Eight indisputable facts that support the business case for marketing to baby boomers – a market of over 100 million people who spend over $3 trillion per year and represent the only real big growth market that still exists.


A division of Trajectory, Boomergy is a strategic and creative consultancy 100% focused on helping marketers win the loyalty of 50+ consumers. Interested in learning more? Call Eric Brody at 973-292-1400 x201.

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Hospital merger and acquisition activity remains robust. In 2012, the number of deals was more than twice that of 2009 (Irving Levin Associates).

Regardless of the reasons for the transaction, being able to position the new entity for success, attract and retain patients and drive new growth requires coordinating the three related activities of Brand, Buy-In & Marketing.

Without this planning and oversight, hospitals and healthcare systems in the midst of transitioning through a merger or acquisition (regardless of which side of the M&A an organization is on) will encounter:

• a brand that struggles to support the newly-formed organization’s vision, promises, values and goals
• a fractured internal audience that must be relied on to deliver unified messages and experiences
• external marketing promises that aren’t synchronized with delivery of care
• inefficiencies resulting in sub-optimal return on marketing investment

At Trajectory, we’ve guided many healthcare organizations through these transitions, and understand the unique challenges they face. Here’s a checklist of 10 activities to consider as your healthcare systems, hospitals and physician groups transition from pre-merger competitors to post-merger partners:


1. M&A brand team: created across your organization’s to proactively act on and communicate leadership decisions and to navigate the range of tangibles and intangibles on the table, e.g. logistics, preparation, training.

2. Brand compatibility: short-term financial and market share strength will not overcome the need to develop a singular brand vision, positioning, key messaging framework and set of values.

3. Portfolio efficiency: how will the merger or acquisition impact your brand portfolio in terms of overlapping organizational, facility and service line capabilities? You can check here to begin to determine if your portfolio is delivering maximum ROI.


4. Cultural fit: what’s the process of integrating medical staff and employees, across all functions, and all initiatives, on both sides of the M&A table. And whose culture leads?

5. Open communication: have you established feedback mechanisms (both offline and online) for both internal and external audiences to share their perspectives about the impact the M&A will have on their lives.

6. Engagement & Alignment: are your organization’s really on the same page? You don’t know, and can’t act upon, until you measure.


7. Marketing philosophy and approach: is marketing considered an investment or expense? Does it tend to be brand or service line-driven? How will you align your two organizations relative to each one’s key revenue generating, strategic and mission-driven service lines?

8. Social media practices: it’s not likely that each of your organization’s have the exact same philosophy, goals, strategies and tactics as it relates to social media. How will you best harness the power of your “social currency”, i.e. the value you’ve created and the conversations, communities and advocacy you’ve worked so hard to cultivate?

9. Local community commitment: do your organizations have the same commitment to your local communities; does bigger now mean less touch in order to serve the health needs of the larger region?

10. From follower to leader: how will you adjust your approach from being the #2 or #3 player to becoming a stronger market share leader?

Have you experienced these issues as a healthcare marketer in the midst of a merger or acquisition?

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healtcareImagine how you’d feel if your healthcare provider treated you like Apple or USAA?

I thought of this idea on a recent post-op visit to a top healthcare provider. While the surgery was a clinical success, I wondered why my ‘brand experience’ was not. Was it my failed attempts at setting-up the initial consultation (stuck in an unending web of automated voice prompts), my inability to pre-register online (hand-written forms still required), the sharp (and I don’t mean in a good way) insurance liaison I had to engage with, or maybe my inability to connect with a caring professional post-op (online communication not allowed).

Waiting for my appointment, I pondered what they could learn from both Apple and USAA – two amazing organizations that I value and respect. Who truly put the customer at the center of everything they do and consider their perspective in every decision they make. Who design everything around their customers’ journey – processes, technology, policies, partners, rewards – so they all work together to support and reinforce delivering a superior brand experience. Not just meeting needs, but delighting customers!

So how is the customer experience for Apple or USAA relevant to the healthcare brand experience?

Because critical to your business success is understanding that your brand reputation is based on how your customers perceive their interactions with your organization – across every touch-point. It does (and will) determine whether they stay with you, what they say about you, and whether they advocate for you. It’s either you or your dreaded competition (and subsequent loss of revenue, referrals and brand reputation).

The customer experience is even more important in today’s competitive and complex healthcare arena, as healthcare consumers are finally empowered, have choices, and most importantly, have voices (social media and word-of-mouth speak volumes). Done correctly, it can be the true differentiator, lead to real profits and foster loyalty.

Now what if that healthcare provider I went to had thought about me as the center of their universe (which I should be), creating one team who understood and managed my customer journey – versus entrusting it to a series of internally driven silos that were not interdependent or supportive of one another? I probably wouldn’t be writing this post.

Below are 8 ways (adapting from companies like Apple and USAA) that healthcare providers can create change and begin to build a better “branded” customer experience:

1. Filter through a customer lens – map the customer journey, as it’s the only way to identify areas for improvement, opportunity and innovation

2. Commit to the details – make it easy to do business with you (KISS) as patients are just like us, and want to deal with providers who have a can-do attitude and will make their life better (literally and figuratively)

3. Create a feedback loop – invite and listen to what your patients have to say (across all channels) to identify the challenges they encounter and how to solve (targeted surveys, calls, social media, etc.)

4. Build trusted relationships – with ‘care coordinators’ trained to be go-to resources, assisting patients through the process, alleviating barriers, and delighting whenever possible

5. Focus on appreciation– shift from an operational focus to one that aligns around your purpose, value proposition and dedication to customer appreciation

6. Personalize the experience – behavioral data collection and analysis should be king, as insights gained will allow you to deliver more personalized care

7. Empower employees – engage them as they rule and have a huge impact on the customer experience, so make sure their ideas are heard

8. Embrace digital – allow patients to interact with you where and how they like, including information exchange using smart phones and tablets, as the lines are blurring

What do you think? How would you characterize your more recent experiences with your healthcare providers?

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Here’s further proof of the importance of opening up your eyes to the outside world and not thinking of competitors as only those selling similar services.

The convergence of healthcare and mobile technology is shaping the future of how healthcare (and healthcare marketing) is delivered to the patient wherever they are. As reported on mobilehealthnews.com, Fitbit shipped the most activity trackers in 2013 according to NPD Group (now estimated to be a $330 million market). But it’s also even a convergence with fashion, as Fitbit announced a partnership with designer Tory Burch to create new accessories.

According to NPD:

• one in three consumers say they have heard of wearable fitness trackers
• about 28% said they’re likely to buy a device (with 50% saying calorie-counting is the most sought after feature; and 32% saying tracking steps was most desirable feature)
• surprising, only 6% had interest in sharing their fitness data via social media
• and slightly more women were interested in buying trackers than men

For me, the implication for healthcare marketers is twofold:

First. No one ever said you need to play by an accepted set of category rules. While there are certain points of parity (i.e. clinical services and quality) important to deliver, points of difference are as well (as brands must be perceived as different, better and special in order to retain and grow customers).

Second. It’s critical to at least periodically step back to understand and observe your customers and their journey (beyond a quantitative study), in order to tap into what really matters most to them, deliver new value to them and sustain and grow your relationship with them.

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In the changing and challenging healthcare marketplace where patients have now become more empowered and more scrutinizing customers – and organizations are facing reimbursement (and therefore marketing budget) cuts – clearly defining and differentiating your brand is a must.

Healthcare marketers, whether system, hospital, specialty physician-based, or other, can take a cue from these two outside category sport and leisure brands – Nike and Brooks Running (who repositioned and differentiated itself in order to hit its stride again).

Nike vs. Brooks Running

They’re both in the same market, competing for the same customer, both successful – but with different positioning and different approaches to marketing.  Nike is the undisputed champ of all things athletic, as validated by its number one position on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2013 list, known for its technological ingenuity.

With its latest invention, NikeFuel, the parent brand has taken sportswear to a whole new level – not only does the new bracelet satisfy consumers’ need to feel engaged and social (via NikeFuel’s online community), it allows Nike to track customer behavior AND serves as a permanent, walking advertisement.  Nike has transcended through sportswear into “tech, data, and services,” so its only natural that its marketing should wear a digital track suit.

However, Brooks Running is a completely different story – at one point, tried to compete with Nike on the “full-on athletic” front, but realizing it could not, has since repositioned itself as a premium performance running-only athletic-wear company.  In stark contrast with Nike’s bold and sometimes controversial advertising, Brooks runs towards the light with “Run Happy” and prefers more grassroots avenues of marketing – focusing on social media and word of mouth. In recent years, Brooks has seen a surge of success, growing sales from $180 million in 2009 to $409 million in 2012.

So, what can healthcare marketers glean from the success of these two sport and leisure heavyweights?

1. Don’t rest on laurels (or languish from complacency). This year marks Brooks’ centennial – if CEO, Jim Weber hadn’t taken the risk 12 years ago to launch a rebrand of the company, we may all be wearing Nike shoes today. Take a cue from companies that tried to innovate/reinvent too late (RIP Blockbuster, Borders, Tribune Publishing…sorta).

“Business models are not meant to be static…In the world we live in today, you have to adapt and change. One of my fears is being this big, slow, constipated, bureaucratic company that’s happy with its success. That will wind up being your death in the end.” - Mark Parker, Nike CEO

2. Know who you are. Nike and Brooks’ goal is to build a captive audience of repeat customers, as well as new ones (similar to healthcare providers), which starts with putting a stake in the ground regarding who you are, who you’re for, what you do and why you matter.

3. Total commitment. Both Nike and Brooks have stayed true to their respective positionings’ and remain focused on delivering on them through their actions (similar to healthcare providers demonstrating their focus of why they’re the smart and best choice for an individual’s healthcare and well-care).

“Focus, focus, focus. Strong brands are built over decades, not years. If you keep changing what you stand for, no one will really know and trust your values, philosophies, spirit and point of view.” - Jim Weber, Brooks CEO

Ultimately, the only sustainable difference you have is your brand. Which starts with getting your idea right, promises right, voice right, delivery right.

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Given the squeeze on hospital finances, healthcare systems and hospitals must find efficiencies wherever they can – including their marketing budgets. One area of review that might yield big savings (at the same time building CFO affection) is for healthcare marketers to evaluate the health and wellbeing of their brand portfolios.

How do you determine if you’re spending as efficiently and strategically as possible behind your brands? And if your portfolio has the right mix of brands to support your business strategy?

We’ve created a tool that we call “The 7 Portfolio P’s.” Presented in summary fashion here, it provides a good starting point for evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of your brand portfolio.

Purpose. Do each of your brands reflect your organization’s vision, business goals and strategies?

Perspective. What story is the brand portfolio telling from a customer perspective?

Place. Do each of the brands in the portfolio have a clearly defined role; are relationships clear; is there sufficient separation/synergy between them?

Potential. How do your different brands contribute in building strategic advantage, and current/future growth and profitability?

Performance. Do you sufficiently cover the market given the needs of your priority services and key audiences?

Potency. Does market attractiveness (size and potential growth) merit investment?

Pink Slips. For those brands that don’t meet these criteria, what is your plan for phasing them out?

Today, your reality as a healthcare marketer is likely having to do more with less. Which means that you can’t afford to waste your precious marketing resources against a brand portfolio that’s not yielding a fair return. Similar to periodically evaluating your financial portfolio to ensure that you’re protecting your wealth now and into the future, do the same with your brand portfolio.

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In what other ways can you surprise and delight your customers?

If you want some inspiration about how you can strengthen the emotional connection and attachment to your brand, watch this video from WestJet airlines.

It’s a wonderful example of a brand’s actions speaking louder than words and of adding real value to customer’s lives (in very unexpected ways).

Importantly, it’s also an effort genuine to WestJet’s culture – built around caring for you, our guests, by providing a great guest experience.

In this case, it’s a brand experience that far exceeded guest expectations.

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The doctor will see you now. From the convenience of your cellphone.

Doctor on Demand is a new app that lets you arrange video-based doctor visits on the fly. The iOS and Android app – designed for short-term medical problems like the flu or a migraine – connects patients within minutes to a doctor for a 15-minutes-or-less visit. Doctors (currently about 1,000) can also prescribe medicine, though not narcotics or other potentially addictive drugs.

DOD is a win-win for both physicians and patients. Physicians can make about $120 an hour for four visits (DOD takes a $10-per-visit cut). For patients, Doctor on Demand fills the gap between what’s much desired and sorely lacking in our current healthcare system: immediate gratification.

To put the opportunity into context (or put another way, to dimension the potential revenue risk) for traditional healthcare providers, consider these CDC FastStats from 2010:

• Number of physician office visits: 1.0 billion
• Number of physician office visits per 100 persons: 332.2
• Percent of visits made to primary care physicians: 55.5%
• Most frequent principal illness-related reason for visit: cough

The implication for healthcare providers is that for more routine patient needs, they are no longer the center of their patient’s (rather their customer’s) universe. Routine care is increasingly everywhere – urgent care centers, drug stores, super stores, cell phones.

The only defense, ultimately, is a brand that is different, better, special and constantly evolving. Hammering away each day to create the emotional attachment to your organization that drives the majority of purchase decisions. The challenge for healthcare marketers is finding (and operationally delivering on) that emotional link that makes your brand your customer’s first, and only, choice.

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eyeDraws us in. Makes us feel. Stops us in our tracks. Takes advantage of what we’ve always known – that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Yesterday was a day full of looking at new designs. New logos, new visual identity systems, new website designs, new social channel pages. For existing brands and new brands that we’re helping to create. A day full of visual eye candy. As a designer, it was my kind of day.

It occurred to me that while we’ve always known that the most compelling communication is visual, social channels and apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and YouTube are taking this to a whole new level. And they’re changing our expectations of how brands communicate and connect.

Here are some interesting related statistics to keep in mind:

- According to Neomobile, two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2017 and will also account for 66% of all mobile data traffic.

- A branded Vine is four times more likely to be seen than a branded video on other networks and five tweets every second contain a vine link. (the 7th chamber)

- Mobile makes up almost 40% of YouTube’s global watch time. (YouTube)

- Honda launched an advertising campaign, (#WantNewCar), on Vine by replying to twitter posts with Vine videos. As a result, the Average Tweet Engagement Rate almost tripled during the first two days. (SocialBakers)

- Instagram shares on twitter increased by 37% after the launch of Instagram video(Buzzfork), and videos are two-times more engaging than photos posted to Instagram(SimplyMeasured).

These statistics – along with the fact that people process visual information 60,000 times faster than they do written words – underscore the need for brands to utilize to the fullest extent possible their arsenal of video and visual assets to tell their stories. Their visual stories. Because these will be the brands that we’ll be interacting with, that help create unique experiences and that marketers will use to build connections and relationships with their customers.

I think the trend of telling “visual stories” just might be one of the major trends for brands in 2014. What do you think?

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Screen shot 2013-12-10 at 10.18.07 PMThis article on mainstreet.com – What Pre-Retirees Fear Most and Talk About Least – sheds some light on what’s weighing on the minds of pre-retirees. Three-quarters of them, according to a survey from Harris Interactive, say their top fear in retirement is the cost of health care. And nearly two out of three pre-retirees want to understand Medicare coverage better.

These concerns translate into meaningful opportunities for healthcare marketers to step up and do something that their customers really care about. To help them navigate a future that is filled with anxiety.

We know that emotion drives attachment to brands. And as it relates to healthcare, boomer’s emotions are running high. So healthcare marketers – be there for them when they need you most, beyond the expected transaction.

In turn, you have the opportunity to earn the trust and loyalty of the millions of boomers who will require more healthcare services than any other generation of Americans.

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