Author: Jimmy Warren

What’s Keeping You Up at Night

Shot of a young businesswoman looking stressed out while working on a laptop in an office at night

The altered sleep-wake cycle that probably plagued you in 2020 doesn’t seem to have adjusted itself. Lingering worries over a global pandemic and economic turmoil that prompted anxiety and wide-awake moments may still be keeping you up at night.

Add to those stressors even more reasons for night terrors:

  • Great Resignation
  • Violence in the workplace
  • Patient expectations
  • Cybersecurity threats
  • The metaverse

So, what is keeping you up at night, and how do you get through it?

Great Resignation

Even before 2020, nurse recruitment hovered near the top of your biggest concerns list. Few facilities had enough nurses to fill their needs. It’s even worse now.

Burnout and high stress continue to drive nurses from their jobs. In a recent report, more than one-third of nurses surveyed plan to quit by year end. They also cite higher salaries, greater flexibility and opportunities for career growth as motivating factors to leave for new positions.

During this Great Resignation, which affects industries across the board, leadership should be keenly aware of employees’ needs and concerns. Staffing shortages and healthcare workers’ mental health top the list of patient safety concerns in 2022. Managing the challenges of recruitment and retainment seems to be long-term, and keeping your employees as the center of your culture is paramount.

Gender, race and ethnic biases also contribute to staff unrest. To maintain a viable workforce, healthcare leaders must be sensitive to biases and committed to breaking down barriers. Employees, particularly millennials and Gen Z’ers, also view your commitment to the community as important as any job benefit.

Violence in the Workplace

A year ago, healthcare employees were treated as heroes. Yet, a recent survey shows that 65 percent of nurses report suffering verbal or physical abuse from patients and/or their families. The American Hospital Association says enough is enough and is asking the Justice Department to make violence against healthcare workers a federal offense.

Consider implementing messages on owned channels that remind audiences about the dedication and life-saving efforts of your staff while requesting patience and kindness. Communicate frequently with employees about what you’re doing to ensure their safety.

Patient Expectations

The pandemic reshaped the consumer experience and expectations from the way we order food and consumer goods to what we expect from our healthcare interactions, whether via telehealth or in-person visits.

After more than two traumatic years, patients long for compassion and empathy as they adjust to their new normal. Now is the time to reframe your brand based on changes that you’ve undergone and to reengage with all audiences—employees, patients and other stakeholders. Strengthen those bonds by reinforcing brand values, services, expertise and care that have kept them loyal to your system.

Improving patient experiences and satisfaction is necessary for healthcare’s long-term health. Adoption of telehealth during the pandemic paves the way to re-envision patient care with innovations designed for specially for patients.

Mayo Clinic has opened a Hybrid Care Hotel at its Jacksonville, Fla. campus where low-risk surgical patients recover overnight in a hotel rather than hospital room. Cleveland Clinic and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital are opening airport lounges to welcome out-of-town patients and connect them with the local areas.

Many healthcare facilities are now using biophilic designs, which integrate natural elements such as rooftop gardens, sunlight and open spaces. The softer approach helps make patients feel healthier and happier.

Cybersecurity Threats

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has probably kept you awake. Aside from the destruction and death of thousands of innocent civilians, the ongoing conflict also poses imminent threats to healthcare facilities. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Russian-affiliated hackers developed plans to attack and disable some 400 US hospitals in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

Government officials continue to warn the healthcare industry to take cybersecurity precautions as the US intensifies sanctions against Russia.

Best Marketing Practices, Despite the Worries

Amazingly, best practices for marketing to internal and external audiences haven’t changed over the past two years. Keep messages consistent. Communicate clearly, openly and honestly. Reinforce your story and brand values.

With all the things keeping you awake at night, it might be easy to become a fear monger. Avoid the temptation and remain optimistic in your messaging. No one wants to put their care in the hands of a brand perceived as weak and scared.

Keep in mind that many of the same things keeping you up at night are also preventing others from getting a good night’s sleep. Know and listen to your audiences. What’s worrying them? What are their needs? How do they want to receive messages from you? Reach them where they spend their time.

The Metaverse

Unraveling the mysteries of the metaverse may not actually be keeping you up at night, but it’s one more thing to wrap your brain around at some point. Everyone seems to have different definitions, but basically, when immersed in interactive 3D spaces, you are in the metaverse (not in Zuckerberg’s newly branded Meta).

All this to say, if ongoing worries are keeping you awake at night, try reading about the metaverse. It might be a better sleep aid than melatonin.

How to Spend $20 Million in 60 Seconds—or Not

Another Super Bowl come and gone; a halftime show that some declare the best of all time (others argue Prince in Miami in the rain); and 97 ads from pre-kickoff to post-game that made us laugh, cringe and grab our phones to scan a bouncing QR code. In the end, there were two key takeaways:

  1. If you have as much as $20 million to spend on marketing and branding, consider something other than a one-time chance in the Super Bowl;
  2. There was only one Joe Cool in the game—Broadway Joe for DraftKings wearing the fur and getting the girl!

