Archive for the ‘Healthcare Advertising’ Category
Our media manager, Pam Myers, answers the most frequently asked questions about agency media buying. Pam oversees media planning and buying for MassMedia’s health care accounts, including HealthCare Partners of Nevada, Women’s Cancer Center, United Blood Services and Red Rock Fertility. She brings more than 11 years of strategic marketing and advertising experience to the department.
Q: What is the most important aspect of putting together an effective media buying strategy?
A: The foundation for any successful media plan is identifying the target audience and focusing on the mediums that will reach them. MassMedia uses the industry’s top research tools, such as Scarborough, to dig deeper into the habits and behaviors of patients in Southern Nevada. Many of our clients are surprised to learn the profile of their target audience. For example, men are consumers of health care but research shows that women are the primary decision makers. This key information allows us to target the right audience effectively.
Q: What are the benefits of using an agency to plan and buy media?
A: It’s beneficial for businesses to use an agency for many reasons. For one, they can tap into the agency’s buying power. MassMedia purchases millions of dollars in advertising each year, which means all of our clients benefit from the low rates of our large overall spend. We also maintain great relationships with the various vendors to secure the best rates as well as added value and premier placements. MassMedia also uses SmartPlus, a media buying software, to make the buys more efficient, monitor our clients’ campaigns and track success.
Q: What would people be surprised to know about the media buying process?
A: My job doesn’t stop once the buy is placed. We account for all of our clients’ placements and spots to ensure they are running according to contract. Just because a buy is finalized, it doesn’t mean the campaign will run 100 percent accurately. Much of our time goes into verifying our campaigns and we sometimes catch discrepancies, such as missed spots or print issues. This would otherwise go unseen and calling attention to these errors means we can negotiate additional exposure at no cost to our clients.
Q: Any final thoughts or words of wisdom?
Media planning and buying is actually fun! With sufficient time allotted for planning, strategy and negotiating, the final buy is symbolic of all the hard work that has gone into it. I also really enjoy the positive feedback from my clients and hearing how their advertising positively impacts their businesses.
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.)
By: Georgeann Pizzi – @gpizzi & Pam Myers – @pammyers310
Adults more than 55 years of age account for nearly 25 percent of the population in Southern Nevada. This demographic segment continues to grow at an increasing rate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will double by 2030. Because seniors are large consumers of health care, medical groups must be keenly aware of this demographic shift from not only a service standpoint, but also as it relates to their communications efforts. In the new era of online and digital marketing, doctor groups should not lose sight of the power of traditional media and its ability to reach senior patients.
The goal of any outreach or advertising campaign is to convey your message to your target audience and the first step is to find out how they obtain information. Pew Research recently reported that nearly 70 percent of seniors read newspapers and magazines as their primary news sources. Further research shows that despite the shift to online communication, seniors continue to consume news mainly through traditional media, including print, television and radio. Despite these compelling statistics, a blanket campaign across traditional media channels will not ensure you’re reaching the right audience. There are specific TV networks, radio stations and publications that rank high among the senior population and others that reach only a small segment of this group.
To effectively reach seniors through advertising, it’s important to take your strategy a step further and do the research necessary to gain clear insight into their behavioral patterns. Important aspects to consider include what communities or areas have higher concentrations of senior residents, what publications are specifically devoted to this group, what television and radio stations have the highest concentration of viewers and listeners, and what programming and day parts are most popular. The answers to these specific questions will help guide where and when you place your advertising, and it will ensure your efforts are reaching the right group.
MassMedia Healthcare Marketing has conducted a number of focus groups on behalf of our clients to get direct feedback from seniors with regard to their communication preferences. Our findings consistently show that seniors are loyal to specific radio and television stations and print publications, and that they listen, watch or read their trusted sources on a daily basis. This is good news for marketers and we can be confident our placements will achieve favorable reach and frequencies relative to our advertising dollars.
With its moderate year-round climate, Southern Nevada is fast becoming a retirement destination for seniors throughout the country. As a result, there are a growing number of niche publications and special sections that specifically serve the senior community. The Las Vegas Review-Journal publishes a monthly supplement to its daily paper with content for senior residents. Master-planned senior housing communities, including Del Webb’s Sun City Anthem and Sun City Summerlin, publish their own magazines. These are great opportunities for doctor groups to promote their services to seniors through highly targeted advertising, which can be much more affordable than marketing to the general masses.
While traditional media remains king among most seniors, it’s important to note that adults over the age of 65 are using the Internet at an increasing rate. For that reason, online advertising should always be considered for your advertising mix. Remember, advertising is only one way to reach the senior community. The best approach is always an integrated one with grassroots, public relations and direct marketing strategies and tactics.