May
14

Every year, The Chief Marketing Officer Institute awards their “CMO Of The Year.” Nominees are evaluated in several categories of performance, including market orientation and customer intimacy, accountability for results, commitment to innovation, and overall contribution to the success of their company.

Here (on COM.com) are interviews with each of the 10 finalists for 2009, who discussed the strategies and tactics employed to achieve their success with the editors of CMO Journal. The interviews are interesting and informative, and certainly relevant to your health brand business.

Finalists include:

From large organizations ($250M+ revenue): Jeffrey Hayzlett (Kodak), Allen Klose (ACE Cash Express), Richard Marnell (Viking River Cruises), David Mitchell (Open Solutions Inc.), David Norton (Harrah’s Entertainment)

From small to midsize organizations (less than $250M revenue): Timothy Gilbert (Campus Mgm’t Corp), Tim Kopp (ExactTarget), Terrie O’Hanlon (Manhattan Associates), Curtiss Porritt (MasterControl Inc.), Thomas VanHorn (Application Security Inc.)

Enjoy the interviews. I hope there are insights and ideas that you can take away to create new value for your health brand customers and your business.

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May
10

While “image” used to sell, and ads used to be at the center of the marketing universe, today’s playbook is driven by the idea of actions speaking louder than words. The most important question to ask of your brand is what can be its place in people’s lives?

The challenge ahead for brands is to maintain their relevancy in a world in which marketing is no longer a spectator sport, but rather one that is involving, dynamic, authentic and interactive. Where the brand-customer relationship is one that increasingly resembles two close friends growing together, looking out for each other and helping each other succeed.

Here are six strategies important for growing healthier and more prosperous brands (and customers). The common denominator is that each of these practices add value to the lives of their audiences (as you’ll note from my health brand examples). In turn, audiences add their own value back to the brand. And both grow healthier and more prosperous.

1. From assembling followers to growing participants (PatientsLikeMe)
2. From capturing customers to liberating them (Teavana)
3. From making claims to creating experiences (Walgreens Take Care Clinics)
4. From generating transactions to growing communities (P&G’s BeingGirl.com)
5. From innovation silo to group think (Sermo online physician community)
6. From hiding behind the curtain to transparency (Marty Bonick, CEO Jewish Hospital, Kentucky)

Do you have comments you’d like to share? Other brand examples you can share?

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May
05

We had a meeting with a prospective client who wants to explore, and more sharply define, their brand idea. Because they’re not quite sure if the organization’s message is really one that emanates from a well-conceived brand strategy.

So it occurs to me – is your brand reflected in everything your healthcare organization says and does? Surrounding your health system, academic medical center, specialty hospital, center of excellence…is there a big idea that defines you, distinguishes you, drives you, attracts and engages your audiences, compels them to promote it to others and is delivered through your customer experience?

Or are you falling into the trap of only creating an image wrapper (a term I’m borrowing from BrandGym’s David Taylor)? Where the brand is wrapped in communication, but delivery of the brand promise (if there is one), is no where to be found. A brand-led business, in contrast, drives off a strong brand idea, is powerfully delivered, and then reinforced through communication.

Apple’s vision can be seen and experienced in everything they do. Same holds true for Whole Foods, Harley-Davidson, Southwest Airlines, to name just a few. While many companies view “brand” as the domain of marketing (or more narrowly associate it with “image”), these organizations understand that business strategy and the brand are indistinguishable – where brand is conveyed by everything people see, hear, touch, taste or smell about your business.

So, is your healthcare organization a BRAND-LED business – where branding is not a beauty contest, but a strategy to drive volume and growth, build loyalty, attract donors, retain talent – in fact, drives your whole business.

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Apr
30

As part of our “Insider Insights” series, I feature the personal perspective of a health brand marketing, digital, social or innovation leader. I’m pleased to have Nick Dawson, Community Engagement leader at Bon Secours Virginia Health System, as this month’s participant.

