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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Passion, not Promotion, Built this Doctor's Blog Audience

Susan Lilly
During a webinar yesterday, I listened to Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of “Seattle Mama Doc” fame – She’s a pediatrician mom who writes a widely followed blog for Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Swanson didn’t start blogging to promote herself, but because she wanted to be a reasoned voice in an age of media hype trumping science. Her passion was evident while making the case for physician blogging. In fact, her passion is the key to her success as a blogger, which has the additional benefit of boosting the profile and mission of Seattle Children’s. The hospital gives her free reign on what to post, which gives her blog (and embedded You Tube videos) authenticity and personality.

To enhance a program or raise awareness, you need to go where your patients are. Today, they are online. Do you have a physician or nurse in a service line who has a passion to engage and help patients? Who has the time to commit to posting once a week?

Remember to be patient; blogs take some time to gain traction. But that’s ok as this gives the blogging doctor or nurse time to find her comfort zone in the blogosphere.

Take a look at Dr. Swanson’s blog for inspiration:

Susan Lilly consumes vast amounts of health industry data so you don’t have to. She has worked in the healthcare field for 20 years - in both private and public sectors - and focuses on telling the stories that help health care clients grow and thrive.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Prioritizing Marketing Resources Key to Achieving Return on Investment Goals - Part 1

For most healthcare marketers, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) comes not in the dead of winter but in the dreaded annual cycle of budget planning.  Hunkered down with plans and spreadsheets, most are trying to conjure up ways to achieve more with less.  Unfortunately, too many end up spreading scarce dollars over too many projects.
When stuck between a rock (the health system's need for profitable growth) and a hard place (the drive to cut costs), how do marketers prioritize marketing investments and gain organizational commitment to those investment decisions?

First, clean house.  Use this opportunity as a time to take a stand and stop funding those activities that have no or minimal impact on strategic growth, customer acquisition, customer retention and financial performance.  Specifically look at non-marketing activities that sap resources and work with your colleagues across the health system to eliminate or move those deeds elsewhere.  Make sure your team is performing at its best; while it's always difficult to move people out, when you are being asked to do more with fewer FTEs, each has to be a stellar performer.

Second, use a marketing resource allocation methodology to prioritize limited marketing resources (dollars and FTEs) to those growth and marketing initiatives that have the best potential for improving business performance and positioning the organization for long-term success.

In prioritizing marketing resource investments, there are three basic decision points:
  1. What businesses, clinical programs or market expansion initiatives offer the best opportunity for growth and profitability?
  2. Within priority programs and service lines, what strategies and tactical initiatives will best achieve marketing goals?
  3. What infrastructure investments will be required to support effective growth and marketing management?
In other words, what will you choose to invest in to drive growth and improve profitability, and what activities and support systems will contribute most to those objectives? Both top-down and bottom-up approaches to resource allocation are necessary; top down for strategic planning across a health system’s portfolio of service lines and market initiatives; bottom up to develop individual marketing budgets within each priority program.

I know that some of the toughest issues marketers face during the long, cold winter of the budget season are cutting others' pet projects, sunsetting outdated communications tactics, navigating the politics of competing priorities, and so on and so on.  Just saying 'no' has not been an option for some;  a marketing resource allocation method can better arm the marketer with data-driven rationale for investment decisions.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll explore the components and key questions to delve into for each of the three decision points listed above.  In the meantime, let me know some of your toughest budget challenges -- together let's find a way to stop doing more and focus on achieving more

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Your Brand's Value is Influenced by the Company it Keeps

Many years ago, an older and wiser colleague gave me this advice: be careful where you put your logo. A point made all too well, when at one of our port city’s many waterfront festivals, I ran smack dab into a biker (the Hell’s Angels, not Lance Armstrong, type) wearing our health system’s 100th anniversary t-shirt. There was our carefully-crafted and beautifully-designed ‘future of medicine’ message and logo stretched across the beer belly of a large, bearded and seemingly-intoxicated man complete with ‘die young’ tattoos, leather studded neck collar, and dangling cigarette. The dichotomy of the message and the media underscored the importance of context for brand building communications.

Professors Brian Sternthal (Kellogg School of Management) and Myungwoo Nam (INSEAD) conducted a series of experiments (Kellogg Insight) to determine how the environment in which a brand appears influences brand perception, and concluded that managing the brand’s environment is just as important as managing the brand. A more favorable context produces a more favorable perception, and a negative context, a less favorable one.

Most marketers know this and work hard at selecting and controlling media that enhance and complement the brand – but the advent of the Internet and increasing popularity of social media sites have made this a more challenging aspect of brand management. Organizations fear and avoid social media channels, citing the need to maintain control. As if by not showing up, they have somehow done so. But they’re really in denial that a cyber-biker might just be sporting their brand in a compromised context around the web.

So the question for chief marketing officers is how do we help health systems replace old concepts of control with those of engagement, conversation, relationship, community, partnership, insights and influence?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Social Media Marketing Now 10% of On Line Promotions Spending

Of the $28.5 billion projected to be spent for on-line advertising in the US this year, 10.8% ($3.08 billion) is earmarked for social media networks - which represents a significant jump from the $1.99 billion spent in 2010. And that number is expected to rise again next year to 12.1%, according to a new report "Worldwide Social Network Ad Spending: 2011 Outlook."

The report's author, Debra Aho Williamson, comments, “The skepticism of a few years ago has faded; large brands are allocating more marketing budget to social media than ever before, and their social network ad spending is also rising. Two categories of advertisers are emerging: major brand marketers that increase budgets gradually, and performance advertisers that spend heavily and bring extensive search marketing expertise.”

How are you planning to allocate your promotions dollars in 2011?