Despite blockbuster budgets and brands that many of us never heard of before Sunday, there are lessons to learn from some of the best—and worst—of what we saw.

Target Demographics

Along with a halftime show featuring some of the best known hip hop and rap artists, many of the spots aim directly for Gen X nostalgia. Songs from the ’80s and ’90s provide the soundtrack while celebrities such as Jim Carrey and Mike Myers reprise previous roles as “The Cable Guy” and “Austin Powers.”

Identifying a clear target market is key to successfully delivering a target message. Verizon connects all the dots with Jim Carrey as The Cable Guyin the “Goodbye Cable” spot. It’s funny, nostalgic and informational for anyone still unsure about 5G Verizon internet. Also, it lands a powerful blow at the competitive field without naming any particular company.

Emotional Appeal

In healthcare marketing, we often try to appeal to emotions. But who says emotional marketing is all about tear-jerker moments. Laughter is also an emotion. This year’s commercials are filled with humor. After two years of pandemic concerns, 2022 seems like the year to connect with consumers through a good laugh.

Humor and relatability make for a power couple in marketing, as do real-life celebrity couple Scarlet Johansson and Colin Jost in Amazon Alexa’s “Mind Reader.”  Just about any age demographic identifies with the necessity of saying one thing, meaning another in a relationship.

Strong Storylines

Most of what we saw didn’t have strong storylines. But two that captured viewers’ attention from beginning to end were also among the few heart-warming ads.

Toyota scores with the impactful story of the McKeever Brothers in “Start Your Impossible.” Their focus on Paralympic champions began last year with swimmer Jessica Long’s story. There is no Toyota vehicle in either of the commercials. Neither sells vehicles, but both sell memorable stories.

A dog. A horse. A comeback champion. Budweiser meshes all three themes with “A Clydesdale’s Journey.”

Celebrity Spokespersons

Celebrities should raise awareness and positively impact a brand. There was an overabundance of celebrities in ads this year. Some were hits, but several were misses.

Actress Lindsay Lohan’s life may have been a train wreck in the past, but she makes a comeback in Planet Fitness’ “What’s Gotten Into Lindsay.” While Lohan is a surprising celebrity choice for a fitness brand, it shows her taking control of her own narrative. It also elevates brand awareness with a message suggesting if Lohan can get it together at the fitness center, anyone can.

However, T-Mobile’s collaboration with Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus misses most tenets of advertising. The initial ad starts with Dolly seemingly delivering a PSA, but for what? Her overly plumped lips caused some viewers to quip that subtitles were needed to understand what she said. After 30 seconds, the message was still unclear.

The second spot, featuring Cyrus singing “Do It For the Phones,” doesn’t clear up the message. Instead of persuading viewers to switch to T-Mobile 5G coverage, it offends many viewers with a tone-deaf parody of the iconic “We Are the World.”

Purposeful Marketing

Of the four healthcare related ads that aired during the game, medical technology company Hologic markets purpose, not product. Featuring halftime performer Mary J. Blige, it delivers a powerful message encouraging women to prioritize their health. “Her Health Is Her Wealth” focuses on preventive screenings and drives viewers to a custom website promoting women’s health.

The commercial hits on one of the many catastrophic impacts of the pandemic as people missed annual health visits. It also presents a strong, powerful woman delivering an authentic message empowering other women.

Brand Metrics, CTA and ROI

A QR code bouncing around the screen for 60 seconds with no ad text or logo was the most talked about Super Bowl ad. While several crypto brands advertised this year, Coinbase actually crashed its own app. Yet viewers didn’t know the brand name unless they scanned the code. Some 20 million did to receive $15 in cryptocurrency.

The QR code was the obvious call to action, and it paid off for Coinbase. Along with capturing metrics for 20 million people who scanned it, the company also enjoyed an immediate short-term return on its $14 million investment. By noon on Monday, Coinbase’s stock price rose 4 percent for a nearly $4 billion increase.

USA Today’s Ad Meter may have ranked it dead last, but Coinbase emerges the winner in this year’s Super Bowl ad competition.

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 on how we can help tell your brand story.

How to Choose a Healthcare Marketing Agency

even points to consider when selecting a healthcare marketing agency

Seven Points to Consider When Selecting a Healthcare Marketing Agency

Unless you’ve been lucky enough to escape downsizing, healthcare marketing departments often need to contract with outside agencies for tasks that your team cannot handle on its own. Consider these seven points before starting the search for .

1. Healthcare Marketing Experience.

An outside agency can add creativity and expertise to the in-house team. It also lends a third-party perspective that sometimes leverages more weight with the C-suite. However, ensure that the agency has healthcare marketing experience and proven results to back up dazzling visuals and lofty recommendations.

