Hospital Advertising

New TV Ad Metrics Could Help You Market Your Hospital More Effectively

Healthcare Marketing TargetTraditional media is still an important component in the hospital marketing media mix. There is power and scale in newspaper, television and radio advertising for healthcare marketers. But the data-driven opportunities available in the digital space and the ability for precise targeting are just not as sophisticated and advanced in traditional channels – until now.

Major Media Companies Offering New Data-Driven Targetability Tools

Hoping to close the gap between the benefits offered by traditional advertising and those offered by online advertising, both Time Warner Inc.’s Turner Broadcasting and NBCUniversal (owner of channels including USA, Bravo and E!), have recently unveiled new tools that offer more precise targetability and believe marketers will no longer have to choose between the reach of traditional and the data-driven opportunities online.

Turner is offering a product called “Audience Now” that will help advertisers reach specific audiences likely to purchase their product. The tool uses data that merges shopper loyalty card data – which is VERY valuable –  with TV viewing.

NBCUniversal’s “Audience Targeting Platform” offers data-driven targetability using information from large databases on what products people buy, matched with data from set-top boxes that tracks the programs people watch.

Both companies say the data they use for this ad tool is “anonymized” – meaning they don’t see consumers’ personal information. (As healthcare marketers, we are trained to be very sensitive to private information.)

What This Can Mean for Healthcare Marketing Professionals

These tools are currently being offered at the national level during this summer’s “upfront” negotiations. But if and when made available at the local and regional level, will afford hospital marketers more precise, data-driven targeting. For example, our wellness commercials could be targeted to consumers, who based on purchase patterns, likely suffer from obesity, heart issues, diabetes, and other conditions. Our sleep center commercials could be seen by consumers, who based on related purchases, are likely to suffer a sleeping disorder. There would be many opportunities to reach and connect with specific audiences who are likely patients of specific service lines in our hospitals.

The Power of Television Advertising for Hospitals

The advantages of television go beyond the enormous reach is offers. Television commercials can tell a hospital’s story in a way no other medium can. Through the use of sight and sound, an effective commercial can evoke emotion, inform, entertain, connect, and create a desired response – but only when seen by the right audience. New tools and technology are on the horizon that can help ensure prospective patients hear and see our hospitals’ stories.

Need help telling your hospital’s story? Contact Jimmy Warren.


ABOUT JIMMY WARREN
Early to bed, early to rise, work like crazy and advertise! Jimmy Warren is president of TotalCom Marketing Communications and has over 30 years experience helping all kinds of businesses build a strong brand. A large portion of that experience has been helping hospitals and healthcare organizations. He loves the ‘weird’, interesting and extremely talented people he gets to work with every day – that includes co-workers and clients. Outside of work he enjoys his grand kids, traveling and any kind of good ole fashion Alabama sports. Roll Tide!

Healthcare Marketing: Consumers Don’t Trust Our Ads

Infographic explains consumers’ opinions about advertising.  And it’s not all good.

We’ve heard it.  We’ve had suspicions about it.  Well, actually we’ve known it.  People love ads but they don’t necessarily trust them.  Yeah, as healthcare marketers we’re right there with used car salesmen (the sleazy ones) and politicians (the dishonest ones).  People don’t trust us.

Market researcher, Lab42, created an infographic that summarizes what consumers think about advertising.  The results are interesting and, well interesting.  While the majority of consumers distrust advertising, only 17% want more laws to govern them.  Only 5% don’t pay attention to ads, hardly anyone will admit being influenced by them.  Although consumers are skeptical about ads, they enjoy them. 

 My personal opinion is that people enjoy ads and are often influenced by them and some times profoundly.  But they don’t want to admit it.  They have become convinced it would be a bad thing if they did admit it.  So what consumers say and what they actually believe are not always the same.  As marketers, we have found that to be true many times.

Nevertheless, we must admit there is skepticism about ads.  Which means, as healthcare marketers, we need to always be honest and truthful in our ad messaging.  Note that 96% of weight-loss ads are Photoshopped.   All marketers must be truthful and accurate in the ads they produce.  But there is an even heavier burden and responsibility on healthcare advertising.  We can never take the health and well-being of consumers lightly or offer a false sense of hope.  Our hospitals, with excellent physicians, nurses and staff, do amazing things.  They give health and life back to people in danger of losing it.  That being said, we should always speak the truth and only the truth.  Provide helpful and meaning information.  And in that, consumers can find trust and hope.

