Advertising as failure

Health care marketing is hooey.  Because it relies upon (bad) advertising.  And now we know why advertising is (generally) bad, thanks to Jeff Jarvis and his advertising as failure notion:

That is, the ideal relationship a company should have with its customer is that it produces a great product the customer loves and talks about and thus sells; there is no need for advertising there. It’s only in the case of failing at that idea that one needs to advertise.


Obvious success story: Mayo (look, it’s right there on the front page, the primary value: the needs of the patient come first).  It’s possible to be Mayo-esque (in lots of respects) in your service area.

Part Deux: Marketing is everything, especially the “process” stuff

Eric Karjaluoto tells a story about why you should consider forgetting social media.  Agree or disagree; there’s a larger marketing lesson in his story.  It’s a tale of finding a dentist in Vancouver and the importance of s-e-r-v-i-c-e.

The first dentist’s office is ultra-sleek and equipped with all the modern amenities (e.g., flat screen TVs):

My young, impeccably well-groomed dentist (who I have since nicknamed “Mr. Shiny”) finally made his appearance. He greeted me warmly and asked, “What would you like to change about your smile?” By the end of my appointment, I had a work-order in hand for approximately $1,000 in services. They seemed to believe that these were quite pressing matters that should be addressed quickly.

Feeling uncomfortable with the experience, he decided to look for another dentist.  Found was a dentist’s office with imperfect decor and lacking (the admittedly unnecessary) modern amenities:

My new dentist spoke with me for a few moments, and then proceeded to clean my teeth. I’ve never had this happen before; in my experience dentists dart-in and do the “big stuff” leaving the cleaning to an army of bubbly twenty-year-old hygienists. I was rather dumbfounded.

She explained that although this may be a less profitable approach, it helped her better “know” her patients’ teeth. She told me a little about her kids and how proud of them she was; no big sale–just a friendly chat. Along the way she mentioned that although her practice is small, at the end of the day she always feels good about the work she does.

I noted that I likely had work that needed to be done, given the results of my check-up and the procedures that were suggested two years ago. She looked closely at the x-rays and explained that although she’d love to sell me something, I really didn’t need any of it.

This goes back to the marketing is everything, “process” stuff conversation.  Provide excellent service and the “marketing” budget could be slashed; pay attention:

The dentist I finally ended-up with simply concentrated on doing her job well. While so many of us are overwhelmed by the many things we could do to market our companies, I believe hers is in fact a much better way to do so.

Within five-minutes of leaving my new dentist’s office I called my parents to talk about how great the experience was. Since then I have told no fewer than ten people the same story. I’ve even started conversations with friends noting, “Do you have a good dentist? If not, I just found an amazing one!”

Everything is marketing, especially the “process” stuff

Yesterday, the groundwork was laid on the importance of the process elements of a hospital visit.  Patients, when evaluating their satisfaction with a hospital visit, evaluate the service (interactions with providers and staff, satisfaction with hospital food, etc.).  They don’t judge the health outcome of their stay.  It makes a whole lot of sense because patients know good service; they’re less likely to know the right way to feel at discharge, unless the outcome is awful.  They evaluate within a familiar frame.

That creates opportunity for health care.  Here it is, From the Head of Zeus Jones:

we like to think that the best marketing ideas are actually company operations that happen to be really appealing or compelling to customers too. One of the many advantages of this line of thought is that marketing is completely integrated into the business and you don’t have to spend money to build marketing programs that then build your business, you simply spend money on building your business.

Integrated marketing allows proper focus on the “process” stuff.  Spend “marketing” money on improving those elements instead of television commercials pushing the brand.  The process is where the (good) (and bad) stories happen and the stories are where the brand is genuinely pushed. Given the power, story works.

Traditional health care marketing is not marketing.  Integrating “marketing” into every operational activity is.

Need ideas?  There are several here.

(link via influx insights)

Health care marketing is hooey

Health care marketing is not marketing, it’s advertising—and few get the advertising part right.  Hospitals, health systems, clinics, etc. push push push their services through an assortment of mediums: billboards, newspapers, local magazines, television, radio, direct mail (even the new social media tools are most commonly used for telling)…

The thing about most health care services is that the patient doesn’t know they need it until they need it.  The status quo has been to inundate the patient with advertising to increase brand awareness—so that when the patient does realize they need a service, they think first of the entity that placed the most advertisements.  There is a better way.

Stop telling.  Start asking.

Instead of focusing on brand awareness, focus on brand embracement.  Build relationships.  Have conversations.

When a patient realizes health care need they are more likely to revert to past, positive relationships than to seek out new, unfamiliar associations.

Marketing: make the entire (read: entire!) patient experience with health care the best that it can be.  Focus upon the entire interaction continuum (from realizing need to forgetting it) and satisfy patients throughout.  Build a culture that provides unsurpassed customer service: endlessly dedicate resources to hiring the right people, improving appointment making, easing parking problems, encouraging communication, empowering service recovery, providing outstanding care, simplifying billing, etc. (all of the etc., too!).  Relationships will begin to materialize.

Doing so will create awesome stories (stories matter, stories are marketing) that are worth spreading.  Patients tell stories endlessly, whether they realize it or not.  They talk to others who chat with others who tell even more others.  Allow patients to tell their story of an experience that went beyond every expectation.  Health care is full of stories worth telling; allow it to happen by getting the distractions out of the way through marketing, real marketing.