Seven Points to Consider When Selecting a Healthcare Marketing Agency
Unless you’ve been lucky enough to escape downsizing, healthcare marketing departments often need to contract with outside agencies for tasks that your team cannot handle on its own. Consider these seven points before starting the search for .
1. Healthcare Marketing Experience.
An outside agency can add creativity and expertise to the in-house team. It also lends a third-party perspective that sometimes leverages more weight with the C-suite. However, ensure that the agency has healthcare marketing experience and proven results to back up dazzling visuals and lofty recommendations.
Healthcare industry experience is necessary due to standards and regulations that physicians and hospitals are required to follow. The account team must be familiar with HIPAA compliance, CMS, and FDA regulations to craft marketing messages.
2. Creative Capabilities.
Creative talent should be evident from the onset, starting with the marketing agency’s website and digital presence. It can also reveal their intangible personality. The best way to discover what they can do is by getting to know them. Conduct initial research and select two or three agencies that interest you. Talk with them; invite them to visit; figure out if there’s chemistry.
Instead of the requisite “request for proposal,” issue a “request for partnership.” While many agencies won’t do spec creative, assign a project, even at a nominal fee, to a couple at the top of your list. This can provide a preview of their creativity. You want to see innovation and vision. Look for “wow” moments.
3. Mutually Beneficial Partnership.
A successful relationship between client and agency is a 50-50 partnership. Producing the desired marketing results requires collaboration, transparency, mutual respect and realistic expectations on each side’s part.
One healthcare marketing director recently shared his thoughts about forging a client-agency partnership, explaining that the client needs to have a level of trust and confidence in the agency. For their part, the agency must have the skills and expertise to prove their worth to the client.
4. Financial Discussion.
The quickest way for relationships to break down is over money. During the review process, ask about billing, fees, retainers, up charges and rate sheets. Open and transparent discussions at the beginning can prevent misunderstandings later.
Before work starts on your account, define the process for authorizations, approvals and change orders so both sides share the same expectations. Failure to have these discussions can lead to loss of trust later.
5. Measurable Goals.
When reviewing a healthcare marketing agency’s portfolio, ask about results and case studies that include quantified measures of success. Just as with talks about money, work openly with the agency to establish performance criteria at the onset.
Beware of results that seem too good to be true—those probably can’t be proven. In the age of digital marketing, analytics are readily accessible to both client and agency to help direct the marketing spend and move the needle.
6. Relationships and Responsiveness.
Like all interpersonal relationships, people usually work best with people they like. We measure our own client relationships not just by the longevity of the account but those that produced lasting friendships. Chemistry is the number factor in a successful agency-client relatioinship.
Ask about the team, along with bios, likely to be assigned to your account. You want experienced marketing professionals with proven credentials and core values that align with your own.
Talk to some of their current clients to discover how they interact with the agency and their responsiveness.
Establishing a successful relationship with your account services team depends, in part, on flexibility, responsiveness and willingness to listen. With the right chemistry, they can become an extension of your marketing team.
7. Market Trends and Market Knowledge.
Evaluation of healthcare marketing agencies includes their research capabilities, knowledge of trends in the healthcare industry and familiarity of the local market.
Research and data should drive the development of any campaign. Review qualitative and quantitative research processes. With the myriad changes in the marketplace knowledge of trends within the marketing industry and familiarity with current media options and effectiveness is essential.
Even if an agency hasn’t worked with other local clients, their ability to learn the market and assimilate into the community can help increase your brand awareness.
Checking off these points makes the process of selecting a healthcare marketing agency easier.
TotalCom is a full-service hospital marketing and advertising agency that believes in getting great results from telling great stories. Contact us to explore if we might be a good fit for your organization.
Hospital marketing professionals have a range of inordinate challenges before them when it comes to promoting a facility or system in an effective way.
These challenges stem from a variety of causes: healthcare, in today’s world, has become increasingly political and polarizing; consumers largely view healthcare as a commodity and facilities as interchangeable; consumers feel detached from the healthcare process beyond self-diagnosis and choosing a doctor; the labyrinth that is medical billing overwhelms, confuses, and discourages patients.