Healthcare industry experience is necessary due to standards and regulations that physicians and hospitals are required to follow.  The account team must be familiar with HIPAA compliance, CMS, and FDA regulations to craft marketing messages.

2. Creative Capabilities.

Creative talent should be evident from the onset, starting with the marketing agency’s website and digital presence. It can also reveal their intangible personality.  The best way to discover what they can do is by getting to know them. Conduct initial research and select two or three agencies that interest you. Talk with them; invite them to visit; figure out if there’s chemistry.

Instead of the requisite “request for proposal,” issue a “request for partnership.” While many agencies won’t do spec creative, assign a project, even at a nominal fee, to a couple at the top of your list. This can provide a preview of their creativity. You want to see innovation and vision. Look for “wow” moments.

3. Mutually Beneficial Partnership.

A successful relationship between client and agency is a 50-50 partnership. Producing the desired marketing results requires collaboration, transparency, mutual respect and realistic expectations on each side’s part.

One healthcare marketing director recently shared his thoughts about forging a client-agency partnership, explaining that the client needs to have a level of trust and confidence in the agency. For their part, the agency must have the skills and expertise to prove their worth to the client.

4. Financial Discussion.

The quickest way for relationships to break down is over money. During the review process, ask about billing, fees, retainers, up charges and rate sheets. Open and transparent discussions at the beginning can prevent misunderstandings later.

Before work starts on your account, define the process for authorizations, approvals and change orders so both sides share the same expectations. Failure to have these discussions can lead to loss of trust later.

5. Measurable Goals.

When reviewing a healthcare marketing agency’s portfolio, ask about results and case studies that include quantified measures of success. Just as with talks about money, work openly with the agency to establish performance criteria at the onset.

Beware of results that seem too good to be true—those probably can’t be proven. In the age of digital marketing, analytics are readily accessible to both client and agency to help direct the marketing spend and move the needle.

6. Relationships and Responsiveness.

Like all interpersonal relationships, people usually work best with people they like. We measure our own client relationships not just by the longevity of the account but those that produced lasting friendships.  Chemistry is the number factor in a successful agency-client relatioinship.

Ask about the team, along with bios, likely to be assigned to your account. You want experienced marketing professionals with proven credentials and core values that align with your own.

Talk to some of their current clients to discover how they interact with the agency and their responsiveness.

Establishing a successful relationship with your account services team depends, in part, on flexibility, responsiveness and willingness to listen. With the right chemistry, they can become an extension of your marketing team.

Evaluation of healthcare marketing agencies includes their research capabilities, knowledge of trends in the healthcare industry and familiarity of the local market.

Research and data should drive the development of any campaign. Review qualitative and quantitative research processes. With the myriad changes in the marketplace knowledge of trends within the marketing industry and familiarity with current media options and effectiveness is essential.

Even if an agency hasn’t worked with other local clients, their ability to learn the market and assimilate into the community can help increase your brand awareness.

Checking off these points makes the process of selecting a healthcare marketing agency easier.

TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us to explore if we might be a good fit for your organization.

Reflect, Renew and Reset Healthcare Marketing in 2022

Healthcare Marketing 2022

Haven’t we been here before? There seems to be a continuous loop of Bill Murray’s “Groundhog Day” playing non-stop in our heads. With 2022 looming ahead with much the same playbook as 2021, what’s our next move in this COVID-19 chess match? Reflect on what worked and what did not. Renew strategies that proved to be successful despite a challenging virus that won’t go away. Then accept that this is our new normal. It’s time to hit the reset button on healthcare marketing for 2022.

Reflect on Marketing Promises to Patients

We’ve reflected on marketing strategies and advice that we shared over the past year. Many of the tactics carry over into the new year:

Renew Commitments to Community

Throughout the pandemic, hospitals have faced disparities and racial inequities that prevented much of the population from accessing adequate healthcare. People of color have died at higher rates from COVID-19 than their white counterparts.

Health inequities, coupled with other social ills, compels the healthcare industry to look inward. It is crucial for companies to include diversity and inclusion in their core values, to employ people who look like their customers and to connect with their communities in meaningful ways.

Marketing campaigns should reflect the diverse communities we serve, our customers and our employees. Don’t just talk about implementing change; consumers expect us to walk the walk.

Take actions that lead to social impact investments in affordable housing, education and employment, which all contribute to the community’s holistic health.

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer showed a decline in trust of institutions, from the government to the media. A year later, according to “Top U.S. Insights from Gallup in 2021,” not much has changed—people still don’t trust politicians or the media. But, even more concerning is a dip in confidence of healthcare professionals. While 64 percent of Americans still largely trust their doctors, they are less confident than they were a decade ago.

