Archive for the ‘Interactive & Social Media’ Category

I’m a PC. I’m a Mac. What am I?

January 25, 2011

Remember the “I’m a PC. I’m a Mac” TV commercials? Me too. If you were a PC user, you snarled. If you used a Mac, you laughed. T-Mobile is trying desperately to use the same formula to attack AT&T and also dig Apple. They have been running their Mac/PC knock-off campaign for a couple of months and I think they’re missing a key element. Nobody cares.

T-Mobile wants to compare its service with that of AT&T. By using Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign, they also hope to take a passing shot at the iPhone maker. Good idea, nice strategy, here’s the problem — NOBODY CARES. The Apple campaign worked because PC users love their PCs (and hate Macs) and Mac users love their Macs (and hate PCs). And by the way, everyone dislikes AT&T, especially iPhone users. Is T-Mobile trying to convince iPhone users to buy an Android phone and switch to T-Mobile? Not going to happen. Once again they are loyal to Apple.

The Apple campaign was smart and well written with great casting. The T-Mobile campaign is ham-handed, forced and comes off as a cheap knock off. Click on the links above and compare for yourself.

P.S. A big high-five to Verizon for getting the iPhone. I hope to be a customer very soon!

THE LOGO EVOLUTION; an optimistic revolution

January 18, 2011

A logo update often speaks of a company trying to stay up-to-date in its offerings while strengthening its’ connection with consumers. But, with Starbucks falling into the bucket of recent logo evolutions within the last few months, I was forced to put down my Venti, Non-fat, Carmel Macchiato and ponder – could it mean something more? Could we be on the cusp of a branding revolution?

Every New Year begins with the hope for better things to come. Resolutions are made to convince ourselves that we can try harder and be more than we were the year prior. Every January, we are motivated to turn over a new leaf, conceive and commit to a better version of ourselves, and to accomplish big things. 

Essentially, a rebranding.

I believe the growing appetite for brand evolutions may possibly be an effort by these companies to demonstrate a new promise for the future – even in spite of familiarity feeling more sensible to their consumers.

Perhaps after being smacked around by the impact of the recession – and still jostling from the residuals – we are all eager for a more optimistic perspective.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, twice as many Americans think the U.S. economy will be better rather than worse in 2011.

2011 Expectation (vs. 2010) In Terms of the Economy (Percent of Group)
  Expectation % of Group
Group Better Same Worse
National adults 52% 21 25
   East 55 24 21
   Midwest 56 25 18
   South 51 20 27
   West 48 17 32
$75K or more 55 23 22
$30K to $75K 52 21 25
Less than $30K 51 20 27
Republicans 46 23 31
Independents 50 23 26
Democrats 62 19 16
Source: Gallup, December 2010

Recent tracking results show that consumers only became increasingly optimistic about the economy as 2010 came to an end.

Gallup analysts suggest this could be due to our general optimistic nature as Americans, or it could possibly reflect views of a recovering economy.  

Or it could simply mean that we are all ready to move forward.

And, honestly, was it the attempt these organizations made to put forth a new image that has been debated? Or the lack of creativity, planning and strategic foresight that has forced us to question the success of these new brand transformations?

As Paul Rand said, “Good design is Good for Business.”

And bad design will get you posted on every blog and Facebook page known to man!


Social Media Unites People and Communities

January 14, 2011

Over the past year, I have blogged readers to sleep about what a great marketing tool we have in social media. I spend so much time reading and talking about it, it’s easy to forget how powerful it is in action. I got a beautiful reminder over the New Year holiday when our very close friends’ dog disappeared on New Year’s Eve.

Our friends’ dog, Elsa, was spending the night with another friend when Elsa got out of the back yard. Elsa’s owners, the Rudisells, were in Charleston and we were in Greenville. In the old days, we were out of luck ‘til we got home. Today, thankfully, we have Facebook.

I jumped on my profile from Greenville, as others had already done in Columbia, and was instantly in touch with the search for Elsa. Knowing her family was devastated, I was grateful for the opportunity to tell hundreds of people where and when she was lost on the off chance someone I know might have seen her or know someone who had.

As we traveled back to Columbia that day, I hoped Elsa was already home. Sadly, she wasn’t. For the next six days, we would search high and wide, driving through neighborhoods miles from home and combing the statuses and comments of strangers who might have seen a dog that might have been Elsa. We never saw Elsa as we searched the adjacent neighborhoods, but we did see something amazing as the days passed.

Michele Affronte noticed it first, posting this note on her profile. As you would expect, those who knew Elsa and her family were driving the search. Before long the search party included people who didn’t know Elsa or the Rudisells. Soon, it also included people who didn’t know any of us; people who simply said they wanted to reunite Elsa with a family that obviously adored her.

