Sunday, December 18, 2016

The Best of Healthcare Marketing Matters - 2016

With so much market and regulatory change driving uncertainty in 2016 for health care vendor and provider marketing, it’s still been a remarkable year.  Even in the midst of market transformation, some things remain valid. 

Focus on the customer. Be transparent and responsive. Develop new programs and service based on the needs of your audience, not what you desire.  And use the social media channels where the healthcare consumer is at to drive engagement and experience, not where you want them to be.

I would like to thank everyone for taking the time to read, comment, and share what I have written across a broad range of healthcare marketing topics for 2016. Because of you the reader, by the end of 2016, HMM will go over 100,000 total page views for the year across 52 countries. 

I am taking a couple of weeks off from writing for the Holidays. I need to recharge, relax and enjoy the downtime.  I will be back right before the New Year begins ready to roll.

Have a great Holiday season and best wishes for prosperity and success in 2017.

Best regards,
Michael J Krivich, FACHE. PCM

Views   Title

2,710    Chief Communications Officers in health systems, advocates, and publishers? http://bit.ly/1MD4Rmt

2,618    Why should a provider switch to Inbound Marketing?

2,548    But nobody knows who the hospital is marketing!

2,525    Is the disintermediation of hospitals a market reality?

2.494    Communicating Value is The New Hospital Marketing Currency.   

2,451    Time for Hospital Physician Advertisements to Change?

2,430    Is Now The Time For Patient Experience Provider Advertising?

2,392    Improving the Physician Hospital Experience, Untapped Revenue &  Growth?     http://bit.ly/1X77jVI

2,010    Providers- Is it time to stop learning about social media and finally use it? http://bit.ly/2a5FVS5

1,731    Social selling for the healthcare vendor, if not now, when?

1,432   Social selling in healthcare takes work and commitment. Can you?

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Is social media use by the individual, nothing more than an echo chamber?

Given all that has taken place in 2016 with social media, it occurred to me that maybe social media use by the consumer, not business mind you, is nothing more than an echo chamber.

What do I mean by that?

I mean that in the final analysis, people will tend to connect with those family members, friends, and strangers that share like convictions, beliefs, and political affiliations for example.  In that environment, political beliefs, news stories, etc. that reflect their view of the world become shared. 

Never mind that the source of the news or open is created by a fake news source. It got a life of its own and shared across the social media channels of the circle that shares that same perception or belief.  

There is little room for differing opinion or facts that are incongruent with the understanding or attitudes leading to a loss of critical thinking and examination. The potential exists for manipulation by various groups and organizations with little accountability that can slant the facts to fit the narrative.

Now that being said, that is what business use of social media entails. Find these groups to sell product or services.  A topic we are not considering today.

But the bigger question here is, does social media as an echo chamber benefit society and improve the culture and discourse? 

I would say that the answer to that question is no. If anything, individual’s use of social media within that echo chamber will drive more division, disruption, and polarization. We all lose when the discussion becomes one-sided, and people only see their opinion as being the only truth.

In the end, it still comes down to the individual’s sense of responsibility and accountability. And the ability to think for themselves critically while understanding that someone disagreeing with you is healthy. It does open up one to new ideas and viewpoints not considered. 

Is that such a bad thing?

I don’t know what’s going to happen. Will others will begin to realize that social media across the world is becoming nothing more than an echo chamber, leading to increased polarization of thought, ideas and fostering a lack of critical thinking? 

For that, we are worse off as a society and civilization.  Lemmings running to fall off the cliff from which there may be no return.

Remember:


Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.
For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.


Tags: #hcmkt, #hcsm, #socialmedia #understanding #responsibility

Saturday, November 26, 2016

If social media is quasi-immortality, what will your legacy be?

It’s been said that once something is on the IoT, it’s there forever.  Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumbler, LinkedIn and so many other social media channels and platform, means that there is a lot of stuff you have written, photographed and shared.  In the totality of it all, what does that say about you?

If you were to die tomorrow and someone who never knew you stumbled upon your musings, political views, photographs, etc. friends, group memberships, etc., what does that say about you?

Will you be seen as thoughtful and understanding, or kind and generous?  Someone who cares and listens to discusses thoughtfully. A loving and caring person who values life in all of its diversity and beauty? A friend who reaches out to make things better?

Do you see yourself as the defender of all that is good and judge everyone else’s politics and views as of little consequence?  Are you seen as intransigent and unforgiving?  Would you be by a future generation as a racist, or someone who is harsh and judgmental?  

