Healthcare Advertising

Healthcare Marketing: Take Your TV to the Movies

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

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

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.

Healthcare Marketing: 8 Ways to Create Bad Hospital Advertising

Sometimes hospital advertising is just bad.  Sometimes just not effective.  Knowing the things that don’t work can help marketers be more effective.

BAD AdHealthcare advertising is both art and science.  Sometimes it’s effective and sometimes it’s not.  It is not easy.  It is demanding.  It’s dynamic and always changing.   But in Healthcare Success Lonnie Hirsch and Stewart Gandolf note some things that are sure to doom hospital advertising.

Here are several of the most common pitfalls, classic fumbles and root causes often seen in hospital advertising.

1      Spotlight infection rates and re-admission scores. No doubt there’s some degree of professional pride in attaining certain quality of care measurements, but “fewer septicemia infections,” “fewer re-admissions,” does not make for a great billboard. This one sometimes overlaps with our next category.

2     Multisyllabic medical terms are impressive. Notwithstanding that the patient-public is increasingly well informed, healthcare advertising needs to communicate without confusion. What’s more, the public is far more interested in easily understood benefits and daily living solutions than in the medical science behind why they feel better.

3     Everyone eats alphabet soup. A corollary to the item above, shorthand, buzzwords and abbreviations—EMR, HIR, HIPAA, ACO, ER, PPACA—can be barriers to understanding

4     “We are pleased to announce…”  your new building, technology or award. Information about concrete or equipment—without saying how these things benefit the lives of people—is a non-starter…and often boring.

5     Someone upstairs said we should do this ad. There are exceptions, but advertising is rarely a good platform for ideas that are disconnected from defined marketing goals, speak to internal matters, or tackle political issues.

6     Be over-the-top shot at being clever (or trendy, cheeky, witty or insider).The line between “creative” and “confusing” is a thin one. It’s remarkably easy for ads to be seen as obscure, unclear or simply un-funny.

7     Proofreader? (We don’t have one.) A spell-check program has its limitations. Over reliance will have you tracking calls to a Phoenician.

8     Let’s just copy someone else’s nice-looking ad. If there were no copyright or conscience issues, it’s a bad idea. It may be “pretty,” but you don’t know its objective or goals, intended target audience, its role in a larger media plan or marketing strategy, how it performed…or any of a dozen other critical considerations. You’re taking quite a chance on “nice.”

Avoid these mistakes and make your adverting more effective.

Healthcare Marketing: We Can’t Seem to Take Our Eyes Off TV

Despite many other options for our time, television viewing remains very strong.

Many pundits and experts have predicted the demise of television.  Consumers are spending time with laptops, tablets, smartphones, social media networks and video games.  With all the competition for our attention, for some time now, experts have been prophesying that television viewing will take a hit.  But that has definitely not happened.

Measuring consumer behavior in the first quarter of 2012, Nielsen revealed that Americans averaged watching television 4.38 hours per day.  That is only six minutes less than in 2008, before the exploding proliferation of new media options. And live TV viewing was a full 4 hours a day more than they spend watching DVD playback.

Adults 65+, of course, consume the most traditional media with nearly 48 hours per week in TV viewership.  They watch just less than 2 hours of time-shifted TV per week.  By comparison, adults 35-49 watch just over 35 hours of traditional TV per week and roughly 3 and a half hours per week of time shifted TV.

The study also shows that time shifted viewing is increasing.  It has grown from 12 minutes per day on average in 2008 to 24 minutes per day in 2012.

So for hospital marketers, television is still a very viable alternative.    Consumers are still watching and thus television is a way to reach them.  All the talk about people not watching TV anymore and TV advertising no longer being effective proves not to be true.  For television the sky is not falling.  In fact, it’s still filled with television signals.

Healthcare Marketing: TMI Volume? No.

Research shows that consumers think the amount of information available to them from the plethora of choices is considered just right.

It’s truly the Age of Information.  Information abounds everywhere, from so many sources and in so many formats.  We’ve never been bombarded with as much information as we are today.  And many have suggested the “always on” media environment has overwhelmed audiences and is creating antisocial social media addicts.

In addition to the almost unlimited amount of information available online, there are now an average of 72 hours of video uploaded every minute on YouTube, over 340 million tweets per day on Twitter and over 50 million blogs on Tumblr.  It would be easy to assume consumers are just overwhelmed by all the seemingly limitless amounts of information that is now available.

Bianca Bosker, writing for The Huffington Post cited research conducted by the University of Michigan from 7 focus groups to determine the consumer’s psyche and ability to adapt to the barrage of information that hits them each day.

Surprisingly, the study found the participants felt empowered and enthusiastic about the volume of information available at their fingertips, rather than overloaded.   Only about 13% felt a sense of overload and that came most commonly from people who had elementary internet skills. .  However the participants did not provide a strong endorsement for Facebook and Twitter stating the quality of information, not quantity on these sites could be a turnoff.

