Archive for the ‘Healthcare Branding’ Category
Signs your practice needs an agency
You’re used to doing it all – putting in long hours to build a successful practice. A full-service advertising and public relations firm can help take your business to the next level. But are you ready to hand off such a vital part of your business to an outside company? The following six signs are clues you are ready to take the leap.
Your neighbor’s teenage daughter is your webmaster
Maintaining a professional, dynamic website for your practice is a necessity. Just about everyone “knows a guy who is good with computers,” but do you really want to trust your business to the kid next door who is failing sophomore English class? An agency has the staff and expertise to keep your website up to date – even during finals week.
You think Twitter is a dirty word
Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare… one way or another, social media is here to stay. Super Bowl 46 generated 12.2 million social media comments, up almost 600 percent from last year’s game. Staying on top of the latest social media trends and lingo is incredibly time consuming, but a smart businessperson goes where his or her customers are. Working with an agency allows you to focus on your practice while someone else sorts out the “tweets,” “likes” and “check-ins.”
You want to be on TV
You keep seeing doctors interviewed for news stories and think to yourself, “I’m much more accomplished, authoritative and attractive than that person. How come no one is interviewing me?” All kidding aside, when you are featured as an expert source in a news story, you receive an invaluable third-party endorsement from the reporter and the news organization. A good agency has established contacts in the media world – reporters come to them for sources and story ideas.
Your crisis communication plan is incomplete
If your first response is, “What crisis communication plan?” you DEFINITELY need to hire an agency. Just like you carry fire and malpractice insurance even though you hope to never use it, a solid communication plan needs to be in place well before a crisis happens. An agency will help you develop your plan and be by your side when the worst happens. News travels fast, bad news travels even faster. An agency will help you prepare for, and mitigate the damage of, a crisis.
Your business has grown and changed but your logo has not
Your logo and marketing materials have served you well thus far, but it might be time for a change. Fortune 500 companies, well-known brands and professional sports teams all update their brands and you should too. A graphic designer can help take your business to the next level by creating materials that catch the eye of your target market. A strong visual presentation communicates your message to patients. The right design will help you cut through the clutter and get your practice noticed in a crowded marketplace.
You want to advertise
Coca-Cola spends billions of dollars each year on advertising. Why? Because it works! Whether you are looking to place an ad in the local newspaper, start a national advertising campaign, or something in between, a full-service agency will help get the most out of your advertising budget. Agencies are in the trenches daily, negotiating better rates than you can get on your own. In addition, an experienced media buyer will help you select the appropriate outlets to reach your target audience.
In today’s information-driven society, it’s vital that all medical practices have an online presence. Websites have become the first, last and absolute impression for patients online. According to Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, approximately 61 percent of American adults look online for health information. As more and more consumers are turning to the Internet to make decisions about their health care, being available online is critical to remaining competitive in the market.
Every practice needs a website. A good website will:
- Establish a digital presence. Few people still look to phone books and directories to find business information. If you want to be found by current and prospective patients, it’s imperative to have a presence online. For added value, consider including search engine optimization (SEO) to improve the visibility of your website in search engine results.
- Enhance Your Brand. Your website should be an extension of your practice’s identity. A well done website will reflect your company’s individuality in the design, color and graphics of every web page.
- Humanize your practice. The physician/patient relationship is important to health consumers. Share information about yourself and other physicians on the website. Include physician photos, bios, academic backgrounds, hobbies and spoken languages. Add a photo of the clinic and staff and share positive patient testimonials.
- Be a health care resource. A strong website establishes your practice as a medical authority to patients and the health community. Include a list of disease prevention and management tips for patients, share published articles or write a blog that addresses aspects of your specialty. These efforts support patient confidence and build your professional credibility.
- Allow for convenience. Your website can become a portal for patients that are short on time. If possible, create online forms where patients can request appointments, records, lab tests results, or prescription refills. Even bill pay is now accessible to patients on some websites.
- Communicate with patients. Keep patients updated on anything going on in or around your practice. Share recent media coverage, announcements and upcoming health fairs or seminars for current or potential patients on your website. You’ll be surprised how interested your patients are!
- Stay up-to-date. It’s important to provide current and accessible contact information for patients or referring doctors to reach you. Check and update your website regularly with correct contact information such as phone and fax numbers and email addresses. Incorporate a link on your website to Google Maps and offer directions.
