Hospital Advertising

DO’S AND DON’TS OF HOSPITAL SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

Social Media for HospitalsSocial media has become a pillar of hospital marketing – and its importance grows every year.

According to surveys, nearly 99 percent of all hospitals in the nation are on social media in some facet. But according to the same surveys, only 17 percent believe their social media efforts have been “very effective”.

The disparity comes in the social media strategies being implemented. While most hospitals have a social media presence, it is what is being done with them that counts.

Common Mistakes with Hospital Social Media Strategies

This failure to properly implement social media is resulting in such a low satisfaction rate across the nation. (It must be said that those who are satisfied with social media have had great success with the channel, meaning that doing it well is well worth the effort.) Common mistakes include:

  • Lacking a cohesive social media strategy: Many facilities have only a rough idea of what they’d like to accomplish, and haven’t defined goals, objectives, methods, metrics, or anything more specific than “We need to be on Facebook.”
  • Not creating a content calendar: One problem facilities run into is not knowing what to talk about. Creating a content calendar is an essential part of the process so a marketing department can know what to say, and when to say it.
  • Not sticking to a firm schedule: Most posting is haphazard. To be successful, content must be posted at a regular interval, at opportune times.
  • Leaving social media only to the marketing department. Effective social media execution requires participation from all levels of the facility, not just the marketing department.
  • Not having a procedure for responding to visitors. Your patients will attempt to engage with the hospital online; not having a system for handling these comments and responses will hinder the success of the strategy.

These mistakes are preventing hospitals from achieving optimal results with their social media marketing efforts.

Essential Elements of a Viable Strategy

Creating a sophisticated strategy for a hospital marketing approach require a few essential elements, such as:

  • Who will be responsible?
  • What topics will be discussed?
  • Where will the hospital pull its information for content?
  • Who will create the content?
  • What processes are in place to involve doctors and other professionals?
  • How often will content be posted?
  • What procedure will be in place to handle comments and responses?
  • What level of integration will there be with other marketing efforts and channels?
  • What budget does the hospital have for boosting posts and creating ads?
  • What are the demographics of the target audience for social media advertising?
  • What pages on the website will we want to send traffic to from social media platforms?

Answering those questions will go a long way toward creating a sophisticated social media strategy for a hospital that is looking to increase engagement, boost brand reputation, and enhance word-of-mouth marketing for new patients.

Contact Jimmy Warren, president of TotalCom Marketing for other ways to improve your healthcare marketing including both traditional and social media.

Are Yellow Page Directories Still Relevant for Healthcare Marketers?

 

When was the last time you saw a phone book lying around that actually gets used?

Some marketing experts may recall the time when the good and faithful printed Yellow Pages were a fundamental part of every doctor’s advertising effort. Sometimes it was the entire marketing plan. Everyone in the service area had at least one directory at hand and would use it when locating a needed resource.

But despite the relentless digital march of progress—the Internet, iPhones, Facebook and countless online look-up resources—some phone books and printed directories still survive.

Printed directories have been losing ground, and largely disappearing, for years. But if you’re still considering using Yellow Pages, consumer research says to use it if your audience falls into one of these categories:

  • Reside in smaller, rural areas
  • Have a high school education or less
  • Have an annual income of less than $40,000
  • Have limited access to a computer, the Internet or broadband
  • Be among the Baby Boomer demographic group

These consumer categories may be more likely to still use Yellow Pages for various reasons, including lack of internet access or understanding of how performing a search for a healthcare provider works. If your target audience meets one of these profiles, it may be appropriate to continue Yellow Page advertising.

What can be useful to healthcare marketers is shifting your focus to adding locations in the Google My Business tool. In a nutshell, this free resource allows people to manage their online presence across Google’s search capabilities.

To go one step further, consider Moz. Moz will assist you with the finding and submitting locations to local directories. Moz’s software greatly helps with the search engine optimization efforts of a huge number of sites around the world. It’s even connected to Google My Business, giving users even more control over their locations.

Interested in taking your healthcare facility to the digital side? Contact TotalCom today!

Best Ways to Market Your Healthcare Facility and Standout

When potential patients do not have a recommendation from family or friends on what healthcare professional to use, they typically turn to conducting their own research online. This could entail using anything from the search engines to social media as long as the information they find is trustworthy and extensive.

Ensuring your practice is listed everywhere that potential patients are searching for your services online is the key to driving more traffic to your web properties and therefore, more foot traffic to your practice.

Create Content that Educates

Creating content that educates your audience is beneficial for SEO, driving long-term traffic from the search engines to your website overtime, but most importantly, producing and distributing quality content in the form of blog posts and articles helps give value to readers and build trust between your patients and your practice overtime.

Put yourself in the consumers shoes when you write your material and then ask the following questions:

  • Can I easily interpret the information?
  • Are the terms and definitions understandable, even if I was only 12 years old?
  • Is the content accurate and informative without being overwhelming?
  • Is the explanation sufficient?
  • Are all my questions answered?

Fun with Facts

It’s a fact that people like facts of all shapes and genres, especially in healthcare. Facts and statistics can be woven into certain types of content, such as infographics, to complement the information.

The true beauty, however, is the simplicity. Facts are short and to the point. They are easy to digest, easy to generate, easy to verify 

Video Marketing is Important

Last, but certainly not least, spend time on video marketing to really stand out. Offer testimonials from your patients, ensuring that they are genuinely interested in speaking on your behalf to make the effort as effective and authentic as possible. Create videos to introduce doctors and put a human touch to the faces patients will be seeing.

Utilize YouTube as a hub for your video marketing efforts online, then embed those videos throughout your website. YouTube is a search engine owned by Google, making your video content uploaded there discoverable from both the search results, your channel subscribers and wherever the video is embedded (like your website.)

Again, just like the written content being produced for your web properties, your video content must educate your audience on your expertise in the industry.

Marketing for the healthcare industry doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to think about who your target audience is and how best to reach them. Let us do the thinking for you. Contact TotalCom today to learn more about our healthcare marketing options.

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.