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Healthcare Marketing: Forget the Tech and Focus on the Idea

160353810Consumers aren’t moved by all the data we can use to find and use to communicate with them.  Instead they still want to be moved. They want emotional connection.

This blog  was actually borrowed from comments made by Procter & Gamble Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard as he spoke to the 4As annual conference.  I used it because I think he’s onto something.

More and more we are being driven by data.  We have so much at our disposal.  No wonder it’s referred to a “Big Data.”  And marketing professionals, including those in healthcare, are making decisions and developing marketing plans based on the data.  But too many times I’m afraid that leads to creative that is mediocre at best.  We run the risk of being devoid of the big idea that connects rationally and emotionally with the consumer.

Data can help avoid risk or help improve our odds.  Data can provide insight or sometimes confusion.  But data doesn’t tell you to put an actor around a group of kids and interview them (AT&T), or develop a campaign around the line “The man your man could smell like” (Old Spice).  Procter and Gamble’s “Moms have the best Jobs” television spot was not inspired by data.  And neither was “Just Do It,” “Got Milk,” “Think Differently,” or “Think Small.”

Consumers are moved by emotions.  Brands connect with consumers with emotionAnd that’s no truer than in healthcare marketing. In a world where we have so many ways and so much power to connect with consumers we cannot just pour our message into as many channels as possible.  That’s just noise.  It’s the power of an idea that separates you from the numbness.

Christoph Becker, writing for Adweek put it very well when he stated, “For an idea to have value in the world of marketing communications it must make you feel; it should provoke laughter, touch a nerve and create excitement for a brand. There should be generosity of spirit in what we do. Even if we have messages for the head, we should always seek to gain entry through the heart. To be humanly relevant our work should be founded on emotion.

He continued, “the challenge is to remember this truth: our laughing, crying, loving, loathing, silly, serious emotional minds are always in charge. This is something the most successful—and iconic—businesses understand instinctively.”

As healthcare marketers we have so much information at our disposal.  And we should use it to sharpen our focus and hone our efforts.  Yet never forsaking the pursuit of that emotional connection that far exceeds ordinary communication with consumers.

I will conclude with Becker’s final comments,

“There has never been a better time to reach our customers, but we have a choice. We can use all the technology and channels at our disposal merely to amplify our messages to the point of noise. Or we can use those gifts to give life and purpose and never-ending expansiveness to our ideas, to reach people in ways that matter, to ignite emotions.  That’s my dream.”

 

Healthcare Marketing: A Picture Really is Worth a Thousand Words

Hospital Digital ImageToday’s culture is extremely visually oriented.  So hospital brands should have a visual story.

Today people are stimulated by visuals.  This is not to discredit or minimize great copywriting but our world has become visually oriented.  Practically everyone has a camera phone and most people are using them.  And sharing their photos.  It can certainly be seen in the rapid rise of photo-centric social platforms.  To prove the point, Facebook reached 100 million users in 4 years but it took Instagram only 10 days to attract 10 million users.

And science supports this premise.  Humans actually process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.  Our visual sensory abilities are powerful.

And we know visuals can affect us emotionally.  How many photographs have you seen that immediately elicits a strong emotional reaction?  Immediately.

So what is your hospital doing to tap into this image-obsessed culture?  Does you hospital have a visual story?  It would be advantageous for your hospital to communicate with your audience through imagery.  Consumers not only want to hear what your brand stands for but they also want to see it.

Social media provides the perfect medium to create and maintain a visual brand story for your hospital.  Writing for The Agency Post,  Megan O’Malley, an account planner at VMI states, “… it’s the thoughtful, sincere and consistent visual story dispersed socially that builds a relationship.”

There are three important factors to consider when creating a visual brand story for your hospital.

1.    Understand your brand

What makes your hospital unique?  And as O’Malley suggests, don’t ask: What does your hospital do?  But go deeper and ask: Why do you exist?  Why should the consumer care?  What is your higher purpose?  From this information you should be on tract to begin create the visual story of your hospital.

2.     Be consistent

Your hospital’s story is ever evolving and never-ending.  So should be your visual story.  You must be consistent in continually telling your story.  Gaps, holes and interruptions cause the consumer to lose interest and the continuity of the story.

3.     Do it well

You are writing a visual story about your hospital.  And just like a written story it should be done well.  You wouldn’t tolerate bad grammar poor sentence structure and sloppy writing if it were a written story.  Neither should you accept poor quality for your visual story.  It’s your hospital’s brand that you are portraying.  It should be done well.

