hospital in an area dominated by larger hospitals with more brand recognition and bigger budgets can be very difficult. It’s hard to stand out unless you have a convincing brand value proposition, a competitive advantage to exploit, and a smart hospital marketing strategy to gain market awareness. (more…)

3 Marketing Secrets Top Hospital Marketing Programs Know

Hospital marketing programs across the country often do things differently. After all, what works for one system will not necessarily work for another. With that being said, there are systems that have the most robust and effective hospital marketing programs in the nation, and they all seem to incorporate the same fundamentals and tricks of the trade. (more…)

female businesswoman talking with senior doctor in hospital - creating better hospital marketing strategies

Grow Your Patient Base With These 3 Hospital Marketing Strategies

Every hospital and health system wants to grow its patient base. That is the job of hospital marketing: to increase brand awareness and build positive relationships between the hospital and potential patients.

There are a lot of methods that hospitals currently use to market themselves. From buying billboards to airing TV commercials, creating a Facebook page, and even sending out direct mail, marketing strategies can work together to create a total-package approach that targets a patient from multiple angles. (more…)

woman painting wall - DIY research for your organization

Do it Yourself Primary Research for Healthcare Marketers: Another Favorite Session from SHSMD ’18

Whether it is budget, time, or both, many healthcare marketers do not have the opportunity to attend SHSMD Connections (Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference).  We are fortunate at TotalCom Marketing that we get to attend most years, so I thought I would share highlights from several of the presentations. (more…)

Favorite Sessions from SHSMD Connections ’18: How to Use Facebook Live for Your Hospital

Smiling businesswoman talking on camera - marketing your hospital on Facebook Live videoI realize there are many healthcare marketers that do not have the opportunity to attend SHSMD Connections (Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference). Sometimes it is budget, sometimes it is time away (and sometimes both). We are fortunate at TotalCom Marketing that we get to attend most years, so I thought I would share some of the highlights from several of the presentations at SHSMD Connections ‘18 held in Seattle this month. There were several that were really helpful, so this will be a multi-part series.

The first session I attended on day one was a “how to” for using Facebook Live. It was presented by the communications team at Virginia Commonwealth University Health System. They have been successfully using Facebook Live since it launched and offered some helpful insight for getting started or just doing it better.

 

About Facebook Live

Facebook Live is a marketing tool that can prove quite helpful in meeting your organization’s social media objectives (and more). It is immediate, authentic, interactive and a great way to connect and engage with your audience.

 

Reasons Why You Should Consider Using Facebook Live

  • For now, at least, the Facebook algorithm favors Facebook Live. We have all seen a decline in engagement with our posts, Facebook Live is a way to help overcome this. Facebook will even send your page followers a notification when start or schedule.
  • You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make Facebook Live work for your organization.
  • Facebook Live is another way to connect with patients where they are spending considerable amounts of time each day – on Facebook.

 

Get Started with Facebook Live

  • woman in headphones sat laptop - engaging with audience by answering Facebook live questionsYou don’t have to have a special video camera, an iPhone works great.
  • Polish up your efforts with a few extra items including a camera mount, tripod, lapel mics to isolate sound and simple lighting. Also, Mevo (“a tv studio in your pocket”) is an app (and more) that allows you to look like you’ve got multiple cameras, allows for on-the-fly editing, is easy to use, requires no video editing experience and can really take your live stream to the next level. Learn more at getmevo.com.

 

Tips for Best Results

  • Always have two people to manage the live stream as it is more than one person can do alone, especially if you get a lot of engagement on your video.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection. VERY IMPORTANT.
  • Promote your live stream in advance. Promote not only on Facebook but Instagram and any other social channels you use. Ask your audience to sign up for a reminder.
  • As per social media best practices, don’t use Facebook Live to sell, but rather to establish your organization or employee as a thought leader and a resource to the community you serve.
  • Keep your production authentic. It is ok that your Facebook Live stream is not Spielberg quality.
  • Strategy first and tactics next. Use Facebook Live for the benefit of the audience, not just because it is fun and cool.
  • Engage with your audience. If people comment questions, answer them in your live video. After the video is over, respond to all of the comment questions so others have the answers, too.
  • Have a lengthy event? Don’t just “set it and forget it”. Best to break up the event into manageable snippets, do interviews in between highlights. Remember to announce often where you are and what you are doing for those who tune in later.
  • Lunch is a good time to go live, as are evenings. However, the majority of the engagement is AFTER the fact.
  • Look outside of healthcare at organizations and brands that are successfully using Facebook Live. Here are a few brands effectively using Facebook Live.
  • Practice, practice, practice… Use Facebook Live personally to learn how. But no worries, you can change the settings for Facebook Live so no one else sees it, in the “Select Privacy” mode, choose “Only me”.
  • Be sure to use Facebook analytics to provide insight and learn how you can fine tune and improve your Facebook Live efforts.
  • Facebook also offers these tips for using Facebook Live

