Friday, July 24, 2009

Watch and Listen to the latest Brand 2.0 Webinar here!

On July 23, Springboard hosted an in depth look at The Service Line Manager as Brand Manager during its latest Brand 2.0 Webinar.

The healthcare service line manager brings top-down and bottom-up understanding of how a service works – clinically and operationally – and where it fits in the organization’s “big picture.”

This latest Webinar offers insights into how some of today’s most successful healthcare organizations are leveraging centers of excellence to take vertical brand management to new heights. It also discusses how economic pressures are putting some Service Line Managers’ jobs at risk – and at the same time, potentially jeopardizing the brand. We also hear from one organization that has successfully stayed the course with their Service Line Management structure, with excellent brand-focused results.

Donna Arbogast from Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy hosted the Webinar.
Panelists included:

Theodore Michalke Managing Partner, NeuStrategy, Chicago, IL
Former Director, Business Development
Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch

Kristen DiCicco Senior Consultant, NeuStrategy, Chicago, IL
Former Director, Neurosciences Institute,
Alexian Brothers Health System

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Rating Game

While driving through a metro area recently, that music popped into my head.  You know, the theme that introduced "The Dating Game," the landmark game show of the 60's, 70's, and 80's. A bachelorette would question three bachelors, who were hidden from her view and at the end, choose one to go out with on a date paid for by the show.  (Sound familiar?  Come to think about it, maybe game shows were the original reality TV that took one episode instead of dragging us through 13 weeks.)

Back to my road trip and why that musical theme popped into mind.  On three consecutive billboards (and yes, I do look at them), there were hospital ad messages.  In a competitive market this otherwise would not strike me as odd, but it was the content that nearly caused me off the road.

The first billboard claimed "Rated #1 for heart surgery."  The second featured a well-known magazine masthead and cited "One of the country's best in neurosciences."  The third featured a top percentile in quality rankings.  If this was a series for Burma Shave Cream, it would not be unusual.  But it wasn't - rather it was for three competing hospitals, all within about 15 miles from each other.

And it was another example of hospitals trying to woo the consumer with virtually undifferentiated ideas and messages.  

Can you imagine this script on The Rating Game:

Consumer:  Hi there hospitals, you all sound so impressive!  (AUDIENCE MAKING "WHOOO" NOISES), I'm looking for a hospital,  tell me why I should choose you...

Hospital #1:  I'll make you see stars! (WHOOO) See, I've been given a 5-star rating and, 
aside from the small print, that's big news!

Consumer:  Why thank you, #1, very nice.  Hospital #2...

Hospital #2:  Ratings, schmatings, I've been published.  Sure, there are data to wade through, but once you read the fine print, you'll see why you should choose me.

Consumer:   I've always liked a hospital with its name in print (WHOOO).  Hospital 3...

Hospital #3:  Well, my dear consumer (WHOOO).  See, the reason you should pick me is 
that I'm ranked among the highest in the country...

Consumer:   Wow, by who???

Hospital #3:  Right, um, let's just say, by lots of different people.

Host:   Wow, so many choices - who will she pick, stay tuned after this message from (another hospital), named best in 12 zip-codes in six sub-specialities!


How to avoid The Rating Game

If your hospital has earned high marks in a given specialty or across quality attributes, it is important to bring that to your public's attention.  Rankings and ratings have long been a hallmark of the hospital marketing industry.  

The problem is that few consumers can truly differentiate one rating and ranking from another because the sources are not well-known and or credible outside the hospital industry.  Unlike "Consumer Reports" or "Good Housekeeping," or "J.D. Power," hospital ratings are all over the board and, if you dig deep enough, can find - or create - some statistic to position your brand as "best."  Until one source climbs to the top, or regulations arise which require hospital advertising to be substantiated, there's a good chance that your rating message will not get you selected from behind the curtain.

Here are some thoughts for competing in The Rating Game.
  • Your hospital still needs a larger brand promise - ratings should support your brand promise, not become it.  
  • A ratings message is a short-term opportunity - it has a short shelf-life, and frankly, doesn't need a sustained promotional effort.  Make it stand-alone news and then integrate it into your larger program.
  • Use a medium that can explain the message - billboards merely announcing your hospital's ranking or rating won't do it justice.  Newspapers, radio ads, and web sites are better at going into details.
  • Use social media to encourage customer interaction with your message and get "Fans, Friends, and Followers" to support your claim.
If your hospital has performed well enough to be named one of the nation's best or has a high quality ranking based on key attributes, you should give it a shout out.  But don't just yell it louder than the hospital down the street.  And don't make it the focus of your brand.  It's too transient a message and oftentimes not distinctive.

Make it part of your ongoing brand position and use the right media to make your point.  If you just throw it up on a billboard, there's a pretty good chance the guy traveling down the road isn't a healthcare marketing professional humming a game show tune out loud.