Archive for July, 2009

Dean Smash II: Rise of the Geeks

July 29, 2009


A former colleague once told me, “we stand on the shoulders of  greatness.” Sounds epic, I know. He was referring to the art of reusing an idea for a different audience or remaking an existing product with the hope of making it better or just different. I’ve seen this work out great for something like the George Foreman Grill. Others, like New Coke, have failed miserably.

As a big ol’ comic book geek, I think some of the Spiderman and X-Men movies were done well. Then there are those that just didn’t do it for me. I don’t want to name names, but I will: both Hulk movies, the second Fantastic Four movie, Clooney as Batman and anything Punisher related.

What products, movies, music or ideas do you think were remade better or worse than the original?

Budget cuts taking your breath away?

July 28, 2009

I was enjoying my morning coffee today and reading this article which interviewed the former CEO of Cleveland Clinic Dr. Floyd D. Loop about his book, Leadership and Medicine.

In it, he described an interesting story about a group of World War II soldiers that he probably intended to be more of a lesson on leadership than advertising strategy.

Here is the excerpt:

In Hampton Sides’ book, The Ghost Soldiers, he describes a group of 1,600 American prisoners during World War II who were placed in a small cargo hold–way below deck, ill-ventilated, unbearably hot, and dangerously life-threatening. The prisoners were gasping for air, passing out, and because they were suffocating, they panicked. Then their captors shut the hatch and made it even worse. When all seemed lost, a man, not high ranking, stood up and shouted, “We’re in this together and if any of us want to live, we’re going to have to work together. Calm down. The men in the far corners are suffocating. Take off your shirts and fan the air toward them.” The improvement was immediate.

The fact is, most hospitals have faced and will continue to face budget cuts. That’s the way it is.

Unless they have massive reserves, the competitive edges many hospitals hoped to hang their hats on in the next few years – new centers of excellence, robotic surgery, new facilities – are on hold.

So if you’re working in healthcare marketing today, be the guy below the deck. Focus your strategy, rally the troops and do what you can to be sure your marketing efforts have enough air to be effective.

Write Something Today

July 24, 2009

It doesn't hurt a bit.I enjoy writing, but every now and then I meet someone who tells me that they *hate* writing when they hear it’s what I do all day, every day.

I wonder if they dislike it because they get stuck writing things they really aren’t all that interested in? Maybe they just don’t like fitting words together?

If you don’t like writing all that much but want to stretch a little, try this blog . The One Minute Writer offers a lot of fast, easy ways to practice writing. You can write about things such as your favorite breakfast as a child or about a time you were disappointed or why not write about why you hate writing?

You don’t have to post anything. You don’t even have to show it to anyone. Just pick one topic that interests you and write as an exercise every now and then.

You might like it.

You’re on Facebook and Twitter – now what?

July 21, 2009

Social media success can depend on how you use it.

In a rush to establish a social media presence, it’s easy to forget to clearly identify goals and who you want to reach. Patients? Internal audiences? Donors? Recruits? Like other marketing efforts, it’s best to focus on just one or two.

If finding the right balance of information and personality is proving tricky, you may want to start with 70 percent content, 30 percent fun and 0 jargon – then tweak to find what works best.

For hospitals, social media is another great channel for promoting dialogue and fostering relationships, especially among patient communities. Some ideas:

  • Share specific tips and health reminders (Seeing lots flu cases in the ED – it’s not too late to get shots)
  • Ask for ideas for the next newsletter, hospital amenities or pending expansion
  • Share great patient stories, including photos or video
  • Solicit questions for audio conferences or Lunch & Learns with physicians
  • Listen and respond to feedback
  • A little bragging on awards and quality measures can go a long way

For more ideas, check out what other hospitals are doing in social media. Ed Bennett with the University of Maryland Medical System has a great list.

What ideas or posts are getting the most feedback from your audiences?

