Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

The Boomer Challenge in Healthcare Marketing

August 7, 2014

Boomers Are Online

This year marks a milestone for Boomers. By its end all Boomers, approximately 75 million people, will be 50 or older. By 2017, those over age 65 will control 70% of disposable income in this country. By 2030, 18% of our population will be 65 or older.

Baby Boomers as Healthcare Consumers – Opportunity

This generation has been a force throughout the past decades and will continue to be. One of the industries that will be most affected is health care. Although boomers claim that old-age does not begin until age 72, many are less healthy than past generations. 13.2% of baby boomers reported “excellent” health compared with 32% of the previous generation.

It is estimated that 60% of adults age 50 to 64 are suffering from a minimum of one chronic health issue and many have multiple illnesses. People older than 65 spend more on health care than any other age group, averaging $4,769 out-of-pocket each year. They will present many challenges and opportunities for health systems and physicians.

Health statistics for those 65 and older:

  • 72% have hypertension
  • 51% have arthritis
  • 31% have heart disease
  • 24% have cancer
  • 20 % have diabetes
  • Boomers account for one-third of overall healthcare spending and prescription drug utilization and for 40% of doctor visits

Reaching Boomers – Challenges

Reaching this segment of the population is becoming easier. Traditional media vehicles are still a good way of connecting with boomers, but one myth being debunked is that digital marketing is not a good option. Although not as prevalent as with younger generations, 88% of 50-64 year olds and 57% of 65+ are online.

An Accenture survey found that 2/3 of seniors think access to health information is important and 60% want to be able to email providers, but only 15% have that option.

This group is searching for health information online. Those that have one or more chronic conditions are more likely than other age groups to:

  • Gather information online about medical problems, treatments, and drugs.
  • Consult online reviews about drugs and other treatments.
  • Read or watch something online about someone else’s personal health experience.

In Information Week, Jill Daily of Accenture Health was quoted as saying, “Just as seniors are turning to the Internet for banking, shopping, entertainment and communications, they also expect to handle certain aspects of their healthcare services online. What this means for providers and health plans is that they’ll need to expand their digital options if they want to attract older patients and help them track and manage their care outside their doctor’s office.”


Are you providing that service and doing all you can to reach this fast growing and affluent market?

Three births, three patient experiences.

March 29, 2011

My wife and I are the proud parents of three boys. I know, wow, three boys. Trust me, it’s a blast and we were blessed with three relatively smooth deliveries. Interestingly enough, each boy was delivered at a different hospital and each experience was very different.

The experience we had with the birth of our first son wasn’t what we expected. Your first child is never what you expect, but I’m talking about the patient experience. The hospital was cold and clinical, it was the area’s teaching hospital dedicated to “academic medicine.” My wife felt like a science experiment. The saving grace was a nurse working in the nursery at night; we’ll call her KT. She really loved babies and she loved her job. She made us feel like we had our own nurse caring just for us. We still remember her and I think my wife would include her in our will if she could find her.

Because of our first patient experience, we chose to deliver our second son at the local “boutique” hospital. It was like checking into a hotel to have a baby. It was quiet and comfortable, but we didn’t experience any hospital staff with the same passion of KT. We were treated fine and the delivery went well, but we didn’t leave feeling like we had been given care that was unforgettable.

Maybe I’m being too picky. I often think it’s unfair to expect everyone at a hospital treating my wife and me to exhibit the same kind of passion and zeal as KT’s. Or is it?

Recently my wife and I were blessed with the birth of our third son. We didn’t know what to expect. Our third son was delivered in a different city than his older brothers. My wife’s OB chose the hospital.

From the time we checked in to the time we left, we were reminded of KT because the entire staff worked with her passion and zeal. One nurse came to our room to check my son’s hearing. He started coughing and the nurse picked him up and cleared his throat. This is not uncommon but she did this gladly even though it wasn’t life threatening and not her job. Another nurse came by after her shift just to check on my wife before she left the hospital. It didn’t matter that another nurse was already on duty. Another nurse moved heaven and earth to get me a roll-away bed. I didn’t ask for a bed, all I did was make a joke about the couch being uncomfortable.

Not only are these doctors, nurses and staff members good at what they do, they love what they do and it shows.

I’m a Creative Director in the healthcare/hospital marketing field. One of the coolest things I get to do is witness the work of doctors, nurses and staff who really love what they do. When you talk with them their passion shines through. They believe in what they do and they love it.

As a “creative”, I’m always looking for new and different ways to communicate a client’s competitive advantage. I love what I do. We can saturate the market with a campaign message and light up the web with interactive and social media content. But the most powerful communications tool can be one doctor, nurse or staff member doing their job with a passion that makes them unforgettable to their patients. That’s a real competitive advantage.

While the recent great patient experience is still fresh in our minds, I know we will always remember this hospital stay with a smile. The same way we remember KT.

A Celebration of Geekery. Or This is Not a Rehash of the Super Bowl Commercials.

February 7, 2011

Volkswagen and Star Wars team up to promote the new Passaat via the Super Bowl.

Thanks to Twitter and the #brandbowl hashtag, I got 90% of my Super Bowl TV spot chatter out of the way last night. So rather than give a Donnie Deutsch-esque rehash of last night’s leftovers, let’s talk about something new: activating audiences.

Not just any audiences, passionate audiences.

Generation X parents who love Star Wars. People who love their VW Beetles so much they already want the brand-new redesigned one that’s not on the market yet. People of all ages who hoover the crumbs out of Dorito bags when no one is looking or don’t even care if anyone is looking. People who waited for the Verizon iPhone for years. People who have never really thought about Detroit before last night but now swell with pride at the thought of Motor City.


As much as I disliked many commercials, some did a fine job of saying “We know how much you love our brand. We don’t care if others don’t get it or don’t like it. This is for you, Mr./Mrs./Miss Brandgeek. Now go Tweet about it!”

It’s official. The Super Bowl commercial has evolved.

The days of holding spots under top-secret wraps for months just to enjoy a thirty-second spotlight that says “Hello there. We are a leading brand.” are gone. And good riddance. Today’s champions share Super Bowl commercials before the pregame even starts and make them an integrated mix of social, paid and earned media. And some brands go for two by lavishing their brandgeeks with love in the process. An effort that usually scores legions of brand-new brandgeeks.

If you’re lucky, you have brandgeeks out there. Make this the year you not only find them, but actually throw some love their way.

It’s a Force worth having on your side.

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!

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.

Ho Ho Ho and Christmas Marketing

December 21, 2010

The other night I saw a Norelco ad with a robotic “droid” looking man on it. It caught my eye, not because it was unique, but because it was so different from their old ads with Saint Nick. Even if you aren’t old enough to remember seeing the spot during “Rudolf” or “Frosty” you have probably seen it somewhere.

Jolly Saint Nick comes sliding down the snowy slope on a rotary razor blade bobsled ( Sure it is silly, but it makes you smile. And you get a warm, lighthearted feeling from it. Isn’t that what this season is about – good will toward man or toward the brand?

From the iconic singers with candles to the animated polar bears, Coke usually does a good job of spreading cheer along with their product name. Budweiser has the Clydesdales with sleigh bells, and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, Target has the bright lights and techno music. Going beyond tv spots, some companies are literally projecting their holiday spirit in a larger than life manner. H&M in Amsterdam ( and Saks in NYC ( are using 3-D projection technology to create a fun and entertaining experience for the public. What could be more magical than walking down the street and seeing giant snowflakes fall down the side of a building?  Just seeing the video made me smile. Check it out for yourself and have a Merry Christmas and safe New Year.


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.

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