Monday, April 25, 2016

Hospital Branding: Do you click with your audiences?

This question used to be asked differently – “do your audiences click with you?”  Meaning, do they engage with your messages, watch your commercials, open your direct mail, or subscribe to your email. Today, it works differently.  It’s your brand’s job to click with its audiences in a way that encourages them to opt-in and engage with your organization.  These HubSpot statistics are a bit scary and support who’s really in control of message delivery and reception:
  •         95% of consumers say they have skipped TV ads
  •         98% have unsubscribed from an email  
  •        53% cite that there are direct mail pieces that go unopened
  •        66% have requested to be on “do not call” list: Approximately       200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on     the FTC’s list
As written about in other posts on this blog, branding has become deeply personalized and consumers have more choices than ever to pick the messaging and products that best meet their persona.  The more you understand your consumer; their likes and passions, goals and problems, the better you’ll be able to add value to their lives.  And the more likely they’ll be to seek you out for the content and services that match their lifestyle, and healthcare needs.  According to HubSpot, this new age of inbound marketing is about providing added value and earning customer loyalty instead of simply pounding a message into consumers heads and hoping it will stick.

Inbound marketing offers abundant opportunities.

When consumers seek your brand via online strategies or have an interest in your content, you have a significantly better chance of converting them to customers than if you reach them (if they decide to be reached) with traditional advertising.  According to HubSpot, 54% more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing channels.  That’s why the average budget spent on company blogs and social media has nearly doubled in the last two years!  And the number of marketers who say Facebook is “critical” to their business has increased 83% during that same timeframe.

Blogs, social media, SEO strategies, optimized emails, and landing pages are all ways you can provide inbound opportunities for those consumers who seek to become engaged with your brand.  Again, it all starts with your understanding of your customers and where their issues and passions lie.  And, when done correctly, it can finish with big returns; customer acquisition, greater cost efficiencies, big ROI, and below average costs per lead (compared to traditional, outbound marketing – source:  HubSpot).

The Perceived Hurdles of Inbound Marketing are Worth Hurdling

While this form of “new marketing” is still, well, new, it is becoming more mainstream in organizations across all industries.  In hospitals and health systems, the adoption curve has been a little longer.  Why?

·       There is still a lack of confidence in full-scale inbound marketing.  This can be attributed to confusion about what it really is and how it impacts the bottom line.  Hospitals are active on social sites such as Facebook, however, are using it too often to promote bake sales versus tying or boosting posts into more lucrative service line offerings.  

·        Revenue is still king in most healthcare institutions and stems from the likes of cardiology, orthopedics, neurology, oncology and other heavy hitting services.  It’s easier to justify spending outbound dollars on visible billboards and newspapers in the community than on content development.  As more experience provides actual returns from these activities, the number of healthcare organizations that participate will rise.

·        Inbound marketing takes a dedicated team, or at least an individual, to manage it within the organization.  Hospital staffing budgets are still very limited so having this capability is a real luxury.  Typically, it’s either a shared responsibility of a few people or a part-time job of an individual.  As the shift continues from outbound to inbound marketing, departments will also shift responsibilities to place more focus on it.

Similar to the core principals of branding, inbound marketing relies on earning people’s trust and interest which then leads to engagement and purchase.  This is different than traditional marketing that relies on selling and people “buying.” Also like sound branding ideas, inbound marketing is a two-way communication pathway, whereby consumers come to you and you provide them with meaningful, relevant information.

Remember, it’s not about your customers clicking with you because of your sales approach.  Today, you need to click with your customers and make your brand a consideration for when they seek out products and services in your field of expertise.

Rob Rosenberg is President of Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy, a brand strategy and communications firm specializing in hospital and healthcare branding, located in the Chicagoland area. For more information on Springboard or to discuss this and other ideas, please contact Rob at 847.398.4920 or rob@springboardbrand.com