Consumers are becoming more and more visually oriented.  Your hospital’s brand cannot reach it’s full potential without the use of visuals.  It’s not easy.  But there are huge payoffs for those hospitals that do it well.

Healthcare Marketing: Five Deadly Marketing Sins for Hospitals

Sometimes healthcare marketing cannot only be ineffective but could do more harm than good.

Deadly Sins of Hospital MarketingHealthcare marketers work very hard to craft a message and effectively communicate to consumers.  And getting it right is an art.  We want to influence consumers and affect the choices they make.  But sometimes in our efforts we can do more harm than good.

Five deadly sins of marketing are outlined by Jonah Sachs, founder of Free Range Studios and author of Winning the Story Wars and summarized by Minda Zetlin  for Inc Magazine.  And each is appropriately accompanied with a story.  They would be worth noting by healthcare marketers.

1. Vanity

The ancient Greek story of Narcissus illustrates this sin, Sachs says. Narcissus, the handsomest hunter in the land became so entranced with his own reflection in a pool that he either remained immobilized there forever or fell in and drowned, depending on the version of the story.

For modern-day healthcare marketers there may be an even bigger risk: being ignored. “It’s hard to tell a story when you’re the main character and everything else is a background for your character’s greatness,” Sachs says. “You’re going to sound largely irrelevant to audiences who hear 3,500 marketing messages a day.” A better approach, he says, is to create a story where the customer (or someone just like him or her) is the hero.

2. Authority

In the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, by Hans Christian Andersen, the emperor relies on the authority of his tailors who assure him he is clothed in cloth so fine only the wise can see it. Too embarrassed to admit that he sees nothing there, the emperor eventually finds himself nude in front of all his subjects.

The problem with relying on authority, whether subject matter experts or facts and statistics is two-fold, Sachs says. First, experts have been so flamboyantly wrong about so many things (remember the doctors who swore in the 1960s that smoking was safe?) that the public is instinctively mistrustful. Worse, by relying on facts you miss the chance to make a more heartfelt connection with customers. “If you can reach people on emotion and values, that’s a more powerful way of getting them marching toward you,” he says.

3. Insincerity

Remember the story of the wolf in sheep’s clothing, one of Aesop’s fables? A wolf that comes upon a sheepskin, puts it on, and hides within a flock. But the disguise works too well and the shepherd, mistaking the wolf for a sheep, slaughters him for his own dinner.

For modern healthcare marketers, the big risk of insincerity is getting found out or people knowing better. With the internet, Twitterverse, Blogosphere, and so much social media out there, it’s fairly difficult to fool anyone for long. And with so much data now available about hospitals and physicians from independent sources and patient reviews it’s very difficult trying to be something we aren’t. You want to reach out to a new audience but you must deliver on your promise.

4. Puffery

The down side of pretending to be bigger than you are is displayed in this unforgettable line from “The Wizard of Oz”: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

“The idea is that we can speak in the disembodied voice of God and have people listen, rather than finding our unique and human voice,” Sachs says. “Finding that human voice is a step that healthcare marketers so often miss. Consumers particularly want to see the human beings behind the brand.

5. Gimmickry

Sachs illustrates this sin with the tale of King You of Zhou who repeatedly calls out his warriors on a false alarm to coax a laugh out of his hard-to-amuse trophy wife. You can guess the rest: The kingdom actually does come under attack so he lights the distress beacons but the warriors stay home, believing it to be another gag.

There’s nothing wrong with being clever, Sachs says, but trying too hard can backfire–which is why, he says, most Super Bowl ads aren’t very effective at selling their products. It’s great to try to be clever to connect with your audience.  But you can run the risk of undermining your message and your brand.

These are not the only mistakes marketers make but one that can be deadly for our brands.  Clear, concise, honest massages told in ways that connect to our audiences are always the best approach.

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors

Healthcare Marketing: Men are Cheap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthcare Marketing: Media as the “Big Idea”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.    Matching the message with the media.

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

4.    Content is king.  But which content?

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

5.    Adaptive marketing.

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

6.    Media is more than a venue for ads

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

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

Healthcare Marketing: In Defense of Hospital Ad Spending

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ads as patient education

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

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

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

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

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

The business case

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Healthcare Marketing: Take Your TV to the Movies

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.