Archive for November, 2010

Engage Employees to Deliver Your Marketing Strategy

November 30, 2010

A recent article in Ad Age tells how several companies are involving employees directly to deliver the company’s message to customers. Some, like Pizza Hut and Southwest Airlines are involving their employees in the advertising to deliver the message from their point of view. Not exactly cutting edge, but these campaigns are working well.

The most interesting initiatives, though, are how some are involving their employees as focus groups, idea generators and more. Southwest regularly queries employees to tell about their experiences on the frontline.

Kraft has an app called “Foodii,” which is an online community of 2,000 employees where it gathers information on everything from what to name a new product to ideas on preparation methods.

Fidelity launched its latest campaign to employees first via an internal website that detailed the positioning, included FAQs, and explained the employees’ roles in the message and its success.

Successful hospitals are doing the same. A common complaint we hear from hospital employees is how they hate seeing a TV spot for the first time on TV – often after their friends have.

The most successful campaigns draw employees into the effort. Let them know what you’re doing before it appears in the media. Explain the reasoning behind the message and show them how important they are to convincing the public of the message by living the brand. Involving employees humanizes the brand and energizes the work force. As Ad Age points out, if you sell the message to employees, they’ll deliver it for you.

To see how the Mayo Clinic is engaging its employees, you may also want to check out this earlier post by Liz Nettles.

So, Really, What Do Politicians Know About Running a Hospital?

November 18, 2010

Driving by Grady Memorial Hospital while in Atlanta a few days ago reminded me of the controversy last spring concerning the hospital’s marketing budget. Grady had announced it would invest $1.5 million in marketing communications in 2010. That’s up $500,000 from its typical annual budget.

Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort lashed out at the hospital saying that investing “$2.5 million over two years is indefensible.”

Given that Grady’s 2010 operating budget is $740 million, $2.5 million over two years is less than .2 percent — or about one-third of what the average hospital spends on marketing according to the American Hospital Association’s Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD). By any measure, that’s extremely reasonable – and, Sen. Fort, not only very defensible but desperately needed for an institution whose problems include very negative perceptions.

Given the political season, I couldn’t help but wonder if Sen. Fort was as restrained in his campaign spending as he expects Grady to be.

Seems he was not. As of his October 25th campaign finance report (which excluded the final week of very expensive campaigning) Sen. Fort had already spent over $213,000 to win an office that pays $17,000 a year ($24,000, if you include his per diem).

That’s almost five times the salary and per diem for his two year term. I guess he needed to deal with a few perceptions of his own.

Unlike state senators, hospitals must earn revenue. The brand perceptions of hospitals are critical to market share and, therefore, the generation of revenue. If a state senator can spend 500 percent of his income to keep his job, I think it’s entirely reasonable — not to mention very smart — for a hospital to invest a small fraction of one percent without self-serving politicians using it as a whipping post.

So, back to my original question of what do politicians know about running a hospital? Even less than they know about running government… and we know how great a job they do with that.

What can hospitals learn from a modern house?

November 15, 2010
Photo by Kim Foster-Tobin /The State

The State recently ran a story about a modern house under construction in Columbia. A collaborative effort of Celtic Works and Studio 2LR, the house is the right size and right price for a first-time home buyer and it’s no vinyl-clad oversized style popular of late.

The house has been on Facebook since early summer with the makers posting construction photos and information about the construction.

So how does this relate to healthcare and social media?

We’ve heard healthcare providers voice concern over using social media because of the possibility of negative comments and posts. It’s a valid concern as that will inevitably happen at some point because no one or no organization is perfect. Not me, not you, not Mayo Clinic.

The makers of this modern house know people are already talking: at church, to other neighbors, friends and family members and even in the grocery store line. The same is true of healthcare audiences. Conversations about staff, doctors and services happen because they are part of people’s lives. Tuning them out puts you at a disadvantage.

The makers of the house have embraced social media as a strategy knowing with the risk comes potential for tremendous benefit.

The house will unite an audience of fans who support this particular project and the larger scope of modern home design, the companies who believe in it and in all likelihood the attention of the person who will purchase it. Equally important, their social media strategy brings positive and negative conversations to the partners in a public forum.

While communicating with fans and addressing criticism aren’t the real reason the collaboration is using social media, they are very good reasons. Make social media a part of your healthcare marketing strategy to bring the same opportunities to you.

You cannot manufacture a movement.

November 9, 2010

Notice how more and more people are declaring “things” movements these days?

You know, something that inspires people and catches fire in best way possible. Movements unite people on behalf of causes they believe in. Without belief and passion, a movement has no life.

A textbook case on how movements happen is The Lance Armstrong Foundation’s Livestrong. Rather than being created overnight, it grew and evolved into a cancer-fighting movement. It sparked globally in 2004 after Lance Armstrong wore the then-unique yellow band during the Tour de France. The band inspired people not because Lance wore it, but because of the cancer-fighting mantra adorning it.

The Lance Armstrong Foundation didn’t set out to create a multi-million-dollar fundraising brand. They simply gave their cancer-fighting community an identity and then shared it with others, over the years staying true to the real inspiration behind Livestrong.

So when it comes to movements are they created? Or do they just happen? I think the best thing you can do for a movement is give it the opportunity to rally and inspire people.

Whatever you do, don’t declare it’s a movement unless it genuinely is one.

Raising employee and patient satisfaction with social media.

November 3, 2010

Use social media to engage your customers! It seems like this is all anyone talks about these days – “the 10 best tricks,” “the three worst pitfalls” and don’t forget to tweet.

What if we dropped back a level and first engaged our employees. The Mayo Clinic did just that. In 2008 they launched a blog for employees called “Let’s Talk” to help explain and discuss a new strategic plan. They implemented an online vehicle allowing staff to propose ideas that could better their working environment or patient care. The Mayo Clinic also posts department blogs, videos and more for their staff. The point being, that the employees learn what the organization is doing from multiple channels and multiple points of view. They see their colleagues’ ideas and thoughts about proposed initiatives. They are part of the discussion and not on the sidelines waiting for whatever comes their way. They have a vested interest in the organization.

Maybe this is one of the reasons the Mayo Clinic is featured in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” and why they have low-turnover rates and high patient satisfaction ratings.

People want to be a part of something they are proud of. It’s human nature. If they are part of the team they won’t want to be the person who drops the ball. And if they are happy and invested in their job they are one of the best ambassadors your brand can have.

I once worked with a company whose mantra was “take care of your employees and they will take care of the customer,” a pretty basic but important idea. You can tweet all you want about successes or new services, but an unhappy employee personally sours the patient’s or customer’s experience. So the next time you think about how social media can promote your brand, think close to home first.

 


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