Online Physician Reviews

July 17, 2009

About ten people tweeted this article on online doctor reviews at #hcsm so I thought I’d take a look. Knowing what our own Pulse360 surveys have shown about people’s interest in promotion of ratings, awards and the like, I wanted to see what this article had to say.

In articles of this sort social media gurus tell you that in all likelihood people are not saying much about you in online ratings’ systems and it’s true. The fact is: you’re just not out there. So logically, step one would be to get yourself out there. Makes sense.

But what if you are out there and the ratings or comments are unfavorable? What do you do then?

Major negative issues will require more help than this blog entry can offer. You need a pro like this one. If what people are saying are small actionable grievances, those happen hundreds if not thousands of times on eBay every day. Someone’s package doesn’t get shipped. They get an item and feel that it was misrepresented. The purchaser often heads to the seller’s rating, rates them low and airs said grievance.

For a responsible seller, this is not good. The seller often contacts the purchaser to work it out. In most cases, a seller doesn’t ignore a negative review or comment. A string of bad ratings and you now have consumers a little more likely to pass you by in favor of someone else with a better record. Now, on eBay we’re talking about buying tin lunch boxes, furniture and the occasional car.

So when it comes to what people (who are probably like you) are saying online about the pediatrician or oncologist you are researching or considering, many ratings and comments do play a supporting role in people’s decision making. Whether they are positive or negative.

If people are talking about you, don’t just lurk and listen. Do what eBay sellers do.

Participate in the conversation. If someone has been wronged, do what you can to make it right or empower someone in your office to help. Communicate policies or changes that have been made to correct a situation. Apologize if it’s warranted.

Sure there are crackpots out there and people who will complain about everything. That’s the way the world is. But the relative anonymity of the Internet often spurs people to say things they might not normally say. Especially when the one doing the talking is one of today’s empowered healthcare consumers.

That’s a tall order.

July 14, 2009

I read an article in MedCity News the other day that has me wondering “Why would they do that?” The article is on how the Cleveland Clinic created a health-and-wellness portal,, to showcase original health content. In other words, they’re creating their own version of WebMD.

Competing with WebMD to become an online source for health information is no easy task. They are the number one source for health information online and second place isn’t even close. Here are just a handful of stats from various third party research firms:

When going online for health and wellness information, WebMD is #1 destination with 54%. The second place source is with 12%. Source: Hartman Healthy Nation Study, June 2008.

WebMD reaches three out of every four U.S. women each year. WebMD also reaches 95% of U.S. adults seeking health information online each year. Source: Manhattan Research Cybercitizen Health, 2006.

WebMD is the most frequently searched health term on the Internet. Source: Hitwise, November 2008.

I’ve also seen the overwhelming preference for WebMD in our proprietary Pulse360 healthcare surveys. In a recent study we found that 86% of healthcare consumers surveyed would go to WebMD first to seek information on a medical issue versus 14% who chose a local hospital website. This isn’t bad news for local hospital websites however. Local hospital websites are preferred for information on local health programs and to identify local doctors.

Having information like this can help a hospital play to its strengths instead of spending valuable time and resources in areas it shouldn’t compete in. I’m interested to see how does in comparison with WebMD. The Cleveland Clinic is certainly an impressive healthcare brand. Even so, my money is on the healthcare consumer keeping WebMD as their overwhelming choice for health and wellness information online.

If You Like Pina Coladas…

July 6, 2009

I caught this Taco Bell TV spot the other day. I didn’t like it at first. Then, I started laughing. Now The Pina Colada Song is stuck in my head. I’ve been humming it for days.

It got me thinking,

We all know that well placed music can make a TV spot. But, how else can we use music? Radio’s a no brainer. The interactive uses are endless of course. But, where else? Outdoor? Print? Group sing-a-longs? I don’t know. I’m pondering the possibilities.

In the mean time, I need help. Send me some songs or solutions to free my brain from the tyranny of The Pina Colada Song. Rupert Holmes! Get out of my head!

No hard feelings, Rupert. My sister loves your music.

%d bloggers like this: