Healthcare Marketing – Part 1 of 3: Overall Marketing and Strategy

The world of healthcare marketing is vast and wide. There are several fundamental areas to review in the marketing process in order to make the most of it.

To do that we will cover three of the processes to help you understand the concepts that will be important.

  • Part 1 - An overall marketing plan and strategy
  • Part 2 - Online and content marketing
  • Part 3 - Social media marketing

No one doubts the transformation in healthcare delivery are changing dramatically. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and more transparency in costs, the physician office is under more pressure to open up to clients, share practical information and closely examine treatment options.

In an in-depth report from Bain & Company, Front Line of Healthcare Report 2015: The Shifting U.S. Healthcare Landscape, to better explain the magnitude of these changes in 2015, Bain & Company conducted a national survey of 632 physicians in several specialties as well as researched 100 hospital procurement administrators in the U.S.

The results were not surprising given the changes across the healthcare landscape, contrary to what the public–and industry–used to believe.

For a long time, conventional wisdom accepted the fact that America’s physicians contributed to the spiraling healthcare costs. The unnecessary tests, expensive drugs and complicated treatment amounted to skyrocketing costs.

We know now things have modified and, as such, so have marketing strategies. We discuss the steps to take when developing your overall marketing plan in light of these changes.

Get the Big Picture

The first thing to do is take a good look at your practice and go back to your business plan. Where do you see your business going or where do you want it to go? This will play a big part in your marketing strategy.

Gather up any previous marketing plans you have created in the past. What worked and what didn’t work? Also, take a look at how your business has changed going back two years. Have you joined new professional organizations? Do you see any “seasonality” in your practice?

Create your marketing plan with these topics in mind:

Create a marketing team in your practice. Be sure an include everyone as your team are the feet on the ground that knows what is going on in your waiting room. Find out where your patients are coming from? How did they find you. This is critical information on building your marketing plan.

What makes your practice different from others that offer the same services? Do you have a particular specialty? Do you offer a different approach to a standard procedure? Have you had success in something where others have not?

Where do you see your practice in the next few years? Like many other industries, it’s a good idea to have a long-term plan. When creating your plan, incorporate a “flow chart” on how you plan to realize this vision. Create a budget, and list the tools you need to achieve this goal such as a direct marketing campaign, graphics, copy writer, promotions.

Line up some speaking engagements: Offer to speak at local organizations, large department stores, set up your own event and be sure to have gift baskets for attendees. Talk to your colleagues in the same field and create a “speakers panel.”

Consider advertising local publications such as weekly newspapers, regional magazines. In addition, offer to write an article about something in your specialty. In this case, write about the health issue, not about your practice. Your name will be all the advertising you need.

• Support local events and sponsor kids sports. Be sure you are known for being generous in donating to local needs. Are there local drives for food pantries or school supplies.

Low-income: Is there a way to support the low-income community in your area? Consider sponsoring a free medical clinic with other physicians in your community for a day. Try to have as many specialties there at the same time.

Segment what you can do “in-house” and what you need to hire outside. Plan a budget around that. What are your internal resources such as mailing lists and brochure content.

Ragan’s Healthcare Communication News, 10 Steps to a successful health care marketing plan,suggest you test your plan internally first. Send a review to internal and professional stakeholders first and get some feedback before you go live.

Track where your calls and new patients are coming from. It’s a good way to measure the most effective approach.

Make sure everyone is on board. One effective way to do that is to give everyone in your office a specific responsibility for the plan. It helps in that team spirit and includes everyone in the success of the project.

When you are ready to write your marketing plan, be sure to check out our latest articles and most importantly, contact us so that we can get you started in the right direction.

Importance and Effectiveness of Digital Marketing

Its Services And Usefulness

The question often arises that what exactly is digital marketing and how is it useful? Digital marketing is the practice of using internet services to market your company and its products. Be it a laptop, desktop or a mobile device anything that has internet access provides a platform for digital marketing services. online marketing incorporates a wide array of services, some of which are -

- Search Engine Optimisation – Abbreviated as SEO, internet marketing companies use various techniques to help garner a higher rank on search engines for their business through SEO. Whenever someone uses a search engine to look for a particular service or business, they get a list of results in accordance to the search terms and they usually visit the websites shown first. SEO practices affect this by providing various methods like link building, keywords, etc.to help gain a higher rank in these search results.

