Are pharma’s TV ad strategies out of date?

TV viewing habits are changing dramatically, and these trends have only been accelerated by COVID-19 – but Intouch’s Justin Chase says that pharma is still stuck in a traditional advertising mindset. Drawing on research from a recent whitepaper, he tells us how the industry can optimize its TV advertising for an age of hyper-targeted media and modern marketing methodology.

Pharma companies are still spending billions of dollars a year on TV advertising in the US – but many of the industry’s media strategies are based on assumptions from traditional, linear TV, despite TV consumption becoming increasingly fragmented across platforms and devices.

“With the increasing availability of on-demand video content, we’re moving away from the concept of a standard primetime TV slot,” says Justin Chase, Intouch’s EVP of media & innovation. “People don’t live their lives like that anymore. Instead, to steal a concept from Google you have this very interesting dynamic of ‘personal primetime’, meaning primetime becomes a nuanced and personal experience. Primetime for a student might be watching their favorite new show on the bus or the subway. For a mom it might be waiting to pick the kids up outside of school. The thought that we all are going to sit down to appointment viewing on a Friday night with our friends and families to watch TGIF is as out of date as those shows.

“Now, with myriad content choices across a variety of platforms, it is incredibly difficult to nail down an audience, i.e. what are they watching, where are they watching it and when? You can’t get this type of multiplatform information from linear TV data.

“It is incumbent upon advertisers to take advantage of new technologies, especially as more than three quarter of US households have connected TV (meaning TV that is connected to the internet).”

Despite the fact that the landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a better solution. Marketers can do what they always do – adapt. Both connected TV and automatic content recognition (ACR) allow advertisers to overcome the highly nuanced and personal viewing habits, by serving highly targeted ads at scale.

ACR data for example, is collected via a chip that is installed in the TV during the manufacturing process. The technology zeroes in on the unique audio or visual fingerprints attached to each piece of content and then matches snippets against an ever-growing reference library. This allows for a much more granular understanding of who is watching what and on what platform.

“There are around 120 million households that have TV in the US. Right now, we can track or target three-quarters of them with ACR. I believe that all media is going to be bought and sold programmatically in the next five years”

But pharma companies, by and large, have not updated their media plans to align with the changing viewing behaviors of their target audiences. The vast majority of plans have all the eggs going into the broadcast bucket and worse, they are using antiquated metrics, like Nielsen panel data which uses 50,000 households as a proxy for 120 million. Nielsen, to their credit, is heavily investing in ACR with Gracenote, but pharma hasn’t really taken advantage of this yet.

All of this is the subject of Intouch’s recent whitepaper, Future State: The New Media Landscape, which looks at the most prevalent trends in TV advertising and gives pharma recommendations for how to adapt.

“Pharma companies need to change everything,” says Chase. “They need to look at different ways to reach their targets, hit their goals, track their KPI scorecards – and it’s not via traditional media plans. The whole media landscape is shifting, and pharma needs to pivot accordingly.”

The Holy Grail

Chase says that the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated these trends.

“No analysts could have predicted just how much COVID would impact TV consumption. We knew that linear TV was waning but we had no idea that during COVID people were going to develop such strong affinities for their video-on-demand platforms, while losing interest in their linear TV subscriptions.”

This is also happening at a time when consumers are more attuned to healthcare than ever before, and as a result are more keen to hear from pharma companies.

Chase says that this offers a huge opportunity for the industry to take advantage of highly targeted audiences by using ACR and CTV to reach out with messages that feel “authentic”.

“A great way to inform a TV campaign is to do extensive social research to understand how patients or HCPs are talking about their condition in the real world, and then reflect their own language back to them.

“One of the things that we know after 21 years of digging through terabytes of social data, is that each patient population has a highly nuanced, and sometimes even idiosyncratic, vernacular. The messages that work best are those that incorporate that vernacular.

“For example, some companies have done an amazing job of taking the language that men use to describe erectile dysfunction and incorporate it into their advertising. That stops these ads feeling like a pharma company telling people what to do.”

The power of such messaging is only enhanced when it can be targeted to more specific populations.

“Many pharma companies are not currently making a distinction between CTV and linear TV in their plans, and might consider the same creative for both,” says Chase. “That’s really missing the point. CTV and addressable TV allow us to serve ads programmatically to specific segments in sequential fashion – allowing us, for example, to target patients who are treatment-naïve with different language and creatives than we’d use with patients who are treatment-mature.”