Could you be seen under the bright lights of the future and their lens of historical hindsight as uncivilized and a barbarian?

We will never know the answer to any of those questions.  But we do know today is that what we share, post, photograph, etc. speaks to who we are as individuals for the historical record. Our history of the potential immortality for you and me  resides on the Internet of Things.

Words are important, and that is something that I can think we can all agree. How one uses words not only in the content but contextually, can significantly influence our record of immortality.

Words can drive an individual to take action, become motivated, inspire and in some cases by the contextual environment communicated with the phrase become life-changing. And we all know that words can unintentionally by use and connotation reach a pretty high giggle factor, raising more questions than answers. In some case, words conveying a position on a topic become oxymoronic resulting in a negative image. Words can drive hate.

With that in mind, how would you rate your use of words and your interactions on the IoT?
What is the legacy of who you are that you are leaving behind?

An important question that only you can answer. 

Life and what we leave behind for others about ourselves is important.

Words matter.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Is the lack of self-control in social media descending us into darkness?

That’s an important question for today’s world.  And let me be clear, I am not blaming the channels in social media but only posting a question. 

Is social media the new herd mentality?

Are we losing the ability to understand?

Have we lost the ability to be tolerant?

Can we regain the ability to find the good in others?

Is it possible to listen for understanding and not just hear to respond?

What happened to the two sides of the same coin understanding?

I am neither wise enough or have enough hubris even to try to answer these questions.

But that never stopped me before.

Words are important, and that is something that I can think we can all agree. How one uses words not only in the content but contextually, can significantly influence a positive or negative perception of the issue.

Words can drive an individual to take action, become motivated, inspire and in some cases by the contextual environment communicated with the phrase become life-changing. And we all know that words can unintentionally by use and connotation reach a pretty high giggle factor, raising more questions than answers. In some case, words conveying a position on a topic become oxymoronic resulting in a negative image. Words can drive hate.

With that in mind, how would you rate your use of words?

An important question as I see more each day of individuals using words that don’t say anything.  Lots of squiggles on a page intended to convey information but mostly say the same thing over and over again.  I increasingly see the use of opinion based jargon instead of facts to cover up any real meaning. 

Do we have the ability to understand, think twice and write once?

Words matter.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group. 

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Grades Are In & Providers Receive an F in Consumer/Patient Engagement

And this from a well-respected healthcare executive in a comment to one of my blog posts, which I have permission to use.

“Michael - I think a lot of folks that are responsible for securing their health insurance would benefit from more emphasis on #7 on your list. My family has been with Cigna as our insurer and big Baylor in Dallas as our main provider for years. Now we are getting letters from Cigna telling us they will no longer be offering us the same plan in the coming year. We feel abandoned at this point. Both of these companies know us well. I would feel better if they would access some of their data and reach out to us proactively with options for us going forward that would allow us to maintain an ongoing relationship with both of them. Right now I feel like neither of them really want us as customers anymore.”

What doesn’t hospital and health system leadership get about engagement with healthcare consumers and patients?

I would like to think that this is an anomaly, but deep down inside this kind of story happens every day in the very corner of the nation.  All the while hospitals and health systems tell the consumer and patients how much they care about them. What significant awards for medical care from third parties bestowed upon them?  How great they are and you should come there for no valid reason other than we say so. 

You know the song sung every day in the meaningless provider marketing that takes place.

Healthcare leadership has failed to understand the changing healthcare marketplace, their role in that market, consumer needs and how to engage.  They believe their press clippings and advertisements. All the while cognitive dissonance is occurring with consumers and patient who know that the reality does meet the experience.

And you all know that I have been writing about our engagement and experience for years now. As a sample, the following posts on Healthcare Marketing Matters have received thousands of page views. You can always use the search function to find much, much more. But it’s clear; providers aren’t paying attention.

Is healthcare consumer/ patient engagement all of the time the new reality? http://bit.ly/1VoF01N

Is healthcare consumer or patient engagement the new sales? http://bit.ly/1LFgdkx

Can healthcare providers become customer focused enterprises? http://bit.ly/1COdz7c

What is the healthcare consumer to do? http://bit.ly/1wPeDKm

The healthcare consumer has a buyer’s market now, how will providers respond? http://bit.ly/1NGedZK

What does a customer focused hospital or healthcare enterprise look like? http://bit.ly/1Hy6O09

The healthcare consumer lives in a multichannel environment; the response is? http://bit.ly/1CwCLOe

Patient engagement or patient relationship, can you have one without the other? http://bit.ly/1RGR0em

Is social media the next level of patient engagement? http://bit.ly/1mPF1gs

I am not going to dwell on the what and how to do of engagement, as that topic has been covered time and again.

