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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Consider Recession Psychology in Your Segmentation Strategies

As I look back over thirty years of marketing health services, periods of prosperity ebbed and flowed with the occasional recession. When jobs declined; the numbers of uninsured increased. In hard times elective procedures diminished and bad debt ballooned. When people went back to work, consumer spending resumed and volumes bounced back. Hospitals watched clinical volumes rise and fall in accordance, predictable as rain.

But here we are in 2010, still weathering the worst recession since the 1930s. The prolonged and severe nature of it, and the distrust born of mismanagement and scandal in the financial, housing and automotive industries, have consumers in an economic funk of historic significance.

So the question for marketers is – will consumer spending bounce back with the economic recovery? Or are we likely to see fundamental and more permanent changes in attitude and consumer behavior as a result of the meltdown (think ‘depression’ era)?

These are important issues for marketing executives. And require us to understand the new ‘psychographic’ segments that may emerge as a result. Authors John Quelch and Katherine Jocz in How to Market in a Downturn (Harvard Business Review) believe that customers will fall into four recession-influenced segments, and that those segments have distinctly different behaviors when it comes to the purchase of “essentials, treats, postponables and expendables.”
  • Slam-on-the-brakes: This segment feels most vulnerable for good reasons – they were hardest hit financially by loss of income or housing costs that rose above their means, or worry that circumstances could change for worse at any time. They reduce all types of spending by cutting out, cutting back or postponing purchases. In healthcare, we may see this group cancel elective surgeries, not fill prescriptions, avoid medical care, self-treat, and drop insurance coverage.
  • Pained-but-patient: These consumers do believe that happy days will come again but worry about their ability to ride out the downturn. So they economize, but less aggressively than their slam-on-the-brakes neighbors. The largest of the segments, this one may see members adopt slam-on-the-brakes behaviors should things get worse. In healthcare, these are likely to be consumers who put off medical procedures for fear of losing time on the job or, conversely, get things fixed because they fear not having insurance if something happens down the road. They may switch to lower cost brands and back-burner plastic surgery, cosmetic dentistry or other discretionary procedures.
  • Comfortably well-off: This group feels good - even secure about their own circumstances even though the economy is tanking. Their consumption patterns haven’t changed much since before the recession but they tend to be less conspicuous. Although the segment consists largely of people in the top 5% income bracket, it also includes some less wealthy but confident consumers. Because these are also likely to be a bit older, they still have healthcare needs and are likely to continue using physician, imaging, surgery and hospital services, including high end out-of-pocket purchases such as cosmetic surgery, weight loss surgery and concierge practices.
  • Live-for-today: This mostly younger and more urban group tends to live in the moment and, unless unemployed, carries on less aware of the recession and unconcerned about long-term savings. I would expect to see them at the Minute Clinic for an ailment needing prescription and in the ER for more serious events.

The key learning is that even in a recession, not all consumers will act alike. For healthcare marketers, the challenge is to view traditional segment strategies through the lens of recession psychology. In doing so, a clearer picture is likely to emerge as to opportunity and priority of marketing investment.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Engaging Women With A Women's Heart Facebook Fan Page

Navvis & Company vice president, Carla Bryant, was the featured speaker on a recent Women's HeartAdvantage webcast, where she discussed the advantages, strategies and tactics for using a Facebook Fan Page for women's heart programs. Here is the discussion deck from her presentation.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Women's Heart Expert to Present "State of Women's Heart Health in US"

Here's an opportunity for you to hear one of the nation’s leading experts in women’s heart health. Dr. C. Noel Bairey Merz, will present a national overview and update on women and heart disease on Wednesday, March 31, 2010 at 12 p.m. EDT during a Women’s HeartAdvantage webcast.

Dr. Bairey Merz is Professor of Medicine at Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles), medical director for the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Women’s Health Program and Women’s Heart Center, and holds the Women’s Guild Endowed Chair in Women’s Health. She has been the clinical co-director for Women’s HeartAdvantage since its inception, and acts as a national spokesperson for the program in order to raise awareness about women and heart disease. Her appearances have included Good Morning America, NBC Dateline and 20/20, and she has been interviewed for the New York Times, US News and World Report and Working Woman, among others.

During the hour long webcast, Dr. Bairey Merz will discuss the latest trends regarding women’s heart health and provide a sneak peek into what the next decade may hold for women and heart disease. Session topics include:
  • An update on clinical trials regarding diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in women
  • Screenings, diagnostics and therapeutic modalities for microvascular disease in women
  • The most appropriate general cardiovascular screenings and diagnostic applications for women
  • Heart screenings protocols and practices to engage physicians and women in prevention and self care
  • Strategies to create and sustain a women’s heart program as part of an overall cardiovascular service line business plan

The webcast is being offered free of charge to Chief Marketing Officer readers. Click here to register.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Residents Put Dispute with Bronx Hospital Online

Blocking internal access to social media sites won't help a hospital when a disgruntled staff decides to air its issues on-line. Interns and residents at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx have turned to the net to bring attention to bring attention to what they consider to be poor, unacceptable working conditions. The strategy is aimed at bringing the community into the discussion. Learn more at Residents put dispute with Bronx hospital online.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Three Ways Text Messages Can Improve Healthcare Marketing

Marianne Aiello of HealthLeaders Media writes in a recent post "now that 86% of the U.S. population own a cell phone and the typical mobile subscriber sends and receives more text messages than phone calls, the use of text message campaigns will almost certainly increase across all industries. There are several opportunities for healthcare to get involved, so it will be interesting to see how this medium pans out."

