Marketing Profs

Healthcare Marketing: Humanize Your Hospital’s Brand

Humanizing your brand by giving it a personality, making it personable and telling a narrative connects with consumers.

Every healthcare marketer tries to connect their brand with consumers.  It is an ongoing, endless task.  Of course we know that humanizing a brand improves connectivity.  And research supports it.

Emily Eldridge, writing for MarketingProfs cites research that demonstrates how human interaction affects attitudes and transactions.

Iris Bohnet and Bruno Frey conducted an economic research study in 1999 called “Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games.” Two groups of students were recruited to participate in a series of social interactions in which members of the first group had to decide whether to share any portion of a sum of money—approximately $10—with a person in the second group.

When the first group knew nothing at all about those in the second group, participants offered, on average, only 26% of the money. When the moderators asked the second group to stand up—making them less anonymous to the first group—the offer increased to 39%. When the moderators shared personal information about those in the second group with those in the first, the average offer increased to 52%. And when members of the groups were introduced to one another, the average offer was 50%.

In other words, the greater the social distance, the less willing people were to hand over money.

This can teach a valuable lesson to hospital marketers.  If our brand is humanized, it connects better with consumers.  It’s important that our brand not be cold, inanimate, and without important human traits and characteristics.  Our brand should have a personality. It must be personable. It must make a human connection.

Eldridge refers to two examples of retailers who have a strong personal connection with consumers and how it positively impacts their brand reputation and gives it increased brand equity.  The first example is Apple.  Their retail stores are not a row of cashiers. Rather when you enter their stores, in addition to a strong visual connection to the brand, they have easily identifiable employees with mobile cashier platforms ready to interact and help customers.   They are knowledgeable and will explain the benefits of each product, help with your issues and even tell you personal stores about the products.

Apple is known for its sleek innovative products.  But they also carry a premium price.  But despite a higher price, they continue to increase market share.  One reason is because they have humanized the Apple brand.  They connect with the consumer.

Another example is an online brand.  How can you humanize an online brand? places on its product pages videos of employees talking about why he or she likes the product.  The videos are not about product specs but people telling their stories about the product.  When Zappos launched the videos in 2009, their conversion rate increased from 6% to 30%.  They humanized the brand with narratives.

The lesson for healthcare marketers is that we must humanize our brand.  Make them personable.  It doesn’t matter how nice our hospital is or what kind of technology we have, we must connect on a personal level.  Maybe that comes by using patients, physicians, and staff members to tell their stories about the brand.  Making it real, and genuine and personable.  It provides an important and engaging brand narrative.

There are other ways to make that human connection.  We should always strive to find them and use them.  Our brand will become stronger as we close the gap of social distance.  As we humanize our brand.

Hospital Marketing: We Can Learn from Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga has proven to know how to build a brand.  And every marketer would do well to observe how she’s done it.

Whether you like Lady Gaga, her music, her style – or not, no one can argue with her success.  She was the first artist to hit 1 billion hits on YouTube.  She has sold over 11.5 million albums in two years and was the 2009 bestseller through digital media with 15 million tracks sold. She has 10 million friends on Facebook and 4.7 million followers on Twitter. She has built one of the strongest brands in the world.

How has she accomplished so much in such a short period of time?  Marketing Profs recently presented an article outlining some of the tactics that make her successful.  Lessons that would be useful for all marketers.

1. She tells a consistent story.

Lady Gaga knows her brand.  She understands and lives her brand. And it is consistent in all she does. Take for instance her appearance. Her costume style clothing isn’t reserved just for high-profile red carpet events. She dresses like this all the time – in the airport, at her sister’s graduation, etc. Every time you see her or photos of her – whether you like her style or not – you know to expect the unexpected.

2. She engages her fans.

Lady Gaga listens to her fans, and provides many touch points for them to be engaged.  She offers quality content that her fans want and keeps them coming back and participating.  She provides multiple venues for connecting with her fans. She understands that to promote her brand she has to do more than concert tours. She does more than just push out mini commercials about upcoming appearances. She provides info that fans want.

3. She reveals herself.

Lady Gaga displays her personality across all media.  She is multifaceted but is open and transparent. She allows her fans to know her and have a sense of relationship.

4. She encourages ownership and participation with her brand.

Her content is spreadable. Her work is contagious and she allows her fans to embed, revamp, comment and share wherever they want.

5. She integrates all the venues used by her brand.

Lady Gaga coordinates her brand message across all avenues.  Her tours, her merchandise sales, and her media presence are all integrated to create multiple points of contact that leverages a synergy across all communication channels.

6. She thinks outside of herself.

She constantly engages her customers in worthwhile efforts that help others and this enhances her brand. One example is when she donated all the profits from her online store over a 24-hour period to Haitian relief and she promoted it through Twitter.

Lady Gaga is a pop-culture phenomenon.  But it didn’t just happen.  She has a plan and is working it. She gives careful consideration to all her options. And most importantly, she creates multiple avenues for fan contact and interaction and presents a consistent brand message across all of them.  Lessons every marketer should learn.  If we don’t learn them, it could lead to a very uh… “bad romance” with our clients.


Healthcare Marketing: When Under Attack – Navigate the Social Media Water Carefully

When a brand is under attack, the reaction is honest and clear communication.

Nestle is one of the latest brands that has come under attack on social media sites.  Recently, Greenpeace released a video of a guy eating a Kit Kat and dripping blood from his mouth onto his computer.  The tagline was “Give Orangutans A Break” which is a takeoff of Kit Kat’s branding line.  The beef was that Nestle purchases palm oil from sources that destroy rainforests.

The video was effective.  It started a deluge of complaints.  And Nestlé’s response angered consumers even more. And as the harassment intensified, Nestle went quiet.  Not the best response.  In reaction to Nestlé’s bungling of the situation, Marketing  Profs offered a few pieces of good advice:

1. When people attack, don’t see it as a siege. Rather view it as a desire to trust your brand again.  People want to eat a Kit Kat without feeling guilty.

2. Be open and honest.  Nestle has stated they will try to be 100% sustainable by 2015.  Other than that, Nestle has been quiet.   Worse, people don’t feel the company is doing its best to remedy the situation.  Especially in the face of Cadbury giving up palm oil in 2009 in a few weeks following similar protests.

3. Show your human side.  When things go wrong, it’s okay to share your mistakes, regrets and your desire to address the issue(s).

Every brand faces problems and difficulties from time to time.  And in today’s environment social media networks will air the problems and perhaps follow it up with a wave of complaints.  The social-media seas can be stormy ones.  An honest, open and sincere response is generally the best way to navigate the storm.