I do chuckle as a primary health system that I have been going to for over 20 years has been boasting of a great CRM system for several years now.  The system hospital has ever engaged neither I nor any family members in any meaningful way. I know you, but you have no clue about me.  And I can choose to go elsewhere because you know why- providers are all the same.

Providers are failing the engagement test of healthcare consumers and patients. At what point does this finally sink in? 

When this happens, the last person out of the hospital, please turn the lights off.

That's why you engage all of the time. 

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

How does one make provider marketing meaningful?

A crucial question because the answer is, that one only needs a hospital for three things anymore- emergency care, ICU, and treatment for complex acute medical conditions.  The hospital as the center of the healthcare universe is an antiquated business model.  That is how fast the market has changed in three years.

While traditional approaches and messaging to marketing the hospital and health system continue unabated, the healthcare consumer is left scratching their head since its looks and feels so much the same for all the hospitals’  in a market.

While the healthcare consumer wants quality data, the hospitals look and turn away.

When the healthcare consumer asks for pricing information is the provider answer rude and arrogant that you’ll never understand our prices so why to bother?  

When the healthcare consumer tweets about a bad experience, silence echoes in the hallway.

And that is the core of the challenge.

Hospitals continue to be deaf to the changes and need of the market.

The healthcare consumer is searching for information on the hospital or health system that includes brand reputation, price and outcomes data, and experience to make a health care purchase decision.  They are finding the information elsewhere. What they are finding doesn’t match with the message. 

And that doesn’t foster or create trust.

Health care is a retail-driven, consumer-focused medical market and that means new approaches.  A new transparency based on price, outcomes and the value that the healthcare consumer receives. It’s not about logos, awards, vague claims or misleading advertisements. It is about being healthcare consumer focused and meeting their needs with usable, transparent, and actionable information, not hospital- centric messaging that makes the Board, physicians and senior management feel good.

It’s a new business model for hospital and health system operations and marketing.

In most cases, healthcare advertisements and other channel communications are the primary contacts that a consumer has that start the experience process.   Talk to the audience in meaningful ways. Educate. Teach. Inform. Change opinion.  Frame the experience and set up the clinical service or physician by providing actionable information in terms the healthcare consumer can understand.

Winning healthcare marketers are driving growth by increasing their precision, broadening their scope, reacting quickly, and being transparent by telling a better story.

Otherwise, last one out, please turn the lights out.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are you taking advantage of the third wave of digital in health care?


Change can be transformational for companies. Or, for the lack of leadership and understanding, spell the death knell of the business model as the market and industry changes. For example, one only needs a hospital for are three things, intensive care, care for complex acute medical conditions and life-threating emergency care.  After that, all other healthcare consumer or patient medical needs can be meet outside of the hospital or hospital-based outpatient services.
The third wave of digital transformation.
Keep the above thought in mind as another transformational innovation is impacting health care and hospitals.   The third wave of digital isn’t pie in the sky and few years out. This market changing transformation is the third wave of digital for providers. No one is immune.
The healthcare consumer is increasingly in control.  Period.  They are in control of their heath and health data through wearables, mobile health platforms, and self-tracking devices. They are in control of the experience. They are in control of the expectations for services.
What does it all mean?
In the digital third wave instead of healthcare services being static, they are now living services with liquid expectations.  It is through the third wave, that lays the marketing opportunity for healthcare providers, in understanding those living services and leveraging liquid expectations.
Marketing steps to take now.

1.     Market research to understand how the market segments especially how the Silver Surfers are using digital health, the internet of everything, as well as their expectations around those channels.

2.     Understand the nature and function of the hospital or health system digital brand. Does it meet the expectations uncovered in the market research?

3.      Embrace the trend don’t fight.  That means marketing leadership and participation in hospital or health system strategy development.

4.     Understand, and this is important for senior leadership and clinicians, all services in this new environment are liquid.  Clinical serves are no longer static and unforgiving of expectations.

5.    Understand the experiences that the healthcare consumer has in other industries and is transferring to healthcare. Learn and emulate.

6.    The healthcare consumer is moving between mobile, online, wearable and smartphone devices with expectations for a seamless digital experience.  Can the hospital or health system deliver on the expectation?

7.    Development of internal marketing educational programs for all levels of staff about the third digital wave and what it means when the patient is searching for providers and when they are in-house.

8.    More difficult but now essential transition from a provider-centric business model to a consumer-centric business model.

9.    Use digital to establish and manage engagement. That is where the healthcare consumer lives and expects to be engaged. Seamlessly across all digital platforms.

10.  Focus marketing efforts around the healthcare brand and value proposition around outcomes, price, experience, and expectation.

11.  Listen. Listen. Listen. And listen some more to the healthcare consumer and their needs.

Things have just gotten a lot harder in healthcare. The healthcare consumer is gaining control faster than hospitals, and health systems can keep up.
Not good.  Not good at all for the digital deaf providers.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.



For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Are you using social media in actually engaging the healthcare, consumer?

More of a rhetorical question, the other day I was wondering with all the engagement and experience efforts underway if I am an engaged at any level by my insurance plan or health care provider? Putting my marketing hat aside, and looking at the question, I have to say the answer is no.

And it is a major challenge and obstacle that providers face as healthcare becomes retail and healthcare consumer driven in nature on how to engage.

Engagement is human- to-human

Let me repeat; engagement is a human-to- human undertaking. It is not a piece of state disease literature.  It is not a generic newsletter sent monthly with topics that I have little interest. It’s a meaningful interaction that is a two-way conversation about my health status, needs, and options.   A dialogue that is ongoing, not one time.

Patient engagement or any engagement for that matter is a mutually beneficial conversation that is structured to meet the healthcare needs of the individual.  It can take many forms to fit the engagement style of the patient or healthcare consumer.  The implication here is that it is highly individualized.  

In marketing, we call that mass customization.  That is the same information shared with large populations or group of people that appear in nature to the individual to be highly personalized.  But all of the engagement drives mostly the same outcome, to increase knowledge, to make better choices, to empower decision-making, to create brand loyalty and drive revenue. And that engagement effort is delivered across multiple mediums and channels that the targeted individuals desire to receive the information.

Past engagement styles and efforts do not meet today’s healthcare consumer’s needs.

The healthcare consumer and patient lives and reacts to the world that is omnichannel in nature.  They move freely between phone, email, mobile, and desktop, etc., expecting the engagement and experience to be seamless and available at any time of their choosing.

It’s easy to talk about the rationale and the importance of an effective and efficient social media program.  Or, to suggest social media channels as a starting point to drive engagement and business.  It’s another thing to discuss the how you do it in a time of scarce marketing resources, lack of knowledge or the willingness to lead change.

What follows are steps in a defined process  to embark on an integrated social media program for engagement?   
1.       Improve the organizational marketing process. Let face it, we all do things that don’t make any sense or has become so ingrained we react without thinking. Take a step back and look at the marketing processes. Find efficiencies and increase effectiveness. Stop doing what doesn’t work and move those resources to social media.    
2.       Find the one person in the organization that knows social media and put them full time on the job or hire someone.  It takes an FTE dedicated to run a successfully integrated, efficient, and engaging social media program.   
3.       Commit to social media all the time. The challenge is to keep in front of your audience with relevant information, all the time.  Attention spans are short.  If someone sees no changes on a pretty regular basis in your content or information, they will fall away.   
4.      Measure everything.  Evaluate.  Adjust based on your findings. Redeploy budget as needed.  
5.      Use social media with brand evangelists, followers, customers, physicians, employees, etc., to communicate, build organizational support and loyalty.   
6.      Develop a content plan and editorial calendar.   
7.      Repurpose all content across social media channels.   
8.      Make it interesting and about the challenges the organization is solving.  All about you is boring and glossed over.  All about your customer’s or patient’s and how you are helping will.   
9.     In the end, if the human resources are not available in the department, consider outsourcing the social media function.

The bottom line is that the multiple stakeholders and audiences are out in social media searching for answers.  So it is probably about time that the provider or vendor is where they are, not where they would like them to be.

Think of one's personal experience as a healthcare consumer or patient.  Are you engaged? If not then the patients aren't either.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Complexity does not equal excellence in B2B healthcare marketing.

Do you agree or disagree with the headline?

With the basic premise, that complexity does not equal excellence in healthcare marketing. And I have seen a lot of complexity that looks great, but when you peel back the curtain, accomplishes very little. And along the way it may even sow confusion that few if any will understand or question because they don’t have the time. Well, except for maybe scratching their head with that quizzical look.

So why is it important to remove unnecessary complexity?

Because at the end of the day, marketing is about understanding your markets, competitors, and the buyer's journey taken by personas driven by their need for a solution. Then delivering in the clearest, most understandable terms what your solutions bring them to ease their pain.

Now that being said understanding your markets can be a complex undertaking. But that does not mean the marketing strategy and tactical execution has to carry the same level of complexity in design, resources, and activity.

The health care market is moving at breakneck speed and is more a buyer’s market in the B2B space than a seller’s market.  That means innovation, customer centricity, price, outcomes, convenience, accessibility, waste elimination and responsiveness to the needs of the healthcare provider ruling the day.  It means what an organization did in the past will probably not work in the future.

And this is important, an overly complicated marketing plan or marketing systems defeat the purpose of what the company is trying to accomplish. And if the marketing methods one uses require high levels of complexity to get them to work together, then you have the wrong systems.

Marketing resources are now needed to manage highly complex systems and process taking marketing away from what it is supposed to do, which as I see it, is generating high quality leads for sales, grow revenue and differentiate the company brand to dominate in your healthcare vertical.

Marketing is not as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be.

What I recommend is to follow a social media methodology in your overall marketing. Social media execution relies on you to be crystal clear in your messaging, offer, or solution. If you think about it, social media is the polar opposite of complexity.

So when you build that B2B website that has thousands of pages and links, look at all the time it doesn’t work because of the complexity. Think of all the daily resources expended to fix the process and system breakdowns, when they could be accomplishing actual marketing and driving differentiation, leads, revenue and growth.

Don’t make it harder than it is already. Find ways to remove the complexity of what you do and focus not on your “great systems,” but on how that complexity impacts the customer experience and consumes marketing resources diverting attention from the real task at hand. And that is growth.

Still think that marketing complexity equals excellence?

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Post opinions are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Social selling in healthcare takes work and commitment. Can you?

I am pretty amazed really, about all the attention, viewpoints, and content that is available about social selling and why that’s the new paradigm for sales and marketing. It’s obvious that marketing and sales professionals are starved for information about the how.  But, and this is a big but, may be looking for the pixy dust to sprinkle on their efforts and make it easy.

Sorry, but social selling in healthcare is not easy. It’s damn hard.

Why? It’s simple really.  Sales have to put the time in themselves to comment on clients/prospects company's blog posts. Use LinkedIn to its fullest potential with updates, liking others content, shares, and group activity. Share relevant industry information on Twitter and other platforms where customers and prospects are present.

Marketing can’t do that for you, but it does require a very high level of sales and marketing integration.

And though marketing and sales integration is claimed by many, few companies have done it. Social media and social selling take a lot of work.  But when you supplement what you know from traditional efforts, with who they follow, how they comment, share and follow specific issues, a very different picture emerges.

So from a previous blog post of mine, here is your nine-step process, edited to focus entirely on sales. Now, stop talking about it and start doing it.

Nine steps for social selling success  

1.       Commit to social media all the time. The challenge is to keep in front of your audience with relevant information, all the time.  Attention spans are short.  If someone sees no changes on a pretty regular basis in your content or information, they will fall away. 
2.       Follow the client and prospect on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for example. Discover what groups they belong to on LinkedIn and join them. 
3.       Spend at least 10-15 hours per week engaged in social media activities.   Share articles and comment on appropriate topics in their LinkedIn groups. Comment and share your company blog. This all about knowledge and value. 
4.       Make sure social media selling is part of your sales sequences for establishing trusted advisor status with your client or prospect. 
5.       Make sure that everyone in sales is using the same social media tactics, techniques and materials. All sales and marketing materials should be content appropriate and provide value, not features and benefits. Does the content for sharing answer the questions, how does this help me? One size does not fit all. 
6.       Revisit and change as needed, the ideal company profile and buyer personas.  Why? Because as you learn via social media and social selling one can infer intentions, pain points and challenges they are looking to solve by what they read, comment on or share. All clues in developing your social media and social selling approach. 
7.       Once one understands the publications and interests of the client and prospect search out relevant content to share. Do not limit yourself to content that is created in-house. Become the well informed, eclectic sales person with a wide variety of thought leadership sources. 
8.        Make sure that the entire organization knows what you are doing.  Nothing more embarrassing or damaging when someone at any level of the organization is clueless and can't be supportive of the sales efforts.  Makes you look like you do not know what you are doing. 
9.       Evaluate, monitor performance, make changes as needed in the program or staff and start the cycle again.

Put in the time. Reap the rewards. Don’t and you fall behind your competition and fail.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified. Writings are my own.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Is your healthcare marketing agile? Do you even know what that means?

Agile Marketing is a corporate buzzword being thrown around a lot lately.  But unless you’re familiar with the Agile Software Development process which Agile Marketing is adapted from, is much more than what some may think means doing something fast and shifting tactical marketing on a dime.

At its heart, Agile Marketing is a tactical marketing approach in which teams identify and focus their collective efforts on high-value projects, complete those projects cooperatively, measure the impact, and then continuously and incrementally improve the results over time.

Hardly a short tactical strike as some may think.

So what are the hallmarks of an Agile Marketing organization?
1.       Responding to change instead of following a plan.
2.       Rapid tactical iterations over big loud campaigns.
3.       Testing and data over opinion and conventions.
4.       Many small experiments over a few large bets.
5.        A focus on individuals and interactions, not target markets.
6.       Collaboration over silos and hierarchy.

I would maintain that in a healthcare vendor B2B environment, where technological developments, new entrants, and shifting market dynamics are creating future uncertainty, is a great place for Agile Marketing.

For the healthcare provider side of B2C, it would work as well, but would require too much organizational, attitudinal and cultural change in hospitals and health systems.  Those big bang campaigns for hospitals and health systems make the board, docs, and management feel good but have little impact on the market. 

Agile marketing and even what some are terming Agile Social Media is sustainable marketing that requires you to keep a constant pace and pipeline.  It also requires a very high degree of integration between the business, marketing, sales, and development.

Marketing programs are delivered from every couple of weeks to a couple of months with a bias towards the shorter cycles. Successful Agile Marketing also requires the organization to learn though PDCA or OODA feedback loops. Failure is acceptable as long as one does not make the same marketing mistake twice.

The moral of the story here is that Agile Marketing is not as simple as some may think it is, or that they have a clear understanding of the concept.

Unless marketing is organized into focused teams with collaborative input from other critical areas of the business, focusing on the individuals and interactions, it’s not Agile Marketing.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month and read in 52 countries.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group, Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Is dark social marketing the next big thing?

It’s estimated that two-thirds of internet social media activity occur in what has been termed dark social. I am not speaking of the nefarious activities of drug dealers, gun runner’s, blackmailers, etc. using TOR or another program that allows one to search the web anonymously. I am referring to all the social media activity that can’t be traced such as email link sharing, some applications and one-on-one messaging for example.

For example, a healthcare provider is looking for a solution to a problem.  They do the research on the IoT, speak with colleagues and others, possibly read some thought leadership and examine social media.  But in this process, friends and others may send an email or direct message with a link to a source of information or solution that would be of interest. It is the method of sharing information that makes it dark and at this time untraceable.

And what is of interest to me at least, is not the quantity of dark social traffic, but the quality of that sharing traffic that goes on unseen.

Think about this for a moment. How powerful is the recommendation from someone you know about a service or solution when you receive a link to a website or shares some meaningful information? It’s one-on-one messaging as compared to the mass messaging which has some traits of personalization, but still a mass market message.

That’s what I thought too.

Therein lays the opportunity. Remember all the talk and activity about word-of-mouth marketing that was always the perceived key to success over the years? Well, word-of-mouth marketing hasn’t gone away, it’s just gone dark.  

Pun intended.

So how do you reach the two-thirds of the internet that are currently not visible to you? Most marketers use some form of marketing automation providing us at least the very basic information of  “this was shared”. But what most do not know is shared with whom?

Was it shared externally to the recipient’s organization or internally?  Important to know as dark sharing impacts and influences the buyer’s journey and sales process.

Changing how we track what’s going on.

We are early in the process of discovering the hidden treasure trove of data in dark social, but there are ways to begin to understand how your information is being shared and used.

One way is to add trackable code to URLs someone may copy and paste in messages. Another way is to add trackable code to your website content for when it is copied and pasted.  When publishers participate with you, a short trackable code can be added any text for when it is copied and pasted into a message.

