huntsville ad agency

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: Facebook Page Dedicated to Healthcare Gone Bad

Now consumers are encouraged to post horror stories about their medical experiences on a newly launched Facebook page.

ProPublica, the Pulitzer Prize winning organization that collaborates with other media outlets for investigative journalism, has now established its “Patient Harm Community” Facebook page.  Patients can sign up and post the graphic details about their healthcare experiences gone bad.  And there is a special “files” page entitled “What to do if you’ve been harmed” which gives instructions on how to issue complaints against doctors, nurses and hospitals.

Cheryl Clark, writing for HealthLeaders Media, wrote a story about the new Facebook page.  She reports that ProPublica’s Marshall Allen, who uncovered systemic poor quality in Nevada hospitals for a 2010 series in the Las Vegas Sun called “Do No Harm”, and himself a Pulitzer finalist, explains what prompted the Facebook venture.

“For starters, he says, the one million people—a staggering number—who suffer injuries, infections, and errors in healthcare facilities across the country each year had very few places to turn for advice, until now. 
Over the years, I’ve talked to scores of patients who have been harmed while undergoing medical care, and the one thing that always struck me is the fact they feel so alone,” he says.

“When they suffer this type of harm, they complain to doctors and hospital officials and regulators, but they often don’t feel that they’re being listened to. 
I wanted to find a way to give these folks an opportunity to talk to one another, offer advice, encouragement, and comfort, and get questions answered. A lot of them are at different stages of the process of working through the things that happened to them.”

“I think for hospital leaders this would be a great place for them to put an ear to the ground, to hear what patients are really saying, and factor that in when they make decisions,” Allen says. “We created this for doctors, nurses, hospitals, and healthcare officials just as much as it was created for patients.”

This is very much a two-edged for hospital leaders and marketers.  It’s helpful to be able to actually read patients’ experiences and learn from their points of view.  And it introduces a new level of public accountability, which is also good.

However, the other edge is the page will be an invitation for patients or family members who are upset, emotional and angry to exaggerate claims without fully understanding the natural course of illness and diseases and treatment of such.  And when that happens, the hospital has very limited recourse for rebuttal or explanation due to privacy laws.

Such a site can serve a very worthwhile purpose for patients and for healthcare professionals.  But it can also be very dangerous and create more harm than it attempts to prevent.  It is a site all healthcare marketers should monitor and pay close attention to; just in case your hospital appears in one of the stories on the page, to learn from a patient’s perspective about their experiences and concerns, and to see if and how other healthcare professionals and marketers handle issues that appear there.  

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. 

Healthcare Branding: Leave Good (Marketing) Alone or Change?

The strongest brands are the ones that hold a consistent marketing message year after year after year.

In marketing we like to tinker.  Tinker with ideas, messages and positioning. Update the logo,  change the commercial, freshen the copy, etc. And sometimes we make wholesale changes.  Tinkering is necessary from time to time but unless our brand position is entirely flawed it rarely needs major changes. It’s not uncommon for brands to make radical changes year after year.  We somehow think changes are necessary.  But are they really?

Take Fed Ex as an example.  They positioned themselves as the overnight carrier.  Remember, “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”?  They branded that message in our brains.  There was no doubt who they were and what they stood for.  As a result they became very successful.  Can you tell me what their brand position is today?  What do they stand for?  Why did they think they had to change from that brand position?  They were highly successful, why did they need to change?  If you’re like me, you remember their initial brand position and the funny television spots that supported it.  I can’t tell you any of the various other brand statements they’ve had since.  In my mind they are still the overnight carrier.  That is still their market advantage regardless of all the other positions they’ve tried to take over the past decade.

Remember “Pizza. Pizza.”  I bet you can tell me what brand is associated with that positioning statement.  Little Caesars.  They had a simple brand position: two pizzas for the price of one.   With it they rose out of obscurity and became the number two pizza chain in America.   What is their brand statement today?  And what is their market position today?  As Al Ries outlines in an article in Ad Age, Little Caesars evolved from that one simple concept to trying to be other things with multiple brand messages.  They emphasized delivery and then “Big” pizza and abandoned the “Pizza. Pizza.” message.  Now, Little Caesars’ sales have declined 42% and they’re a distant fourth in market share.   They had a simple, solid concept and a strong brand message.  But they felt the need to change it.  Can you tell me what their positioning is today?

There are many other brand examples that could be cited but the point is clear I think.  Those brands that have a strong and effective brand position and stick to it usually become stronger. But brands get tired of their position.  The market says they need to change and evolve.  Marketers feel like they need to change to justify their jobs.  And so we change for all the wrong reasons.  And more often than not, we end up with multiple and diluted messages and no strong brand position.

Sure, sometimes market situations require a change.  But not nearly as often as we think.  Can you say Fed Ex could have a more powerful message today that “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”?  Or that Little Caesars could have a more relevant message in the marketplace than “Pizza. Pizza.” – two pizzas for the price of one?

For brands, change for change sake is not a good thing.  For healthcare marketers, we need a strong message, a story that resonates with the consumer, a brand with a promise.  And we need to stick to it.  Continuity ad consistency with one simple, and powerful message will make our brand grow stronger and stronger over time. We must resist the change for change sake.


Share

Healthcare Marketing: Boomers Spending Big on Technology

Baby Boomers are into technology, spending more money on technology than any other age group.