- Be progressive. Consumers associate a technologically savvy practice with a modern approach to medicine. So include social media links to your practice’s Facebook, Twitter or other social media pages. Remember, a social media presence is equally as important as having a website. In fact, it supports SEO and is a way to reach new patients!
No two medical practices will require the same type of marketing efforts to be successful. Some practices need additional online brand management or social media pages to promote their website and support online marketing efforts. This is why it is critical to work with your marketing agency to develop a proper online strategy suited to your practice’s needs.
Whether you were for it or against it, the “Affordable Care Act” – the expansive new federal law that will dramatically change the face of health care in the United States – is likely to affect every part of your business. But smart marketing can help you and your company stay ahead of the game.
By: Paula Yakubik – @pyakubik
Because the law requires Americans to have health coverage, as many as 32 million more Americans will be added to the country’s insurance rolls when the law is essentially entirely implemented in 2014. Although most major provisions will not take effect for more than two years, health care providers need to begin thinking about how this sweeping new law will affect their bottom line.
The biggest short-term challenge will be increased competition. A number of provisions in the new law are designed to improve access, giving consumers more information about what coverage is available, and at what price. What does this mean for health care providers? The smart ones will step up their marketing to distinguish themselves from their competition and demonstrate the value and service they provide.
I see three critical areas for expanded marketing efforts:
- Retaining existing patients. If private practices want to successfully compete against larger or less expensive groups, they need to market to retain and grow their patient base. Providing quality care will no longer be enough; paying attention to the overall patient experience will be more important than ever before. Get to know your patients – what they value in your practice and what they’d like to see changed – and use this information to a marketing advantage.
- Attracting newly insured patients. With the Affordable Care Act adding millions to the health insurance rolls, marketing yourself to stand out among your competition is imperative, especially for smaller private practices that want to thrive in this new world. As with the first group, your marketing should no longer be just about patient care, but also about the customer experience and service you provide.
- Luring patients from other providers. In addition to the newly insured patient pool, tens of millions of consumers will now have the opportunity to change providers. It will be important for your practice to stand out so that it can attract patients who are shopping. In addition to delivering and marketing an exceptional patient experience, distinguish yourself by being a reliable resource and expert. Use innovative tools and mediums you may not have previously tapped – including social media – to be a trusted source consumers can rely on.
Navigating through this landmark change in U.S. health care will not be easy, but it will be imperative for survival and success. Putting a little more time, effort and money into marketing now will pay big dividends when health care reform is fully underway.
(Originally published in MM&M – June 2011.)
Strengthening your company’s brand can empower you to entice candidates. Among business executives, LinkedIn has been used to help companies stay closely connected to members of their existing professional networks, extend their current networks and promote brand identity.
With the launch of LinkedIn’s new recruitment tool and customizable plug-ins, LinkedIn now delivers additional professional value to companies looking to attract top talent.
This past summer, LinkedIn rolled out their “Apply with LinkedIn” plug-in for use as a new online recruiting tool for its members. The company touts the plug-in as a way to remove friction from the job application process by enabling people to use their LinkedIn profiles as resumes. It’s a way for companies to “attract more high-quality, passive candidates who may not have resumes ready, easily access referrals and recommendations and enhance a company’s talent brand and stand out,” states LinkedIn.
In fact, the process is an easy one – companies only need to include the plug-in by having their web developers enter a few lines of code on their company’s website job posting page. Customization is also available to reflect the brand’s look with use of the member company’s logo and colors. Additionally, applicant submissions can be managed by routing them to emails or by linking with an applicant tracking system.
Web based companies like Netflix, Tripit and Photobucket were among the first to use the “Apply with LinkedIn” tool on their own online employment web pages. After impressive results and “exploding traffic” on its network, LinkedIn and forecasters predict that this tool will become widely used by other industries and companies.
Also, LinkedIn has developed additional plug-ins, similar to those of Facebook and Twitter, which permit companies to include LinkedIn member content on their company’s webpages such as profile information, company information and share buttons.
For information on how to develop a profile on LinkedIn or for ways on how to post job openings to look for new talent, visit www.LinkedIn.com.
Client: HealthCare Partners Nevada
In today’s information-driven society, all practices must have an online presence. According to Pew Research Center, more Americans are turning to the Internet to help make decisions about their health care. Being available online is critical to new patient referrals and maintaining competitiveness in the market.
