Cast a blog-o-vote today!

Posted on April 6, 2010

With spring elections taking place throughout Wisconsin today, I found it appropriate to do a little polling of my own.  And no, I don't care who you voted for - there are no statewide elections or referendum to tie everyone together anyway.

I'm interested in finding out what you're interested in.  When I started 2010 with a personal resolution to stick to a far more regular blogging schedule than I did last year, I wasn't sure what would draw people in.

So I just started putting down in words my thoughts on various marketing, public relations and strategic planning topics. Now that it's been 10 weeks, I'm asking for your help in determining which direction I should take with future blogs.

There are three simple questions to answer in my poll.  Please take a few minutes to give me some feedback - if you do your part we just might top the 10 percent voter turnout anticipated statewide.

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Would you like fries with that?

Posted on April 13, 2010

Think back to your most recent shopping experience - whether it be at the mall, the grocery store or even online - and try to remember what else you were asked to buy.

You can't go to a fast-food restaurant and just order a burger - you'll surely be asked to add fries or a soft drink to your order. Try making it through the checkout at the grocery store without picking up a candy bar or soda for the ride home from those convenient displays. And when you click "Finish my order" on most websites, a pop-up box will ask you to buy an accessory item.

Without question, strategies around cross-selling to your existing customers need to be developed in tandem with those to attract new ones.

Think back to your most recent marketing plan.  You probably had multiple tactics to attract new patients or convert them from the competition. But how much attention did you give to initiatives aimed at your existing patients? My guess is that your organization spends a lot of time and energy on worthwhile endeavors to improve your patients' experience to drive patient satisfaction scores, but very little on marketing to those same loyal patients.

The good news is that cross-selling doesn't have to cost much. After all, what does it take for a phlebotomist to be prepared when asked by a patient "I need to see a genetic counselor next - do you know if there's one here?" At a minimum, the answer needs to be "I can find out for you," although too often it's probably "I have no idea."

Pretty sad when it's estimated to take five times as much to acquire a new patient than it does to keep one. With that in mind, your sales force - that means every single employee not just the business development staff - needs to understand what services are available throughout the organization, or know where to send someone who has questions.

But cross-selling goes far beyond operations all the way into your marketing plan. Let this be the year that you show how significant revenue can be gained by marketing and cross-marketing to your existing patient base.

Here's an example of how it works:

Accepted guidelines call for both men and women to have a baseline colorectal cancer screening at the age of 50. That means anyone turning 50 needs to be reminded when they're 49 that it's time to schedule their test.  Someone's primary care physician is allowed to send such communication so take advantage of it.

The best part is that encouraging appropriate screenings helps your bottom line and improves your patients' health.  I don't think the fries can say the same.

What do you think?

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Why Sears doesn’t get it.

Posted on April 25, 2010

I got the lawnmower out today for first time for the season.  Although the retirees on my street had already de-thatched, fertilized and manicured a month ago, I was ahead of my regular spring regimen.  After the lawn was cut, it was time to get out the weed trimmer.  But then I remembered:  it was on the fritz since last fall and in need of some serious maintenance.

I jumped in the car and headed over to Sears, where I bought the trimmer about 6 years ago.  After I maneuvered my way through the maze of polyester work pants, Kenmore dishwashers and shop vacs, I found the lawn and garden section.   Then a mime wearing  a Sears shirt pointed to the repair area.

"But there ain't nobody there on Sundays," said a nearby former English teacher turned sales consultant.

Why wasn't anyone there on a Sunday?  Well, because, there was a "self-service" kiosk there that surely could diagnose the mechanical problem, and give me an estimated repair cost and completion date.  No, but I did enter my name and information so I could qualify to push a button so a clueless teenager could come out and hand me a work order to complete.  I asked him a couple questions about the costs of diagnosing the problem, and the process for when and how someone would follow up with me.  He jerked the work order ticket from my hand and read aloud the instructions on the back.

Stop!  I heard enough.

While we don't all sell weed trimmers, we do, like the customer service dynamos I encountered, represent our organization to every patient or visitor.  Every experience forms the brand, or perception, of our hospital or clinic.

Brand is, in fact, the sum of all parts-all experiences-related a product or service, as well as the organization delivering that product or service. That includes interactions with employees at all levels.  Needles to say, it's imperative to integrate your brand strategies at every point of public contact.

Remember that building a brand starts on the inside. When you build, integrate and maintain a brand from the inside out, everyone on your staff becomes an ambassador for your hospital or clinic.

Internal communication not only leads to greater levels of employee engagement, it also  prepares them to live up to your organization's brand promise to those you serve. Obviously, not all Sears personnel got that memo.

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