“Then you can layer in ACR to understand who’s seen what creative and through which channel. This allows you to serve different ads across those channels to the same person, effectively progressing them along their treatment journey.

“You can even go so far as to understand what actions the person took post-exposure – i.e. did they go see a doctor and fill your script after they saw your ads?”

While linear TV certainly still has its place in a brand strategy, Chase says that its influence is diminishing every year, and the pharma industry needs to start harnessing other approaches now before it finds itself completely out of touch with modern audiences.

“Most pharma brands I talk to believe they still need linear TV to get their message out and hit their goals – but that’s simply not the case anymore,” he says. “Almost all the key industry players we spoke to for this whitepaper said that addressable TV has the same, if not greater, potential reach. The reality is that pharma brands are comfortable with linear TV buying –  they know the metrics, they know the KPIs, and we as brand marketers and media people need to help them understand that there are incredibly promising alternatives that can provide the same reach with greater targeting and ultimately better performance.

“There are around 120 million households that have TV in the US. Right now, we can track or target three-quarters of them with ACR. I believe that all media, not just TV, is going to be bought and sold programmatically in the next five years. The liquidity that programmatic offers is just too great to pass up. It allows you to segment, target and optimise your audiences in seconds, rather than the months it would take with a traditional media buy.”

Chase adds that companies can easily start with a linear base and transition to CTV if they are not yet comfortable with these new models.

“Once you’ve reached your initial base through linear TV you can layer in CTV in order to suppress ads to those people who saw that ad already via linear. This means that with each new ad dollar spent you are effectively reaching someone new.

“This dynamic is called de-duplicated incremental reach, and it’s the Holy Grail of TV advertising right now – making sure you’re always reaching new people rather than targeting the same groups again and again.”

For more information read the full whitepaper.

About the interviewee

Justin ChaseJustin Chase is EVP, head of innovation & media at Intouch Group. Justin oversees Intouch Media and is responsible for orchestrating an innovation-centric dynamic at Intouch, taking the sensibilities of the patient, provider, payer and rep, then applying the lens of innovation, machine learning, and neural network development to solve problems and evolve the way the pharmaceutical industry thinks about marketing and media. Justin is also a frequent speaker, panelist and podcaster on some of the nation’s top networks.

About Intouch Group

Intouch Group is a privately held full-service agency network, providing creative and media services, enterprise solutions and data analytics globally through seven affiliates in eight offices, including Intouch Solutions, Intouch Proto, Intouch Seven, Intouch International, Intouch Media, Intouch B2D and Intouch Analytics. Collectively, Intouch Group employs more than 1,000 people. With a dedication to the life sciences, Intouch Group operates with the belief that there is no challenge too big to cure. Contact Intouch Group at [email protected] or visit them on the web at intouchg.com.

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Why Healthcare Should Care about OTT Advertising

Connected TV, also called over-the-top media streaming, describes a new frontier for ad targeting and marketing campaigns. These terms are relatively new for businesses of all sizes, and healthcare organizations in particular have been slow to act on its opportunities. That’s why it’s a better time than ever for healthcare marketers to consider OTT marketing in your advertising.

Learn all about the terms, and how you can take advantage of over-the-top (OTT) or connected TV (CTV) advertising to stand out from the crowd.

What is CTV/OTT advertising?

Over-the-top advertising (OTT) and connected TV (CTV) are two terms that describe a new way to advertise. While these terms are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences.

Technically speaking, OTT refers to any television content that is delivered over the internet, rather than via broadcast, or cable/satellite TV subscriptions. In the early days, this “over-the-top” content was available solely on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Today, consumers can also watch television shows or movies on large screen televisions, through CTV devices, such as smart TVs, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, or many modern gaming consoles.

Whatever the device used, users view content via streaming services such as Hulu or Sling. While some services offer premium, commercial-free streaming (e.g., Netflix), others rely on advertising as an additional revenue stream, opening up new opportunities for advertisers. The experience for viewers is a lot like traditional TV—but the experience for healthcare marketers goes far beyond traditional advertising.

How do CTV & OTT differ from traditional TV advertising?

