Healthcare Marketing: Brand, Tech and Where to Start
Reflecting on a whirlwind of travel and information over the last month has reiterated one question that has become seemingly unavoidable in healthcare marketing today; what about our brand? Sitting through sessions, talking with top minds in healthcare marketing and listening to the resonance of this singular theme was consistent at both SHSMD Connections in DC and HCIC in Orlando this year. Over the past 5 years I have been privy to a spectrum of folks; those who manage their brand very well, and the organizations who have let their brand slip because they’ve been busy putting out fires and tending to urgent requests. But today, more than ever, brand is essential. I have a few thoughts on branding and the technology you can use to help support and grow yours.
With the increasing trend of consumers (patients) having a choice, understanding they have a choice and leveraging all resources to make that choice, healthcare marketers are doing everything they can to ensure their organizations are at the forefront of where these decisions are being made. How do we ensure our website is responsive and consistent regardless of the device, gather and leverage all the data we can, maintain a consistent brand experience from the time a consumer hears about us to the time the walk through our doors, and make it easy for them tell others about us? Marketing and technology are becoming synonymous in these efforts. And it’s technology that sits at the foundation of today’s lead marketing strategies.
As healthcare professionals, we question our affinity for acronyms as the endless stream now pours over into the marketing technology world. WCM, CMS, MAM, BMS, DAM, CRM, ECM, EMM, MRM… Overwhelming, right? Sadly, I can’t tell you this is going to end, stop evolving or even slow. I can, however, help you start to make sense of some it.
Here are some quick thoughts on brand and where technology can come into play.
- Recognize: If you’re reading this than I’m confident step one is a breeze. You recognize your brand is vital and needs attention. You recognize technology needs to be leveraged, but are perhaps uncertain how.
- Outline: A brand overhaul (or even tweak) can be overwhelming. The hardest part is starting. Formalize an approach. There are a plethora of resources online to help you with this and forums where folks are discussing this very topic. I would start on the SHSMD Discussion Board. There are also agencies who focus specifically on helping healthcare marketers do this. Leverage their experience. Invest time and money. If you haven’t noticed, your competitors are. I’d recommend looking at Prairie Dog|TCG, Monigle or Maricich.
- Brand: Research the effectiveness of your brand(s) today. If you don’t have the time or resources, there are organizations who focus specifically on helping healthcare organizations do this. Scorpion Healthcare or Bluespire are some folks that could help out. Use the findings to either leverage the most impactful elements of your brand or, make the hard decision and start over. A common theme in healthcare branding is simplification. A lot of the time, this means centralization. As merger and acquisitions continue to happen, folks are finding it’s far easier to leverage a uniform brand to help bring these new locations into the fold. This is likely going to be your largest investment of time and resources, but it’s essential. Brand loyalty is real. How many Apple devices do you/will you continue to own? What do you do when you need to learn more about something? Google it. Google has become a verb. Think about that. You want to be the first thing that comes to mind when a consumer needs healthcare.
- Act: Once your brand is where you’d like it, put it into action. Start with your website and a good CMS (Content Management System) or WCM (Web Content Management) solution. Again, this is likely the first impression you’ll make on a potential customer. Geonetric or Greystone.net would be a good place to start for your website. And here are some solutions to help with content for your website: Influence Health, Sitecore, or MedTouch. Make it responsive, think mobile first. Make it easy to navigate and cut clutter. ENSURE IT’S EASY FOR THEM TO TAKE ACTION.
Next, get a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) in place. You’re going to need to effectively gather, disseminate and use the data you’ll receive from your website and other marketing activity. Data is not as easily leveraged for future marketing efforts without technology. Although there are some larger, well know CRMs that service a majority of organizations across industries, I would recommend looking into healthcare specific platforms. LionShare, Tea Leaves Health, Healthgrades and Evariant should get you started.
Finally, get a MAM (Marketing Asset Management) platform in place. How do you manage your brand when it’s in someone else’s hands? How do you ensure all the investments you’ve made are effectively executed at every location? Give affiliated hospitals, clinics, physician offices and other folks representing your brand the ability to quickly and easily make content relevant to their message without filling your team’s queue with redundant design requests (location information, images, resizing, etc.). Enable them so the marketing department isn’t a bottleneck. Manage all of your brand elements from a single source of truth ensuring that future asset management is easy as you continue to evolve. Although there are many solution providers out there, Saepio is the only organization with healthcare specific solutions helping some of the most well known brands in the business over the past 15 years.
We’ve just begun to scratch the surface, but this overview should help you get the wheels turning on branding and how technology can help with the process. I would encourage you to do your research as this is an important process. Good luck with your future endeavors!
Check out our white paper written by Frost & Sullivan for further information regarding the importance of effective branding in healthcare.