How your marketing team can boost employee recruitment and retention

Posted on August 4, 2011

By: Barbara Vo, Account Executive, Legato Marketing & Communications

Do you really know what attracts a job candidate-or keeps an employee happy? Salary and benefits. Right? Not necessarily. Of course they matter. But recruiting and retaining good employees is more complex-and perhaps surprising.

As a Gen X/Millennial, I know what's most important to me in my job-and why I recently joined Legato. I want to be engaged, knowing I'm being heard and that I'm contributing to the success of the company. The environment here is open and encouraging to new ideas and fresh approaches.

This is the kind of message potential employees want to hear-and how current employees want to feel. Marketing can help deliver that message. After all, its role is to unify a company's brand message and deliver it to the targeted audience so they will be motivated to "buy" your brand. Historically, your marketing department has been successful doing this for external customers; why not allow them to do it for your internal customers (employees), too?

As a marketing professional, my job is to find out what motivates people so I can deliver a relevant message. Understanding the motivators for different generations and backgrounds is the first step in successful recruitment and retention. The second, is delivering an attention-getting story about the advantages of working for your company-above and beyond compensation.

After all, your employees are your brand. Their actions and behaviors directly reflect the characteristics and personality of your company. Give them an environment that will make them flourish, and they will want to talk about the great place they work. The underlying message to external audiences? A great place to work, must be a great place to buy service.

We no longer work in silos where departments work independently of each other. It's a more deliberate and integrated culture involving everyone in the company from the CEO to the facilities manager to the mail room clerk to the IT director. How to unify and present that integrated process is the challenge. Your marketing team members are the creatives who can help you achieve your retention and recruitment goals by delivering your compelling story.

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Why should you care about social media?

Posted on August 9, 2011

By: Barbara Vo, Account Executive, Legato Marketing & Communications

Because everyone's doing it. They are. But, why? And are they using it as effectively as the medium allows for marketing? The greatest advantage of social media is that it facilitates a conversation between you and your current and potential customers. This doesn't mean you should forego traditional media. Use it to start the conversation, and let social media help you continue it.

For instance, let's say you create a print ad and a radio spot to promote a particular product or service. You develop these based on what you already know about your target audience. However, no matter how recent it is, the knowledge you have is the past. That information still is valuable, and you should have it; because it gives you a place to start talking. It's like starting any conversation. If you know someone likes to fish, you begin talking about fishing. That person responds and you learn he doesn't like all fishing; he likes to fly fish. You just got instant knowledge. That's what social media can give you.

Through social media, you can learn more about your audience daily. With this information, you can quickly respond with marketing messages that are more specific to your audience's likes, dislikes, and reasons why. And you do need to respond-quickly; show that you are listening to what they have to say. If your audience knows you're listening, they'll keep talking.

But make sure you're speaking their language. Some like facebook, some like to tweet, others like to blog. Become fluent in all areas of social media. If you don't understand it, don't use it until you do. Social-ites can quickly smell the scent of ignorance. Once they do, you'll have a difficult time getting them back into the conversation. That's knowledge gone.

In addition to instant research, here's a real-life example of another way social media can be valuable:

A construction company created a Twitter account for a project site to inform people about what was being built, when there would be road closures, and if there would be disruptive construction. One windy Saturday, a neighbor tweeted that something had fallen off of the building and was all over the street in front of the site. In fact, several people tweeted about the incident. The company saw these posts and immediately sent someone to the site to clean it up. Had the company not been informed via Twitter, the debris might have stayed in the street until the following Monday, causing unsafe driving conditions, and a possible public relations nightmare.

It's also a way to monitor your public persona. Social media can be a contagious "word-of-mouth advertising," spreading information about your company that is incorrect, inflammable, or damaging to your credibility. If you don't respond, someone else will.

Go to Twitter and type in your company's name. What comes up could give you good reason to care about social media.

Interested in following us on Twitter? @legatotweet or @itsbvo

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Building patient loyalty the easy way.

Posted on August 18, 2011

By: Kris Whitton, Account Executive, Legato Marketing & Communications

After spending 15 minutes in line at a coffee shop, I was greeted with a smile and a quick apology for the wait. Even though it seems like a simple thing, it had big impact on how I regarded the organization-thoughtful, caring about customers. The woman behind the counter  probably wasn't making a lot of money; yet she still made the effort to ensure her customers were well taken care of. I'll return to that coffee shop.

I've worked for companies in several different industries, and I've noticed one commonality: the simplest of gestures can result in customer loyalty. This realization (I hope) makes me better at my job as an account executive, a role that depends entirely on client satisfaction. In the healthcare industry this is especially important. After all, caring is their job.

There are few things more important than patient satisfaction to increase repeat patient visits. Sure, promoting sophisticated technology, physician expertise, and hospital capabilities are important. And patients do want to know their hospital has them. But if asked, patients will not talk about the new technology; they'll tell others about well they were treated. Word of mouth has always been powerful, but in today's world of social networking, news travels much quicker and more broadly, and has the power to make or break any relationship - whether it's an ad agency/client relationship or a healthcare/patient relationship.

I have created the following guidelines for myself to ensure I'm keeping my clients happy. Perhaps you can use them or be inspired to create your own.

Make sure your customer realizes your value. You need to know if your patients understand the extent to which your hospital performs and exceeds their needs for each visit. If your ER has an average wait time of less than 30 minutes - tell your patients. Then be sure to make good on this promise. Nothing ruins credibility like offering something you can't fulfill.

Think about how you can provide additional value and benefit to your customers. Talk to hospital staff who have daily contact with patients. Being on the front lines, they have the best perspective of how patients feel about your organization. You might discover there is a healthcare need in the community you've not seen. Maybe there is a lack of nutritious meals in the community. You can make your hospital's cafeteria the go-to destination for healthy meals in town, not just a snack during hospital visits. Find out what patients most often ask for, then be sure to have it available.

Reward loyalty. Often companies offer rewards to draw in first-time customers. But what about current, loyal customers? Reward them for their loyalty and they'll spread the word about your organization's thoughtfulness. For example, create preventive health campaigns and send out direct mail pieces specifically targeted to your current patient base. You can demonstrate your attention to your patients' personal healthcare by sending reminders when it's time for annual screenings or exams letting them know it's time for their annual screening or exam, such as mammogram or cardiovascular test.

In the end, it doesn't take much to show your patients you're genuinely interested in their health and wellbeing. And it can go a long way in building loyal relationships.

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Goodbye summer, hello open enrollment

Posted on August 24, 2011

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President, Legato Marketing & Communications

As summer starts to wind down,  the cool winds blow in and the leaves change color, thousands of 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 period:

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 roadmap.

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 relationships.

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.

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