She shares several examples -- from the highly publicized impact that text messaging has had in fundraising for the recent crisis in Haiti to a White House initiative to improve prenatal health and infant care. Learn more about ways to use text messaging for key audiences in her article at
Three Ways Text Messages Can Improve Healthcare Marketing.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Guest Blogger: Mike Schneider of Greystone.Net

Healthcare Marketers Embrace Social Media, But Rarely Have a Plan

If you find that getting your arms around your social media strategy is difficult, then the results of the Greystone.Net Social Media Research show that you are not alone. The study finds that hospitals and health systems are fully embracing social media -- 9 in 10 said that they had an active presence or are monitoring social media sites -- however, less than 40% say they have a formal plan for social media and struggle to clearly identify measurable return on investment.

Greystone.Net conducted the study at the end of 2009. Our sample size was relatively small -- 38 of our 100 Greystone.Net research panel participants completed the survey -- and Greystone.Net clients tend to be slightly more “Web 2.0 savvy” than other organizations, so data may be slightly skewed in that direction. But, the results mirror our findings in the field as we work with clients to plan for their Social Media and Web site strategies.

The study also found that social media has been good at helping organizations generate Web traffic, but is not nearly as effective at accomplishing other key organizational goals. Other topics of interest included budget and staffing for social media, types of social media monitoring, and how organizations measure the effectiveness of their social media efforts.

The fact that hospitals and health systems do not have formal plans for social media and are not seeing the results they desire does not seem like a coincidence to me. We anticipate a strong demand for social media planning in the future, as organizations try to catch up with the leaders out there doing an amazing job of leveraging social media.

For more information about this study or to inquire about being a member of the Greystone.Net research panel, visit the Greystone.Net Web site .

Michael Schneider is a consultant with Greystone.Net, where he has helped over 50 healthcare organizations develop Internet-related strategic plans. Before joining Greystone.Net, Mike was the Director of Database Management and Research for Emory University Health Care System in Atlanta.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Marketing Innovations Frame Chief Marketing Officers' 2010 Agenda

2010 marks the beginning of a new decade – one likely to be characterized by significant change and transformation in the health industry. Converging forces of payer reform, industry consolidation, consumerism, and advanced information technologies are challenging the underlying basis for competition.

Economics are front and center, creating a compelling case for the role that marketers must play in an increasingly competitive industry. What an opportune time to establish marketing leadership as a strategy-critical business competency for healthcare organizations.

It’s that opportunity that will frame the Chief Marketing Officers’ Innovator’s Studio agenda in 2010:

  • To transform marketing practice to growth-oriented strategic leadership.
  • To drive value-innovation across the health system.
  • To crusade for customer-centered practices.
  • To build powerful, sustainable brands.
  • To develop results-oriented marketing capabilities.
  • To realize market success.

The year’s first on-site intensive for the Chief Marketing Officer’s Innovator’s Studio is scheduled March 22 & 23, 2010 at the Catalyst Ranch in Chicago. The deep dive topics – Innovations in Service Line Marketing and Thinking Retail– will jump right to the heart of where marketing executives can impact their health systems’ core business and improve competitive performance.

We’ll learn from experts that have achieved dramatic results from integrated approaches to business, brand and marketing strategies for clinical service lines, ambulatory and retail health services. Come prepared to brainstorm new ideas and frame out service line marketing innovations.

For more information about The Innovator’s Studio, contact me by email ( or call me at 757.640.8515.

In the Super Bowl of Advertising, Will Facebook Win the Trophy?

This year’s Super Bowl may likely be remembered for the advertising you WON’T see – for the first time in 23 years, Pepsi will not run an ad during the Super Bowl game. Instead, PepsiCo is going online with a major digital campaign that features its own website and a heavy presence on Facebook, according to The Financial Times. The advertiser is “betting that a more interactive approach will resonate with consumers in the always-on age of social networking sites.”

PepsiCo’s digital strategy marks a major shift among consumer goods advertisers, who have historically relied more upon traditional channels and invested less in online marketing. Some analysts estimate that Facebook could increase advertising revenues to more than $1 billion this year.

More evidence of a maturing new media.

Read more at The Financial Times.

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Maturing of Social Media Marketing

Would you call yourself a seasoned veteran or novice player when it comes to social media marketing? MarketingSherpa's research shows that a rapidly increasing segment of marketers are advancing from novice to a competent practitioner. And that maturity is producing dramatic improvements in results and ROI.

You can learn more during a free one hour webinar (Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 2:00 pm EST) presented by HubSpot and featuring MarketingSherpa's 2010 Social Media Benchmark Report.

Key topics to be covered include:
  • How each of the three stages to social marketing maturity impacts results
  • Where your social marketing maturity stands in relation to other marketers
  • Insights on how B2B and B2C marketers plan a social media strategy
  • Which practices are routinely performed using a formal marketing plan

Webinar registrants will also receive Chapter 3 from MarketingSherpa's 2010 Social Media Marketing Benchmark Report, titled Social Media Marketing Maturity and the Social Marketing ROAD Map.

Click here for more information or to register.