Transparent communication in hospital marketing can alleviate many of these problems, but that poses a challenge in and of itself. How can hospital marketing pros be more transparent in their communications to earn the trust of their target audience and communicate differentiating quality?
The Obstacles to Transparency
Being transparent and clear about a hospital’s benefits and offerings can be difficult for facilities for a few reasons:
Many hospitals don’t want to “pull back the curtain,” so to speak, on medical billings, including cost of services
Healthcare in general has become politicized
Hospitals offer a wide range of services to a wide range of people
Consumers aren’t always willing to talk about their health
Costs become difficult to comprehend, especially when insurance companies are in the discussion
All services and physicians are not created equal
There are also many different stakeholders in the process. It’s not just the patient; it’s the patient’s family, insurance company, physicians and employers. These agents can interfere with clear, open communication.
Creating Transparent Communication
The most effective hospital marketing strategies overcome transparency issues and offer differentiation when it comes to their competition – even if they operate as a de facto monopoly in a given area.
One suggestion for perhaps being more transparent is being open with statistics and conveying them in a direct, easy-to-understand manner. For example, be honest about infection rates, medication error rates, and any other statistic about healthcare that your target audience would be interested in. Do so in a clear way without using jargon. Saying, “A typical post-surgery infection rate is one in 1,000” is acceptable, but it’s not quite as good as saying, “One out of every 1,000 patients who undergo surgery will get an infection.”
One might think that being forward with such knowledge could be negative, but the opposite may be true; it is a positive way to establish trust and differentiate a facility from the rest.
Another suggestion for transparency is to be clear and open about what the hospital truly excels at – the hospital’s competitive advantage. This is not to imply that a hospital is “bad” at other areas, per se, but it does state, clearly, that consumers have one main choice when it comes to quality care in this particular area. By focusing on strengths, a hospital can begin to set itself apart in a meaningful way.
Additionally, a hospital can be open about the process it uses to bill and charge patients for their services. Many hospitals are loath to reveal specific costs and pricing information, which is understandable. Even if that’s the case, though, finding a compromise or middle-of-the-road path can reap benefits. Consumers are far more likely to choose a hospital that at least makes an attempt at clarifying the billing process and revealing the nature of costs and prices for services.
Having that particular conversation is, in a word, frightening for many in the healthcare profession, but it needn’t be. Transparency ultimately wins the hearts and minds of a consumer, and the more transparent hospital marketing professionals are, the better their results will be.
Consult with a hospital marketing agency like TotalCom to learn more about how you can expand transparency and deliver more effective messages.
Understanding what motivates your audience helps make your message resonate.
Understanding your audience is a key ingredient for successful messaging. Healthcare marketers must know and understand their audience to effectively communicate with them. We are often too quick to talk about features and about our hospital than to talk about benefits and what it means to the consumer. We must always stop and ask from a consumer’s perspective, so what?
There are many methods to use for getting to know you audience. Market research, patient interviews, primary and secondary consumer research and, of course, listening. We have all used these and many other methods with varying degrees of success.
The desire for all healthcare marketers is stickiness. For our message to stick. To resonate with our target audience. To achieve this, it’s not only important to understand our audience it’s also important to understand what motivates them. Some of the most successful advertising campaigns are the result of not just knowing the audience but having a deep understanding of what motivates their audience. Nate Fleming, writing for the Agency Post (agencypost.com) summed up successful advertising this way, “the most powerful messages tap into the audience’s desired emotional state and transport them from where they stand to another place and time. A message that connects deeply has a kind of transformative power that only comes from knowing what makes the audience tick. And it’s not just made of words. There’s magic in it”.
He continued, “In this fast-moving digital age, it’s easy to get distracted by technology and forget that human beings with beating hearts are the fuel that keeps our economic engine running. These strategies focus on activating the human reward response by focusing on a specific desired emotional state or end goal. A good message is a promise. And if yours promises to help people achieve one or more of their end goals, you’ll have messages that are both memorable and motivational”.
Fleming went on to list five key motivating factors for consumers. They are very helpful as we try to create messages that resonate with our audiences?
1. Power and Control
An absence of power or a feeling of loss of power activates the threat response. By offering to bring stability, empowerment and order to people’s lives, you can activate the reward response and appeal to your audience on a deep, emotional level. In healthcare, quite often consumers have a strong emotional sense of losing control. They feel their health and possibly their healing and recovery are totally outside their control. Hospital can respond to this by offering help and the expectation of good outcomes. The “Truth” campaign does just that by empowering young people to rebel against the big tobacco companies that were trying to manipulate them.
2. Pleasure and Enjoyment
Promising luxurious, sensual experiences appeals to the reward system in ways that don’t need much explanation. Promise consumers’ senses a good time, and you’ll tap into a motivational nerve that is millions of years old. In addition to the expectation of good outcomes that lead to an enjoyable life, hospitals have been successful tapping into this emotion by offering amenities that go beyond basic medicine and treatment. BMW focuses on this motivator with the promise of the “ultimate driving machine.” Klondike bars also do it in a very clever way by posing the question, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”
3. Freedom and Independence
Promising people a sense of freedom encourages people to look to you as a companion that supports their desire to break free from social norms and the confines of their current reality. Freedom to act courageously and get outside the box is an alluring proposition for many. Hospitals can offer a new improved life with the right kind of treatment and successful recovery. Levi’s flips the freedom switch with its “Go Forth” campaign that celebrates freedom and the hard work that comes with it.
4. Certainty and Understanding
The discovery of truth and knowing the inner workings of things can be very potent motivators for some. Promise to be a source of clarity and confidence, and you’ll tap the basic human need for security. Feeling safe is a comforting reward. By communicating and becoming the source of helpful knowledge and information, hospitals can connect with consumers. Lumosity brain training leverages this by helping people understand that they can improve their mental capabilities because of a thing called neuroplasticity.
5. Achievement and Accomplishment
For many people, the act of doing something is fueled by an even deeper need to achieve a goal or to create for ourselves a sense of accomplishment. Promise to be a means to achieve this state, and you’ll find plenty of takers. Good health and an active life is an achievement or accomplishment every consumer desires. Hospitals wellness programs can certainly offer a promise of a better, healthier life. Nike has consistently tapped the human need to achieve a personal best for decades. Then again, so has the My Fitness Pal application, where members have lost 100 million pounds since 2005.
Fleming concluded, “delivering on the promise in your message at every turn, of course, is the key to making your message work. Simply saying the words isn’t enough. Which goes without saying and is certainly worth repeating. Sound bytes alone won’t cut it. The promise must match the experience.”
Understanding what motivates our audiences is the key to creating messages that have stickiness. We should always strive to understand consumer motivation and then craft our message so we not only communicate but we connect – with the mind and heart.
10 Marketers weigh-in on whether big data is useful or harmful.
There is much talk today about “Big Data. The availability of a massive amount of consumer data that can help marketers make their efforts more precise and with pinpoint targetability. The healthcare industry has certainly been a player in the use of all the data that is now available. Despite HIPPA regulations there is an enormous amount of data that hospitals and healthcare organizations collect and can access. When combined with state medical information and demographic tendencies, healthcare marketers have invaluable information at their fingertips. And there are now several very large companies who work specifically with healthcare companies to help collect and mine the data and then use it to create very targeted messages to consumers.
But a debate rages among advertising and marketing professionals about the advantages, opportunities, disadvantages and liabilities of “big data.” Recently Jami Oetting writing for the Agency Post (agncypost.com) collected viewpoints from 10 very experienced and respected marketers concerning “big data.” Here are their comments.
1. Deacon Webster, Owner and Chief Creative Officer | Walrus
At some point, we’ll be able to tell unequivocally whether somebody who saw a message was more compelled to make a purchase than somebody who didn’t. That’s the ultimate goal of most advertising, so it’s hard to argue that having concrete causation data is a bad thing. It’s the real-time nature of the data that can lead to rash decisions. Nobody measures a car commercial’s effectiveness by the number of people who saw the ad, got off the couch and drove to the dealership within ten seconds of seeing it. People don’t behave that way. Yet, lots of digital advertising is measured and optimized against this exact type of behavior.
We need to practice a bit more patience and realize that there’s a non-interacting majority out there that might enjoy and look forward to a brand’s messaging but don’t feel the need to like, share or retweet it. There are plenty of things in the world that we enjoy without telling anyone.
2. Juliet Haygarth, Managing Director | Brothers and Sisters
I’m dog-sitting for my best friend, and I’ve just returned from an emergency trip to the vet. Panic-stricken, I bundled Dolly onto the table in the surgery room, and the vet sat and checked her over. I love Dolly, so when the vet told me her temperature and heart rate were normal, I felt pretty darn grateful for those little bits of data.
Data is a very useful tool; it can help steer and guide decision-making. It measures our progress and success. It helps us make constant improvements. It can reassure us everything is heading in the right direction.
My concern kicks in when slavish reliance on data occurs, when it becomes the be-all and end-all in strategic and creative development. This is dangerous in a world where a lot of data isn’t necessarily that accurate and certain stats can be invested with undue importance. A few years ago, it was all about the number of Facebook likes, and now the latest thinking debunks this in favor of deeper tools like sentiment tracking. The integrity and intelligence behind the data needs to be actively questioned.
I’m a fan of good data. I’m also a fan of gut instinct. When the two are combined, insight and creativity can be set free rather than hemmed in. If data is our only tool, it’s unlikely we’ll transform a category or move people to do something, whether that is voting in an election or buying a certain brand of washing powder. Painting by numbers will give you a competent picture, but people will know it’s not an original Picasso.
We must not fool ourselves into thinking the subjective business of creativity can be put through some sort of rational filter in order to manage our risk and make us less fearful. Data should be respected, but before we bow down before it we need to think – how was this measured and was it worth measuring in the first place?
3. Jonathan Ashton, Executive Director | TBWA
We are making steady progress toward the state where “more is not always better.” When do we reach too big of data? What are you going to do with even bigger data if you are not already seeing clear benefit from the data you already have? The solution to data blindness is not to track more data or to buy some industrial strength data management tools. The solution is to align strategy and creativity with the data that matters.
Understanding the difference between key performance indicators and performance indicators is important in the big data conversation. A KPI is an action that is tied to ROI (something that can be tested and optimized). A PI is just that — some indicator of performance that can be measured. Just because you can measure it does not mean you should pay attention to it.
A clear focus on the right data can already prove the effectiveness of the broader marketing strategy, not just the advertising. (Who has a chief advertising officer for a client anyway?) Raw data must turn into brand-driving insights. No tool can do that. Only deep experience and innovative, creative human minds can truly see the signal in the noise. Sure, big data can turn into incremental media spend efficiency or a more precisely targeted direct response campaign, but the real challenge is to turn the right data into the big ideas that disrupt entire business categories.
The industry must be careful to focus on what matters in our growing obsession with data. Trade the obsession for dashboards and reports for a passion for client results.
4. James Denton Clark, Managing Director | Karmarama
This is all about fear and how fear stifles creativity, innovation and progression (in all things). People in a recession are scared, and they don’t have the confidence to try new things that may have turned their businesses around.
Big data is a rubbish name. It sounds like Big Brother and the inference in this question is that extreme measurement and identification stifle creativity. So, let’s call it smart data.
As we emerge into a more confident economy (from a culture of fear), having reassurance in the effectiveness of what they do will give brand owners the confidence to test, learn and innovate more.
And that’s what we’re all about. So why should data be at the heart of everything we do?
Because it will unleash the creative industry, not hurt it.
5. James Green, CEO | Magnetic
Big data has become a grossly overused term — overused enough for it to be banned from industry events I’ve attended. The reason everyone is fed up with hearing the term “big data” is because it’s a bit like the term “advertising.” It covers so much ground that, really, it’s no longer useful. If you were asked to write about the state of the advertising industry, you’d have to cover a variety of topics including old media and new, creative, research and reporting, social and mobile, agencies and client-specific trends. Although there are some trends that run through all of these topics, the most interesting information is found by being specific.
So is the case with big data. Everyone has some part of their company that they would like to improve. And no matter what that is — purchasing, selling, accounting, marketing or investor relations — big data is here to help. You can now not only see the trends, but also the parts that make up the trends all the way down to individual events. And often we find that what we thought was a simple trend is made up of more interesting separate parts. For example, an uptick in sales in a geographic region may hide a downtrend in sales among a demographic. But big data can help you see through it all and create separate strategies for each component part.
There is no doubt that big data will help all marketing campaigns become more effective. But deciding what to focus on and then applying the right tools will separate the winners from the frustrated participants.
6. Shirley Au, President, COO | Huge
We see data impacting advertising in two areas: efficiency of delivery and effectiveness of experience. We use data to drive the right experience to the right user, at the right time and in the right place.
Rather than just retargeting the same user 30 times after visiting a site, this means integrating customer profile data with third party data to deliver a more rewarding experience. Our use of sophisticated segmentation systems provides users the same experience across all touchpoints — from desktop and mobile to apps and advertising.
We’ve had this data and personalization capability for some time, but what’s changed is how we merge users’ site personalization with ad targeting and customer data to optimize a desired action (e.g., reduced call center volume).
This is a departure from traditional marketing where you might test creative among a small audience and optimize media based on clicks. In this method, the question about ROI was: Does my marketing work? Now, the question is: How do I manage marketing on an ongoing basis, maximizing the right KPIs and providing the best experience for my most valuable users?
We believe data shifts the onus of the industry from proving value to making effectiveness an ongoing process: we create, test, refine and repeat; we keep learning as our users keep evolving.
What’s hurting the industry is a focus on short-term results and immediate financial return versus the long-term impact, which can ultimately stifle innovation. We know click generation and cluttering pages with upsell opportunities will generate some sales, but it can also damage a brand’s relationship with the user.
7. Robert Guay, SVP and Managing Director | Digitas
Like everything else, marketing data must be used in moderation. Most importantly, marketers have to determine which key performance indicators are most relevant to the long-term success of their businesses.
Clients will often use data to prove that campaigns are effective to drive an upper-funnel metric-like awareness or consideration. Sometimes it’s not possible (or easy) to connect media spend farther down the funnel to actual purchase or, better yet, lifetime value. The challenge is that it is easy to get focused on an upper-funnel metric and actually get good at efficiently driving customer engagements, but we have to be sure we know to what end.
With the amount of data available to brands today, those who do not effectively use it will fall behind quickly. The best practice for big data: Use common sense and only place confidence in those measurements that have a proven connection to business growth.
8. Jalal Nasir, Founder and CEO | Pixalate
All the talk about big data and what it means for agencies can be frightening, but the obsession with big data can also be intoxicating. Agencies now have the ability to effectively measure a campaign’s success and target the audience that brands want to attract by using hard-nosed data and numbers. The litmus test of a successful big data company includes the ability to keep cost of acquisition, process and curation of data relatively low. Before, ad-tech companies used legacy technology stacks for data storage, processing and visualization, which slowed the pace of technology innovation and drove the cost of doing business higher. But big data companies have now figured out a cheaper way to acquire more data, so every interaction a user has with a brand will be curated and more relevant. If applied correctly, this will be a consistent feedback loop that will change the nature of advertising as we know it.
I think that, with anything in life, expecting perfection on day one can lead to disappointment and can hurt our industry. Rationalizing and predicting human behavior with some level of probability is quite complex, but we will find a way to use technologies to solve this problem. This will take time, team effort and multiple technological iterations to get it right if it all. But, it’s an intoxicating problem that’s worth solving.
9. Gina Grillo, President & CEO | The ADVERTISING Club of New York
Big data is more than a buzzword surrounding our business. Our industry has made significant strides in its ability to gather, measure and analyze information in order to precisely target and reach audiences. We now have the capability to tap into this intricate realm of analytics that can be used to understand, track and predict consumer behaviors and preferences. And from there, we are better able to strategically place our creative messages in the right channel at the most receptive moment and in front of the right set of eyes. These are invaluable insights for the world of advertising.
But are we using this data to its utmost potential? As an industry, we are becoming a bit “obsessed” with the opportunity that comes with data collecting tools and techniques. New pressures to effectively hone in and reach people based on their attitudes, needs and desires is front and center. Marketers remain focused on the real goal: to entertain and engage. That leads to true effectiveness and ROI.
Advertisers and marketers still have a ways to go in terms of making the most of this powerful resource. Fortunately, they are already on the fast track. We are working to utilize data in an innovative way by conducting a survey with the help of PwC to track and measure the industry’s progress toward promoting greater diversity. And as we approach the 50th anniversary of the International ANDY awards in 2014, industry leaders will have the opportunity to come together to not only celebrate creativity, but also explore how to strategically bring the innovative use of data and analytics into the mix in the next 50 years of advertising. The future lies in mastering the right combination of strategically placed ads and engaging and connecting with consumers through these messages and content. Only then will the ‘buzzy’ concept of big data truly prove its relevancy in advertising.
10. Amy Lanigan, Vice President of Client Strategy | Fluid, Inc.
Data and ROI metrics will ultimately make advertising accountable, which is fantastic. In digital commerce, it’s essential. Smart use of data is digital’s ace in the hole. The wealth of digital data holds endless insights and ideas. It commands we set up success metrics. Its constant stream is a chance for ongoing testing, optimization and iteration.
That said, ‘big data’ can be bad. Bad like big government, Big Brother (in the book and on TV), Big Gulps and the Big Dig in Boston — overwhelming, intimidating and debilitating. Similar to endless excel spreadsheets and brainstorms constrained by metrics, measuring everything rarely helps anyone.
The two ‘bigs’ worth keeping? The big picture and the big ideas. The big picture keeps us out of the weeds and focused on goals. We get to mine the data whys and what-ifs. And the best big ideas have a foundation in data-driven insights — even the bold, crazy, go-for-it ones.
If data is our only obsession, it hurts us. Luckily, we’re a multiple-obsession industry — groundbreaking creative, innovation, intuitive experiences, conversion, client satisfaction, etc. You name it, and there’s someone up at night at an agency thinking about it. If we partner with our clients early on to define which data matters most and how we should measure success, our obsession can be positive. Our obsession then means we mine data in ways that positively impact customers and the experiences we create for them — which is flat-out fun.
I know this is a long post but I thought the opinions expressed by a wide variety of marketing experts were very revealing and helpful. The take away for healthcare marketers is big data can be very useful. It does indeed help us sharpen our message and our delivery methods. But it’s not the golden egg or magic bullet. Instincts, experience, intuition, creativity, common sense and the ability to distinguish between data and meaningful, helpful data are very mush a part of a successful marketing effort.
Best practices for healthcare organizations utilizing social media.
Zsolt Bicskey writing for business2community.com recently gave what he thought were the top trends and best practices for using social media by hospitals and healthcare organizations. His main points are provided here with some slight editing.
Incentivizing Social Media
Having media accounts is useless without followers. Few patients have a reason to follow their hospital on Facebook — it’s up to marketers to convince them otherwise. Start by asking patients to like your pages and profiles (put your info on a business card, perhaps?) and even incentivize the process with drawings of gift cards for the gift shop or discounted parking, etc. Or, if you’re really into making a splash in the online community, send patients information via social media about upcoming appointments and health information they may find informative. The same idea applies to emailed newsletters, text message appointment times, and other reminders.
Marketers have found that people react better to bright, attractive imagery rather than boring blocks of Web text. When you’re making posts or publishing blogs on social media, accompany them with multimedia like videos, infographics, and images. People are more likely to halt their newsfeed scrolling if they come across something that pops off the page. Think visual when you start out on your campaign and find pictures and graphs that accurately reflect your information.
Websites can be like secondary storefronts for hospitals and healthcare organizations. In terms of social medical marketing, link to and from your website with your social profiles and keep it stocked full of new, original, and accurate information about your hospital and your service lines. As mentioned, the best marketing campaigns set you up as a professional authority in a field. Writing pamphlets, articles, and blogs can help support this idea — all you have to do is link them through to your website.
Enlisting the Masses
It would be impossible for you, a busy healthcare marketer, to do all of this on your own. Instead, enlist help from your staff and other experts. Did you get new technology? Ask a doctor or nurse to write up a few hundred words that you then publish on your website. Don’t be afraid to try new things, either; sometimes the most successful strategies are the ones no one has ever tried before.
The most important thing to do is to keep at it. Don’t give up if you don’t have every Facebook follower in town; focus instead on the long-term goal of creating an online brand and presence. Healthcare is a difficult, competitive field on the Internet. It is your job, and you should employ social healthcare marketing in order to support your organization as a source of valuable healthcare information and to provide patients with information.
A critical view of your brand can make it enduring and stronger.
A hospital’s brand is extremely important. With the changing healthcare environment brands are in transition with new alliances, new ventures, a host of rating organizations, consumer-driven marketplace and so much more. Which means it’s more difficult to keep a strong and consistent brand.
It’s crucial for hospitals and healthcare organizations to frequently revisit the brand, reassess and keep the brand as clean and consistent as possible. Here are 5 tests every brand should ask and consider on a regular basis.
1. How is your brand perceived in the marketplace?
What is the consumer perception of your brand? Is it gaining strength or waning? Does the consumer have a clear idea of what and who the brand is? Do they know what the brand stands for? Is the brand relevant to the consumer?
2. How is the brand communication?
Take an inventory of all brand touchpoints. Patients, physicians, providers, payers, employees, management and board. What is the brand communicating to each? Is it consistent? Does it reflect the mission and values of the organization?
3. Analyze your brand architecture.
In many ways this may be the most difficult. As organizations grow and change, it’s difficult to keep consistent and clearly defined brand architecture. Do patients understand the different product and service lines and how they relate to each other and to the master brand? Is there confusion? A weak brand architecture creates weak brand equity.
4. Assess the brand expression.
Does the brand have a consistent image, look and feel across all touch points? Can the consumer tell that all parts of the brand are part of the overall brand family?
5. Examine the brand expression.
How is the brand expressed? Does it have a consistent tone, personality and message? Do all the communications speak the same voice and reflect the same character and heart?
In today’s environment it’s so easy to get sidetracked, disjointed and inconsistent. It’s easy to get going in too many different directions and sacrificing the brand for expediency or politics. And when this happens, the brand is weakened. Healthcare marketers should constantly be asking these questions and diligently communicating a consistent, well-planned and strong brand. Across all platforms, to every audience and with every execution. I know it’s easier said than done. But we must always be fighting the good fight to protect and enhance our brand.
The use of social media continues to grow. Facebook now claims over 1 billion users worldwide. It’s not just a phase; online social networking is here to stay. And because of its use and its staying power, it should be included in the marketing strategy of every hospital and every healthcare organization. It’s where consumers are. And for long periods of time. And consumers expect your presence there. And other social media sites have impressive numbers of users too. Here are a few interesting facts:
1. 1 million websites have integrated with Facebook. Not only are consumers engaged on Facebook, other websites have links to Facebook multiplying and compounding access.
2.80% of users prefer to connect to brands on Facebook. Consumers expect to find our brands on Facebook. They want to use the site to gather information about the brand and if they are brand loyalists they want engagement. This is particularly pertinent to hospital marketers. Your consumers expect you to have a presence in social media
3. 25% of Facebook uses don’t set any of their privacy settings. There’s been much talk recently about privacy. Facebook has changed the way privacy settings are selected. But even with that, a full one-fourth of uses have not bothered with their privacy settings.
4. 25% of Facebook users check their account at least five times per day. Facebook users visit the network a lot. Returning to it to post or just check their newsfeed happens throughout the day. Users are checking in on a regular basis.
5. YouTube reaches more U.S. adults 18-34 than any cable network. Even with the tremendous growth of cable networks among younger adults, YouTube reaches more of them. Of course one video would not reach as many consumers as a schedule of spots run on major cable networks but YouTube is extremely popular. It’s time to consider using video in your marketing strategy. Start simple but don’t miss out on the opportunity to reach a big base of consumers.