People don’t necessarily trust or believe brands, but they do believe and trust people. Market doctors, nurses and other frontline employees as the face of the brand. Use thought leadership from the CEO in social media to connect with patients, stakeholders and community leaders. Humanize the brand by sharing ordinary acts of care and compassion that impacted others in extraordinary ways.

Reset Top Marketing Priority—Employees First

Healthcare marketing in 2022 should implement a strategy that has always been priority. We advise launching marketing campaigns internally first for employee buy-in.

This is particularly critical when at least 30 percent of nurses nationwide are considering leaving the profession, compounding the critical nursing shortage. They’ve carried the heaviest load while caring for our health during the pandemic.

However, the Great Resignation affects employees across the board, particularly females who hold 76 percent of all healthcare jobs. Balancing increased demands at work and at home has fanned the flames of burnout.

Internal marketing efforts should address issues affecting frontline employees as well as staff who may be working remotely. Compensation, staffing and resource shortages are all common issues. However, a survey of more than 1,700 nurse leaders identifies their top concern as the emotional health and well-being of their staff.

Nurses don’t want more cookies, t-shirts or flowers. They want mental health services.

Use internal marketing campaigns to promote initiatives such as on-site wellness rooms, mental health resources, recognition programs or additional PTO that prioritize employee well-being. Encourage employees to refresh by disconnecting from work, including electronic devices, for protected time.

Another message aimed at retaining talent and keeping employees happy might focus on “upskilling” opportunities. As many as 72 percent of workers say they would be more engaged with their work if companies increased investments in training for new skills.

All-in-all, 2022 seems to be a new year to focus on the “Rs”—reflect, renew and hit the rest button on marketing that balances the healthcare needs of internal and external audiences alike.

QR Codes Make a Marketing Comeback

QR code scanning for marketing and payment make a comeback as a result of pandemic

Whether it’s a revival of 1970s fashion and music or mid-century modern design, things have a way of making comebacks. The boxy, two-dimensional QR code is no exception.

Even though its popularity declined after its introduction because users had to download special apps to scan digital messages, QR codes proved invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic. People want contact-free exchanges of information and limited human interaction.

With scans now accessible through Apple and Android camera apps, the once clunky QR code is quick, simple, and touch-free. It’s not just a cost-effective and safe substitute for printed restaurant menus. It is also an effective tool for healthcare marketing campaigns.

Marketing Healthcare with QR Codes

When the pandemic impeded face-to-face communication, QR codes enabled communication between providers, caregivers, and patients.

There are numerous QR code generators specifically for the healthcare sector and options to generate codes for free. You can generate codes with customized logos, taglines and colors to increase brand awareness.

With QR codes, you can customize marketing materials and displays throughout your hospital. These include newsletters, posters, flyers, counter cards, digital signage, online ads, screen savers, and interactive television. You can deliver messages in three easy steps:

  1. Click on the camera app.
  2. Hover over the code.
  3. Users can view the information.

Increasing Patient Engagement

The age-old conundrum of how best to reach patients and potential patients with targeted marketing messages is no longer a mystery. We know where most people receive communications. An estimated 91 percent of adults are within arm’s reach of their phones 24/7.

Delivering targeted communications on smart devices through QR codes can immediately connect patients and their families to important health information.

Among the many uses of QR codes in healthcare marketing to engage patients include:

  • Quick access to patient portals
  • Information about medications, conditions or procedures
  • Feedback surveys
  • Support groups
  • Resources for home health, transportation, rehab or other services needed post-discharge
  • Health screenings and vaccination reminders
  • Marketing promotions
  • Foundation fundraising
  • Event registration
  • Directional way finding

Improving Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes

Hospitals can use QR codes to track and monitor patients, ensure drug safety, and enhance patient satisfaction and outcomes.

With a QR code embedded on a single rack card, a patient can scan it and immediately access information about their pregnancy, diabetes, a child’s wellness checklist, influenza or the latest COVID news. Now, they walk out of the provider’s office with updated information instead of reams of paper that may not be regularly updated.

With concerns about social distancing, using a smartphone to access everything from in-patient information to hospital maps minimizes physical contact.

Using Dynamic or Static QR codes

There are two types of QR codes—dynamic and static. Code type determines how information is scanned, delivered, and tracked.

Static codes typically have dense patterns and are less scannable. Since the information is fixed, and you cannot change the destination address or URL once it is generated. You also cannot track data from the scans.

Dynamic codes use short URLs and have less dense patterns, which are more easily scanned. These work better for most marketing purposes since the URL and content can be edited at any time. You can track the number, times and locations of scans, as well as the type device used—iPhone or Android.

The comeback of the QR code shows its value as a marketing tool to deliver quick, efficient information directly to consumers’ fingertips.

Is TikTok a Good Option for Healthcare Marketing?

Is TikTok a Good Option for Healthcare Marketing

You’ve seen the videos. Funny, dancing, lip-syncing, lots of kids—maybe your own or even your grandkids—just being cute and silly. TikTok is the shiny new thing. But should hospitals and healthcare organizations use the platform to hit marketing goals?

Short-form, user-generated TikTok videos, generally from 15 seconds to 3 minutes, engage users, particularly Gen-Z’ers, to show off their creativity. However, the video-sharing social media platform isn’t just for the young. It’s growing in popularity with older users tapping into their young-at-heart spontaneity. 

Launched in 2016, TikTok now has more than 1 billion users. The latest HubSpot Social Media Trends report declares it the #1 social media trend in 2022: “TikTok will take over social media, leaving other brands to adapt.”

Before trending on TikTok, slow down and consider the pros and cons. To go viral, a video should be fun, engaging and humorous—not typically synonymous with healthcare marketing. Also, ensure that you have bandwidth for another social channel that may minimally increase brand awareness.

What Is TikTok?

TikTok is the seventh largest social network, behind Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WeChat. It is app based and has been the most downloaded app for the past two years.

It is a US subsidiary of ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech giant. Chinese ownership and potential data breaches concern many businesses and the US government.

Aside from data security, TikTok critics complain about excessive screen time, suggestive content, negative comments and harmful challenges impacting children.

Michael Beckerman, a TikTok vice president, was among the tech giants recently grilled before a Senate Commerce subcommittee. Beckerman assured committee members that child safety tools are now in place to help parents manage screen time and monitor what young users see. But, he side-stepped data collection questions.

Who Is the Audience?

In the US, TikTok users are predominantly female (nearly 60 percent) and young with 60 percent between ages 16–24, the trendsetting Gen Z. But, the audience is aging up with Millennial and Gen X users, ages 25–44, making up another 26 percent.

TikTok’s growth parallels pandemic lockdown and quarantine when kids were bored with “nothing to do.” Then Mom has discovered the music video app. One of the fastest growing user segments is the 30-to-49-year-old female with children.

How Do You TikTok?

Step 1. Download the app and create an account.

Step 2. Or go to to view videos if you just want to check it out.

Step 3. Get creative.

Step 4. You can film something new or upload a video from your phone.

Step 5. Explore the video and audio editing tools; add a song, filters and effects.

Step 6. Finish up with privacy settings, hashtags and sharing the TikTok.

Step 7. Publish the video and share it on other social platforms.

Step 8. Wait for it to go viral!

Should TikTok Be Part of Healthcare Strategy?

Cleveland Clinic launched a TikTok channel in 2020 to spread public health message about COVID-19 and urge people to #MaskUp. Most of the videos are educational with interesting graphics and facts to engage viewers. There is a humorous video on how not to wear a face mask.

While Cleveland Clinic has done it right, other healthcare TikTok attempts may not be as successful. Dancing doctors, lip-syncing nurses in ICU hallways and messages that don’t align with the brand can cause quick backlash.

Define the strategy and set goals before moving forward with TikTok. Also, if you haven’t revised the company’s social media policy recently, consider employee use of the channel. Your organization can quickly lose credibility with unprofessional medical videos from employees.

Can You Use TikTok Effectively?

Changing consumer patterns demand changes in patient experience at every touchpoint. They want personalized content, faster service and better experiences.

Consider ways TikTok can be effective in the Age of the Consumer.

  • Educational content and tutorials. Consumers want short, fun, snack-able information. Break down robotic surgery, stroke symptoms, even basic procedures such as a colonoscopy.
  • Clear up misinformation.  Bust the myths of trending health misinformation.
  • Engage younger doctors to engage teens. Use physicians who are already active on social media to talk about dangers of vaping, STD risks and mental health concerns.
  • Wellness checks for women and men. Get creative with preventive health screenings for different age groups.
  • Challenges—Use TikTok challenges for New Year’s weight loss and fitness resolutions, or runs/walks and other fundraising activities.
  • Safety tips—Remind your audience how to avoid the ER with safety tips about frying turkeys, electric knives, fireworks and sunscreen. Address viral dangers such as the infamous milk crate challenge.
  • Resumes—#TikTokResumes gives you a new recruitment tool that allows users to post resumes and apply for jobs directly through the app; the highest conversion is the 25–34 age group.
  • Advertising—Run in-feed ads or create branded hashtags in TikTok for Business.

If you decide that TikTok can effectively increase awareness and relevance of your healthcare brand, engage your audience by:

  • Showing a different side of organization;
  • Experimenting;
  • Adding humor.

Maximize Digital Marketing Goals with LinkedIn Strategy

maximize digital marketing goals with linkedin strategy. Use linkedin for healthcare marketing

LinkedIn launched in 2003, the same year as MySpace (remember that one). Since then, it has remained committed to being a platform for engaging professionals in actions relevant to their business goals.