Technology and social media are ways to reach the younger generations.  Right?  Not so fast. Baby boomers might be the real target.  The latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that baby boomers have fully embraced technology.  They are the biggest spenders on technology according to Forrester Research’s annual benchmark tech study.

Think about the boomers you know.  The typical boomer has a desktop computer at work, a laptop at home, are on facebook, have a smartphone, have multiple accounts on the internet, DVRs their favorite television shows and is wishing for an iPad. If they don’t already have one.

“It’s actually a myth that baby boomers aren’t into technology.  They represent 24% of the population, but they consume 40% (in total dollars spent) of it”, stated Patricia McDonough, senior VP-analysis at Nielsen and reported by Beth Snyder Bulik in Ad Age.

Baby boomers are not early adapters but they certainly pile on.   Ten years ago only 25% of boomers went online daily.  Today 70% go surfing everyday.   And examine these stats about baby boomers:

  • 47% use social media
  • One in five use social media every day
  • A full 66% use their cell phone for texting
  • 91% use email
  • 88% use search engines
  • 78% use the internet to research health information
  • 74% get news from the internet

Baby boomers are aging and have become huge users of health services and that will grow tremendously as they age. To healthcare marketers they are a huge and critical target audience and if we think they can only be reached by traditional media we are making a critical mistake. Technology and social media have been embraced by boomers and have become a very common and pervasive part of their lives.  Technology, new media and social networking are effective ways to reach, communicate and even build relationships with those 45-64 ears old.

Boomers are the greatest spending generation.  And they spend their money and their time on technology.  It would be a huge disconnect for healthcare marketers to assume otherwise.

Share

Healthcare Marketing: Newspaper Decline Tapering Off

The decline in newspapers’ paid circulation is slowing down and online views of newspaper sites are continuing to increase.

Newspapers have faced a strong decline in paid circulation over the past several years.  It has been a great cause of concern for the industry and has lead to the death of several notable dailies.  And it has been a concern of advertisers as well.  Previously a mainstay of any advertising plan, its reach and effectiveness has taken a serious hit.

But it appears the decline in readership is finally slowing. In an article in Ad Age , Nat Ives reports that the Audit Bureau of Circulations indicated an 8.7% decrease in circulation during the latest reporting period compared to 10.6% in the previous period. Newspapers’ Sunday paid circulation fell 6.5% compare to 7.5% in the previous period. However, with the decline there are still nearly 100 million adults who read a newspaper every day, according to Scarborough Research.

The good news is that newspapers are attracting more and more viewers to their websites. Nielsen Online data indicated that newspaper websites have over 74.4 million unique visitors per month, more that a third of all internet users.

Healthcare marketers have traditionally relied on newspaper advertising as a key component of their advertising plan.  With the continuing decline in circulation, the medium has become less and less effective.  Advertising rates should reflect the decrease in readers.  The negative effect has been less dramatic in smaller markets where consumers have fewer sources for local news.  And newspaper websites are becoming more and more attractive as an advertising medium as more and more consumers go online for their news.

The advertising landscape continues to change.  It presents unique challenges and new opportunities for marketers.  Trends in reach and frequency and impact must continue to be monitored and allocation of dollars must shift appropriately to assure maximum effectiveness for our advertising expenditures.

Share

Healthcare Marketing: Are We Training Unhappy Customers/Patients to Whine on the Web?

Unhappy customers are often finding that using social media sites to complain gets faster and better results than ordinary customer service venues.

A disgruntled JetBlue customer was slapped with a $50 fee for checking a box containing a fold-up bicycle, clothes and some cheese. The box met the height and weight requirements for free baggage but JetBlue’s policy for checking a bicycle called for a $50 fee.  The angry customer called the airline’s customer service center but was repeatedly told the fee was company policy and there were no exceptions.  But then the customer went online to social media sites and complained. It was soon on Twitter and within three days JetBlue called the cyclist to tell him his $50 charged had been reversed.

In the past, a customer complaint was handled usually with a phone call or maybe by email and the matter in question was handled either satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily.  It was done quietly and just between the customer and the company.  But now, consumers have at their disposal, social media.  Now a dissatisfied customer can let the world know about his complaints.  And companies now monitor those online comments and in their desire to stop the flow of bad blood and demonstrate their responsiveness will quickly satisfy an angry customer.  Companies are much more likely to give a favorable response to a customer who has broadcast his complaint over the internet than one who follows the traditional lines of customer service.

Michael Bush addressed this issue in an article in Ad Age.  He cited the above incident as an example of how companies are training customers to take their complaints to the web.  He concludes that those who publicly flog a company on the internet by using social media get faster and better resolution to their issues.

He quotes Pete Blackshaw, EVP of Nielsen Online Digital Strategic Services. “The consumer sees two completely different faces, and ultimately that kills credibility, erodes equity and more.” As a defensive measure brands are much more likely to favorably satisfy a customer complaint that comes through the web than through traditional means and that is creating a huge credibility problem with the brand.

Perhaps companies are training consumers to whine about them on the web.  Why shouldn’t they?  They get a quick and favorable response.  But that is a dangerous precedent. Complaints that come through traditional customer service channels should receive the same treatment as those that appear in social media.  Otherwise we are inviting unhappy consumers to take their dissatisfaction to the web. It’s much better to address and resolve consumer (and patient!) issues in private through traditional customer service channels than to be unresponsive and read about it, on the internet.  Along with the rest of the world.

Share