Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dear Vendor Sales Exec, Social Selling is Not Marketing’s Thing. It’s Yours.

There is a fair amount of writing that goes on nowadays about the importance of social 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. 

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 participatory event.  Marketing does have a role, a critical role, but it’s not their sole responsibility to social sell.

It’s really about a high degree of individual sales executive’s effort.

The sales executive has to know what is going on in the market, who is reading what publication and e-newsletters.

The sales executive has to read to stay current.

So in reading and staying current why aren’t you sharing those articles on Twitter. LinkedIn, LinkedIn Groups, etc.?

Success in social selling comes when the sales executive builds a following by providing relevant and current thought leadership that creates the perception of being seen as a subject matter expert. It’s not about what you know, which is probably not as much as you think you do from living in a fish bowl.

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 the company uses a social media crowdsource application like Thunderclap. Everyone in the organization having a personal Twitter account signs up 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 with social sharing for social selling, 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 headline. Social selling is not just marketing’s thing.

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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

To blog, or not to blog? Today’s provider social media question for consideration.

One of the easiest ways for providers to take advantage of social media is blogging. There are thousands of stories of quality care. There are the stories of dedicated and highly educated and trained professional employees.  There are physicians on the medical staff whose collective knowledge and practice of medicine tallies in the hundreds of years with stories of quality, care, and compassion to tell.  Volunteers are coming in daily who have heartwarming stories of engagement and loyalty and most importantly the first-hand experience with their care or a loved one’s health care. 

No additional resources needed for this effort. The communications talent in your marketing department is already in the building, ready to provide compelling content and context surrounding the hospital or health system.

Best of all you control the message.  The hospital or health system can link to the website. Post to Facebook. Broadcast on Twitter. Engage potential employees and followers on the Hospital page on LinkedIn. And use the blog as a mechanism for establishing an active media relations program to develop a press following.

I don’t understand why, and please don’t site HIPAA.  There is nothing in blogging that requires the release of protected health information.  That is nothing but a smoke screen used to not engage in social media.

Let me pose to you this question.  How many times has the provider marketing team completed a Google search to see who is blogging and writing about the organization? Just because an organization doesn’t engage in an aspect of social media doesn’t mean that it’s not happening in the broader community.  Remember that the healthcare consumer is the new paparazzi.

But beyond that little exercise, blogging should be part of the structure of a strategic and fully integrated organizational marketing plan. It’s a method for communicating. It’s a method for building a brand.  It’s a process of engaging not only the patient but the newly minted health insured and the burgeoning healthcare consumer.  They are all out there searching for information, so why not provide them with meaningful content?

Now that being said, this isn’t about fluff. Oh, look at the new building. See our state-of-the-art cardiac cath lab.  Or the ever popular we have wireless internet and HD TVs!  Blogging is about controlling the message, experience and providing meaningful engagement content by using the blog innovatively.

Since so few providers blog, this is a blue ocean strategy for reaching out and engaging. You establish the tone, tenor, and terms of communication are determined via content that has contextual clarity.   And that ladies and gentleman, makes everyone else in the market-  me too.

 To blog or not to blog the hospital?  I think the question has been answered.

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, February 12, 2017

Nine Strategies For Changing Provider Marketing. Do You Have The Courage?

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, to talk of many things: “Of shoes and ships, and sealing-wax, of cabbages and kings.”  The Walrus and The Carpenter by Lewis Carroll

From what I have seen it’s pretty much the status quo when it comes to hospital marketing. Smiling happy patients, fluffy messaging that are all about you, shiny and dramatic shots of hi-tech equipment, new buildings with different other visuals, and copy that leaves one with more questions than answers. Not much really in the way of experience, outcomes or framing of expectations that a healthcare consumer could use to make a reasonable decision about seeking treatment.

Sadly, provider marketing can be unintentionally arrogant, pejorative and in many cases oxymoronic. For example, has it ever occurred to anyone that messaging your markets that you care and it’s all about the patient when the data indicates otherwise, is disingenuous?

And having been in the trenches for a very long time trying to bring about change in how providers market, the current methods, and messages of marketing can be traced back to the 80s, on thru the 90s into the 2000s. Lo and behold, we arrive in the 2010s still doing the messaging, with same interruptive approaches, with little if any meaningful differentiation. Spoiler alert- providers are all looking the same.

Given the evolution of the healthcare consumer leaving the provider in its wake, what can be done by hospital marketing to change the tide, find some measure of market dominance and along the way grow revenue, market share and brand?

Here are nine marketing strategies for improving provider marketing.

1.  Brand and competitive position.
Consumers and patients are ready for convenient technology-enabled access to care. Use of mobile healthcare apps is on the rise. Healthcare providers that are capable of identifying users needs, and how they want their healthcare needs meet through technology focused on them, will gain new patients and the next generation of physicians. 

2. Engage existing customers and patients.
An individual is only a patient 1/3rd of the time they come in contact with you.  That is during the diagnosis, treatment and recovery phase.  Pre and post this; they are a consumer, not a patient.  So why then is it the only time you meaningfully engage them is during the period when they are a patient?  That doesn't seem like a lot of common sense. Consumer and patient engagement is about all of the time, not just some of the time.  Engaging the individual on a continuous basis builds loyalty and return use or repurchases behavior.

3. Engage the physicians and focus on the doctor experience.
No matter the payment model you will still need a doctors or physician extenders order to get anything done in a healthcare setting. That means engaging physicians in meaningful ways, using the methods, technology, and systems that will make their life easier, improve their productivity and protect or increase their income. An effective and efficient physician has more to do with the impact of cost, quality in your organization then may other factors.

How hard is it for a doctor or physician extender to practice medicine in your organization?  Understand their experiences overall from beginning to end, not just in separate care segments. Fix what is broken, keep what is working. The more satisfying the experience, the better you will do financially.

4. Focus on the consumer/patient experience.
A healthcare provider's ability to deliver an experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its patients and potential patients from its competitors - traditional and non-traditional - serves to increase their spending and loyalty to the brand. You need to actively manage the customer experience in total by understanding the client's point of view.  That is, all touch points internally and externally that a healthcare consumer/patient comes in contact with which in turn creates the experience. Exceptional experience means gains in market share, brand awareness, and revenue.

5. Embrace innovation in healthcare.
Traditional ways of delivering healthcare are going by the wayside.  Price, convenience, access are the drivers in local healthcare.  Find the need, understand the consumer’s behavior, design offering to meet the need not you in a convenient location and price it appropriately. If you can't compete in this way, your market position, share, and revenue will erode.

6. Agility is the name of the game.
Be nimble. Be agile. Be quick.  Healthcare marketing needs to move from the tried and failed to the exceptional, the innovative, the engaged and the motivational. You can't reach the healthcare consumer on an emotional level to make the right choices, treatment and lifestyle decisions as well as purchase decisions in your favor unless you are sufficiently engaged.

7. Get moving on the social media program.
A hospital or health system needs to be where the healthcare consumer is living. And the healthcare consumer is on social media finding the information they need to make choices.  Social media is not a billboard, but an efficient and effective engagement strategy that can enhance the relationship.

8. Understand the multiplicity of markets.
You have five markets: Medicare; Medicaid; Commercial; Exchanges; and Uninsured. Baby Boomers are starting to demand that their health care experience is delivered their way, the way they want when they want. Retail medicine will continue to expand so tailor the health care offerings to the market accordingly. One size does not fit all. Outcomes and price transparency, access and convenience are the future, and the future is now.

9. Quality Transparency will set one free.
An idea that causes the most fear and trepidation among hospital executives and physicians is patients getting access to relevant quality data that they can understand and use to make meaningful choices. Get ready it's here whether you like it or not, and it's just not a marketing technique. It's the right thing to do. Because if you don't have someone else will.  And your quality and price data is out there. All it takes to some creativity to develop a Kayak type website for healthcare and you're at the bottom of the food chain. No circling the wagons. The genie is out of the bottle and never going back.

Change and thrive or stay the same and die your choice.

Healthcare Marketing Matters celebrates a birthday this week. I started writing the blog on February 17, 2007. Ten years is a long time to be writing about provider and vendor healthcare marketing strategy. From humble beginnings when I wondered of anyone would read it at all Healthcare Marketing Matters has grown to over 20,000 page views a month and is read in 52 countries.  My deepest thanks and appreciation for you continued readership and support. Thank you for reading

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.