You can’t excel across all service lines. You certainly can’t support them all. But despite this (forgetting all the politics and compromising), internal teams keep churning out new branded services.

Here are eight questions that will start your organization on its way to building a stronger portfolio that builds maximum relationship value for your audiences and maximum financial value for your organization:

1. Strategic Fit. Does the portfolio help achieve and support your longer-term strategic priorities?
2. Support Priority Businesses. Does it support the businesses that contribute to driving volume and reputation?
3. Brand Value. Does the portfolio reinforce and help build brand equity?
4. Brand Synergy. Is there a clear relationship between the brands?
5. Customer Value. Does the portfolio meet the needs of your customers?
6. Customer Opportunity. Do your brands invite the customer relationships you want?
7. Other Stakeholders. Does the portfolio meet their needs; and not sacrifice business and brand priorities?
8. The Organization. Do the brands work together to build value back to the organization?

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I just facilitated a brand workshop with different cross-functional teams of a healthcare system. It was a chance to get them excited about, and aligned around, an upcoming organization-wide initiative.

At the end of the session, we circled back to a Top 10 Brand Fitness checklist – which I thought I’d share here. FYI, we handed out this checklist on the back of a “faux” new business card. At the end of each day over the next few weeks, we asked participants to refer back to the checklist – to keep them thinking about brand and actively engaged in their organization’s upcoming initiative. Here’s the list:

1. Driving Ambition.  Is your organization clear on what it wants its brand to become; and what it ultimately hopes to accomplish for communities and patients?

2. Strategy & Alignment. Does your brand influence the total operation of your organization to ensure consistent brand behavior in your market and consistent brand experiences for communities and patients? Does the brand align with business strategy, as well as organizational structure, systems and cultural style?

3. Brand Positioning
. Does your organization clearly and simply state how it wants to be perceived among communities and patients in a way that stands out from the crowd, that goes beyond healthcare and service lines to what really matters to people?

4. Customer Reflection. Does the brand have personal relevance to your target customers? Does it build an image and reputation, drive preference and behavior. Is anyone in the organization listening/watching for cues to deliver more value for customers as they interact with you?

5. Loyalty Beyond Satisfaction. Many people wrongly assume they’re essentially the same thing. But satisfaction relates to the results of a process, while loyalty is a much longer-term proposition relating to a relationship. In an increasingly competitive marketplace where consumers have more choices, recommendations from family and friends carry a lot of weight and loyalists have a much bigger voice than those who are merely satisfied.

6. Brand Delivery. Is your brand positioning delivered through every action and form of communication that the organization has at its disposal; does every aspect of the corporate or product “experience”deliver the brand in tangible and intangible ways?

7. Cut-Through Noise. Does your healthcare brand cut-through the noise of your market and competitors, to engage and retain your best customers?

8. Co-Creation. Do you open up your healthcare brand to community and patient participation, to allow customers and your organization to continue to thrive?

9. Leadership Commitment.
Do senior leadership actions reflect your brand promises and positioning?

10. Internal Commitment & Demonstration. Is internal brand-building on the organization’s agenda; across all facilities and service lines? Are there programs in place to help you actively deliver on your brand, or is brand building reduced to a manual?

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Scott Johnson, author of Scott’s Diabetes Journal and Scott’s Diabetes Blog, recently wrote a blog post titled A Patient’s Perspective On Social Media (see below). I read it on Mayo Clinic’s Center for Social Media site, and it referenced the importance of Mayo’s Center for Social Media.

It’s a very heartfelt post about the value of social media, in the context of living with type 1 diabetes. But more than that, it speaks to the real power of social media. The power to truly engage and inspire. To bring people together around their passions, concerns and causes. To motivate participation and collaboration. And in this case, the power to help heal.

Regardless of where you compete across the health continuum – whether healthcare, medical devices, life sciences or personal care – you have the ability to enrich the lives of your customers by being the conduit for their conversations. To create marketing platforms that provide value, not noise. That focus on their needs versus your messages. That build relationships where all parties benefit.

Here’s his post. Would appreciate you sharing your thoughts.

Social media gives me access to a world of people living with type 1 diabetes, just like me. Any hour of the day or night I can tune in to discussions on Twitter or Facebook, I can read thousands of blog posts written by people from all walks of life, all living with type 1 diabetes, and I can find YouTube videos that make me laugh and cry. I can find connections. I can find people who understand exactly what I’m going through. These people and their stories become an emotional lifeline. Suddenly I don’t feel so alone or isolated. In fact I often feel inspired and empowered by what I’ve seen.

Social media has helped me be a healthier person by showing me real-life examples of others living with diabetes. Unfiltered and unafraid, these people are sharing their stories. I hear first hand about situations they have experienced, and I can share in their successes and challenges.

The Mayo Clinic recently launched a Social Media Center to teach and train other health care organizations on using social media. Beyond just setting an example for organizations to follow, the Mayo Clinic is encouraging and teaching these organizations to jump in with both feet.

Instead of fearing and ignoring the Internet, the Mayo Clinic embraces the communication that social media enables. That is exactly what we want. We want communication, a chance to share our story, and a channel to provide feedback on what works and what doesn’t. We want to get to know the people behind the corporate curtain. We want to learn more about the dedicated people working to help us live better. We want to know that we are not alone out here.

As a patient living with chronic illness, social media has become a part of my health care regime, and something I’ve come to need as part of my survival toolkit.

I am excited to see that The Mayo Clinic has recognized the importance of social media as a means to connect with and provide additional support to patients. I believe the center will be wildly successful, and I hope to see other healthcare organizations make use of this resource to get involved with social media the right way.

Thanks Scott.

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Kimberly-Clark is working with their core customer, and the fastest-growing sector of entrepreneurs – women – by investing in their incubating innovation ideas.

Twelve entrepreneurs, chosen from 400 submissions, now make up the first class of HuggiesMomInspired” grant recipients, receiving $15,000 each to fund their “unique baby or childcare product ideas that address unmet parenting needs and make life easier for moms and dads.”

According to Steve Paljieg, Senior Director, Corporate Innovation for KC "our most important consumer is mom, and we felt the launch of Huggies MomInspired delivered on the brand's mission of providing simple solutions to help parents enjoy each and every day (beyond diapers or hygiene) and also encourage the business success of moms by giving them access to educational and financial resources."

Here why this program creates new value for both brand and customer:

– it delivers on the brand mission
– helps create a bigger brand idea (and potentially new revenue streams) beyond diapers and hygiene
– creates a more meaningful kind of brand-customer relationship beyond Huggies' core business
– connects women (and men) together, through Huggies, around their most important agendas
– engages and ignites pride on the part of those who work on the Huggies brand
– generates great PR and positive word-of-mouth for Huggies and KC; and
– ultimately builds loyalty and (presumedly) more Huggies sales

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Zig (meaningfully) when others Zag.

This is the one big lesson for health brand marketers to take away from David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan’s book “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn From the Most Iconic Band In History.”

Early on in their careers, The Grateful Dead decided the best way to grow a religion-like following and legacy was to jettison the traditional rock band business model. While others focused on selling albums, they made their money from concerts. This led to a cascade of business-model breaking/money-making decisions: unique concerts each night, fans wanting to experience this uniqueness on consecutive nights, approval to make tapes of the concerts and freely share them (and more concerts equaled more tapes, more people exposed to the music and more people paying for concert tickets).

According to David, The Grateful Dead let their audience define the Grateful Dead experience. Concerts were a happening, where all 20,000 or more audience members were actually part of the experience. Making fans an equal partner in a mutual journey, The Dead teaches us that our community defines who we are. By studying the competition and doing the exact opposite, they created a brand that has stood the test of time and has outlived the competition.

It seems the Grateful Dead saw the value in “community and co-creation” long before the rest of us, along with the importance of zigging (meaningfully) while others zag.

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I was proud to see this article from a couple weeks ago in HealthLeaders Media, because we are fortunate to be the agency working with the Orlando Health corporate marketing team on this “Family Is” campaign.

You can read about the specifics of this campaign by clicking on the above link. But here’s a summary of the characteristics that have made this effort successful:

1. grounded: in corporate brand strategic direction
2. relevant: starting with the theme of the effort itself, “Family Is”, to their primary female target audience
3. internal engagement: staff are proud of their Orlando Health brand, and this program reinforces their sense of pride and their distinguishing level of service
4. external engagement: Family is a compelling subject that people want to participate in through their scrapbook contributions
5. presence: the program surrounds audiences both offline and online
6. sharable: which reflects the universal importance of the theme itself
7. measurable: both quantitative (visitors, time spent, friends/followers, interactions) and qualitative (conversation, sharing, sentiment)

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The future of marketing is about doing things and saying things with people. Building relationships that are collaborative, helpful, personal and honest. Requiring your healthcare organization to expose a lot more of its humanity, because customers trust each other/trust people more than they tend to trust your organization.

Blogging gives you that ability. The ability for a searcher to enter a keyword phrase, land on your post (written by a real person), which can lead to dialog, and a connection beyond what other social vehicles can provide.

Here are seven specific benefits of your blog to your healthcare organization:

1. Creating Attraction (starting with search)
2. Creating Value For Your Audiences (on their terms)
3. Building Trust (sorely lacking yet vital to building strong healthcare brands)
4. Creating and Strengthening Brand Relationships (between you and your audiences)
5. Energizing Employees (which leads to happier customers)
6. Building Transparency (a highly sought after characteristic)
7. Creating Separation Vs. Others (community building, access to customers, volume and revenue)

Are there other benefits that you’d add to this list?

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How can you contribute to making a meaningful difference in the daily lives of your communities and patients? Your blog, through your content, your insights, your stories, your solving of problems, is a means to do this.

I had the pleasure of delivering this presentation – Entering The Blogosphere: The Nucleus Of Your Healthcare Social Media Strategy – at IQPC’s recent Strategic Social Media for Healthcare Summit in NYC. Given the feedback (fortunately very positive) and the follow-up conversations I’ve had, I thought it would be of value to socialize the presentation.

It covered why and how healthcare organizations should enter the blogosphere, the important strategic and tactical considerations it takes to get up and running; and offered tips to how organizations who are already participating might improve upon their current efforts.

I hope you find value in the presentation. Any questions, comments or suggestions to share with me and others?

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