Posted on January 4, 2012
Men: Are they the missing link in your 2012
Super Bowl frenzy is upon us. It's the time of year for all good
men to come to the aid of their favorite team to cheer them on to
victory. Most will watch Super Bowl XLVI from the comfort of
their barcalounger. And when a commercial airs-it's one of the few
times we men won't reach for the remote control. But if we
did, would it really matter?
Think about it. Women account for 83% of all consumer purchases.
That said, is it really necessary to market to the male
species-especially when we're talking about healthcare?
Yes. Why? Because men are evolving, albeit slowly, into
One reason for this evolution is the "Mancession"-the term given
to the downturn in our economy-and for good reason. It's estimated
that more than 6 million men have lost their jobs since 2007
compared to approximately 2.6 million women. In many of these
cases, men have taken on new or broader roles in their family,
including becoming stay-at-home dads.
The number of single fathers is also increasing. According to an
article in the San Francisco Chronicle, nearly 2-1/2
million single parents today are single fathers. That's an increase
of 30% over the past 15 years.
Gender roles have also been changing. For example, Gen X and
millennial men are more likely to take an active role in parenting
and household duties than previous generations.
What does all of this mean?
As marketing professionals, we're shooting ourselves in the
metatarsal if we completely ignore men-especially dads-in our 2012
marketing plan. Granted, we can't be everything to everyone. But we
can incorporate strategies that market to men but sell to
women (i.e., women can often sway a man's decision).
When doing so, we need to keep gender differences in mind. For
starters, we all know that men are not as proactive in seeking
healthcare as women. Also, unlike women, men don't put a lot of
emphasis on building a long-term physician relationship. They're
more focused on expertise and how fast they can feel and/or look
When trying to capture men's attention, think of promoting
faster recovery times and improvements in health, strength or
ability to "get back into the game." If you have the latest and
greatest equipment, tell 'em about it. Also think about service
lines that can be more directly tied to men, like cardiac,
colorectal, prostate and sports medicine.
Here are some marketing ideas to get you started.
- Sponsoring an informal physician Q&A session at a home
improvement or sporting goods store.
- Developing a male-focused issue of your hospital's
- Offering screening packages-for couples. (Again, marketing to
men but selling to women.)
No one is suggesting that the recession or other recent trends
warrant an about-face in your 2012 marketing plans. However,
community hospitals that engage with this market sooner-rather than
later-will have a step up on those who fail to acknowledge this
missing link to continued growth and profitability.
Posted on January 11, 2012
By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Marketing and
Duck and cover. It's an election year. We as consumers are
already in the middle of the mud-slinging. We as marketing
professionals have just begun our uphill battle to gain and
maintain coveted air space.
As political candidates flood virtually every market with TV and
radio campaigns, it will become increasingly difficult to compete
for a limited inventory. In fact, recent research from MediaVest
indicates that ad inventory during the upcoming political year will
be tighter than ever. Politicians are expected to spend a record
amount in their bids to get elected. With states like Wisconsin,
Michigan, Florida and others flagged as battleground states, it
will be especially important to keep a close eye on what's
happening in your own backyard.
The question is, "Can any of us in marketing stand toe-to-toe
with big budget political candidates?" No. But what we lack in
budget strength we can make up for in agility. How? One way is to
plan early and be prepared to adapt on the fly.
Politicians may make in-flight changes based on shifts in public
opinion and fund-raising levels. These and other factors can
restrict or expand a candidate's reach. If a politician decides to
move out of a market, it could improve pricing and inventory.
However, the opposite can also happen.
Be sure to keep a finger on the political pulse in your target
marketing areas. If you can predict where these types of shifts
will occur, you can have a leg up on the competition.
And don't forget about social media. We saw the Obama campaign
effectively use social media in 2008 to "rock the vote." It stands
to reason that candidates in 2012 will take full advantage of
everything from blogs and microblogs to social networks and video
sharing. The good news is that cyber space-unlike broadcast media
space-is virtually unlimited.
Political proficianados will be online in full force vying for
the public's attention this year. The same attention that we
marketing professionals are trying to capture.
Beat the political candidates to the punch. Plan early. Think
creatively. Act strategically. And hit your target markets right
between the eyes-before the political frenzy has them
down-and tuned out.
Posted on January 17, 2012
Mike Milligan, President Legato Marketing and
We see them every day. Hoodies up. Heads down. Eyes glued to
whatever electronic device they have in their hand. To some,
they're known as Gen Y. Others call them Millennials.
We in rural healthcare marketing call them "Opportunity"-or at
least we should. Here's why.
It's estimated that Millennials make up more than 70 million
Americans born 1977 to 2002. As they get older, most will become
parents. And as their families grow, so will their healthcare
That said, the importance of marketing to this generation is
What may not be as obvious is how to get the attention of this
younger generation. The answer? Hit them where they live.
