Are you using Emotional Intelligence in your marketing?

Posted on June 15, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Marketing and Communications

Eighty-eight percent of healthcare executives say, "It's critically important to incorporate emotions into hospital marketing and advertising messaging." That's according to a 2010 survey commissioned by KemperConnect on The Use of Emotions in Advertising.

Yet the same survey indicates many healthcare leaders take a "do as I say, not as I do" approach to emotional marketing:

  • Only 37% of executives have a formal process for unearthing insights about emotions their patients/other constituents have towards their hospital.
  • Over 50% of hospitals use non-emotional formalized statistical quantitative studies or surveys.
  • Only about 30% use focus groups or are engaging one-on-one with patients and other constituents in their natural environment to learn about how they feel about hospital services, personnel, and the overall environment and offering.
  • 76% of administrators state that creating a long-term emotional connection is more important to them than convincing a patient to "buy now."
  • 83% of all respondents say they are using testimonial advertising in their marketing and advertising campaigns.

Based on these facts, it appears that one critical component of the Emotional Intelligence process is missing - that being "intelligence."

Emotional Intelligence in marketing describes an organization's ability to tune into what's really meaningful by listening, coaching, validating and managing emotions. Advertising can then be developed to empathetically reach out and emotionally connect consumers with the organization.

For example, patients want to know that you'll be empathetic to their needs and do whatever you can to make them feel comfortable. Part of that comfort level comes from an emotional bond.

Yet the KemperConnect survey indicates that only 31% of respondents are aware of the practice of Emotional Intelligence, and only 26% are using it. This indicates an opportunity for a majority of hospital administrators and marketing professionals to push themselves and/or their agencies to develop more holistic approaches to identifying and translating consumer emotions.

That's not to say there isn't a time and a place for advertising your all-new Computed Tomography Imaging System. These types of ads play an important role in your marketing strategy. But first things first. Once you've gained consumers' trust and instilled other positive emotions about your hospital then - and only then - can you effectively promote the technical aspects and offerings of your hospital.

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Have your patients lost their voice?

Posted on June 15, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Marketing and Communications

In marketing it's called the "voice of the customer." In healthcare marketing, we refer to it as the "voice of the 'patient.'" Whatever vernacular is used, we can all agree that it pays to listen. That means it's time to tune into your satisfaction surveys and hear your patients loud and clear. And yes, that includes their quote/unquote constructive criticism.

Let's face it. We all like to hear positive comments. In fact, we need to get affirmation about what we're doing right so we can continue to meet patients' expectations. After all, satisfied patients are loyal "customers" who will refer a hospital and return again when they need care.

But what about the not-so-satisfied or downright unhappy patients who share their complaints with you and the 10 to 20 other people they meet? Should you write them off as the disgruntled minority or view this segment of your patient population as door-openers to new opportunities?

I'll give you a hint: It's the latter. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Chances are, if one person noted a specific issue others noticed it too. Making a change for the better has value in its own right. But don't stop there. You can often promote a change as an improvement for your patients and their families. That can build trust, brand and loyalty.
  • If you receive comments about what you're not doing, ask yourself if you've just identified a new niche. Other people may also be looking for the same service. This may be an opportunity to address an untapped or under served market.
  • Listening to your patients can give you the inside scoop about what your competition is doing. How can you do it better?

Don't get me wrong, positive feedback is worth its weight in gold, too. It can help keep your marketing on target, boost morale, enhance self-esteem … all of that good stuff. That's why patient satisfaction surveys are such valuable marketing tools. They're all-telling!

Use your survey to identify how your hospital stands out from the competition, areas that can be improved and opportunities that can be leveraged to build revenue, brand and customer (i.e., patient) loyalty. Next, follow through with action steps and be sure to measure your progress from year to year. It's how successful hospitals continue to be successful.

Your satisfaction survey gives your patients a voice. How well are you listening?

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To Pin or Not To Pin Part Deux

Posted on June 15, 2012

nicolehangartner_head2-e1335213473498By: Nicole Hangartner, Account Executive Legato Healthcare Marketing

So I already talked about why it makes sense for a healthcare organization to use Pinterest. I also gave three easy ways to get started - exercise tips, healthy recipes and informational brochures and videos. But after attending a Green Bay Area Chamber event called "Pinning Down Pinterest," I have a few more ideas for you.