Over-the-top advertising is one of the best ways to get in front of prospective patients where they are really. This is true of all age groups. While people aged 30-44 are the largest subscribers (85% of whom either currently subscribe to streaming services or have in the past), the 55+ crowd are also heavy streamers (particularly post-COVID). 62% of people aged 55-64 currently or have subscribed to streaming, compared with 47% of people ages 65+ (Statista).

From the viewer’s perspective, OTT advertising looks a lot like traditional ads, with some exceptions. For one, the television recording capabilities that come with premium cable services are often not available with OTT/CTV. Viewers cannot skip over the commercials—but because their viewing is so intentional, they may be less likely to anyway. Subscribers are choosing to consume a particular television show at a certain time and may be more likely to sit and view the program from beginning to end, commercials included.

Another difference between OTT/CTV and traditional television advertising? The ability to target and measure like never before.

What are the targeting capabilities for CTV and OTT?

OTT/CTV offers more targeting options than traditional advertising. While traditional media buying often makes assumptions on viewership based on time of day, location, or program type, OTT/CTV advertising uses data programmatically to target prospective patients and healthcare customers more accurately.

Targeting may come from sources such as IP-based device mapping or household categorization (which works by referencing other devices in the household). Marketing campaigns can reach audiences based on whether they’ve visited your website — and can target by age, gender, whether there are kids in the household, and much more. And targeting by location, time of day, etc. are still possible programmatically with CTV/OTT.

How can you track your CTV and OTT advertising dollars?

The most important thing you’ll want to know about any form of advertising: does it work? With OTT/CTV, you can have visibility into the entire customer journey. This may be done using IP-based device mapping, attributing conversions on IP-associated devices to CTV impressions, or checking video completion rates.

From there, you can fine-tune your advertisements based on what your target demographics are really choosing to watch.

What else should healthcare marketers know?

Healthcare advertising is more competitive than ever before. And today, traditional television advertising just doesn’t see the ROI or insight most organizations would expect. With more and more prospective patients streaming internet-based TV daily, it pays to get in front of them where they are.

To do it right, you’ll need a team that’s at the forefront of this new world of healthcare marketing and can help put your advertising dollars in the right places at the right time—and with an overall strategic marketing and creative vision.

For more information, or to get started with over-the-top or connected TV advertising, contact the OTT digital advertising team at Healthcare Success here or at 800-656-0907.

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[Podcast] How to Find and Select the Ideal Healthcare Marketing Agency: 8 Smart Steps

Ed Bennett, Founder of MarTech.Health

Ed Bennett, Founder, MarTech.Health

What’s the best way to choose a healthcare marketing agency?

While I (Stewart) have plenty of ideas about the process of picking the best healthcare marketing agency for your hospital, medical practice, or healthcare network, I thought it would be valuable to ask my friend and venerable colleague, Ed Bennett, to share his opinions during our latest healthcare marketing podcast.

As an original inductee to the Healthcare Internet Marketing Hall of Fame, a former Director of Web and Digital Services for the University of Maryland Medical System, and as the Founder of the MarTech.Health Directory, Ed brings tremendous experience in deciding which digital agency is best-suited for specific healthcare marketing requirements. In our podcast, Ed and I discussed both the basic criteria and critical issues involved in the medical marketing agency selection process.

You can, 1) play the recording of our entire conversation here, 2) listen to our discussion via your favorite podcast directory, 3) read my summary post below, or, 4) scroll down to find the full “How to Select a Healthcare Marketing Agency” podcast transcript.

Other streaming services: This and other episodes of the Healthcare Success podcast are also available…
iTunes | Spotify | iHeartRadio | Google Play | Pod Bean | Tunein | Radio Public | Stitcher


The First Step in Agency Selection: Begin with the End in Mind

Ideally, the agency selection process should yield a true client-agency marketing partnership. To that end, define the marketing goals you are trying to achieve.

  • Growing key service lines?
  • Getting more patients?
  • Effectively reminding your current patients to return, to schedule necessary appointments?
  • Communicating to patients that your healthcare offices and medical professionals are open for business?
  • Increasing your healthcare brand presence in the communities you serve?

Yes, there are so many types of marketing agencies, vendors, and healthcare marketing resources available, and it is often difficult to know where and how to begin the process.

What led you to decide you need a new digital agency for your healthcare organization or medical enterprise?