Millennials cut their proverbial "I" teeth on Ipads,
Ipods and the Internet. Today, most Millennials "live" on
their cell phones and on the Internet.
A recent study indicates that 83% of Millennials are part
of a social network. Studies also show that a majority of
Millennials get their information from trusted resources-their
The fact of the matter is this: Millennials have the ability to
build momentum around brands, organizations and initiatives they
believe in more quickly than any previous generation.
This spells o-p-p-o-r-t-u-n-i-t-y for healthcare organizations
that are ready to communicate with Gen Y on their terms. Engage
Millennials through your website, blogs, emails, YouTube and other
social media. Gain the trust of one Millennial and watch that
loyalty spread. One little tweet can be worth a thousand words-to
potentially thousands of people-on their Friends and email
Posted on January 24, 2012
By: Mike Milligan, President Legato Marketing &
To blog or not to blog,
that is the question.
Whether 'tis nobler in the minds of marketers to suffer from
the absence of a blog or to take arms against the competition and
join in the posting revolution … Now, that's another question
I can tell you from personal experience that blogging has it
pros and its challenges. For one, it's time-consuming. It also
takes discipline to keep posts current and to provide content that
people care about. So what's the up side?
A blog provides an effective, low-cost alternative to
conventional marketing. It can help rural hospitals level the
playing field when competing with big-city hospitals with big-city
Blogs can also help community hospitals strengthen their
connection with the community, enhance recruitment efforts, and
position their medical professionals as experts in the field. For
Want to highlight a patient success story?
Put it on your blog. Localize it. And watch the news spread
throughout your community-and beyond.
Looking for a specialist to fill an open
Ask one of your on-staff physicians or surgeons to be a guest
blogger. He or she can highlight features and benefits of your
hospital, and give a personal perspective of why it's the right
career move to join your organization and live in a rural
Want to leverage a health topic that's getting national
Start blogging about it. Have designated physicians, nurses, OTs
and other professionals share their expertise. They'll become
recognized as local experts. It's also a great way for community
members to get to know the doctors and nurses on your staff.
So back to the question, "To blog or not to blog?"
While you don't have to be Shakespeare to write a post, the
content must be relevant and current. If you don't have the time or
talent internally to create and maintain a blog, consider
outsourcing these services. If that's not an option, err on the
side of caution.
Remember, using a blog as a promotional tool is a great way to
keep your website content fresh, and keep people coming back. But
your site will only be as current as your last update, which ties
back to the amount of time and effort that you invest in it.
Posted on January 30, 2012
By: John Corpus, Vice President,
Strategy, Legato Marketing & Communications
Yes, everyone talks about developing care models around the
patient and his/her family and caregivers.
A friend of mine who is applying for a supervisor position
within her company asked me for some advice regarding questions
that the hiring team may ask her during the interview. The company
is a service organization; therefore, its major consideration is
customer service - with a focus on quality. Does exceptional
quality however, translate into providing exceptional customer
I asked my friend to define customer service: she provided
several different examples of "quality measures" that she believes
illustrate what customer service is, e.g., number of customers
employees can process per hour, number of customers coming through
each week/month/year, and number of various permits/licenses
processed, but not once did she mention the customer
In her mind, customer service is all about internal processes,
assigning responsibilities, and proper internal communication and
understanding. This type of planning does not take into
consideration the customer experience. In fact, the planning
process itself seems to, without intent, censor the customer.
Healthcare is a change environment, simply put. Regulatory
changes, financial limitations/reimbursement, a lack of desirable
healthcare workers, and advances in technology keep healthcare in a
state of flux. Combined, we in healthcare remain more focused on
strategy, planning, and getting business done - the bottom line -
than we do on creating the ultimate patient experience for each
Many of us say that we are patient-centered, but I believe that
the patient-censored philosophy is the norm more than the
exception. Large or small, urban or rural, hospitals and health
systems still struggle with this concept.
Patient-centered is more than a catch phrase: hospitals and
health systems must embrace this philosophy and its core elements
in its mission, vision, and values, with a main objective of
providing the patient with the best experience possible. Not
considering this or aiming for less will result in a successful
(but undesirable) patient-censored philosophy and culture.
Remember, for most, quality is a given in healthcare: your brand
promise is the patient experience, nothing more and nothing less.
The more you can embed this philosophy in the corporate culture and
leadership's actions, the more it will trickle down to department
goals, objectives, and individual employee actions. This is not
limited to direct patient care staff either; it is for everyone
working within the hospital or health system, e.g., housekeeping,
billing, marketing, etc. The actions of every employee can and do
affect, directly or indirectly, the patient experience.