Initially viewed more as an online CV forum for networking, the social media site has evolved. For healthcare marketing, LinkedIn can be a valuable platform for:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Building brand and thought leadership
  3. Communicating information

However, having LinkedIn pages for your hospital, the CEO or other C-suite executives does not mean that it’s part of your marketing strategy.

“‘Build it, and they will come’ only works in the movies. Social media is a ‘Build it, nurture it, engage them and they may come and stay.’” — Seth Godin, author, public speaker, entrepreneur.

In order to get the most of out LinkedIn, execute it as part of your digital strategy. Update, publish and review analytics—just as you do for all digital tactics. 

If you haven’t checked out your LinkedIn business or personal page lately, now is a good time to do so. It includes a portfolio of marketing solutions, as well as free courses and certifications, including step-by-step guidelines to running ad campaigns and developing marketing strategy.

One of the newest features is the organic Articles for Pages, which allows for long-form articles. However, it is not intended for promoting brands as much as extending the brand by engaging in conversation on timely and trending news topics.

Recruit With Purpose

After more than a year of sheltering in place and working remotely, employees are ready for something new. Microsoft Work Trend  reveals that 41 percent of workers are considering leaving their positions in what is being called the “Great Resignation.”

As you know, healthcare recruitment involves more than posting “We’re hiring.” Job seekers now prioritize passion and purpose over competitive salaries, flexible hours and 401k benefits. They want to love what they’re doing.

For successful recruitment campaigns, LinkedIn suggests showcasing company culture; community involvement; and celebrating employees and giving them a platform to tell their stories. Consider your brand reputation—customers or prospective employees don’t want to do business with companies that treat employees badly.

Build Brand and Thought Leadership

Having a platform to discuss industry trends, share reports or research and present new perspectives on timely topics present your leaders—CEOs, medical directors, physicians and nurses—as resources for credible healthcare information.

Humanize articles even if subjects are scientific. As with all social media content, keep it conversational. Remember, you’re talking with the audience, not at them.

Monitor analytics to know your connections, what topics they’re talking about and start conversations with them. Remember that other brand leaders are also coming here to make business decisions.

Inform Your Audience

Longer form content allows you to connect with audiences in a more personal and authentic way, while being informational.

Let your audience know what’s going on within your organization by sharing such information as:

  • Company announcements
  • Awards
  • Program updates
  • New service line launches
  • Community education
  • Employee stories

Follow LinkedIn Best Practices

The more active you are and the more frequently you update profiles, the more frequently your information shows up in newsfeeds and notifications of your followers.

Here are a few basic practices for maximizing success on the social network:

  • Be Visible. Set accounts to “Public” in the settings and privacy section. You want as many followers and connections as possible on LinkedIn.
  • Be Professional. This is a forum for business professionals, so use professional headshots with neutral backgrounds for profile images.
  • Upload Background Photos. Since the profile page serves as an online business card, upload a background image that relates to your experience or business. It could even be a graphic with your name and title or your business logo.
  • Include Relevant Experience. For individuals, include work experience and highlight career accomplishments and successes that relate to connections you want to make and the field in which you want to be a thought leader.
  • Summarize Yourself. Create a brief, personal summary that highlights your skills and expertise. This becomes your elevator pitch.
  • Seek Recommendations. Third-party endorsements lend credibility to your profile. Whenever you complete a successful project or receive an award, ask for a recommendation.

As the leading community for professionals to engage with each other and influence business decisions, a solid LinkedIn strategy can maximize digital marketing goals.

Keep the Message Simple

keep the message simple for healthcare marketing

From Marketing Hospitals to Vaccines, Keep the Message Simple

In 1960, the US Navy introduced a design principle that stated most systems work best when kept simple rather than made complicated. Known by the acronym KISS, it translates to “keep it simple, stupid.”

After more than a year of mixed and missed messages on nearly everything involving the pandemic to the failure of Texas’ power grid, simple messages across all platforms prove best. Otherwise, straightforward communication becomes crisis communication.

Hospital and healthcare subjects can be tedious, particularly when filled with scientific and medical terminology. That makes it even more important to keep messages simple, honest and candid. The average person may fail to comprehend a “zoonotic spillover– animal-to-human pathogen transfer.” But most understand, “A new deadly virus is infecting thousands and spreading rapidly. We need to take precautions now.”

You don’t have to look any further than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a playbook of what not to do with messaging. The old adage about “clear as mud” comes to mind with the CDC’s latest guideline changes. Leaving your audience with more questions than answers doesn’t follow the KISS principle.

Whether marketing your newest diagnostic technology or relaxed guidelines for hospital visitors, keep the message simple across all channels.

Avoid the #EpicFail.