You’ll need to get a clear picture of how this agency will fit with your team and organization. Are your marketing goals new to you and your team, and do you need a digital marketing vendor that can guide you through the latest best practices?

Define and Refine Your Digital Marketing Objectives

Be aware of errant preconceptions. “In the digital space,” Ed observes, “things change quickly.” Invest time in discussing your business goals, mission objectives, and KPIs.

Test Your Assumptions

“Sometimes (someone choosing) a prospective agency or vendor has a strong opinion that really should be examined,” Ed said.

“Do you need a big marketing agency, one that has a huge, structured process and can pursue dozens of different initiatives simultaneously? Or do you need an agency that is an expert across specific types of marketing projects, that knows how to execute very well in those areas, and is small and agile enough to respond to your needs rapidly?”

Overcoming FUD Factors

Ed Bennett also tells us: “There can be a lot of ‘FUD’, Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. The key is to understand what is essential and what isn’t,” he said. “A lot of what I try to do is get down to the nuts and bolts, to make sure that vendors answer the questions that matter. So, what we find sometimes is that you find the right vendor is going to be the one that’s asking fundamental marketing questions right off the bat.”

Is Healthcare Expertise All That Matters?

As our own agency’s name suggests, Healthcare Success partners with organizations of all types, from hospitals, health systems, practices, Pharma, medical devices, healthcare networks, ,and health plans, delivering medical digital marketing and healthcare advertising agency services.

As you’d expect, our clients choose us because we specialize. At the same time, many of these same clients love it when someone on our team shares additional insights gleaned from experience in marketing for clients in other verticals (e.g., insurance, financial services, law, hospitality, and automotive).

Ed agrees. “When I first started at the University of Maryland Medical System, the default mode was for a marketing agency 100 percent focused on healthcare. Over time, however, that attitude began to change, particularly with commercialization and where patients were treated with a ‘consumer experience’ focus.”

Is Technology Reducing the Need for a Local Partner?

We asked Ed about whether many of his hospital clients still demand a “local partner?”

As Ed explained, everyone “is becoming comfortable with working from home and using tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, or WebEx.” This, by the way, is not just for healthcare, but for nearly all businesses everywhere. But as we become more comfortable with this type of working environment, the feeling that we have to have a “local agency” is going to diminish greatly.

Making sense of RFPs/RFIs — the Request for Proposal/Information Process

The entire RFP (request for proposal), RFI (request for information) process can be difficult and challenging for everyone involved. While this work can be quite useful, these efforts can also wind up being a frustrating, monster task. We asked Ed for his thoughts about the pros and cons of RFP/RFI.

“Certainly most large organizations have some mandated proposal process to follow,” says Ed. You can’t just hire anyone or spend a $5 million budget for your agency search without some process to make sure your choice in the right one (and that you’re not wasting time).

A diligent agency proposal process assures that:

  1. Vendors/agencies getting your RFP are the best fit for that RFP, and that
  2. The RFP you send out is a document that a) agencies can reasonably respond to in a timely fashion, and b) gives those agencies all the information that they need to respond effectively to your request.

There needs to be the right balance and understanding of relationship building. Plus, you need to be able to give agencies enough information so that they can make a good recommendation.

This means detailing your current situation on the RFP, and detailing the drivers necessitating you to look for another agency. Make sure the vendor understands exactly what business goals your pursuing, what issues are on your agenda, and what your expectations are.

Healthcare & Medical Marketing RFPs & RFIs: An Agency Perspective

As a healthcare marketing agency, Healthcare Success weighs every opportunity based upon several criteria, including likely fit (“chemistry”), marketplace realities, and economics. We are far more likely to participate in the RFP process when:

  1. The healthcare organization’s team starts the process by requesting an exploratory phone meeting,
  2. The process includes an RFI as an interim step to ensure a potential fit, and,
  3. The process feels informative, transparent, and fair.

We respectfully decline obvious “cattle calls” because RFPs take an enormous amount of thinking, time, and resources to respond intelligently. Red flags include receiving an RFP out of the blue without a preceding exploratory call, lack of transparency or clear objectives, 40 competing agencies, or language that makes it clear the client has already chosen a favorite, and the RFP is just an administrative exercise.

