Hospital Internal Audience Marketing

Healthcare Marketing: Google Buys Into Newspaper Advertising

Google buys a newspaper ad to show why newspaper ads don’t work

In a most interesting irony, Google bought an ad in the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper to advertise its search-advertising business, which is in direct competition with newspaper advertising.  The point was to show that newspaper advertising doesn’t work.  Well if that’s true, why make your point in a newspaper ad?

Lauren Indvik posted the ad on after it was tweeted by reporter Steve Ladurantaye with the caption, “An ad for Google ads in today’s Globe demonstrates the value of print ads, yes?”

The ad asks, “You know who needs a haircut?  People searching for a haircut.”  And then adds, “Maybe that’s why ads on Google work.”

What an ingenious marketing approach!  Reach newspaper readers to convince them newspaper advertising doesn’t work.  But if Google really thinks newspaper advertising doesn’t work why waste money trying to make their point there?  And even more amusing, they included a promotional offer in the ad.

So what does this have to do with hospital advertising?  Not much really.  It’s just ironic and funny.  And proves that sometimes as hard as marketers try to make a point, their strategies end up making the opposite point altogether.  Sometimes unintended consequences can doom even the most creative and unique ideas.


Hospital Marketing: Customer Satisfaction Scores Decline in Healthcare and Energy

Hospital customer satisfaction levels declined in the past year, joining the energy sector as the only two industries whose scores declined.  And this in spite of a strong emphasis on patient satisfaction by hospital CEOs.

Times have been tough in this economy.  For almost everyone.  And it’s true for hospitals as well.  It has led to implementation of various cost saving initiatives in most hospitals.  And in some, it has necessitated layoffs.  It appears the result has also caused a decline in patient satisfaction.  According to American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which measures consumer satisfaction for ten economic sectors, hospitals’ satisfaction scores fell 5 % over the past year. Only the energy sector joined hospitals with a decline.  It’s clear why there was a decline in the energy sector but both surprising and troubling there was a decline with hospitals.

The results were reported by Philip Betbeze in HealthLeaders Media.  Overall hospital satisfaction dropped 5% with inpatient satisfaction recording the largest decrease.  This is especially interesting when more and more hospital leaders are stating they are placing a stronger emphasis on patient satisfaction.

In fact, Betbeze reports that in the 2010 HelathLeaders Media Industry Survey, many leaders are making patient satisfaction their number priority.  Over 38% selected patient satisfaction as their top priority and it was near the top in most of the other surveys.

Hopefully, this increased emphasis on patient satisfaction will turn the tide and lead to significant increases in future surveys. It needs to.  Declining patient satisfaction will lead to trouble in many other ways and will certainly negatively impact our hospitals’ brands.  When that happens there are long-term effects.

Sure there is great pressure in hospitals to cut costs in the face of a struggling economy, decreased reimbursements and an uncertain industry environment.  But as Betbeze correctly states, “investments in patient satisfaction require more commitment than cash. In fact, relative to other investments hospitals have to make, such as high-tech imaging systems, new patient towers, and new operating suites, patient satisfaction improvement is instead based on clean rooms and hallways, better, hotter food, better service, and more eye contact, among other, seemingly simple fixes. Those things improve with culture”

It is certainly disheartening to see satisfaction scores decrease while management makes it a top priority. Hopefully it means there is not just lip service to the problem but the results just haven’t been fully manifested and thus not appearing in the survey results yet.  It is certainly a necessity to stop the decline and improve satisfaction scores.  So much depends on it.  There are many things in healthcare that management cannot control but a patient-centered culture and a commitment to patient satisfaction is one that can be impacted.  It must be!


Hospital Marketing: The Future of our Brand is Determined by Random Contacts with the Patient

The brands that top the charts in customer experience are also winning the loyalty battle.

Forrester Research recently released its list of top brands for customer service.  Surveying over 4600 U.S. consumers about their customer experiences, Barnes and Noble topped the list.  Others making the top five were Marriott Hotels, Hampton Inn, Amazon and Holiday Inn Express.  At the bottom of the list were Charter Communications, United Healthcare and Citigroup. (A complete list can be seen here).

It’s always interesting to see how consumers rate businesses in regard to their customer service experiences.  And to examine what businesses do to improve their customer service.  It’s also interesting to see the correlation between customer service and other brand attributes.

One thing we know is there is a strong correlation between customer experience and brand loyalty.  Those companies that deliver superior customer service also build strong brand loyalty.  The brand image and perception are largely determined at the point it interacts with the customer.  Brand loyalty is determined at the point of customer contact.