- Social Media Optimisation or SMO – Another important technique for online marketing is SMO. As social websites like Facebook and Twitter have gained prominence, they have also enabled companies to use them as platforms to advertise themselves. With the use of SMO practices you can promote yourself to people all over the world and in doing so, you can gain a larger customer base.

- Online Reputation Management – The internet, though provides a great base for marketing, also gives people a chance to voice their opinions, which can be either good or bad. People who have had a good experience with a company post positive comments that help further enhance company image. But when a disgruntled employee or a customer with a rare bad experience posts negative reviews, it can tarnish a company’s online reputation. internet marketing services offer online reputation management solutions that can help keep negative reviews on the back seat, and thus maintain brand image.

- Conversion Rate Optimisation – Many people visit a company’s website, but if these people don’t avail their services or buy their products then it is of no use. CRO is a service provided by online marketing companies that helps in converting website visitors into customers through different techniques.

Other than these services digital marketing also involves Responsive Website Designing, Pay Per Click Advertising, Content Development and the use of an effective Digital Strategy. Many internet marketing companies have experienced digital marketing strategists to plan digital strategies. A strategist holds responsibility for successfully planning, examining, recommending and executing marketing strategies through various channels. They devise the most appropriate strategies to help businesses adopt the best services for digital marketing. Through all this and much more digital marketing has gained popularity for being one of the most effective and efficient ways to advertise in the present day world. So, don’t wait and get in touch with a renowned company to reap the benefits of reliable and competent digital marketing services.

Good Reasons To Visit Your Local Farmers Market

Food on sale at local farmers markets is fresh and you’ll taste the real flavor as it’s intended to taste. Imagine fruits and vegetables that have ripened in the field, been picked during market week, and transported directly to you just days out of the field. Flowers by the flat locally produced from seed to harvest, all of seasonal variety, will add color to your home for the months ahead.

No long-term storage taste or color, nor additives to keep colors bright, but instead pesticide free sustainable grown produce brought from field to patron by the grower. Now, this is the local farmers market.

My wife and I visit the Piedmont Triad Farmers’ Market in Greensboro, North Carolina several times each month. Much of our produce comes from our frequent trips. We enjoy crafted salsa, pickles, chow-chow and varied canned preserves sold at our market. Of course, varieties of meat regionally raised and processed are available year around, too.

Beyond the genuine, unmasked taste and flavor, there are other reasons to shop local sustainable food markets. One is the experience involved in market day.

We went to the farmers market this morning and to our surprise discovered acres of wood carvings, sculptures and chainsaw art happening on the spot. This event was a Breast Cancer Awareness fair including North Carolina musical talent, wood artist from around the area, and farm equipment featured for sale – a true eclectic experience for sure.

It’s not possible to find this type atmosphere at any other event I’ve seen. Ambiance, alone, is a great reason to visit the outdoor market. I checked the weather on the drive over and found the temperature reading 52 degrees Fahrenheit, with light breeze and clear blue sky – just about perfect for market morning.

Once we were outside the car, the air was fresh and crisp, enhancing the smells of produce, smoked meats, fried pies, early morning baked breads and locally roasted coffees. What better way to enjoy the season – spring, summer, fall, or even winter!

Farmer markets are a great way to support the local economy at its root source – no pun intended. Whether crop farmer, rancher, fruit grower, or horticulturist, we’re not talking “get rich quick” jobs here. From personal experience with family and friends, I can tell you local agriculture is a “get rich never” proposition. Often, the sales at local markets keep many of these folks on their family farms.

Local agriculture is best done from the heart with passion. The norm is long hours, at times unbelievable hardship, and moderate financial return. Every dollar spent at local markets supports families who have a serious commitment to sustainable agriculture. When you take home seasonal locally grown food for your family, some of the passion becomes reciprocal.

Consider, too, this is a direct involvement with protecting the environment and valuing natural resources. Less trash is one positive outcome of fresh markets because family farmers have little need of shipping boxes, crates, and other packing materials, since transportation from field to market is short. Along with burning less fuel, refrigeration needs are minimal, and little pollution goes into the environment.

Probably my favorite reason for endorsing local fresh markets is the nourishment value in the food and the experience itself. Beyond the wholesomeness of crops, produce and meats free from pesticides, hormones and antibiotics, you’ll find an aesthetic value gained from being outdoors at an occasion with down-to-earth people, proud of the benefits from their labors.

I am also a big fan of heirloom variety produce and flowers. The spice and variety met in short order this morning reminded me that generations ago sustainable living was simply normal living. Today, we picked through baskets and crates of heirloom tomatoes, purple cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, and so many others. There were several varieties of wild grapes, and I used to pick one particular type with my grandfather as a kid more decades ago than I care to recall. You sort through, smell and feel the texture of things at the market; the involvement becomes sensory.

Sustainable markets encourage communal active engagement. You talk to the local grower’s about their choice of crop variety, how they grow their product, and when it’s picked. By doing so, you come to know the real source of your food and how it got to you. A one time trip to market just for this direct contact with the local food source is ample reason for a visit.

Don’t be surprised to find the grower’s you visit with were in the field until evening the previous day getting product ready for market. And for goodness sake, don’t expect the grower to wash the fruit and vegetables. You get the at home experience of rubbing fresh soil off for your own field to table experience.

Local farmers markets are free. There are no tickets sold for entry, no membership requirements or minimum purchases, no strings attached. I believe they’re one of the truest forms of free enterprise left in America. Find your local market for a visit even if you have to drive some distance. You’ll have a great time.

Why Sales and Marketing MUST Align

Let’s talk about a sales and marketing problem most companies have struggled with for years. I’m not talking about lead generation, market share, or customer retention, although it does impact each of those things and so much more. I’m talking about the chasm that separates Sales and Marketing.

Take a look at a typical day in the life of both Sales and Marketing to see if you can relate…

A Day in the Life of a Marketer

A marketer works hard to generate leads for her sales team. She optimizes conversion opportunities across her company’s website, delivers email campaigns, builds landing pages and delivers valuable gated content. Her work generates a steady stream of leads, which she immediately passes along to the sales team. Because, after all, more leads is better, right?

Our marketer toils away each day to create valuable marketing content and sales support materials. She sends emails to the sales team to notify them each new piece of content as it is finalized. She even uploads each new item to the company’s Dropbox account so everyone can access it.

Ah, sweet success!

But not for long…

Her blood boils when she learns her sales reps haven’t even so much as looked at the leads she has been generating. She shivers with frustration when she finds out most of the sales team is somehow unaware of most of the content she has created. How can this be possible?

Marketing feels undervalued and ignored.

A Day in the Life of a Sales Rep

On the other side of the Grand Sales and Marketing Canyon, a sales rep spends her day responding to urgent prospect requests, traveling from meeting to meeting, communicating with customers, reacting to unexpected changes with buyers – hers is a life of constant chaos and change.

She often needs content in order to respond to immediate needs of her prospects. However, this leads to frustration because the materials she has access to are not the materials she needs. They are outdated or – worse yet – they don’t even seem to exist. This often means she ends up creating content on the spot. This requires time she simply doesn’t have. She can’t understand why Marketing doesn’t produce the content she needs.

To top it off she receives endless notifications from Marketing about new leads she to follow up with, adding pressure to her already stress-filled day. She doesn’t have time to stay on top of communication with her own prospects, let alone a list of new leads from Marketing. Besides, Marketing leads never seem to be qualified and following up with them always seems to be a waste of her time.

Sales feels misunderstood and unsupported by Marketing.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.

Unfortunately, this situation is incredibly common. Marketers are not alone in their feelings of being undervalued and ignored. In fact, as much as 80% of marketing leads will never be acted upon by Sales. And according to the American Marketing Association, a whopping 90% of selling content is never actually used in selling.

Sales reps, too, are justified in their frustration. The CMO council found that instead of selling, sales people spend upwards of 40% of their time creating their own messaging and tools. Also, according to HubSpot, only 27% of leads sent to sales by marketing are qualified first.

Pretty sad statistics, right? So why is it happening? It’s that chasm I mentioned earlier between Sales and Marketing. These two teams are disconnected in a big way and it’s taking a toll on the companies they work for.

It’s time to close the gap and align Sales and Marketing once and for all. While you would probably agree, you may not fully understand why it’s so important or what you can do about it.

Why Sales and Marketing MUST Align

Reason #1: Your Customers See It

According to the IDC, as much as 57% of customers feel that salespeople are poorly preparedor not prepared at all for initial meetings.

Could it be that these sales reps didn’t have the resources they needed to properly prepare for these initial meetings? After all, these meetings with prospective customers are pretty important to sales reps – they are key milestones in the sales process! The vast majority of sales reps would certainly want to be prepared for them so they could be as successful as possible. They just didn’t have the content they needed to adequately prepare.