 

Ways to Use Facebook Live

  • Use in place of, or in addition to a press release. News departments are short staffed and they can’t always cover events. For media outlets not able to attend, send them a link to the stream. They can then use some of the footage and include your event in their news report.
  • Interview physicians or demonstrate new technology and procedures.
  • Boost the value of your sponsorships so that you get more than just your logo on a flyer or t-shirt.
  • Appeal to your audience’s curiosity. The examples the presenters gave was about taking a tour of the electrophysiology lab or showcase a renovation.
  • Promote events at your hospital. But always ask, “Is this important to our audience? Is it relevant?” Don’t go live just for the sake of it.

 

Are you using Facebook Live for your hospital or healthcare organization? We would love to see how you are doing it. Share with us, won’t you?

 

Blog post written by Lori Moore, Senior Account Manager for TotalCom Marketing Communications. Reach Lori Moore by email or phone at 205.345.7363.

hospital marketing plan with multiple factors

Creating a Hospital Marketing Plan that Works

A sound hospital marketing plan is the difference between success and failure when it comes to marketing a hospital system.

Competition is fierce, and there’s no margin for error. Trying to promote a hospital without a proven, well-structured strategy can result in a lot of wasted money and patients lost to other providers.

 

Things to Consider when Crafting a Hospital Marketing Plan

Marketing for hospitals can be quite unlike marketing for other organizations in other industries – or even within healthcare.

Hospitals, for starters, have a lot of different and diverse stakeholders. Hospital marketing teams have to market the hospital itself, any associated facilities in the system, plus every practice and specialty area the hospital offers – from cardiology to orthopedic surgery, OB/GYN, and the like. The larger the hospital system, the more difficult the balancing act becomes.

Hospitals also have to market before there’s a need. That’s because it’s impossible to predict when someone will need to go to the emergency room or see a primary care provider, etc. Patients choose hospitals in reaction to health issues, except for when they are either looking for a PCP (because they just moved there or have not had one) or are changing providers.

In both cases, brand recognition and awareness is extremely important, which presents a unique challenge to a marketing team.

A plan has to consider these things but also needs to be quantifiable, especially with tight budgets. A hospital marketing plan has to be carefully aligned with quantified business outcomes. Put another way, it has to be able to generate real, verifiable return in order to justify itself and the marketing team that executes it.

Hospitals these days cannot afford to waste marketing dollars. The plan has to be scientific in design to increase the chances that it will do its job and generate revenue for the hospital.

 

Key Components of a Successful Marketing Plan

There are a few key components that every successful hospital marketing plan has:

  1. Strategic, metric-bound goals: The hospital’s tangible, quantifiable objectives become the goals of the marketing plan. There need to be metrics in place by which progress toward these goals can be measured.
  2. Clear definition of stakeholders and target audiences: The plan needs to clarify who the plan is intended to market and market to, for stakeholders and potential patients, respectively.
  3. Analytical system to measure results: The plan needs to define how progress will be analyzed and tracked.
  4. Outline of target channels: A plan can use a variety of channels and methods to achieve its goals. Which ones are chosen should depend on the goals and target audience analysis contained within the plan.
  5. Concrete, yet flexible processes: A plan should define the processes that will be used to execute the plan. These could include anything from how content is conceptualized and created to an advertising calendar. The processes should be clearly defined yet flexible because the field is constantly changing.

If structured correctly – based on goals, a deep understanding of one’s audience, and the best way to reach them – a hospital marketing plan can be tremendously successful. This will give the system the best chance at competing in a tight market.

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.

telemedicine conference call with doctor - hospital marketing trends

The 3 Hospital Marketing Trends You Need to Know

Hospital marketing is competitive. Only in rural areas do you have only one hospital provider, and even those systems have to compete with private practice. So, in all markets, hospital marketing is essential – and yet it can be difficult to differentiate.