Five (more) ways to use Pinterest for Healthcare Marketing

1. Host Contests

Contests are a great way to get your followers actively involved. They're also a good way to attract non-followers.

Try a caption contest. Pin a funny picture with hospital staff or equipment and have people write a caption for it. Pick the funniest one and give the writer a prize.

Another idea - a good old-fashioned photo contest. Cutest baby, best cast decorations, most creative get-well card… the options are limitless.

2. Create a Physician Bio Board

Many healthcare organizations already have physician bio videos on their website. So why not post them in a place that's more convenient for potential viewers? A prospective patient is more likely to be on Pinterest then perusing hospital websites.

To create the board simply pin headshots of your doctors, surgeons, physician's assistants and nurses that link to the bio videos. If your physicians are up for it, get creative with these pictures. And in the comment area, write a little teaser or interesting quote to draw people into the video.

3. Showcase Recent Marketing and Events

Create a dedicated "Portfolio" board where you can pin recent marketing pieces. This is especially great if you use local talent. The people you use will want to re-pin and share the work with their followers.

Another great way to use Pinterest for marketing is to pin promotional pieces for upcoming events. Then, once the event is over, you can post video and pictures from the event.

4. Boost Gift Shop Sales

At the Chamber seminar, one of the most interesting topics was "Pinterest to Purchase."

Did you know that one in five Pinterest users have bought something they've pinned. And 20% of users admit purchasing something off-line that they saw on Pinterest.

"Pinterest to Purchase" describes the platform's huge e-commerce power. So if you have the ability, create a gift-shop board where people can actually purchase items online.

An easy complement to a gift shop board is a local florist board. Pin pictures of flowers/bouquets from local flower shops. Place the shop's address in the comment area and link the picture to the shop's website. This will not only provide useful information to your patients and their families, but it will also create a positive image for your organization within your community.

5. Make a "Waiting at the doctor's" Board

Personally, this is my favorite idea for how a hospital or clinic can use Pinterest.

Pinterest is easily accessed on mobile devices, so create a board that patients can view while they are waiting for their appointment. Pin fun photos and videos - they don't even have to be healthcare related. An entertaining, light-hearted board can make the wait easier and may even help ease nerves before an appointment.

A board like this is also a great way to generate word-of-mouth advertising. If a patient enjoys the board, they are going to let their friends and family know what they did while they were waiting at the doc's.

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It’s Never Too Late To Start A Brand Ambassador Program Part 1

Posted on June 15, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing

Brand ambassador programs can take both an internal (employee) and an external (patient/customer) focus. Today, we'll focus on the power of your employees.

Employee ambassador programs are often formed by "cherry picking" a core team to get the brand ball rolling - and keep it rolling. Typically, the team is made up of employees from across the organization, PR, HR, IT … The common denominator is that all employee advocates have the personality, passion and knowledge to enhance your brand image. Many also have a large or targeted network they can easily tap into.

Here are some other brand ambassador basics to keep in mind as you build your program.

  • Advocacy starts at the top. Leaders need to live and breathe the brand. If they do, your employees are much more likely to embrace it. Encourage leadership to consistently communicate about brand and share examples of how they personally bring it to life.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Share key brand messages via emails, newsletters, intranet, voicemails, town halls and training courses. Employees can't effectively deliver on your brand promise if they don't know what it is or what is expected of them.
  • Provide guidelines and training. Before employees become ambassadors, they need to understand the different marketing messages as well as the services your hospital provides. At the very least, create a list of key messages including an elevator speech. Also consider developing a brand ambassador certification program that includes classes that are specific to job requirements and/or areas of interest. You may want to consider offering an incentive for completing the program
  • Empower employees. Give your brand ambassadors opportunities - not orders. Provide the support and resources they need to successfully represent your brand in both traditional and innovative ways. For example, if your brand promotes community partnerships, consider giving employees opportunities to volunteer in the community on company time.
  • Recognize brand advocates. Highlight different ways your brand is being brought to life by standout employees who are effective brand ambassadors. It not only encourages individuals to keep up the good work, but it can also help inspire other employees to do the same.

