The cliff notes to our new book, Under the Influence

We’ve spoken to hundreds of healthcare leaders in our 30+ years in business. While everyone’s situation is a bit different, there are a few common themes that come up again and again. That’s part of the reason we released our new book, Under the Influence: The Anthology of Healthcare Marketing Best Practices. The book aims to help provider marketers address some of the most common brand and advertising problems they face.
For marketers who have the book but haven’t started reading it yet, we’ve written the following handy-dandy guide. Organized around the most common problems healthcare marketers face, the guide will help you quickly find advice for your organization’s most ornery problems.

Some common healthcare marketing problems Under the Influence addresses

“Our brand reputation isn’t what it should be”

If your brand has a reputation problem, the first thing you should do is get a sense for why. We’ve found that brand issues often have one of two common culprits.

The most likely culprit is a company culture that doesn’t align with your brand values. If you think your culture is the problem, start on page 77 with Building a Brand Culture. It will help you lay out and evaluate culture issues at both the top and the bottom of the organization.

The second most likely offender is advertising that doesn’t resonate with healthcare consumers. If you think this is the root of your problem, start with Healthcare Consumers: The New Reality on page 9. It takes a deep look at the different ways each generation perceives both healthcare and advertising, and will help you spot places where you might be missing the mark.

“The competition has more money to spend”

If you’re outspent by your competitors, you’re in good company. Nearly every one of our clients has the same problem.

The good news is that small budgets spent strategically outperform big budgets all the time. If you’re in this camp, start with Budget planning for Hospital Marketing on page 61. It lays out a tried and true process for budgeting, and will help you generate bang for buck.

“Our employees are not happy working here”

As providers are increasingly reimbursed on patient satisfaction metrics, customer service becomes a bigger deal. Not to mention that most healthcare providers chose their career path because they care about people, and having unhappy employees just doesn’t feel good.

If you’re in this boat, start on page 77 with Building a Brand Culture. There are sections for handling culture issues in the back office and on the front lines.

“The doctors are controlling our advertising”

If you’ve ever run a billboard with a doctor’s photo on it, you may be a victim of this problem. It’s more common than we’d like to admit, but there are ways to wrangle the power back into the marketing department’s hands without losing your job.

Start on page 67 with Navigating the healthcare organizational hierarchy. There’s a special section on engaging doctors, as well as notes on why the CEO’s support is critical to your success.

“Our payor mix could be a lot better”

This one is complex, and there may be a number of factors. It’s likely that part of the issue stems from a brand whose promise to privately insured patients isn’t completely clear. In that case, start with Healthcare Consumers: The New Reality, on page 9 and move into The how-to guide for brand building. You’ll also want to look at Storytelling for the world we live in, which starts on page 95.

“The board isn’t happy with our advertising”

Depending on the people who make up your board, you may be in one of a few different situations.

In some situations the board is simply articulating what the marketing team already knows. If that sounds like your situation, that’s good news. That means the will to invest in branding is building at the top of the organization. Prepare to guide the discussion with Four reasons to invest in hospital branding on page 43.

If you’ve got a lot of business-minded people on your board, you may be hearing questions about results and ROI. In that case, jump to the end of the book: A Reliable Source: Marketing Analytics.

If the criticism is less specific, talk to the CEO. But first, read The Hospital CEO’s role in supporting marketing goals on page 79. As you talk, listen for areas where the CEO may have insights into the board’s thoughts or where he or she may not be communicating the brand clearly or strongly enough.

“I know something’s wrong. I’m just not sure what it is”

This happens all the time, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Brand is hard to measure, and with every person who interacts with your organization it gets more complex. If you’re in this camp, you might want to start with a phone consultation rather than the book. It’s likely that your situation has some nuances that need to be discovered.

Under the Influence is available for free

Under the Influence is free to download, and the Kindle version is for sale on Amazon. We’d also be happy to send you a hardbound copy for free if you think we might be able to help you influence your brand in the right direction. For that kind of help, you can sign up for a conversation with our President (and author of Under the Influence), Mark Shipley here.