HealthCare Partners Nevada (HCPNV), a network of more than 240 primary care physicians with 52 clinics throughout Southern Nevada asked MassMedia to redesign the company’s website and update the physician and clinic database. The overall objective was to develop a fresh look for the website that reflected the company’s new corporate branding and to revise their database to provide more useful information about their physicians and clinics.
Together, MassMedia and HCPNV developed a variety of ways for patients to search for doctors and/or clinics by accessing an extensive physician database which can be broken down by name, specialty, city, zip code and/or language.
The client’s request to add movement to their static homepage was satisfied with the addition of a scrolling header and having a variety of images reflecting the client’s branding and messaging. The header also provides an opportunity to update the images to match future campaigns as they develop.
MassMedia also developed physician profile pages with more personalized material, such as physician photos, bios, news, background and videos. Based on our research and experience, this type of content can introduce potential patients to new doctors and build trust in a doctor/patient relationship.
Clinic pages were included to contain photos of each clinic as well as a list of services and/or specialties, address, phone number and a list of physicians that practiced at the location. To connect the pages, MassMedia added links between clinic pages and physician profile pages for easy cross-reference accessibility.
The new website also features a full newsroom which provides patients and the media with credible third-party material. Updated on a regular basis, this newsroom houses new and archived articles relevant to the patients and physicians.
Overall, when developing a website medical practices should give attention to what their patients and referring physicians want to find online. It can make a significant difference when it comes to obtaining new patients and building a valued medical brand.
By: Jocelyn Torres
What does the department of motor vehicles, an airport and a doctor’s office have in common?
They all make you wait long hours in waiting rooms.
One of the top complaints that people have about doctor’s offices is the waiting rooms. Patients are waiting too long, being treated poorly or simply just bored. Some healthcare companies have focused their attention and budgets on improving online communication but unfortunately have forgotten about basic face-to-face interaction, which happens mostly in waiting rooms.
Improve your waiting room interaction by staying away from these three common mistakes.
1. Rude Receptionists
Some patients will overlook a rude receptionist if they have a great relationship with their doctor. However if no previous relationship exists and your first contact with a particular doctor’s office treats you rudely, chances are you are not going to book that appointment. It is important to remember that all employees not just the doctors are brand ambassadors for your company.
Keep your patients busy. Provide them with brochures to read, surveys to answer, your social media tags, etc. The key is to give your patients something to do that will benefit both themselves and the practice.
3. 30 plus minute wait
Reducing the waiting time may not be an option; however there are ways to make the long wait bearable. The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health in New York updated their waiting room to include TV’s with health information and family-friendly cable programming, computers and adjustable group sitting areas. In addition, they allow patients to use their cell phones. Ideally you want to make your patients forget that they are waiting in a doctor’s office.
Do not waste an opportunity to market your brand and communicate with your patients.
Treat your patients politely and be considerate of their time, and you will see an improvement in your patient’s attitude towards and investment in the brand.
Follow Jocelyn on Twitter at @Jocy_Torres or contact her at email@example.com
By: Carmesha Thompson
What do you think are the top five things that come to mind when someone thinks about your practice? Hopefully one of these associations involves your practice’s branding.
Most people think of branding as just a logo, but branding is more than just creating a recognizable logo. The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.”
A strong and distinct brand will create name recognition, deliver a strong message about your company, confirm your credibility and connect with your audience. Your health care brand affects all forms of communications, from advertising to public relations to product packaging so it should be well-thought out and carefully developed.
To build your brand you must start off by asking yourself a few questions about your practice that will help with the conceptualization of your brand:
- What are the benefits and features of my practice?
- What qualities do I want my customers to associate with my practice?
- What is my practice’s mission?
Once you have answered these questions that help you pin down your company’s identity, it is now time to bring this identity to life through the intelligent use of design. Meet with an Art Director or Graphic Designer to discuss your vision and make your brand visual, by creating or updating your logo and tagline.
After your brand has been created, it is important to ensure that it is consistent and seen on all of your marketing materials such as ads, your website and direct mailers. Doing this will help your brand resonate with your current and potential patients. The more times the public sees your brand, the more likely they will instantly recognize it and associate it with your company.
Branding is a major reflection of a practice and conveys its mission, environment, core essence, character, purpose, features and benefits. If done correctly, it should be memorable and so deeply ingrained that it is top of mind when someone thinks or hears of your practice.
Follow Carmesha on Twitter at @carmeshathomps or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.