Every day, your brand promise is delivered - or not delivered - through the actions of your employees. Employees who know your brand, believe in it and are fully engaged in carrying out your brand promise are assets your competition simply cannot duplicate. That's why a brand ambassador program is an essential component of every successful marketing plan. Make it part of yours.

Next time we'll focus on another marketing essential: Creating brand ambassadors out of loyal customers/patients.

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It’s Never Too Late to Start a Brand Ambassador Program Part 2

Posted on June 15, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing

The last time I talked about developing dedicated employees into brand ambassadors. Today's focus is on building a brand ambassador program around your patients. More specifically, patients who are loyal to your organization and have a large network.

A well-defined ambassador program can produce both tangible and intangible benefits. Consider this:

  • You'll gain access to your brand ambassadors' online connections, which can immediately increase your fan base.
  • Your brand will be personalized by "real-life" people with whom your target market can relate.
  • Your story will be told from the voice of the customer - not from a company trying to sell something. That's a credible, soft-sell that leads to trust. And you know what trust leads to: Increased revenue from new as well as existing patients.

The key to any successful brand ambassador program is to effectively harness the passion of your patients while empowering them to share their views. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Develop specific program criteria to help you narrow your search for brand ambassadors: Has the person displayed brand loyalty for an extended period of time?  Is the person technically savvy? Is he or she respected in the community? In his or her professional field…?
  • Identify potential ambassadors. Do you know individuals who fit the criteria to promote your brand? What about online opportunities? Who is following your hospital on Twitter or liking you on Facebook? Think of other tools you can use to identify candidates to be ambassadors.
  • Once ambassadors are on-board, give them a reason to talk. For example, invite them to tour a new addition before the general public. When people feel like they're "in the know," they want to share the inside scoop with others. It makes them feel important - and they are!
  • Treat loyalty like royalty. Make your loyal patients feel special. When your hospital holds a special event, send ambassadors a VIP invitation with extra tickets to invite their friends. Send a personal note to thank them for their input vs. a canned email. You get the idea.

If all of this seems overwhelming, start small and build from there. Your hard work can result in a powerful, positive voice for your brand.

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Am I a dinosaur about email?

Posted on June 28, 2012

mikem3_biggerBy: Mike Milligan, President Legato Healthcare Marketing

Have you ever sent or received an email to:

  • Cancel or reschedule an appointment?
  • Break "bad news" to a client, business partner or manager?
  • Negotiate a better price?
  • Renegotiate a deadline?
  • Make a last-minute change?
  • Express your concerns about a service or business relationship?

If you're like most business professionals (myself included), you checked one or more boxes on the list. But just because we're in the majority doesn't mean we're in the right.

Email has taken the place of a plethora of meetings, calls and archaic faxes-and rightfully so. It also goes without saying that Gen Y and X are techno-savvy business professionals who know the power of the "e"-efficiency, ease and email-ability.

That said, it doesn't matter if you're a 20-something Millennial, a borderline Gen-X-er 44 year old like me, or a 50-something Boomer, there is still a time and a place for picking up the phone (albeit a Smart phone) and using a powerful four-letter word: T-A-L-K.

When it comes to emails, here are some examples of "when to say when" and why

T-A-L-K trumps the big E.

  • Cancelling or rescheduling at the last minute. You can't assume that everyone reads their emails 15 minutes before a scheduled meeting. Call-don't text-to let the person know you can't attend. Your clients and business partners deserve the same respect you do in these situations.
  • Emotionally charged messages. No matter how well written, an email can't take the place of signals received through facial expressions, body language and tone of voice. In fact, your email will likely be interpreted according to the mood of your recipient-not the intention of you, the sender.
  • Conversations that require back-and-forth dialogue, like negotiating a price or a deadline extension, or asking your manager for a raise. Yes, it's OK to send a PDF invoice for payment via email. No it's not OK to negotiate a price using email alone. That's how misunderstandings can occur.
  • Situations that require an immediate action. Granted, you may need to email a change request or an approval to a business partner before you can proceed on a RUSH job-but what if the person isn't expecting your email? Call to let the person know that you are emailing a request that needs immediate attention.

As a busy agency owner, I'm all for email efficiency and documentation. Emails are worth their weight in cyber gold-but they still don't replace a good old-fashioned conversation.

What do you think?  Do you agree, or do you think that everything that needs to be communicated can be done through email?  Am I a dinosaur?

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