Sep
26

This is the first of many “Insider Insights” posts. Once a month, I’ll be featuring the personal perspective of a health brand CEO, senior marketer, digital or social media expert. I’m pleased to have Ed Bennett as our first participant. Ed is Director, Web Strategy at University of Maryland Medical System.

Each of these guests will address the same four questions, so that we’ll build a wealth of perspectives and knowledge around these four issues. Here’s what Ed 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
quickly adapt to new customer expectations. An entire generation is comfortable with Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Their expectation is to have direct, honest and rapid interactions with the brands they use. PR speak, and legalese will marginalize organizations, but authentic conversations will build customer loyalty and positive Word of Mouth.

2. Specific to social media, how has it impacted the way your organization conducts business? Healthcare, and hospitals in particular are very conservative. So far, most of these tools are seen as an extension of current practices, not as a new way to do business. We are seeing these services used to post news and events information, educational resources, and to re-purpose content like video. There is also some brand monitoring and service recovery going on, but it is not yet integrated into the basic business process.

3. What are the key challenges your organization is grappling with as it considers participation?

There are two major challenges:

A. Fear of HIPAA hold many healthcare organizations back. With no clear guidelines on what is allowed, hospitals in general are waiting on the sidelines. Out of the 5,000 US hospitals, only 360 are doing anything.

B. The other challenge is that IT departments in many hospitals block social media sites. Many times, work on them has to be done from home in the evening and weekends.

4. What are your top lessons learned for implementing a social media strategy?

You should start small, and only begin what you can maintain. Look to your internal experts, the people who use these tools in their personal life. They can see the benefits, and can be a great resource for your organization.

Consult with your legal team & create policies. There are two areas that need to be addressed: External comments / participation and Employee guidelines.

Be able to respond quickly – this is no place for a four-day multi-person review process.

Related Posts:

Sep
23

Picture 10

In the midst of a normal day of emails, phone calls, meetings, reports, and water cooler, Twitter and Facebook conversations, there’s not much time left for seeing things differently.

But the most successful companies do just that. They see what others don’t. They see a bigger picture, and thereby are able to think and do different things. They challenge conventions, connect the unconnected, see more opportunities to exploit, more ways to be different and more sources of future profit.

Here’s a chart we call our playbook for seeing what others don’t. We created it to help us deliver more innovative ideas to our clients. Everyone in our company has it taped on their walls, and some even have them in handy travel (business card) size.

Use this chart to help you see what others don’t. But please note that these are simply starting points for changing how you see your world differently. For each of these “transformational vision” sparks, there are supportive tools and inspiration sources for creating new and greater value.

Related Posts:

Sep
14

Picture 16

Here’s outside category inspiration for how health brand marketers can see things differently, and thereby think and do different things. In this case, the payoff is an expanded audience base by standing out in the “supposed” strategic group this organization plays in.

As noted on Springwise, London’s Royal Opera House is teaming with Twitter to crowdsource the libretto for a new “people’s opera.” The libretto will consist entirely of 140-character tweets that the ROH has received from members of the public since the project was launched. It will be set to original music composed by Helen Porter, along with some more familiar classics.

How can you creatively use the power of Twitter and crowdsourcing to co-create new value through your audiences?

Read more about this effort on their website and on Twitter.

Related Posts:

Sep
06

Picture 12

Good article by Jessie Scanlon, senior writer for Innovation & Design at BusinessWeek, titled How 3M Forged a Culture of Innovation.

Key to 3M’s success in launching and bringing Filtek Supreme Plus, the cosmetic dental industry’s leading composite for restorative work, and the one new product example cited in the article, was recognizing collaboration as an essential element of innovation and then creating the systems to support it.

What can executives learn from 3M’s approach to collaboration?

• Create support networks to spread knowledge across the company
• Build collaboration into employees evaluation system
• Encourage curiosity
• Create innovation funds
• Don’t underestimate the value of physical proximity

Beyond these, I think there are a few more important takeaways:

First, 3M’s approach integrates innovation into everyday company operations. It doesn’t limit it to lightning bolt moments, particularly important in difficult (lean) times like these.

Second, this culture of collaboration provides more opportunity to create new and greater value across all aspects of the business and the brand experience, as different perspectives are brought to the table.

Third, it energizes and aligns employees around the notion of a healthy disrespect for the present reality. And who among us doesn’t like to escape reality every once in a while?

Related Posts:

Sep
03

Picture 4

A lesson to be learned for all health + healthy lifestyle brand marketers…

It’s back-to-school time. Travel a highway and you see parents taking their kids to school, and kids with cars filled to the brim with everything that could possibly fit in them. You also see a lot of Thule cargo racks.

So I went to Thule’s website today. And was saddened when I was there. Because, for starters, this is a brand with a great story, started by a gentleman who sold direct to end users at windsurf competitions on the New England shoreline out of his “station wagon” office. It’s the kind of story that many brands only wish they could tell. But it’s not really being told here.

It’s also a brand that consumers engage with in really important ways, at some really important times of their lives. Memorable times that will be with them, and their kids, forever. This brand makes people’s lives a lot sweeter, in ways that competitors (at least perceptually) just can’t match. Which is the making for great stories to be told!

The site is rich with functional details about the different kinds of Thule racks available for Bike, Snow, Water, etc. But we don’t buy features, we buy benefits. We buy with our guts, based on decisions charged with emotion. And I imagine that there’s some incredibly powerful associations wrapped around Thule that can be leveraged and brought to the foreground. Yes, Thule is functionally a means to help you safely get your things from here to there. But much more importantly, Thule is freedom, enabler, partner, protector, trusted friend…

This is a brand that could be engaging audiences much more meaningfully around their brand. It is a brand that should be inviting (probably very willing) customers to become allies in adding value back to Thule. It is a brand ripe for rich conversations and shared stories, which actually lets Thule spread their commercial messages more effectively.

But Thule is just one example of brands under leveraging relationships, fans and evangelists. What’s important to remember is that you need to let the conversations take place, and let the stories be told and shared around you. In the end, both customers and company will grow stronger.

Related Posts:

Aug
26

Picture 20

Mayo’s reputation for being a forerunner when it comes to all things “social media” isn’t news to those in and around the healthcare space. But even I was surprised at this finding.

As part of some secondary research for another client, we visited a lot of healthcare organization’s Facebook pages. Mayo has 8,811 fans. That’s a big number (at least in healthcare). Far greater than many other well-known institutions.

This means that 8,811 people are listening, discussing, messaging, updating, receiving Mayo’s feeds (which in turn gives these fans some viral power), interacting with Mayo and connecting with other people just like them (which we know in healthcare is very powerful in terms of improving health outcomes for people with a range of conditions).

Most importantly, this means that 8,811 people are telling (and participating in) personal and honest, living and breathing, powerful and overwhelmingly positive stories about Mayo in ways that traditional communications just can’t convey. Though I still believe that social media is not a single solution in itself, but one element of an integrated marketing communications plan.

It’s always been that people’s stories are important, not those of the organization. What an incredible, equity-enhancing benefit it is to have 8,000 plus people socially and passionately involved with your brand, while letting you (the marketer) actually spread your message more effectively.

Kudos (once again) to Mayo.

Related Posts:

Aug
20

Picture 14

As an addendum to my previous post, here are twelve principles for becoming a connecting versus campaigning organization. I refer to these principles as an Attraction Manifesto because of what “manifesto” implies – passion, game-changing, an appropriately public (social) declaration of your intentions and how you’ll set out to achieve them.

And because it’s a manifesto, it asks others to join together to make it a reality. Clearly, you’ll need to put your own spin on this doctrine to make it actionable for your organization and your audiences (which I hope you’ll do).

1. Coherence – our brand idea will serve as the nucleus for all of our actions, interactions and conversations.
2. Authenticity – our social media conversations should be similar to our daily interactions with friends, colleagues and family, i.e. open and honest, informal and in a personal voice.
3. Transparency – we’ll represent ourselves as people rather than an organization, because people connect with people, not organizations. We’ll also be honest about who we are, as trust is a huge barometer of engagement.
4. Collaborative – we’ll embrace the fact that true conversations are two-way, give and take exchanges; so that all participants ultimately grow stronger together.
5. Customized – we’ll create specific interest content and communities (thereby enhancing relevance to audiences) by collecting, categorizing, listening and responding.
6. Facilitating – we’ll allow conversations to go on around us without trying to control them, empowering people to connect through our brand, with content as the enabler.
7. Contagious – we’ll create “life-impacting” content and conversations that generate word-of-mouth and that people want to share with others.
8. Co-Creation – by working together, we all learn, grow and become stronger.
9. Evangelists – as feasible, we’ll create passionate and active advocates who will want to spread our message (for little expense).
10. Paced – we’ll start small, do what we can, when we can.
11. Context – we’ll recognize that social media is not a single solution in itself, but one element of an integrated marketing communications plan.
12. Bottom Line – there are lots of ways to measure social media success; so we’ll determine our success metrics (based on our objectives) before we begin our efforts.

As I’ve said previously, you have the opportunity now to benefit your organization by involving and empowering your audiences in conversations by being where they are and making it easier for them to connect, get informed and take action. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when.” So what are you waiting for?

Related Posts:

Aug
17

Picture 15

For healthcare marketers, there’s a new set of rules for connecting your brand to your employees, caregivers, communities and patients. And it requires you to let go of what you think you know.

Continuing to try to persuade audiences through traditional campaigning about why you’re better (in the absence of other efforts), with the use of rational information and comparative data, is just not that important to those you’re trying to connect with.

There are two reasons for this. First, because the harsh reality is that people really don’t care about your organization, per se. What they do care about is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions, and how much value you add to their lives. It’s their stories that are important, not yours. Second, because those who used to be your “passive audiences” are now “engaged participants” and content creators through social media.

The future of healthcare marketing is not about saying things to caregivers, communities and patients. It is about saying and doing things with them. It is about ATTRACTION MARKETING , compelling them to become more deeply engaged with your brand, while letting you (the healthcare marketer) actually spread your commercial message more effectively.

Today, brands are products of two-way (social) conversations. These conversations are personal and honest, living and breathing. With each conversation made stronger by other conversations, and building value for all parties involved. They result in competitive advantage for your organization, and significant advances in knowledge for your audiences. Each helps the other to reach their full potential.

Yet many in healthcare haven’t embraced this new reality. The reality that it pays from a relationship and financial standpoint to engage in two-way dialogue (i.e. social media). So what’s holding you back? Maybe you’re afraid of the unknown, or that your world is changing. Maybe you’re not comfortable with these new Social tools, or you don’t think you have the time. But to borrow a phrase from Cher in her movie Moonstruck when she slaps Nicholas Cage – “snap out of it”.

Because while you or your organization is hesitant to use social media, consumers actually become more invested in brands that welcome their participation. Simply put, conversations between people do more to build connections beyond your one-way campaigns. And what’s great about Social, and why it’s such a wonderful adjunct to traditional media, is that people can engage in these conversations whenever it’s convenient for them.

Integral to the future of healthcare brand building will be shared, “real-time” interactions and conversations between providers, caregivers, patients and communities. You have the opportunity now to benefit your healthcare organization by involving and empowering these audiences in conversations by being where they are and making it easier for them to connect, get informed and take action.

It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when.” So what are you waiting for?

Related Posts:

Aug
13

Following a recent post of mine about a company named Afterheels, which created a new market space and new value for customers by walking in their shoes (to the extreme delight of its female audience), I’m sharing this article written by Matthew E. May called Customer-Centric Design: Got Empathy.

He points out that there are at least three ways to gain real insight into a customer problem:

1. Observe – watch the customer
2. Infiltrate – become the customer
3. Collaborate – involve the customer

Read on.

Related Posts:

Jul
31

Picture 14
The Future Is Now For Virtual House Calls, is the title of this Wired article from Ryan Singel.

Cisco and UnitedHealth Group are spending millions on an initiative that they hope will make virtual house calls a big part of our medical care. Here’s the idea – reduce the number of “get in our car” office visits, extend specialist care to remote areas and make routine follow-ups simpler than ever. Singel likens it to a web chat in 1080HD with an assistant next to you wielding the digital otoscope that is instantly uploading high quality video of your ear canal to your doctor.

The numbers underscore the opportunity. According to UnitedHealth, the market for telemedicine will grow from $900 million this year to more than $6 billion in 2012. UH and Cisco are betting that remote health care technology will no longer be limited to treating astronauts, African villagers and oil rig workers.

For more on this story, our future and how UH and Cisco are trying to broker the concept to large medical groups, click here.

Related Posts: