In this post, we continue the conversation with Chris Boyer and Reed Smith, hosts of the Touchpoint Podcast, two people who really understand and know how to articulate today’s challenges and opportunities in healthcare marketing and patient engagement, and really love to talk about it. Joined by Kenneth Brooks, Binary Fountain’s Senior Director of Marketing, they dig into the challenges and trends affecting healthcare marketers. If you haven’t yet, you can read part one to catch up on the the beginning of the conversation.
KB: When I hear “doing more with less” I think usually that means that certain things get cut out. Is there anything you’ve seen going by the wayside, or getting less spending, because what you’re talking about here is what can we do to spend ten percent less, or be more efficient in terms of our keyword buys. Is there more focus on digital and less on the offline stuff? What have you seen?
Chris: Well billboards are going away, for sure – just kidding! I have this perverse thought that I will die by a billboard falling on me – an ironic death! People are still doing traditional things, and I don’t think we’re ever going to remove that from the lexicon of marketing in hospitals, but certainly there’s more focus on how we measure the success of that. At least we’re starting to have that conversation. I was looking today at industry benchmarks which had metrics for all the digital pieces, but when it came to billboards, and radio spots and tv spots, it was mysteriously blank. So I’m not sure what that means – blank is probably accurate for what they can measure from it right now, but what’s weird is that it never fell off the list. Honestly if we would stop doing it that would be awesome. I believe multi-channel is the way to go. What do you think Reed?
Reed: I don’t think we’ll see the traditional marketing avenues go away, and I don’t think they should. But I think we’ve got to be realistic about their role is within the plan. This may be a little simplistic, but the idea of putting a physician on a billboard… that’s probably not overly advantageous but as long as everybody is intellectually honest about why we’re doing it, I’m fine with that, as long as we’re being honest about it. But the problem comes when we’re doing things, around the wrong expectation. We end up expecting more out of a medium than we really can glean or measure. So if you have a new brand, or you’re doing a branding campaign and you want to have billboards in the market, or it’s a hyper-competitive market or something like that, and you feel like brand awareness, top of mind is important and you can make the case for that I think that’s fine. But I think we need to understand why we’re doing things.
Chris: I think a lot of times people are talking digital as the way forward. This really means to prioritize digital as tactics. The other channels need to be there. It’s just more like instead of becoming digital only, we become digital first, because that’s actually going to get you a lot closer to where the conversion occurs. It’s going to get you a lot closer to understanding how people are consuming your various touch points. But I like the way you said it Reed, it’s fine as long as we’re being honest about what traditional can actually do. Actually someone asked me about a billboard today, and that’s how I’m going to come back to him. So, I like that Reed, thanks!
Reed: So what else? Mobile first – that just means a responsive web site, right?
Chris: We need an app!
Reed: Right, we need an app!
Chris: Really, it’s more than just an app. Mobile is misunderstood, but it’s important. People do think mobile first is, like what Reed said, that responsive web site or an app. It’s simply realizing that the Internet is spreading off of the computer, into multiple devices. The one in your pocket is one, the one on your night stand, the tablet that you’re using, but it also is now getting into your watch, your little Alexa device. The Internet of Things, that’s what mobile is. It’s getting into your clothes!
Reed: That’s the headline!
KB: We’re seeing how things are being questioned, in terms of how everything is being invested in terms of marketing efforts, billboards are always in question, just being honest about it. What are you seeing? If there are a few more dollars being put into a certain initiative or channel, what do you see that money going to right now?
Reed: What should it go to, or what is it going to?
KB: You guys can riff on that both ways . . .
Reed: Hospitals are never going to be the first ones to market around something new and cutting edge, because what’s the upside? They’re going to let some of the organizations even some of the other verticals run out in front and see what works and doesn’t work. We’re still seeing things that may be considered a little old hat, where there’s a little less noise, that work pretty well. Internet radio for example – Pandora, iHeart Radio, things like that where people are able to advertise. I would say hospitals are just now starting to look at Instagram and maybe things like SnapChat, asking “How should we be using this,” where they were just a place to park some photographs. Where I think they’ll start going, and Chris I’ll let you chime in on this, is probably the voice first components that we’ve seen Mayo and others do.
Chris: Absolutely, I think you’re right, Reed. It’s really about the Internet of Things, voice first, Alexa, Google, those kind of things. It’s designed to make it more easy to access, so we’re seeing a lot of organizations that are adopting that technology into their work streams. It could be for marketing. For example one hospital has enabled not only being able to find out where your nearest urgent care center is by asking their Alexa device, but then because they
have Uber connected to it, they can order an Uber to take them to that urgent care center just by asking their device. That’s kind of a cool technology that marries the experience together. That’s not only happening with voice first; I see a lot of organizations are using Fitbits and Apple watches, and connecting that data into the patient record. That’s happening more frequently. What you’re doing is basically taking Internet connected devices, to make the experience more seamless and easy. I think that’s where we’re seeing a lot of cool investments and experimentation in, and we’re seeing a lot of outside companies come in. Reed I’m surprised we haven’t talked about artificial intelligence or anything like that.
Reed: Yes, AI, chatbots, even the VR and AR stuff is starting to kind of bleed in there. But predominately, that’s probably the next wave, when you’re looking at things like voice first is hospitals’ investment in both AI and chatbots.
Chris: Another thing I see having worked with hospitals for the last couple of years, they are starting to dedicate moneys to infrastructure to measure more effectively. Whatever that is, CRM, marketing automation, whatever it may be on the back end, there’s a strong desire. They may not know where to spend that now, because the solutions are a little sub-par right now for hospitals and health systems, but they’re still really looking at how they can do that better, and they’re starting to invest time, people and resources and also technology to make that back end measurement more effective.
Reed: I think that’s one thing that we shouldn’t gloss over is the investment in people. So, what we’re really looking at from an analytics and measurement standpoint is not just the technology but the human power side of the equation, of making sure we have people in there with the right skill sets, that can actually manage and take advantage of the technologies we’re investing in.
About the Author
Kenneth Brooks serves as Binary Fountain’s senior director of marketing. He brings more than 15 years of high-tech marketing experience, including 7 years in healthcare technology, to the company. In his role, he manages brand awareness and demand generation programs.