Here’s what Nick has to say about the future of health brands and social media:

1. The organizations and brands that will thrive in the future are those that…
….take pride in serving people. The web, and technology in general have afforded us an amazing amount of connivence of choice. We can compare the price of flights across multiple carriers, check the best rating on a dishwasher and buy music for pennies, all before getting out of bed. When selection and price make things commodities, service is the one thing that becomes a differentiator. However, if I have a choice between two providers and the quality of care is equal, I am going to pick the one that treats me the best. I often think about The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore and the Cluetrain Manifesto by Loc, Searls, Wineberger and Levine as both ahead of their time. They are prophetic works that suggest that when organizations value their relationship with customers and provide excellent service, the reputation of the organization markets itself. At Bon Secours, we have seen a clear path from employee engagement to world-class service to market share.

2. Specific to social media, how has it impacted the way your organization conducts business?
We are becoming better listeners. I do not think we are unique in that regard; savvy companies are moving away from information push and embracing pull. We will continue to do what we do well, and rather than simply tell people about it, we are asking them. What do you think about this facility, this new procedure, this doctor? We also spend a lot of time online just listening. What are people saying about doctors in our service areas or about healthcare in general? What can we learn from those conversations that we may not know, or which may validate our assumptions? An additional note, which is great news, is we are revenue-positive in our efforts.

3. What are the key challenges your organization is grappling with as it considers participation?
There are two distinct challenges. The first is spreading the word. Ironically, the best social media still seams to be a face-to-face conversation. We are working from both ends of the organization to spread the word about what we can do with these tools. For senior leadership it is about building their comfort level with participating as individuals; (a welcome change from where many organizations were a year ago in developing a comfort level about even using social media.) We are doing the same thing with individual employees by encouraging them to think about our social media efforts as having an unlimited bandwidth to tell any story. When we hear about team members or departments doing neat things, we approach them about a blog post, or video.

The second challenge is in fostering the creativity and encouraging participation. Many people have singular exposures to these tools. Facebook is for sharing baby pictures with friends, twitter is about what you had for breakfast and Youtube has cats playing piano. Others perceive a time requirement as a barrier to entry. I try and encourage people to think about the conversation, not the medium. There are online spaces for any way someone feels comfortable telling their story; it is our job to support that.

4. What are your top lessons learned for implementing a social media strategy?
The biggest lesson was one of cohesion. Our organization believed in our work, but was unclear on our direction. Our communications team was together on the vision. Crafting a formal strategy helped us learn how to present our successes and sell our services to our leadership and throughout the rest of the organization. It was a cathartic experience to whittle our plan town to three simple goals: service, advocacy, and market share.

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Apr
27


How social is your social media program? Beyond your current and prospective customers, consider whether you’re creating something of value for:

1. Employees: such that they are more/fully engaged; proud of your/their collective contributions; are more aware of the world around them; and seeing new and different opportunities to help make lives better
2. Shareholders: are you engaging the ones who care not only about financial return, but about the long-term (sustainable) impact of that return; and who increasingly are investing in companies that are balancing purpose with profits and making a difference in the world
3. Society: are you creating value for society at large at the same time that you’re helping customers move forward; hopefully, melding these two (increasingly compatible) concepts together
4. Company: beyond your financial worth to creating value such that the whole of your contribution exceeds the sum of your individual parts

Challenge yourself to think more expansively about your social media program. You have the opportunity to create new value for audiences you might not otherwise be able to engage through traditional channels.

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Apr
22


I wrote a post last month about PatientsLikeMe, a wonderful organization dedicated to making a difference in the lives of patients diagnosed with life-changing diseases after they were recognized by Fast Company as #2 on the list of the top ten most innovative healthcare companies. 

It was co-founded by Ben and Jamie Heywood after their brother Stephen (who has since passed away) was diagnosed with ALS. At it’s core, it is “an ingenious website where people share and track data on their illnesses – and where the collective data has enormous power to comfort, explain and predict.”

Here’s a video of a talk by Jamie last October at TED. It’s about his brother, their company, the community they’re building/have built, and the possibilities for the future. Above all else, it’s a wonderful and inspiring story.

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Apr
08

Your market is changing all around you.

Traditional competitors are evolving. New ones are forming. Market forces are redefining customer expectations and challenging your traditional definition of “value.”

So how are you responding? What’s the idea that drives your brand and gives you permission to imagine and create new value for your healthcare customers and your organization?  Success, today and in the future, requires you to take this idea and translate it into adding more value to people’s lives beyond your core products and services.

Virgin takes its passengers to and from the airport. Cirque du Soleil gives its audiences theatre with (and redefines) their circus. Mayo Clinic is creating lifestyle products and mobile apps for its patients and expanded customer base. Fairmont gives its guests a BMW with their hotel stay.

How about you. What do you do to surprise, delight, and add more value to your customer’s lives?

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Mar
26

Where’s the value through your social media program? What’s in it for your audiences? How do you align your social efforts with your strategic goals, and the goals of your customers?

Here’s a quick presentation that contains ten questions that must be answered (along with some additional thoughts to get you underway), if you’re going to deliver real value for your customers and your organization.

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Mar
21

Aetna recently announced that it will be reaching out to its members on the-Go through a mobile-friendly website that’s easier to browse from a handheld device, smartphone “apps,” and text messaging. These mobile solutions will be made available to the majority of Aetna members – regardless of whether they have a basic cell phone or a smartphone with full Internet access.

Just a few examples of the benefits, as stated in the company press release, include “being able to look up the status of a claim while standing in the doctor’s office. Finding a cardiologist and making an appointment during a train ride to work. Researching the price of a prescription from the grocery aisle.”

According to Meg McCabe, vice president of consumer marketing and product for Aetna – “It’s imperative that we meet our members where they are with resources that engage them in making well-informed health care decisions, improve their interactions with their physicians, and even help them save a little money along the way.”

Through On-the-Go, Aetna accomplishes an important, yet somewhat elusive, objective for an insurance company – actually building relationships with a broad spectrum of their customer base. By allowing them to access important information, wherever and whenever they want it, the company is extending and enhancing its interactions with members – in ways they actually value and want.

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Mar
16

PatientsLikeMe is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of patients diagnosed with life-changing diseases. It was co-founded by Ben and Jamie Heywood after their brother Stephen (who has since passed away) was diagnosed with ALS. And make a difference they have, as they were recently recognized by Fast Company as #2 on the list of the top ten most innovative healthcare companies.

They state that their goal is to enable people to share information that can improve the lives of patients diagnosed with life-changing diseases. To make this happen, we’ve created a platform for collecting and sharing real world, outcome-based patient data and are establishing data-sharing partnerships with doctors, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, research organizations, and non-profits. Their collective data has shown enormous power to comfort, inspire, explain, predict and empower.

PatientsLikeMe is a wonderful role model for how modern brands will succeed by helping customers (in this case, patients) achieve more than they ever could on their own. Here are some reasons why:

1. Committing versus campaigning. Going forward, brands will be defined not by what they say to people, but by what they say and do with people (in this case, 45,000 patients).

2. Value through content. We go to the web because there’s something we need to do; a problem we need to solve. So we’re looking for information, insights and advice that we can use.  In this case, it’s content that’s literally saving and enhancing lives.

3. Collaboration. PatientsLikeMe brings together company, customers (patients) and partners (doctors, pharma, medical device companies) collaborating together to help each grow stronger.

4.  Becoming integral to people’s lives. PatientsLikeMe members don’t just share their experiences and stories; they turn their symptoms and treatments into hard data. By telling and sharing so much, members are creating a rich database of disease treatment and patient experience.

5. Transparency. While many companies, and healthcare websites, have a Privacy Policy, PatientsLikeMe has an Openness Policy. They believe that data belongs to you the patient to share with other patients, caregivers, physicians, researchers, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and anyone else that can help make patients’ lives better.

6. Understanding How Your Audiences Integrate Technology Into Their Lives. PatientsLikeMe patients are heavily involved in what Forrester Research refers to as the groundswell. So this site is the perfect medium for them to contribute, comment, write, upload and publish.

7. Creating brand advocates. People who feel a sense of ownership in the brand, and are motivated to help it succeed will take an active role helping friends or family members make  a decision about a product. In this case, the motivation is literally a matter of life and death.

8. The product is the marketing. And PatientsLikeMe has created a better product.


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