Jeff Neff

Healthcare Marketing: How to Reach Elective Procedure Prospects

The affluent are depending less on magazines for their news and information and turning to other sources. 

Readership of magazines by heads of households earning more than $100,000 annually declined 16% over the past year according to the annual Ipsos Mendelsohn Affluent Survey.  Magazine readership has been slipping for several years but the previous year was first time the decline was in double digits.

The same research indicated internet usage among the same group increased 12% during the past year and increased their purchases of e-readers and tablet computers.  This group of consumers are obviously shifting to e-readers and mobile devices for their information. “The consumer is getting more and more comfortable with the alternative platforms”, stated Ipsos Mendelsohn president Bob Shullman, in article in Ad Age by Jeff Neff.    He believes “affluents are simply getting their content in a different format. Not doing away with it.”

In contrast, television viewership among the affluent remained unchanged with 17.6 hours per week and internet time increased to an average of 25.3 hours per week.

The survey also indicated, surprisingly, that affluents age 18 to 34 were 13% more likely to be interested in TV ads than older affluents. In fact the younger group were more likely to be interested in every type of advertising except newspaper ads.

The affluent account for only 21% of the population but makes up 60% of household income and 70% of the wealth in the U.S. The affluent are more likely candidates for elective procedures. Are we communicating with them through channels that are most likely to reach them?


Hospital Marketing: Influencers of Water Cooler Brand Conversation

Television and the internet lead the way in influencing conversations about brands, prompting over 30% of all brand conversations.

For many years, television has been the medium that influences the largest number of brand conversations, outpacing every other medium in prompting face-to-face conversations about brands.  But the internet is gaining ground fast. According to a study conducted by Yahoo and Keller Fay Group the web now influences nearly 15% of consumer discussions about brands – nearly matching the 16% conversations inspired by television.

Jeff Neff reported the findings in an article in Ad Age stating that TV’s impact has remained consistent year after year but the impact of the internet is growing. Even though television remains strong, the internet is growing due to four primary factors:

1. The meteoric rise of social mediums like Facebook.   Social networks facilitate online sharing of information and communication.  Facebook use in the US alone has more than doubled from 69 million to 133 million within the past year.

2. The pervasiveness of mobile devices.  Smart phones provide round the clock access to the web regardless of location.

3. More people are searching the web for information about brands and products due to the tight economy.

4. The dependence of younger people on the internet.   Most of the increase in internet-influenced brand conversations were driven by people 13-29 years of age. “They’re now coming into a phase of their lives where brands matter”, stated Radha Subramnyam, VP-corporate and media research at Yahoo.

The vast majority of consumer conversations (76%) still happen face-to-face compared to 7% that happen online but the internet is growing as a channel that influences those conversations. And interestingly the growth of the internet as an influencer has not displaced other mediums; the pie for media influenced conversations is just growing. Television remained stable, as did newspaper, which influenced 10% of brand conversations while point-of-sale displays rose from 8% to 9%.

This clearly demonstrates the power of the media to impact brand conversations. Although most of the conversations are happening person-to-person, the media is heavily influencing the conversations.   And more and more attention should be given to our web-presence because it is growing in its power to influence the conversation.


Hospital Marketing: Competing with Smaller Ad Budgets

Social media has leveled the playing field and made it possible for marketers with smaller budgets to compete effectively.

There is a lot of talk these days about brands that have large budgets being threatened by competitors with much smaller budgets.  Some believe scale is losing its effectiveness because social media is having a leveling effect.  An article in Advertising Age  on November 17, 2009 by Jeff Neff outlined the discussion recently held at the Association of National Advertisers in Phoenix.  National advertisers, due to their large marketing budgets, who could overwhelm smaller competitors are now taking notice that those competitors are making headway in the battle for consumers.

Brad Casper, CEO of Henkel’s U.S. business stated, “New  media, social media, has been the great equalizer”.   He cited the successful launches by Purex Natural Elements and Dial Yogurt body wash that have gained significant share despite significantly lower budgets, by using PR, digital and social-media components.  Neff also referenced Colgate-Palmolive who has built or maintained market share in categories such as body wash, oral care and laundry against competitors who have spent much larger amounts in measured media.

What does this have to do with healthcare marketing?  There are many hospitals that compete against much larger hospitals that overwhelm them with ad spending.  What can a hospital do with a much smaller budget?  If the packaged goods industry can teach hospital marketers anything, it’s that smaller budgets can be strategically utilized to compete more effectively. Larger hospitals are often very slow to adopt digital and social media strategies.  If that is the case, as it is with many large packaged goods brands, hospitals with smaller budgets can begin to penetrate the competitor’s market share. 

They can compete by:

  • Having a rich, useful and consumer-friendly website
  • Advertising on popular local websites
  • Concentrating on paid and organic search optimization
  • Establishing appropriate Facebook pages
  • Advertising on Facebook by matching services with highly targeted audiences
  • Using Twitter to communicate with healthcare special interest audiences

It’s a new form of guerilla marketing.  Digital and social-media can effectively be used to make a strong impact and create a stronger voice within the market.  Measured media is not to be discounted.  Some level of traditional media must be used.  But it can be supplemented with “new media” strategies that can help level the playing field that has been heavily weighted against the smaller marketer.