A self-proclaimed “crusader for change” in healthcare marketing and branding, Chris Bevolo likes to tell it like it is. And as author of Joe Public III: The End of Hospital Marketing, he minces no words about how today’s healthcare consumer feels. “What does Joe Public care about?” he asks, then continues without waiting for an answer. “Not your hospital, that’s for sure. Joe Public is saying we need to do a lot better.” The “we” is those who provide services to a more demanding and educated customer base.
Chris led off his presentation at the 2nd Annual Tea Leaves Health Client Summit with something that’s no mystery to his audience of administrators, marketers and strategists. “Healthcare has traditionally lagged behind retail branding,” he says. But that’s just a lead-in to why he’s on stage in the first place. “But,” he continues, “what will help healthcare marketing catch up is a new paradigm” – one that uses new and developing digital tools and strategies, combined with data analytics to accommodate consumer needs at all levels. But what exactly does the title of his book mean when it announces the “end” of healthcare marketing? According to Chris, it’s not the end of healthcare marketing per se, but simply the start of an evolution. “It’s a new day,” he says. “Things in healthcare marketing are changing, especially with the leading marketers. And overall, we’re moving up, and I think it’s cause for celebration.” During his fast-moving, entertaining hour-long talk, Chris discussed a few key imperatives that healthcare marketers should consider if they want to be at the head of the class.
- Digital Dominates. While digital marketing isn’t new, it is for healthcare. The key is making it standard operating procedure, rather than a novelty or a “sometimes” activity.
- Marketing is a Business Driver. This point should be obvious, Chris says, but interestingly, it hasn’t always been in the healthcare space. Everyone involved marketing should be directly tied to the outcome of the business.
- Data Drives Marketing. In an age when data is everywhere, there’s simply no excuse for failing to put your data to work for you and your marketing efforts.
- Own the Experience. These days, it’s not enough to be great at the bedside, the clinic or the operating room, Chris says. You have to create a 360-degree experience to capture and maintain today’s healthcare consumer from the moment you meet them.
- Build a Health Brand. Chris suggests the need to emphasize health and wellness as a key component to your marketing and strategic plans. “The value proposition is to have a life-long partner in maintaining health,” he says, adding that unfortunately, this imperative has been slow to catch on.
These key imperatives, along with the data that can be mined, filtered and analyzed, provides healthcare providers and related organizations with a starting point for effective, targeted marketing. And last but not least, you have to measure, and Chris talked about four key considerations for performance measurement.
- What Did We Learn? Measurement is only half the battle. The point is to say, “What do we learn for the next time? How do we apply it next time? Let’s do it again.”
- Marketing vs. Business Metrics. Marketing metrics help you understand what’s working and what’s not, while business metrics show you how many people reacted to your marketing, who signed up for a seminar, became a patient/customer, etc. “To connect this stuff takes folks like Tea Leaves and their data analytics.”
- Engagement is the Key. It’s important to use data to help you communicate with, and attract, your target audience in a manner, place and time they want to be reached.
- Impressions Do NOT Equal Performance. Simply put, impressions are bought. “They’re inputs, not outputs,” Chris says. The key is to convert those impressions. “That’s where the value lies.”
In closing, Chris reiterated the importance of data-driven marketing for healthcare providers as a key driver for patient acquisition, growth and retention.