As healthcare marketers it seems a bit overwhelming. The strength and power of Social media and the various platforms and sites and how consumers utilize online social media can become almost too much to get your arms around. And of course once started the monster has to be fed. You can’t set it up and watch it go. It requires time and effort.
But the numbers speak for themselves. And active social media strategy is important. Hospital marketing departments can’t be present on all social media sites. But choose the one (or ones) that fit your hospital’s marketing objectives and do it well. Don’t overstretch your capabilities. Examine the numbers and see what’s best for your healthcare organization and then make a commitment to be active and to make it as effective as possible.
Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).
Consumers are linking in! But they aren’t very active.
As social networking sites grow, healthcare marketers must keep a close watch on which ones could be a useful marketing tool. Hospital marketers can’t actively participate on all social platforms so it’s important to know which ones are most effective. Although a primarily a business social network, Linkedin has been growing at a very rapid pace. Here are two statistics, which are important:
1. A new member joins LinkedIn every 2 seconds. LinkedIn is one of the fastest growing social sites and has become one of the more dominant ones. Mainly a site for professionals who want to connect for business purposes, it usefulness to hospital marketers is probably limited. Except perhaps for HR.
2. LinkedIn users are less active than users of other social media sites.
Although LinkedIn is growing extremely fast, its percentage of active users trail other sites. This makes sense since Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+ are used for socializing, LinkedIn is more for professional use. So users of LinkedIn don’t visit or use it nearly as often as the other dominant social networking sites. Credibility is higher on LinkedIn and it’s more useful for business purposes.
For healthcare marketers, LinkedIn is not your first choice for a social media strategy. The other sites are more useful and efficient. They are much more for participatory content and engagement. With that said, as noted earlier, LinkedIn could be a very useful tool for HR as they seek and recruit professional talent.
Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).
Social media has gone mobile. And smart phones are our constant companion.
As healthcare marketers experiment and learn more about social media it’s important to know the role smart phones play in a person’s social networking activities. It’s increasingly about mobility. Here are two facts to consider:
1. 189 million Facebook users are “mobile only”. Many (millions) of Facebook users don’t access Facebook from their desktop or laptop but rather from their smart phones only. And that’s a 7% increase in the past year.
So as hospital marketers increasingly include social media as an important part of their overall marketing strategy, it’s important to consider how the content displays on smart phones and smaller screens
2. 63% of smartphone owners have their phones with them all but one hour during the working day. 79% for less than 2 hours a day. And 25% of smartphone owners ages 18-44 can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t with them. Our phones are considered such an important part of our lives; consumers are rarely without it nearby.
Smartphones have become ubiquitous. They are always a part of our lives. Our connection to others and to the web is through our phones. So as healthcare marketers we must make sure our content is accessible and viewable on mobile screens. And we must consider how consumers access and use the web to make sure our online and social media strategies are appropriate for those who use their phones all day every day.
Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).
This isn’t your kid’s social media anymore! Adults are getting in on the action.
Healthcare marketers often think social media is for the younger generation. Valuable yes, but a vehicle to reach and engage a younger audience. But that has been changing and continues to change. Here are two facts we can’t ignore:
1. Facebook is already a predominantly adult social network and now the fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-63 year olds. This demographic has grown 79% since 2012. And the 45-54 age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+. Within this demo, Facebook has grown 46% and Google+ 56%.
For hospital marketers this is a prime target audience. And their increasing use of these three platforms certainly makes social media extremely viable. Our social media strategy should not be to just to engage young adults. We must make sure our strategy and messaging is targeting older adults and their needs and interests.
2. And if that isn’t enough to get our attention, social media is now the number one activity on the web, surpassing porn (thankfully!). Social media is now the most common activity online. When you’re on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest there are more people doing the same things than anything else on the web.
It’s clear that social media is not just a fad. With new platforms and new users, it has become a habit and it continues to grow. As healthcare marketers we can’t ignore it. It has become a necessity. It should be an important component of our overall marketing strategy. Especially since its use is becoming so common within a key target demo.
Statistics accredited to Belle Beth Cooper writing for the Huffington Post (huffingtonpost.com).