Published in the journal “The Information Society”  the research indicated, rather than being overburdened, the participants enjoyed the range of information available online.

Here are some other findings from the study

  • Television is still the most popular media source followed by websites.
  • However they were frustrated with the sensationalism of TV
  • Many preferred getting news from online bloggers rather than news anchors
  • Over a quarter of the participants had some negative feelings about social media
  • Many are annoyed by what they consider as the minutia of people’s lives fed to them through Facebook and Twitter

For healthcare marketers, it’s good to know consumers want information.  They are seeking information to make their lives better.  If we provide information that’s useful and helpful and consumers will welcome it.  In fact, they expect it.  However we must be careful not to annoy them with information that’s considered trivial or self-serving.

Healthcare Marketing: Humanize Your Hospital’s Brand

Humanizing your brand by giving it a personality, making it personable and telling a narrative connects with consumers.

Every healthcare marketer tries to connect their brand with consumers.  It is an ongoing, endless task.  Of course we know that humanizing a brand improves connectivity.  And research supports it.

Emily Eldridge, writing for MarketingProfs cites research that demonstrates how human interaction affects attitudes and transactions.

Iris Bohnet and Bruno Frey conducted an economic research study in 1999 called “Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games.” Two groups of students were recruited to participate in a series of social interactions in which members of the first group had to decide whether to share any portion of a sum of money—approximately $10—with a person in the second group.

When the first group knew nothing at all about those in the second group, participants offered, on average, only 26% of the money. When the moderators asked the second group to stand up—making them less anonymous to the first group—the offer increased to 39%. When the moderators shared personal information about those in the second group with those in the first, the average offer increased to 52%. And when members of the groups were introduced to one another, the average offer was 50%.

In other words, the greater the social distance, the less willing people were to hand over money.

This can teach a valuable lesson to hospital marketers.  If our brand is humanized, it connects better with consumers.  It’s important that our brand not be cold, inanimate, and without important human traits and characteristics.  Our brand should have a personality. It must be personable. It must make a human connection.

Eldridge refers to two examples of retailers who have a strong personal connection with consumers and how it positively impacts their brand reputation and gives it increased brand equity.  The first example is Apple.  Their retail stores are not a row of cashiers. Rather when you enter their stores, in addition to a strong visual connection to the brand, they have easily identifiable employees with mobile cashier platforms ready to interact and help customers.   They are knowledgeable and will explain the benefits of each product, help with your issues and even tell you personal stores about the products.

Apple is known for its sleek innovative products.  But they also carry a premium price.  But despite a higher price, they continue to increase market share.  One reason is because they have humanized the Apple brand.  They connect with the consumer.

Another example is an online brand.  How can you humanize an online brand?  Zappos.com places on its product pages videos of employees talking about why he or she likes the product.  The videos are not about product specs but people telling their stories about the product.  When Zappos launched the videos in 2009, their conversion rate increased from 6% to 30%.  They humanized the brand with narratives.

The lesson for healthcare marketers is that we must humanize our brand.  Make them personable.  It doesn’t matter how nice our hospital is or what kind of technology we have, we must connect on a personal level.  Maybe that comes by using patients, physicians, and staff members to tell their stories about the brand.  Making it real, and genuine and personable.  It provides an important and engaging brand narrative.

There are other ways to make that human connection.  We should always strive to find them and use them.  Our brand will become stronger as we close the gap of social distance.  As we humanize our brand.

Healthcare Marketing: Five More Social Media Mistakes

Social media mistakes damage reputations and brands.  Learn from the mistakes of others.

Although not specifically directed to healthcare and hospital marketers, an article written by A.J Ghergich, CEO of Authority Domains, and appearing in SmartBlogs from SmartBrief offers some very helpful comments about mistakes brands involved in social media should avoid.  The article is repeated here in its entirety.

Imagine you built up a vast social media following — but because of one small oversight, your reputation started to crumble right before your eyes. Sadly, this scenario is not that farfetched, because some businesses leap into the social media arena without understanding how to maintain a relationship with their customers while avoiding some obvious pitfalls.

By studying some mistakes by other companies that have resulted in negative exposure, you can learn how your business can avoid a similar fate. Here are five easy-to-avoid mistakes.