The reach we got through social media was simply astounding. Our neighborhood’s Facebook group actively shared our search. Elsa’s story appeared on countless Facebook profiles and business pages, Twitter tweets, e-mail lists and virtual lost pet directories. Friends and commenters shared leads. Friends with businesses offered rewards. Richland County shared. The City of Columbia shared. Our local tourism Twitter hashtag (#famouslyhot) shared. People who follow that hashtag shared.

As the number of people sharing Elsa’s story grew, I saw strangers posting Elsa’s lost dog poster as their profile image. Thanks to a dedicated stranger, the story appeared on WLTX and was picked up in other markets including Charleston and Alabama. It was truly amazing to watch the compassion, sharing and reassuring that went on in this brand new community the week Elsa was lost.

Then, one week after she disappeared, I got the call I‘d been aching for. Elsa had finally wandered into the right hands, all the way over in Eau Claire. She was ten pounds lighter and her pads were painfully worn, but she was finally home where she belonged.

I know social media is not how we found Elsa, but social media helped the search in so many ways.

It helped searchers stay in close contact and share information in real time. It helped quell the hopelessness. It gave people who cared a way to do something in a situation where fate was in control. It showed how local businesses (and their employees) such as Rosso, Tombo Grille and Four Paws Animal Clinic are truly members of our Forest Acres community. It expanded my circle of friends to include new ones and tightened the hold many already have on my heart.

But the biggest lesson for me can also apply to any business or group that’s considering the value of social media. Social media connects people who care. People who care are what power social media.

And that is a pretty amazing thing to have in your corner. Just ask Elsa.

Creating More Successful Brands

December 10, 2010

In hospital marketing, we talk a lot about strategies and objectives, different media vehicles, public relations, physician relations, administrators, budgets and budget cuts.

All things Brian Parsley, the final speaker at this year’s CHPRMS fall conference, didn’t touch. His topic was us. The marketers. The coordinators. The PR specialists. The VP’s. The people behind the positions.

Brian is part entrepreneur, stand-up comic, dot com survivor and one time chicken-cutter-upper. His message ranged widely, but touched on a handful of points that we, as people and as healthcare marketers, should embrace to achieve greater success.

People have choices.
People choose where they spend their money (or co-pay). Businesses have to care about acquisition and retention. One tweet I saw earlier this week by Eric Brody contrasted a morning doctor’s office experience with an afternoon visit to a Trader Joes. The difference? He blogged that he felt appreciated at Trader Joes; the exact opposite of how he felt earlier in the day at the doctor’s office. The ultimate question today is not how satisfied patients and customers are, but would they recommend us to someone they cared about?

It’s not about selling services and products.
It’s 100% about serving others. The more you serve the more you win. Brian talked about the honeymoon phase of a relationship and what makes it so good. It’s not the newness; it’s the willingness to reciprocate. Loving customers is something more and more brands are becoming known for: Zappos, Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Southwest Airlines, and, more locally, Chick-fil-a. Their philosophies are customer-centered and strive to provide the best experience possible.

Brands are managed, not owned.
Brands are no longer limited to ads and buildings or stores; they’re everywhere. They are things, people, even feelings. Brands are written into e-mails, websites, collateral and social media. They are verbalized in voicemail messages and answering systems. There are even visual brands: how we carry ourselves, how connected we are to our live and work communities. Our personal brands are our reputations. Our personnel are a brand’s reputation.

Take care of customers; they take care of you.
Patients tell other patients. Moms talk to other moms. Word of mouth marketing is a very powerful marketing tool. Brian shared the experience of a physician practice that implemented a “patient first” policy where patients are given exceedingly good service from the front desk all the way to checkout and beyond. The whole practice was rewired for customer service. Not surprisingly, their referrals went through the roof. Make it easier for people to do business with you.

Build your value.
Know and live your values. Look at your willingness to serve other people. Don’t rely on excuses. Get better at social intelligence. Know you can always bounce back. Learn to love criticism and learn from it.

Be persistent.
Not sure if this is verifiable, but it sure feels right: 80% of all yeses happen between the 5th and the 22nd contact.

Communicate better.
However you communicate and whatever you communicate, you’re sharing a story. Many times, stories are retold, while facts are forgotten. Stories entertain in rich detail and create a vicarious experience.

It was an inspiring hour and a great way to close CHPRMS where so much of the conference centers on “talking shop.”

As Brian spoke, I found it very easy to think about what he was saying in the context of both my work life and personal life. We hear a lot these days about how brands need to interact with their customers. But it’s not just interaction we crave, there needs to be meaning, too.

Do we really want more from brands? Or do we want more from ourselves? It’s worth thinking about.

You can connect with Brian on Twitter or Facebook.

CHPRMS Day Two: Chris Bevolo Talks Marketing Measurement

December 8, 2010

Usually when you blog from a healthcare conference like CHPRMS, you listen, write and post as quickly as possible. With Chris’ presentation on Thursday, December 2, I knew that would not be the case.

His enlightening presentation on measuring healthcare marketing was a call-to-action for marketing professionals to better prove their worth as budgets, strategies and staff positions continually appear under the cost-cutting microscope.

In a world where many executives view marketing as an expense; Chris wants to help you demonstrate the value marketing efforts bring to your organization. He never suggests measuring is easy, but proving results builds a measurement discipline in your marketing program, puts efforts into perspective and shows what works.

His five steps for measurement:

Define the activity.
Pinpoint what you’re going to measure (and what you’re not going to measure) and when.

Identify desired metrics.
Will success be measured in financial metrics such as revenue, contribution margin or profit margin, acquisition cost or ROI? Or, will metrics be behavioral, to analyze real action and impact. Volumes, admissions, visits? Referrals? Website traffic or social media activity? Or, is your metric attitudinal such as awareness, perception, satisfaction or simply a willingness to recommend to others?

Set the measurement categories.
After you identify what’s to be measured and the metrics to measure by, establish categories for measurement. Check out page 21 of Chris’ presentation for activities and categories to measure joint replacement surgery volume, seminar attendance and a special joint pain are of the website.

Capture data.
Establish pre-activity numbers so you can measure ongoing and final usage. Establish how long measurement will last. The time length will depend on whether you’re measuring a marketing initiative for micro-level impact or for long-term macro-level results.

Evaluate and report.
Don’t wait. Be objective. And don’t hide bad answers or expect perfection. Chris likened marketing reporting to grand rounds. Rounds aren’t held to assign blame; they’re to see what works or doesn’t. He suggests approaching reporting like science: did an initiative meet your expectations or not? Measurement helps to understand why it did or why it didn’t.

His parting tips?

Negotiate your success up front. Being thorough on the front end inevitably refines marketing objectives. If you’re looking for a five percent bump in orthopedics, that’s a start. Be more strategic. Is success more joint replacement procedures? If so, which kind? Are there specific DRGs or payor mixes?

Be cautious with your objectives and focus on outcomes, not actions.

Create proxy actions. As marketers, we cannot drive heart surgery volume directly. We can, however, engage people in cardiac-related proxy actions that indirectly impact the cardiac program: screenings, measurable behaviors, heart-healthy recipes.

The big takeway? Healthcare marketing measurement will empower your organization’s marketing efforts and you as a marketing professional. Do it!

Learn more at or follow Chris on Twitter @intervalchris.

CHPRMS General Session Day One: Social Media Best Practices from Chris Boyer

December 2, 2010

The CHPRMS Fall Conference kicked off with a general session featuring Chris Boyer, Senior Manager for Digital Communications at Inova Health System. Chris is a long-time Tweeter at Twitter healthcare marketing hashtags #hcmktg and #hcsm and for good reason. He has great insight for both those wading into social media for the first time and for those who consider themselves experienced users.

Rather than rehash what was a great presentation, I’ll pass along what I found to be my biggest takeaway from Chris’ session: pure positioning.

Many hospitals are positioning themselves with a product mindset: with the subject being a surgery, doctor, da Vinci robot, or new patient tower. But the answer is not a pure service message that’s based on amiability and compassion. He suggests it’s somewhere in the middle: a message that focuses on building trust. Patients want to know that hospitals can effectively address their issues and that they won’t get hurt in the process.

One of the greatest tools for building trust in today’s marketing budget: social media.

Whether your hospital participates in social media or not is 100% irrelevant. The conversations are already happening around you. People are telling several hundred friends about a nice nurse who went the extra mile for their family member in a status update. People are crabbing on Twitter about waiting too long in their doctor’s waiting room. People share triumphs, joys, petty complaints and sometimes untruths mistakenly attributed to your hospital. Social media is an opportunity for two-way communication with fans and foes but you have to be there to take part.

There are a million blog posts out there that tell you how and why to get involved in social media already so rather than go there I’ll share these points from Chris as he wrapped up his presentation today.

First, hospital marketers have to realize the role social media has and will have now and in the future. You have to change your message and how you market it. Facebook isn’t going away and it’s somewhere people live; it’s not like search. People do not spend hours sharing and liking on Google.

Second, if your organization is not participating you have to start or risk being left behind. If you participate in social media already, you have to get better.

Third, you need a good social media policy (so everyone knows the rules), to open doors (so everyone has access) and you need a plan (so you’re not wasting the precious little time you have).

Fourth, you need the right team and you need to target the right audience. And last, you need to measure. Rather than striving for friends, fans and followers, search for deeper meaning. Broaden your reach. Build your reputation. Cultivate relationships. And measure your results.

Chris shared several great case studies. The first, from Swedish, promoted their sleep lab services. The second was Innova’s Fit for 50 wellness initiative.

He shared way more than what I have covered here but it’s a lot to think about whether you’re tweeting, blogging or still watching from the sidelines. How will you move forward?

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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