Sales reps need content to effectively engage prospects and close sales. But not just any content will do. They need content that speaks directly to the needs, challenges and preferences of prospects. And they need to be able to access the most current versions of it whenever they need it.

What To Do

Take the first step toward Sales and Marketing alignment and talk to the sales reps directly. Work to clearly understand the challenges they face throughout the sales process. Ask them about the gaps they see in your marketing content. Try to understand how they need to access content and when and where they need it most. Attempt to learn what marketing support has worked and what has not – and why. Listen to their feedback and list the ways you can better serve your sales reps.

One strategy I like to use is asking sales reps to write down questions they frequently receive from prospects. Then, use this list of FAQs as a list of content you can create to directly support the sales reps the next time they encounter such inquiries.

The important takeaway here is that marketers can take the first step toward Sales and Marketing alignment by starting a simple conversation with sales reps. Just ask them what they need and work out a way to deliver it.

Reason #2: Lead Overload

When Sales and Marketing aren’t aligned, inefficiencies are bound to happen. Like the examples given above, chances are pretty good that Marketing is delivering leads that Sales will never touch. With increasing adoption of marketing automation platforms and their ability to help marketers do more than ever before, marketers are capable of generating a lot of leads. That’s great. What’s not so great is when they just pass them all along to sales.

Why is this such a problem? When sales reps are given more leads than they are physically able to follow up with, they become saturated… and those leads get neglected Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’ve been striving to reach a lead generation goal of 30 leads per rep per week. That sounds great! That is, until you learn that each rep typically has about two hours per week to follow up with leads and each lead typically requires about 20 minutes of follow up time. You now realize that each rep has the capacity to follow up with just six leads each week. You have been working hard to send them 30.

See the problem here? In this scenario, you would be sending them 24 more leads than they can physically handle. Every. Single. Week.

What you thought was great marketing success was actually overloading sales. And it was leading to neglected leads.

What To Do

As the previous example briefly mentioned, one of the first steps in solving this problem is by talking to your sales reps and Sales leadership directly to understand the realistic number of leads each rep can follow up with each week. Then adjust the number of leads you deliver accordingly.

This doesn’t mean you aim try to generate fewer leads. Not at all. Instead, it means you might need to nurture them and better qualify them before handing them off to Sales.

More work for marketing? Perhaps. But wouldn’t it be worth it if your work was actually used? By nurturing leads before handing them off to Sales, you increase the chances of the leads you deliver actually becoming customers.

On average, according to a Demand Gen Report nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. What’s more, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more leads that are truly sales-ready. Even better – they produce these leads a third of the cost of companies that aren’t so great at lead nurturing.

Invest some time in better understanding Sales and each rep’s capacity for following up with leads. Then refine your lead nurturing process to improve the quality and rethink the quantity of leads you deliver to sales.

Reason #3: Revenue Gone to Waste

When sales reps spend time searching for or creating content, this not only duplicates the efforts of marketing, it also pulls them away from important sales opportunities. And those wasted opportunities add up to wasted revenue – lots of it.

Consider this: A study by IDC found that by saving a single sales rep just 60 minutes of prep time each week, a company could realize additional revenue generation $300,000 or more per rep! In a company with just 10 reps, that’s $3 million each year. If you’ve got 100 reps, that’s a staggering $300MM per year.

If just 60 minutes of prep time can translate into $300,000 in revenue, just imagine how much potential revenue is wasted in your organization as sales reps struggle to find the content they need.

What To Do

Clear out the clutter. As you work to build a better relationship with your sales reps and establish more frequent, meaningful communication, look for ways you can reduce the clutter – in both of your lives.

Quite often, technology can help here. There are apps available today to help manage content. Anything from Google Drive to Basecamp, Dropbox to Salesforce – any number of tools can serve as a virtual marketing library for your content. Each one is available anywhere and on any device with an internet connection so sales reps should have no problem getting the content they need whenever they need it.

If you can commit to making only the most current versions of content available in this marketing library, ask your sales reps to also make a commitment. Ask them to retrieve these up-to-date versions of content whenever they need to use it – instead of using outdated content stored elsewhere or creating their own.

Close the gap between Sales and Marketing. Reach out to Sales to better understand their challenges and needs. Work together to better serve your customers. Sure, it will improve your business and probably increase revenue, but it will also improve your workplace happiness, and can you really put a price on that?