Posts Tagged ‘hospital advertising’

50 beds or 500, your hospital brand is critical to your success.

June 2, 2014

The most powerful companies in the world live and die on their brands.  It has been estimated that at least half of Coca Cola’s market capitalization ($178 billion, May 2014) resides in its brand alone.  The same can be said of Apple, the world’s most valuable company.

I would argue that a hospital’s brand is even more important to its success than it is for these global companies.  Just think about it.  Your hospital’s reputation (brand) is everything to its success.  It’s one thing to trust Coke to taste good or your iPhone to work consistently, but trust in a healthcare environment is something else altogether.

Yet, some hospitals, particularly the smaller ones which have greater brand challenges than anyone, don’t invest a lot of time, effort or thought into building the brand – even though we know from decades of research that brand building pays great dividends.  The fact that brand building is so important is why even the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic and MD Anderson devote millions to building their brands annually.

The benefits to building a strong brand are many:

  • Increases consumer confidence
  • Reduces consumer risk
  • Creates customer loyalty
  • Signifies quality
  • Is more memorable
  • Provides differentiation

Building a hospital brand takes dedication.  It’s not a once every other year campaign.  It’s an every day focus.  You start by understanding what the public’s perceptions are of your hospital, then evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and determine not only what you desire to be, but also what you realistically can be in your community.  Once you’ve determined your message, it’s a matter of deciding what’s necessary to convince your community of your vision.

 

Is Being the Closest Hospital Enough?

February 1, 2011

Travel around the country, especially in smaller communities, and it’s amazing how many community hospitals use little more than the selling point that they are close to home. Often, that or some form of it will be their tagline.

Our experience is that just isn’t enough. One, our research shows consumers know exactly where the closest hospital is, so telling them something they already know well isn’t likely to change their minds. More important, the more profitable consumers – the commercially insured – can and will drive for care they think will make a difference.

They not only want the care to be closer, they want to know it’s at least as good as, if not better than, what they’ll find at the larger facility 30 minutes or an hour away. In other words, convenience is not enough to keep them from making the drive.

Check out this very successful campaign we created for Meadows Regional Medical Center to turn the shorter distance into a life-saving selling proposition.

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.

From Ps to Rs; a shift in consumer expectation

September 23, 2010

As I continue dissecting my notes from the SHSMD conference in Chicago, building from my thoughts on the theme as well as the overview of its content, I’ve realized that my reporting on the marketing evolution is of little benefit – it’s done. Now what?

The only way to successfully adapt to this new environment is by transforming your communications strategy.

While speaking at SHSMD, Phyllis Marino of MetroHealth in Cleveland, Ohio, stated the 4Ps of marketing are obsolete. The new consumer is no longer interested in your mix of Product, Price, Promotion or Place because they now demand a more personalized approach.

With this expectation shift, the 5Rs are the new principles for ensuring the strategic focus of your marketing efforts is modified to appeal to this highly consumer-centric environment.

Recognition. Only with a clear, compelling identity and message will your audience differentiate you from the competition. You need to define what your name stands for and be able to connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.

Relevance. Your audience wants to readily see the link between what your company offers and how it fills their needs; be it accomplishing a task, solving a problem, education or entertainment.

Response.  It’s a dialogue – not a monologue. Therefore, you need to also listen to the consumer and be able to quickly respond to their informational needs.

Receptivity. What they want when they want it, not when you want to deliver it to them. The consumer has his own schedule and doesn’t want to adapt to yours. This is the reason why the internet is now the CENTER of the consumer universe.

Relationships. It’s no longer about connecting the dots; it’s connecting people. If you want to establish a lifetime commitment, you need to think what will keep your audience engaged for the long-term. Till death do you part.

It may be old-fashioned and fallacious of me, but when constructing a communications strategy based on the 5Rs, I find it easier to tackle them like I would the 5Ws of Journalism: Who (Recognition), What (Relevance), When (Response), Where (Receptivity), Why (Relationships).

The trick always comes with identifying the H.

How have you shifted the structure of your communications strategy?

A consistent brand message is more important than ever.

April 14, 2010

I read a New York Times article this morning about another way the Internet is changing advertising: by extending the life of traditional television campaigns.

It made me think.

With consumers having access to older commercials via YouTube and similar sites, it’s now more important than ever to maintain a consistent brand message – especially if you’re a mid-sized hospital that may only produce a handful of spots each year.

Since your spots can live on the Internet long after your broadcast schedule expires, they now have the opportunity to carry your messages to audiences well into the future. This can be an incredible asset, enabling you to show growth and development in directions defined by your brand  – but only if every  spot you produce is well grounded in those values.

So it’s time to make sure you know who you are. Are you the high-tech hospital? Are you the leader in personal service, attention and care? What are your core values?

It’s also time to take stock of your current, past and planned marketing initiatives to ensure that they truly reflect your brand. Any departures will be obvious both to you and your consumers.

When all of your creative expounds on your core brand, your commercials will continue to work for you long after they’ve left the local airwaves.

As simple as skiing downhill

February 24, 2010

I really enjoy watching the Winter Olympics even though I know nothing about most winter sports. I’m from the South. That’s not to say that southerners don’t enjoy winter sports. I know a lot people who ski, ice skate and play hockey. But I’m not one of them. While watching a skier prepare for her event, the camera zoomed to a close up of her face. I was struck by her focus; she could have burned a hole through steel with the look on her face. I’d never thought of the focus and concentration it must take to be a good skier let alone an Olympian.

Which brings me to my point. It’s nothing new or earth shattering to our business, but it’s more important now than ever before. We need to keep our clients’ marketing/advertising messages focused and simple. Finding that single laser-like message isn’t easy and outside forces can easily complicate the message. But, like the skier, we need to shut out distractions and keep looking and moving ahead.

It’s not a revolutionary concept, but it’s something we can easily forget. So take a deep breath, get focused, keep things simple and great work will follow. Maybe even a medal here and there.

Technology Can Affect Hospital Choice

November 4, 2009

Hospitals often wrestle with how much emphasis to place on technology in their marketing efforts. Too much emphasis on technology and the advertising can be cold and impersonal.

Obviously, you don’t want your marketing to appear cold but technology is a barometer of competence for healthcare consumers. Our Pulse360 research has consistently found technology ranks behind only doctors and insurance in the choice of a hospital.

It’s difficult for consumers to get a handle on what constitutes quality treatment or even the competence of doctors. Technology gives them a tangible measure – such that if the hospital continually invests in advanced technology, it must be more competent.

We see it throughout our research. Acquisition of advanced imaging, daVinci robotic surgery, even the display of flat screen TVs throughout the hospital lead consumers to assume a hospital is more state-of-the-art and, therefore, more competent.

Our most recent Pulse360 survey showed another dimension to this. Advanced technology in a hospital made women feel much better about patient safety. In fact, it made them feel a lot safer than a high score from HealthGrades.

Since technology in a hospital translates to competence as well as confidence in the mind of the consumer, hospitals obviously need to promote it. Just don’t pop in a visual showing only a machine. People connect better when they understand benefits and outcomes, and can see them in the advertising.


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