It’s early, and more ways are being developed to track the activity on dark social. But all marketers need to begin to understand and respond to the influence of dark social on their marketing and find ways to leverage what before now, was greatly unseen.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.

For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Social selling for the healthcare vendor, if not now, when?

There is a fair amount of writing that goes on nowadays about the importance of inbound sales and social media selling.  The genesis of which is a dramatic change in the market from the sellers to a buyer's controlled matrix, and a new customer journey process to purchase. Oh, and it also doesn’t help the seller when one sees that providers and physicians are using the IoT and social media to find out who is a thought leader in their software or service space.

If the vendor is not actively present in social media and producing excellent thought leadership, and still focusing on selling features and benefits, then no wonder so many vendors are falling behind and missing the sales, revenue and growth target.

And no it’s not marketing’s sole responsibility.

Here is where I hear, I don’t have the time or the best one, “that’s marketing’s role.” No, it’s not marketing's job.  Social media selling is an organizational focus and participatory event.  Marketing does have a role, a critical role, but it’s not their sole responsibility to accomplish.

It’s really about a high degree of sales and marketing integration.

And that means sales and marketing are working together in a highly integrated fashion. Marketing can create the content, write and post the blogs, manage the Facebook and LinkedIn company page, Twitter account, Vimeo, YouTube, Google+, etc.  but that is only one portion. 

Success comes when marketing has been working closely with the sales team or client executive that identified what thought leadership content prospects and customer need, to provide a solution to their challenges. It’s about the having the right content at the right time shared by the client's executive to create trusted advisor status.

It’s not about marketing going into the sales executives LinkedIn page to post as a share.

That’s the easy way out for sales and an inefficient use of marketing resources and human capital.

So how is social selling done to gain credibility?

Social selling is every day. And it’s not that hard, especially with all is the sharing buttons available on websites that allow you to share on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook Goggle+ and a million other platforms. Less than 30 seconds to point, click, share.

Plus, it’s not asking the sales execs to do anything out of the ordinary either.  If a sales exec is not getting industry e-newsletters and not doing research to stay abreast of industry developments, well, then there is a bigger problem.

Marketing can do an awful lot in creating the toolbox of content, shortened links and create the 144 character tweets so sales can copy and paste. It makes it even easier when the company uses a social media crowdsource application like Thunderclap. Everyone in the organization signs up with a personal twitter account on the business’s page. And then, when the company tweets, it goes out automatically to all followers on their Twitter account.  No fuse, no mus. Marketing can also create a training program on how to do. Once you get started, not that hard. Not that hard at all.

In the end, it starts with sales identifying what social media their clients and prospects are using and following. It’s about connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, and on whatever social media platforms they use.  It’s about reading client and prospects company blogs leaving relevant comments and sharing their blogs.  It’s about sharing your companies blog post and thought leadership. It’s about marketing running an inbound solution oriented marketing program that gives a reason for prospects to call and inquire.

Social selling takes effort, time, and patience. Never said it would be easy or not take any dedicated time or work.  But, it is how the successful competitors are beating you day in and day out.

Back to the question asked earlier, if not now, when?

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Monday, August 15, 2016

What is so hard about social media, SEO & content marketing?

Nothing except us in making it hard in the final analysis. 

But we make things more difficult than they need to because of antiquated ideas or misconceptions. Maybe, though, it’s more about fear of becoming more accountable and transparent to your customers. 

It does require letting go of the past and the way you have always done things. As an aside, it’s also an excellent way to engage employees in the brand message activities.  Your staff can be you biggest influencer's too.

Social media is a two-way conversation.  The vendor can engage and enhance the provider understanding of the issues and manage buyer journey with content that is delivered at the right time, in the right format to enhance the customer’s experience. The healthcare vendor can engage, position themselves as an industry thought leader across channels, and build trusted adviser status.  After all, isn’t that what the surveys are saying? Buyers desire their vendors to become trusted advisors and are using particular media for the customer buyer journey during the consideration phase?

So let’s expand the discussion to include SEO and content marketing, as well as shifting marketing resources and focus on traditional marketing channels of print, broadcast, billboard, etc., to social media, SEO and content marketing.  In the simplest of terms, it’s all about being where the audience can be found.

