Posted on July 6, 2010
I hope you had a great July 4th holiday weekend.
If your company runs on a January-to-December budget cycle, take
the big bang of this past weekend's fireworks as your signal to
move 2011 planning higher up on your priority list.
Larger organizations with dedicated planners are constantly
preparing for the next 12 months, three years, decade, or whatever
cyclical timeframe they prefer. But many smaller organizations rely
on their department leaders and consultants to handle the annual
budget and strategic planning process.
Each method has its strengths and weaknesses. Regardless
of which you use, there are some things you should be doing right
now to prepare for the planning season. Here are a few ideas
1) Gather information. Don't
wait until everyone else is asking the data police to run
reports. Request and study July-to-June data for the past
several years as you look at market share and other financials that
will be in high demand come budget season. You can always update
your reports with updated numbers later on.
2) Review last year's plan.
This is something you should be doing anyway, but the truth is
sometimes planning documents become dust collectors. Get it
out, review the goals and see how you're performing. The
answers should help you form next year's goals and strategies.
3) Get some face time. Meet
with service line managers, business development specialists and
appropriate senior leaders. Most of this time will be spent looking
at adjustments you can still make in 2010 and asking questions
about their plans for 2011 and beyond. Basics include new services
or providers, but don't let the discussion end there. Make sure to
look at untapped markets and cross-selling opportunities that can
be easily captured.
4) Study the competition.
Take a stab at outlining their marketing goals based on what you've
seen in their advertising. Look back over several years to
see any patterns or forecasting that might help you identify
services that were once strong but have fallen or desired additions
that never came to fruition - either could be an opportunity for
your organization to consider targeting.
5) Review the research.
Consumer preference scores are just one indication of how
successful your marketing is, but when crossed with market share
data it can be extremely valuable in identifying services that need
protecting or abandoning. You can also see if you're moving
the needle in the right direction with your existing creative.
Will any of these help you get a few steps ahead of the
Posted on July 12, 2010
After coming home tonight from my daughter's soccer tournament
in Blaine, MN - and reflecting on what I've seen of the FIFA
World Cup over the past several weeks - it hit me that we in
healthcare marketing could apply some of the same principles of
soccer to what we do.
1) Set lofty goals. When
Andres Iniesta made his game-winning kick some 116 minutes into
Sunday's title game, he made sure that Spain achieved something the
other 207 eligible teams did not: winning the World Cup. Despite
having never won one, we can only assume that was the team's
goal. Many others might have set more attainable short-term
goals like making the 32-team pool play tournament or advancing
through pool play. I'd like to think that those teams have
long-term strategies that have winning a World Cup as the primary
2) Create a plan. Not sure
what your World Cup is? It might be time to figure it out
through a strategic planning session coordinated by someone outside
your organization. Getting that external viewpoint might just
help point you where you never thought of going. In watching my
daughter's team advance to the semifinals this weekend, I certainly
saw strategy taking place every game. Even 14-year-olds recognize
weaknesses in an opponent and take advantage. Do you do the
3) Just do it. There's only so
much planning you can do. I'm sure the World Cup teams tired
of long practices and strategy sessions, but without that
preparation they'd certainly lose. At some point, the coaches
stop coaching and the players start playing. In our world,
that means know when it's time to push the tactics instead of
Posted on July 20, 2010
Sometime this fall after the cool winds blow and the leaves
change color, thousands of Wisconsin insured employees will face
their annual Open Enrollment period.
Many healthcare marketers choose to ignore this opportunity to
communicate with existing and potential new patients, relying on
the human resources personnel at each company to accurately explain
the benefit changes. The truth is, only something positive can come
out of being proactive with both employers and employees. Here are
a few things you can do to prepare for the upcoming Open Enrollment
1) Know the insurance plans. In some organizations, this might
be the marketing department's responsibility; in others, there is a
separate development department that does so. Regardless, someone
in your organization needs to know exactly which plans are in your
marketplace and whether your physicians and services are included.
Make sure the data is updated annually - it'll serve as your
2) Evaluate the changes. Remember that data from the previous
item? Use it to uncover opportunities. The most obvious will be any
that move from an exclusive panel to an open one.
3) Work cooperatively. If a major employer suddenly includes
your providers after years of being out-of-network, start by
connecting with the benefits specialist and see if you can provide
any brochures or attend their benefits fair. Ask to provide health
columns for the company newsletter. See if you can hold a lunch 'n'
learn health education program on site.
4) Get creative. Did you find out there are political reasons
your providers were out-of-network for all those years? Remember
that some of those employees are probably waiting for this news so
make sure they get it. Consider newspaper or radio advertising.
Maybe it's time to rent the billboard that every employee drives
past to get to work. See if you can sponsor the placemats at
nearby restaurants or the gas station toppers at the gas station
across the street. Major changes will impact your company's bottom
line regardless of what you do - but consider the return on
investment from acquiring new patients who will stay with you as
long as their insurance allows them to. You might not see immediate
results, but remember this is about building long-term
Open Enrollment can open the door to new opportunities for your
organization. Opportunities to strengthen existing relationships.
Create new ones. And build brand awareness. It happens every fall,
so be prepared to make the most of it-every year.