When delivering messages, keep the three “Rs” in mind:

  • Relationship
  • Relevance
  • Read the room

The most important relationship in your marketing funnel is the patient. The messages you deliver to stakeholders are key to building strong connections. A good rule of thumb to follow when developing a message is to make sure it’s simple enough that both your mother (or grandmother) and adolescent child understand it. Follow through on those messages, from media pitches to patient promises. Otherwise, you may end up on Twitter as #epicfail.

Being the lifeline for the health of your community requires that you deliver relevant messages. While things are returning to normal, most people still need reassurance that it’s safe to come into the hospital or see their doctor. Continue to reassure them, along with the announcement about the opening of a new clinic.

By reading the room and empathizing with stakeholders, particularly at this tenuous moment, brands forge strong bonds with a simple message. Compare Krispy Kreme offering free donuts to vaccinated customers with proof of vaccination to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) warning customers to “unplug fancy appliances to conserve power” when millions throughout the state had no heat. Who read the room?

Express empathy in the message.

As we’ve noted before, after more than a year of the pandemic, people want to be seen and heard.

Speaking to audiences with compassion and addressing their needs starts first by getting outside your box. Listen carefully and put yourself in someone else’s shoes to truly understand what they are saying. Developing empathetic messages starts internally. When employees feel marginalized, a culture of distrust likely spreads to external audiences as well.

Keep the message consistent.

Among the many takeaways from 2020 is that medicine and science are fluid. Likewise, messages may change over time. However, try to confirm as many facts as possible before pushing out a message, whether it’s a statement to the media or a new tagline. Keep your message consistent to maintain brand credibility.

With the CDC’s murky guidelines, the agency basically passed the buck onto the general public to do the right thing. Yet, an Axios poll shows that most of us trust our family and close friends. Beyond that, only 38% of the respondents say they trust anyone outside their circle.

Inconsistency leaves your audience with more questions than answers, so they may turn to alternative and unreliable sources for guidance. Interestingly, about two-thirds of the anti-vaccination content on social media sites comes from only 12 different sources.

From February 1–March 16, 2021, content from these anti-vaxxers, who range from politicians to a former body builder, was shared or posted more than 800,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. Their messages remained consistent, while government agencies and mainstream medical professionals struggled to discredit it because their own messages were often inconsistent and disjointed.

To keep your ship afloat and sailing smoothly, even through rough waters, remember to “keep it simple, stupid.”

Cut Through the Noise to Deliver Your Message

cut through the noise to deliver your message with healthcare marketing
Patients are exposed to thousands of messages every day. Your hospital can stand out above the noise with these four healthcare marketing strategies.

Channels and platforms for delivering your healthcare marketing messages seem almost limitless. However, the challenge comes in trying to cut through the noise of the millions of other messages competing for your target audience’s attention.

Digital marketing experts estimate that the average American is exposed to some 4,000 to 10,000 messages each day.

Yet, the average adult supposedly has an attention span of eight seconds—less than that of a goldfish. The goldfish stat may just be a myth, but it seems the more information available, the less people pay attention.

According to the American Academy of Arts and Science, from 2003 to 2018, the average amount of time Americans spent reading for personal interest per day fell to less than 16 minutes per day

So, how do you cut through the noise to grab the attention of your audience?

Disrupt the Disruptions

A couple of months ago, Amazon Care announced plans to roll out app-based healthcare services nationwide and hinted at launching in-home testing services. Around the same time, Walmart Health unveiled its own expansion of digital services. Then Apple jumped in with new features for its HealthKit app to make exchanging information easier between patient and doctor.

For the average healthcare system, trying to compete against such headlines could be daunting. The best strategy is don’t try to compete. Let the juggernauts have their own competing moments—remember the attention span theory. Announce your expansion and new services to an audience with whom you have a connection at a time when they aren’t distracted.

Deliver to Right Place at Right Time

It all started with a donut. When Krispy Kreme offered a free glazed donut for anyone showing their vaccination card, who would have imagined the incentives to vax that followed? Free orders of fries. Pop-up clinics at bars giving shots-for-shots. Sweepstakes for air fares, cruises and Super Bowl tickets. In Louisiana, you can enter the Shot-at-a-Million lottery for cash or college scholarships.

With trust in science, government, the media and even trust in friends and neighbors in partially vaccinated communities being tested, we turn to imagination and incentives to get people to vaccinate against COVID-19.

Why limit thinking outside the box strategy only to COVID-19? Deliver healthcare and wellness solutions to people where they live, work and play. For example, during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September, rather than a static media campaign consider marketing to men where they are likely gather. Consider setting up weekend clinics for PSA tests at golf clubs or sporting goods stores.

Serve Snack-size Bites

Eight-second attention span; 10,000 daily messages; 16 minutes reading time. Use those numbers to guide your marketing plan. Keep all content short and consumable in snack-size bites.

A popular healthcare newsletter recently posted “Today’s Vaccine Project Newsletter is 2,079 words and will take you seven minutes to read.” Despite the topic, most people now consider these disclaimers before clicking onto the article.