Think of it this way:

Understand that the above channels are living, breathing entities.  They have staying power in the market environment and provide a consistent presence for the healthcare provider enterprise to be easily found, tell the brand story, engage, influence choice, as well as manage experience.  Can one realistically accomplish this with just a focus on traditional marketing with a sprinkling of social media? No is the only answer the question.

Now that being said, I am not throwing traditional outbound interruptive marketing under the bus. There is still a place for outbound marketing integrated into inbound marketing. It’s a resource shift from what’s not working, to what does work.

Grow the healthcare enterprise brand and revenue through social media, SEO and content marketing.  Growth is good.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Can you avoid a social media and press disaster in a crisis?

Sometimes, another organization's PR missteps are an opportunity to learn how not to handle a PR crisis.  Just ask the any of the hospitals, health systems and vendors that have been in the media in what seems a continuous stream of news for data breaches, hacking, and ransomware attacks.  

And the reaction by providers and vendors have been from the no comment stance to we are doing everything possible. Then that is inevitably followed by an article where a provider executive states that they should be paid to protect data. Really?

A laptop with patient or client data was left in a car or stolen. The vendor who prints health plan member cards is hacked and was data stolen.  Or the, “We had 60 days under the law before we had to report it.”  How do you think the public reads that answer of hiding behind regulations when their personal data is at stake?

In an age of social media where the employee, consumer, even government officials are the new paparazzi for the 24-hour news cycle, those bygone days of being able to mismanage a PR crisis and response and skate away untouched.

Is your response to huddle in a conference roo,m hiding? Do you send out poorly prepared underlings, to face reporters and the public? Does leadership, make lofty pronouncements at the outset, that could come back to haunt you because, at this point, you just don't know?   Do you react as an arrogant organization with the, "How dare you question our response"?   Do you think that it can never happen to you? Do you have a crisis communications plan in place?

Every provider and vendor organization will face a PR crisis. How you handle the communications, will determine the amount of brand damage and length of time people remember, the good and the bad.  In this age of social media and the Internet, there are no, "We just need to wait three days to weather the storm", anymore.

Many times organizations respond with:

  •    Lack of organizational understanding of the need to handle a situation as crisis  communication;
  •   Different, conflicting senior management messages
  •   Testy responses to questions
  •    Lack of preparation by speakers in understanding the seriousness of the   communication
  •    Poor speaker body language
  •    No overriding organizational message
  •    Corporate arrogance
  •     Lost messaging opportunity
  •    Give the appearance of blaming others
  •    The organization appearing not accountable
  •    The organization furthering to anger the media;
  •     No response at all with the "it's just a three-day story and will go away."
  •    Sending out unprepared underlings to face the media
  •    Failure to leverage social media and employees to tell the right story

Is it not true that any press is good press!  Every day, someone somewhere faces a crisis communications issue that is poorly handled.

It is not difficult, and should be part of your marketing strategy as a separate communications plan. By following these planning guides, you can weather any storm, limit reputation, revenue and ultimately brand image damage:

·         Understand the nature of the situation
  •  Be transparent
  •  Be proactive in how you intend to address the situation
  •  Restrict the amount of time senior leaders i.e. the CEO or president speak
  •  Make sure everyone has the same message and is on board
  •  Develop strong organizational messaging of care and concern
  •  Don’t scapegoat, blame others or give the appearance of blaming others
  •  Don’t tell people things will change when things are not changing
  •  Practice, practice, practice
  • Bring in an outside PR firm for another viewpoint
  • Understand that your reputation is built up over a long time and can is destroyed in a few short minutes
  • Remember that it is not just a three-day story
  • Watch your body language
  •  Know your facts about past performance; reporters will be prepared
  •  Learn from others
  •  Each year engage in a day of media training for executives. Dealing with the media is a learned skill that the majority of managers do not have.  It is not as easy as it looks.

Most importantly, engage the media all the time all year round not just when you have a problem.  By establishing positive media relations with the good you do, you won't necessarily be cut any slack in a bad situation, but you will get the opportunity to tell your side.  You won't if you don't have good media relations already in place.

Plan now for that crisis communications event, and you will better off as a prepared healthcare organization.

Michael is a healthcare marketing business, marketing, and communications strategist and thought leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare marketing strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters receives over 20,000 page views a month.  He is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association and HubSpot Academy- Email Marketing, Inbound Marketing & Inbound Sales Certified.


For more topics and thought leading discussions like this, join his group,  Healthcare Marketing Leaders For Change, a LinkedIn Professional Group.