By understanding the latest trends, you can outperform your competition that may not be following those same trends. There is a lot going on in the marketing industry now that is exciting and effective – and your hospital needs to take notice.

 

Live Video Is Becoming King

Video has long been a major player in marketing. Video creates more engagement than any other format and creates positive associations between a brand and viewers.

The latest trend in video comes in the form of live, real-time, streaming video. Whether you see it on Facebook, YouTube, or an individual website, live video is dominating because it generates a lot of engagement.

Hospitals can take advantage by streaming health-related content, which is enormously popular. Just look at the fact that WebMD is the 129th most popular website in the country. Video can be better at communicating information because it naturally captivates people and catches – and holds – their interest better than text alone.

Consider the health experts you have at your disposal. Find personable, relatable, camera-friendly personnel to go live and present the latest findings and tips in medicine to help your target audience.

 

Telemedicine Is Becoming More Popular

For years, hospitals shrank away from telemedicine because it was expensive and limited. Now, those barriers have fallen away, and telemedicine has become more accessible to hospitals – and more in demand from patients.

If you can create a telemedicine service, that gives you a huge advantage from a marketing standpoint. There is also a natural synergy between telemedicine and digital marketing. People who are prospects for one are natural users of the other. Put another way, if someone can be reached effectively through Facebook, Instagram, or mobile search, they are more likely to enjoy the benefits of telemedicine.

We encourage you to at least consider and evaluate telemedicine as a service option, not just for better patient satisfaction, but for more effective marketing options.

 

Location-Based Marketing Is More Important than Ever Before

Hospitals depend on geography for their patients. Patients tend to go to the closest hospital. That is not just dependent upon where they live, but where they are at that moment.

Location-based marketing, through geofencing, can deliver the right message at the right time to the right place. If someone is in a particular area, you can target them with your message and ads through their mobile device while they are on the move. You can also target them through other methods if they are in a home or office within your service area.

You can even target specific neighborhoods if you want to increase the number of patients you see from that neighborhood. A rigorous analytics approach at your hospital can tell you where your patients live – and where they don’t live. The same goes for where they work. You can then use geofencing to market accordingly.

What are some ways you can use these trends in a creative manner to get better results?

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.

Google Just Changed Its Online Review Terms. Here’s What That Means

Google online review on smartphone - TotalCom healthcare hospital marketing

Online reviews are extremely important for hospitals these days. The more good reviews you have, the more people will want to choose your hospital and your providers for their healthcare needs. The more negative reviews you have, the more people will want to stay away.

Online reviews also have a big influence on your website’s search engine results. That’s why hospitals want as many good reviews as they can get, and they’ll go to great lengths to achieve them.

Google, one of the main sources for online reviews, knows this and recently changed its review policies to regulate how, exactly, businesses solicit these reviews.

 

How the Review Game is Changing

Google thinks it’s perfectly okay to ask someone to leave a review. They want you to, in fact. But what they don’t want you to do is provide some kind of incentive for them to leave a positive one.

And they don’t want you to create something called a review funnel to get only good reviews.

A review funnel is pretty straightforward. You send an email or a link to a customer. They are asked to rate your business. If the rating is a good one, then they are sent to a place where they can leave the actual review, on Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc.

If the rating is a bad one, the reviewer is sent somewhere else, usually a screen that has a quick survey they can fill out to provide feedback. They are not sent to a place where they can leave a review, though.

The end result: by using a review funnel, you’re selecting for only positive reviews.

Google now says that is not allowed and has banned the use of review funnels in this way.

 

What Can You Do Now?

Review funnels are very effective – too effective, it seems, for Google’s liking. So what can you do instead to get more positive reviews?

You can actually still use a review funnel. You just need to give the negative rater an option to leave a review, just like everyone else.

“But won’t they just leave a negative review?” Probably, but here’s the thing: you need more reviews, a never-ending supply of reviews, and getting some bad ones here and there is just a risk you’ll have to take to keep up.

Besides, if you’re doing a good job servicing your patients, you won’t have to worry about the negative reviews because they’ll be few and far between.

One thing we want to make clear is that you shouldn’t let your fear of a few negative reviews keep you from trying to get more positive ones. If you don’t take that chance, you’ll miss out on the huge benefits of online reviews for your hospital.

Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. If you get a bad one, reach out and see what you can do to make it right. Emphasize patient service and taking care of your patients to the utmost of your ability so no one has a reason to rate you negatively.

 

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us for more information and see what stories we can tell for you.