Whether it is budget, time, or both, many healthcare marketers do not have the opportunity to attend SHSMD Connections (Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development annual conference). We are fortunate at TotalCom Marketing that we get to attend most years, so I thought I would share highlights from several of the presentations. (more…)
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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.
Hospital Marketing: Dealing with Angry Patients/Customers Part 2
Every hospital has unhappy customers. The question is not if you have them but what will you do with them?
Every hospital will have disgruntled customers from time to time. But instead of letting the situation create bad ill and tarnish the brand, the situation can be used to show how your hospital cares and even build brand loyalty.
Based on consumer satisfaction research, an article in The Financial Brand listed the expectations of customers once they have issued a complaint. The list is important for hospitals to understand and use as a guideline for dealing with angry customers.
Customers who have issued complaints expect to:
- Receive an explanation of how a problem happened
- Be told how long it will take to resolve a problem
- Be given progress reports if a problem cannot be solved immediately.
- Be given useful alternatives if a problem cannot be resolved.
- Be allowed to talk to someone in authority.
- Be contacted promptly once the problem is resolved.
- Be called back when promised.
- Know whom to contact in the future.
- Be told about ways the customer’s situation might be used to prevent future problems.
It’s important hospitals address customer issues and fulfill the expectations listed above. Unsolved problems have a particularly negative impact on both continued loyalty and word-of-mouth recommendations to others. Dissatisfied customers tell far more people about their experience than do satisfied customers.
So it’s imperative to deal with customer complaints and use the opportunity to turn a negative situation into a positive one. One that can actually build customer loyalty.
Healthcare Marketing: Steve Jobs a Traditionalist?
Jobs was an innovator but when it came to advertising he was extremely traditional.
As we mourn the death of Steve Jobs, there is much being written about him. He was a visionary. He was brilliant. He was a genius. He understood people. And he had a keen understanding and sense of marketing.
Steve Jobs taught us about digital and how it can effect, impact and change our lives. Jobs was on the forefront of technology. He was always one step ahead. Maybe more.
So isn’t it ironic that this visionary who understood how to communicate and connect with people was a huge traditionalist when it came to his approach to advertising? Look at Apple’s media buying. With a budget of $420 million in 2010, over 90% was spent in traditional advertising. Television, newspaper, magazines, circulars and outdoor made up the majority of Apple’s media expenditures. Apple in fact, was in the top 10 in the nation for expenditures in outdoor. Less than 10% of their advertising was digital. And what little digital advertising Apple utilized, the majority of it was an extension of their television campaigns.
And equally as ironic, is the man who understood and connected with the consumer had almost no presence on Twitter and Facebook. Apple only recently established a YouTube channel but has comments turned off.
So what does this say to healthcare marketers? The principle thing is obvious, traditional media is not dead. In fact, to build a strong brand traditional can be extremely effective. This is not to say digital advertising or social media efforts are useless. But it is to say traditional advertising methods are still workhorses.
Steve Jobs taught us that success consists of simplicity, clarity and a big idea. Sounds old school doesn’t it? But the genius of our generation used old school to change our lives and our culture. When it came to advertising, the man who taught is to go digital went very traditional.
Healthcare Marketing: 10 Tips for More Effective Social Media Marketing
Scientific research indicates that certain proven strategies can enhance social marketing efforts.
Healthcare marketers are striving to improve their social media efforts. There are a lot of varying strategies espoused, making it difficult to know which ones are most effective. Social networking is certainly not a proven scientific endeavor. There are some basic competencies required, but it also involves some degree of art, intuition and luck.
Dan Zarrela describes himself as an award winning social, search and viral marketing scientist. He is the author of several books and numerous articles about social media. He is a noted student of social marketing and is recognized as a knowledgeable expert.
Zarrela posted an article discussing how to make social marketing more scientific. His points are excellent and are the basis of the ten tips listed below:
1. Experiment with different strategies to discover what works. Conduct your own research. Try different things and learn what is most effective for your hospital.
2. Audience size is important. Certainly you want a quality audience but quantity is very important. Hospitals need engaged followers but also need a large number of them.
3. Find and target your influencers. Among your fans/followers there are key influencers. Usually it’s those who were early adopters of social media. Extra attention and care should be given to them.
4. Bigger and louder works – to a point. It’s possible to yell over the social media clutter but only for a limited time. If you yell too much, you will be tuned out.
5. Personalize the conversation with your audience. Make it personal and authentic. Everyone likes hearing his or her name. And to be the center of attention. Know that! And use it to your advantage.
6. Avoid link fatigue. Don’t wear your audience out with too many links. Your audience will grow tired and lose interest.
7. Make your brand cool. I know that’s somewhat difficult for hospitals but find ways to help your audience improve their reputations and status by being associated with your brand.
8. Avoid information voids. Rumors and misperceptions form when there is a lack of information. Always get out in front of every potential crisis.
9. Don’t talk too much about yourself. Take it easy on yourself. No one wants to be engaged in conversation with someone who talks about himself all the time. How boring is that!
10. Use call-to action. As is true with every type of marketing, you ultimately want your audience to take action. Compel your audience to do so. And make it easy for them to do so.
Healthcare marketers are still learning when and how to do social marketing effectively. And we are learning more and more everyday. Trial and error and experimentation will teach us a lot. But learning from those who have experience and who are avid students of social media can certainly improve our learning curve. That’s why tips listed here are so very helpful.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Healthcare Marketing: Have We Lost Our Marketing Way?
Today’s emphasis on social media, analytics and ROI has taken the place of the “Big Idea.” And brands are weaker because of it.
When you scan the topics of marketing conventions, examined the titles of webinars that are available everyday and study what marketing subjects are most tweeted, you will find the marketing landscape is covered and dominated by new processes and platforms. All the talk is about social media, digital platforms, analytics, market segmentation and targeting, lead generation and tracking and ROI. Where is the discussion about “big ideas”? About creativity? About speaking uniquely to the consumers’ hearts and minds?
Now all of these things are important and create exciting opportunities. But none of them really matter absent the right, break-through idea. Where is today’s equivalent of Volkswagen’s “Think Small”, DeBeers’ “Diamonds Are Forever”, “The Absolut Bottle” or Avis’ “We Try Harder?” Oh there are currently some great campaigns but it seems we have too often substituted creativity for things we can compute and measure.
Brands benefit from savvy marketing tactics and superior media planning but great brands are built with great ideas. Sure there are some new powerful media platforms but they cannot make a bad idea good. Or a build a great brand from mediocre concepts. All the best new communication platforms and the analytics that go with them can’t capture the heart and soul of a brand. Or the critical position in the consumers’ minds.
Maybe our first question should be “what” and not “how”. An architect conceives a great structure before deciding the tools and materials to use. An artist has an idea for a subject before deciding on the techniques and colors. And a composer hears a grand symphony in his mind before deciding the instruments to use. And as marketers, we should have a great concept, a big idea, before deciding where to place it.
New tactics and processes can make us more efficient but great brands they do not make. Great brands come from breakthrough ideas. Marketing should be less about analytics and more about inspiration. Less about measured results and more about creativity. After all, great brands are created and transformed by big ideas.