  • Being crass about current events. Last year, designer Kenneth Cole used the publicity of an international crisis in Cairo to post about his products. He even used the hashtag #Cairo to try to build buzz and reach others who were searching for tweets on the crisis. The reaction was so strong that you won’t find Kenneth Cole’s old Twitter account anymore. It has been replaced. Reacting to current events can be plus for your brand, but consider how some people might react if it looks like you’re trying to capitalize on a very serious situation. Be respectful and tread lightly when talking about current events. Take a minute to put yourself in another person’s shoes and ask how your post could be perceived. It’s possible that if Kenneth Cole had taken a few extra minutes to think through his tweet, he may have decided not to publish it.
  • Getting too personal. Be careful when posting personal content, whether or not you feel it is valuable. Your customers consider your social accounts the face of your brand. Bob Parsons, Go Daddy founder, posted a video of his trip to Zimbabwe on his blog. In the video, Parsons told the audience how he kills elephants because they damage crops, which endangers the lives of the starving locals. After Parsons published the video, the media outlets ran with the story, and some customers boycotted Go Daddy and its services. Though Parsons explained the story in more detail, the damage had already been done. Regardless of whether Parsons was doing a good deed, this type of personal content is not appropriate for customers. Occasional personal content is effective for creating connections with your customers, but keep it light and don’t antagonize people.
  • Being spammy. Resist the temptation to capitalize on the popularity of another company to promote your products. Habitat UK tried to take advantage of the trending topics #Apple, #iPhone and others to acquire some traffic. Unfortunately, the strategy backfired because the tweets had nothing to do with Apple computers or any of its products. Tweeters posted negative messages to Habitat UK’s account, complaining about its “spammy” behavior. Your customers are not stupid. They know when you are trying to manipulate the system. Stay genuine, and don’t piggyback on other companies’ successes. It will only make you look desperate.
  • Putting your account in the wrong hands. The people who tweet or posts on your company’s behalf have the fate of your company’s image in their hands. What they post could potentially damage your reputation. Invest enough resources into finding the right people who will put their opinions aside and prioritize the integrity of your company. Ensure your social media managers understand the essence of your company culture and how you want your brand portrayed.
  • Pretending your mistake didn’t happen. If you ever make a mistake, own up to it and apologize. Your customers will respect you for admitting your mistakes and you can save your brand from any negative backlash. People forgive transparent mistakes much more than they excuse complete denial.

Like all marketers, those in healthcare would be wise to learn from the types of mistakes mentioned and not repeat them.

Healthcare Marketing: More Screens More Engagement

TV Viewers Are More Engaged When Watching Multiple Screens

There has been much concern about how effective television is with those who are watching TV while also engaged with other screens.  So many viewers now sit in front of their television with a laptop, tablet smart phone or a combination in front of them. The logic would seem to be that such multi-tasking would distract the viewer from their television viewing.

But research indicates that’s not true.  In fact television engagement actually goes up when viewers are watching multiple screens.  A study by Time Warner Research Council, using biometric monitoring and eye tracking, discovered that television engagement when watching with a friend over social media was 1.3 times greater than watching without social media.

“When they find something engaging on the TV, they pay attention’” stated Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer for Turner Broadcasting, a Times Warner unit who collaborated with the research council.  “When their interest wanes, in the absence of a second screen they could change the channel, get up, read a magazine, etc.  With a second screen that allows live social engagement, they have more reason to stay on-channel with their friend.”

And just as important to marketers is that the researchers found the increased engagement when involved in social media while watching television was true for commercials as well as programming.

So the consternation among healthcare marketers over the multi-tasking by television viewers can cease.  Social TV proves to be an asset instead a liability.

Healthcare Marketing: TV Still Rules!

Over 90% of all TV viewing is still with viewers watching live television.

Despite the pervasive nature of the internet and the growth of online options for viewing television programming, 91% of television viewing is live on a television set.  A recent study by TVB, a TV-based marketing group for stations, indicates that 1.5% of TV viewing occurs online.  And only 7% is time shifted.  The remainder is live traditional TV viewing.

Research has shown that TV usage has actually grown 8% over the past two years and the study indicated television is still the media most influential in making purchasing decisions for adults 18+ at 37.2%.  Newspaper was most influential with 10.6% of those surveyed and the internet at a surprisingly low 5.6%

So despite all the talk of the demise of television as an effective advertising medium, research indicates exactly the opposite.  Online viewing and the use of DVRs and ad skipping have had a much smaller impact on consumers’ viewing habits than has been predicted.  Traditional television viewing is indeed strong and influential.  Healthcare marketers can still have confidence in investing dollars in television. Especially since it is still renders the largest influence of all advertising mediums.  Television is alive and well.

Another important finding was that 51% of adults stated a television commercial prompted them to go online for more information.

Again, research indicates the importance of integration and convergence.  As consumers regularly access not one, but two or three screens at once, its important that our marketing efforts are integrated and converge consistently over all mediums for maximum effectiveness.  While consumers watch television traditionally, it’s extremely likely they also have a laptop open and available as well as a smartphone sitting beside them, both for internet and social media use.   To have a presence and consistency over all components of these mediums can exponentially improve the effectiveness of each. And it can certainly build and enhance our hospital brand.