Jeremy Hewitt, Senior Account Executive and resident expert on healthcare solutions at Brandmuscle attended SHSMD Connections in Chicago last month. In revisiting a blog post he wrote following last years’ event, the advice remains spot on. One question?

What about your healthcare brand?

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Brandmuscler Jeremy Hewitt introduces a panel at SHSMD leading discussion about the growing power of the healthcare consumer and how healthcare marketing can take queues from retail, including efficient brand management and the use of marketing technology.

Sitting through sessions, talking with top minds in healthcare marketing and listening to sessions, this one central theme — the value of a healthcare BRAND —  resonated yet again this year.

Many leaders in the healthcare marketing space are continuing to blaze a trail, but we’re not all there yet. Over the past six years, I have been privy to a spectrum of folks; those who manage their brand very well and organizations who have let their brand slip because they’re busy putting out fires and tending to urgent requests. But today — more than ever — you brand is essential.

With the importance of a healthcare brand top of mind, I have a few thoughts on branding and the technology you can use to help support and grow yours:

With the increasing trend of consumers (patients) having a choice, understanding they have a choice and leveraging all resources to make that choice, healthcare marketers are doing everything they can to ensure their organizations are at the forefront of where these decisions are being made.

  • How do we ensure our website is responsive and consistent regardless of the device?
  • How do we gather and leverage all the data available?
  • How do we maintain a consistent brand experience from the time a consumer hears about us to the time they walk through our doors?
  • How do we make it easy for them tell others about us?

Marketing and technology are becoming synonymous in these efforts. And it’s technology that sits at the foundation of today’s lead marketing strategies:

MarCom is now MarTech.

As healthcare professionals, we question our affinity for acronyms as the endless stream now pours over into the marketing technology world. WCM, CMS, MAM, BMS, DAM, CRM, ECM, EMM, MRM… Overwhelming, right? Sadly, I can’t tell you this is going to end, stop evolving or even slow. I can, however, help you start to make sense of some it.

Here are some thoughts on how your healthcare brand and technology intersect:

1. Recognize: If you’re reading this than I’m confident step one is a breeze. You recognize your brand is vital and needs attention. You recognize technology needs to be leveraged but are perhaps uncertain how.

2. Outline: A brand overhaul (or even tweak) can be overwhelming. The hardest part is starting. Formalize an approach. There are a plethora of resources online to help you with this and forums where folks are discussing this very topic. I would start on the SHSMD Discussion Board. There are also agencies who focus specifically on helping healthcare marketers do this. Leverage their experience. Invest time and money. If you haven’t noticed, your competitors are.

3. Brand: Research the effectiveness of your brand (or brands) today. If you don’t have the time or resources, there are organizations who focus specifically on helping healthcare organizations measure the impact of their brand. Use your findings to either leverage the most impactful elements of your brand, or, make the hard decision and start over.

A common theme in healthcare branding is simplification. A lot of the time, this means centralization. As mergers and acquisitions continue to happen, folks are finding it’s far easier to leverage a uniform brand to help bring these new locations into the fold. Consolidating these newly acquired brands (without ditching their inherent value) is likely going to be your largest investment of time and resources — but it’s essential.

Brand loyalty is real. How many Apple devices do you/will you continue to own? What do you do when you need to learn more about something? Google it. Google has become a verb. Think about that sort of brand resonance and how it can be applied to your healthcare brand. You want to be the first thing that comes to mind when a consumer needs healthcare.

4. Act: Once your brand is where you’d like it, put it into action. Start with your website and a good CMS (Content Management System) or WCM (Web Content Management) solution. This digital representation of your healthcare brand is likely the first impression you’ll make on a potential customer. Make it responsive by thinking mobile first. Make it easy to navigate and cut clutter. Most of all: ENSURE IT’S EASY FOR THEM TO TAKE ACTION.

 

A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is also a good piece of technology to add to your marketing stack. You’re going to need to effectively gather, disseminate and use the data you receive from your website and other marketing activities. Data is not as easily leveraged for future marketing efforts without technology. Although there are some larger, well known CRMs that service a majority of organizations across industries, I would recommend looking into healthcare-specific CRM platforms as well platforms.

How are you going to ensure seamless execution of your brand strategy?

Get a MAM (Marketing Asset Management) platform in place. How do you manage your brand when it’s in someone else’s hands? How do you ensure all the investments you’ve made are effectively executed at every location? Give affiliated hospitals, clinics, physician offices and other folks representing your brand the ability to quickly and easily make creative content relevant without filling your team’s queue with redundant design requests (location information, images, resizing, etc.). Trust me, they’ll appreciate getting their nights and weekends back.

Enable brand advocates instead of making the marketing department a bottleneck. Manage all brand elements from a single source of truth ensuring that future asset management is easy as you continue to evolve. Although there are many solution providers out there, Brandmuscle (formerly Saepio) is the only organization with healthcare specific solutions helping some of the most well known brands in the business over the past 16 years.

Now that everything is in place, integrate! You should be laughing, because that is so much easier said than done. But it’s not impossible. You will get there. Just remember to [INSERT CLICHE] walk before you run [INSERT CLICHE].

We’ve just begun to scratch the surface, but this overview should help you get the wheels turning on branding and how technology can help with the process. I would encourage you to do your research as this is an important process. Good luck with your future endeavors!

As reference, check out the white paper written by Frost & Sullivan (and sponsored by Saepio, now Brandmuscle)  for further information regarding the importance of effective branding in healthcare.