Based on users, Facebook and Instagram remain the most popular social media platforms.  However, Twitter may have most influenced how people consume media. Even though it has increased the character limit to 280 characters, tweets getting the most engagement still tend to be between 71 and 100 characters.

Listen to Your Audience

For years, healthcare marketers have used the marketing funnel to direct messages to key audiences where they are in the journey from top of the funnel awareness to bottom of the funnel action. However, 2020 turned the funnel upside down.

No longer can you assume that consumers follow the path from top to bottom. The fluidity of the pandemic dictated communicating with audiences in a more timely manner. You don’t want to lose momentum. Changing consumer patterns demand changes in patient experience

Strong Crisis Response Is Critical During Cyberattacks

Having strong cyber security in healthcare is important in today's digital world. Be prepared for cyber security threats and data breaches with a crisis response plan.

COVID-19 challenged healthcare brands in 2020. Now there is an increased need for a strong crisis response due to a rising number of cyberattacks and data breaches that can hold your hospital hostage. While IT departments typically manage cyber security in healthcare, marketing teams must be able to communicate with patients about cyberattacks and data privacy.

Healthcare systems are increasingly targets of cybercriminals. In 2020, nearly two healthcare data breaches of 500 or more records occurred each day. On average, resolving such a breach costs more than $8.5 million.

The costs of ransomware payments, restoring data and resuming operations are just part of the financial hit. Regaining patient trust comes at a higher cost, especially if names, birth dates, Social Security numbers and medical information are posted online.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021, nearly 70 percent of survey respondents say they are “concerned” about hackers and cyberattacks, while more than half of those report being “fearful.” A slightly lower number is concerned about contracting COVID-19.

While the same survey indicates a slight decline for healthcare sectors, overall trust remains at 66 percent.

Almost everything about the healthcare journey seems to pose security risks now—drive-by and pop-up testing sites; vaccination clinics in convention centers, churches, and parking lots; and increased risks with remote patient monitoring.

Add in the battle with misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. Compounding those worries, a recent World Health Organization warning reveals that counterfeit or compromised vaccines and forged vaccination certificates are readily available on the dark web.

So, how do we protect our patient’s trust in us as guardians of their health and confidential medical information?

Play nice with the IT department.

You’ve been in meetings where the IT team looks at the marketing team like you’re aliens! How can you not understand what they’re saying? Probably because it’s a completely foreign language!

As healthcare moves from controlled environments, the need to strengthen cybersecurity measures within healthcare with clear communication increases. This requires collaborating with IT to develop a strong crisis plan in case of a breach.

While IT prioritizes healthcare cyber security by working to ensure confidentiality and integrity of patient data, the marketing team needs to tell those patients about what you’re doing to protect their privacy.

Ramping up security can also include communication to hospital staff about such cautionary measures as:

  • Protecting patient information on computer screens:
    • Carefully monitoring printers to safeguard patient data;
    • Securing laptops or other remote work devices with patient records;
    • Protecting log-ins and passwords, ie. do not keep on random Post-it notes.

Make a crisis response plan. Test it. Tweak it.

Remember instructions on shampoo bottles to “wash, rinse, repeat?” That rings true when creating a strong crisis response plan. Most healthcare facilities were unprepared for the coronavirus crisis. One director of a hospice care service remarked that shortly before the pandemic, her team drafted crisis plans for every imaginable scenario. The one they turned to when the pandemic hit was created as a joke—what to do in case of a “zombie apocalypse.”

Crisis communication plans are fluid documents to revisit every few months in collaboration with department heads throughout the hospital. Due to the growing number of cyberattacks, several free resources are now available including:

Set expectations for open, transparent crisis communication.

Breaches of patient records increased more than 180 percent in the second half of 2020. Most of those resulted from hacking, not misplaced computers or flash drives.

As any hospital can be a target of cyber threats, you want a strong response in place if it happens. As others work behind the scenes, the marketing department should position the CEO to communicate openly and as transparently as possible.

Keeping responses brief, simple and to the point is critical to maintaining trust. Ransomware attacks are likely to interrupt hospital operations, sometimes prompting closed ERs and cancelled surgeries. Tell the public. Don’t leave them wondering.

Treat bad news as extra media coverage for protecting the public.

The American Hospital Association warns that cyberattacks are not “white collar crimes, but threat-to-life crimes” and advises hospitals to remain vigilant against cybercriminals. A lack of cyber security in healthcare poses a serious threat to your facility and patients.

If a breach occurs, immediately respond to the crisis by sharing with the media the steps you’re taking to protect patients. Regard it as an opportunity to remind people how to safeguard their own data. Update them on phishing schemes or fraud alerts, especially relating to health information.

The entire community is at risk to cyber crimes. Even if you can’t share specifics about the attack, direct responses to reassure your patients that their protecting their health remains your priority.