As hospital marketers, this is invaluable information. We often put our emphasis on technology, convenience, services and a host of other things.  But how much emphasis are we putting on that point of customer contact?  What is happening when our brand interacts with the patient and the patient’s family?  Brand loyalty is being determined at those random points of contact.  The future of our brand is determined during these interactions.

This is undoubtedly the most difficult thing to control.  There are so many within our organization that have contact with the patient and each one of them can make or break the experience.  It’s very difficult to control all of these contacts.  But it is imperative that we create a culture, an environment, where there is consistent attention and a strong emphasis on positive customer service. Yes technology, convenience, services and a host of other things are important, but in a consumer-directed economy, customer service is at the top.  The customer experience will determine how our brand is viewed and if there is any brand loyalty.

Barnes and Noble and the other companies at the top of the list make great effort to create a customer-friendly atmosphere and attempt to deliver the highest level of customer service.  They make it their corporate culture.  The future of our own brand largely depends on how well we create that culture within our organizations.


Hospital Marketing: Want Satisfied Patients? Make Sure Your Employees Are Happy

smiling faceResearch indicates that highly satisfied employees deliver higher levels of patient satisfaction.

How do you create a successful marketing strategy to improve patient satisfaction?

1.   The latest technology.

2.   Remind employees to provide a high level of service.

3.   Having patient reps check with patients to address any needs or concerns. 

4.   Solicit feedback from patients and provide a process for dealing with issues of  concern.

5.  Implement quality initiatives throughout the hospital. 

All of these are extremely important.

But a recent study indicates that maybe the largest factor in patient satisfaction is employees who are highly satisfied with their job and work environment.  A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University at a New York Hospital and commissioned by Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement indicated that patients have a higher level of satisfaction when their care is delivered by highly satisfied employees.  Forum President, Michelle Smith, stated, “In the healthcare industry, as in other service-related businesses, having engaged, empowered, loyal employees can lead to increased retention, lower costs, enhanced reputations and a profitable business picture.” 

Regardless, of all the quality initiatives imposed on employees, unless they are happy and satisfied with their job, patient experiences will not be good.  Happy employees deliver superior service.  In fact, the research indicated that patients are more likely to recommend a hospital to others if happy, satisfied employees treat them.

 It’s obvious isn’t it? A satisfied employee delivers better care. We really don’t need research to tell us that do we?   Even though it’s intellectually obvious, hospitals spend so much time and effort imposing guidelines and mandates and quality initiatives without investing in employee job satisfaction.  Certainly the emphasis should be on the patient.  But there must also be a strong emphasis on employee satisfaction. 

  • Creating the right environment
  • Encouraging and empowering employees
  • Honoring and recognizing outstanding employee service
  • Demonstrating genuine concern and interest in employees

These things pay huge dividends!

Competitive salaries are important but ALL the components that create employee satisfaction must be emphasized.

Want to provide a high level of patient care and better patient experience?  Do everything possible to make employees happy.  It will be an investment that will pay rich dividends for the patient and the hospital.   


Healthcare Marketing: Internal Marketing is as Important as External Marketing

Your brand must be embraced and embodied internally before it can be sold externally.


How many times have you been excited about purchasing a new service, but in doing so, find out that the experience is not at all what you expected? Because of a crafty, clever, or appealing advertising message, you expected and hoped for something outstanding but the staff just didn’t deliver. And you come away disappointed.

Marketing professionals spend so much energy and time to establish a brand by creating advertising that is emotional and beautiful and that effectively speaks to the consumer in just the right tone and style. But is the brand promise delivered when the consumer responds to our advertising messages?

It’s not enough to create great ads. To effectively build a brand, the brand promise and the brand essence must be embraced internally.

The staff, with every customer contact, must reflect and manifest the brand. There must be buy-in from everyone in the organization. And that is not easy to accomplish. The marketing goals and efforts should be effectively communicated and sold internally. There must be internal ownership of the brand personally.

It may be better to communicate a weak brand message than to communicate one that is not consistent with the consumer’s experience. It’s very difficult to retain customers if when sampling the brand their expectations are not met.

That’s why internal marketing is so important. Marketing the brand internally is essential to creating the brand externally. The entire team should understand the essence of the brand and know how important it is for them to embody that brand and to be diligent in delivering the brand promise.

Is your organization’s marketing effective? Sometimes that’s determined long before consumers ever see the first ad.