For example, about a year ago we received a blind RFP that on page 89 said, ‘We will heavily favor PR agencies based within our county.” First of all, we’re not a PR agency. Secondly, we’re not even located in their state, let alone their county. We pride ourselves in building successful client partnerships, and these kinds of signals do not foreshadow a respectful, win-win relationship.

What’s more, that kind of process is detrimental to the client as well. Ed agrees that transparency is critical, and those hospitals and other organizations that try to hold their cards too close to the vest are probably shooting themselves in the foot. They’re ruling out or discouraging vendors who might’ve been an excellent match for them. Also, who wants to dig through 40 off-point proposals? It really is best to be as upfront as possible and invest everyone’s time wisely.

More Resources to Help You Find Your Ideal Agency

  1. You can find close to 100 healthcare marketing agencies and other vendors on Ed’s free directory MarTech.Health. This directory is designed for healthcare marketing, communications, and digital marketing professionals, and features profiles, reviews, and other marketing services vendor categories.
  2. You can also hire Ed to consult with you, or lead your agency search. Ed has an incredible wealth of knowledge, and he can help you from start-to-finish. You can reach Ed through MarTech.Health or directly by email to schedule a call.
  3. You can download and review the Healthcare Success eBook, “How to Choose the Right Healthcare Marketing Agency?”
  4. And, you may also contact Healthcare Success directly to explore whether our healthcare agency’s experience could be a good fit for your marketing needs.

Podcast Transcript

Note: The following ‘healthcare marketing agency selection’ podcast transcript is computer generated and may not be 100% accurate.

Stewart Gandolf:
Hi, everybody Stewart Gandolf here, welcome to our podcast. Today I am pleased to host Ed Bennett, and Ed is a friend of mine and a very respected figure in the world of healthcare and internet. In fact, I’m going to let an Ed introduce himself in a moment. Ed is currently Founder of the MarTech.Health Vendor Directory. Previously, Ed was also with the University of Maryland Medical System. And Ed, welcome to our podcast.

Ed Bennett:
Well, thank you Stewart, pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Stewart Gandolf:
I mentioned it earlier, you’re a legend in this business and you’ve actually received some recognition. Tell us a little bit about your background, just to give listeners a little bit of context of what your areas of expertise are and how we got to this meeting today.

Ed Bennett:
Sure. Well, that’s normally a four hour story, so I’ll try to keep it down to less than a minute. I got into the internet in the mid 90s back when it was just starting to become the commercial entity that it is now, and really saw that this was going to be a game changer and make huge difference for every person in every industry, across the world. And so I got into it very early, I started my career in a mid 90s helping companies get set up with their first website. And I found that I really enjoyed the process of understanding how the business functions would work on the internet. Although I built a lot of first-generation websites, I also spent most of my time talking to the business owners and understanding what their business was, how it worked and figuring out how that could translate into how the web functioned at least back into mid 90s.

Ed Bennett:
And in around 1999, I left of that consulting type of a business and took a position at the University of Maryland Medical System. And was put in charge of their digital program, building their first website that grill into, of search engine marketing and optimization, mobile, social media, a whole bunch of other things. And was there for about 17, 18 years and then left to start this new business MarTech.Health, which is the vendor directory for our industry focused on healthcare communications marketing.

Stewart Gandolf:
You were going to talk today about how to choose a healthcare marketing agency, which is a topic… Obviously, our firm is an agency, there’s a lot of different agencies out there with different areas of expertise. So this will be an interactive discussion talking about your experience with this. So Ed again with his vendor directory at MarTec.Health, and you can certainly search through the list of lots and lots of different agencies and different types of vendors there as well. And also Ed is available if you’re looking for more curated ideas, you have a specific request and a specific need you can certainly contact Ed and his contact information will be available on the post. Ed, tell us about, when we were talking offline a little bit, we were talking about when you’re approaching this task, where I need a marketing company or a marketing agency, where do I even begin? Help us through the process here.

Ed Bennett:
Well, this is one of those problems that has lots of different dimensions and you have to weigh out lots of different factors before you could figure out what the right choices. So how I try to frame things up to start with, is to get a better understanding of exactly what is the goal or the task that you’re trying to accomplish. What drove you to feel that you needed a new vendor or maybe a vendor for the first time for a particular type of service or maybe a new vendor, if you’re dissatisfied with your current one. So what were the factors that drove you to that? And then look at what exactly is it that you need to accomplish with that vendor. And then how does that fit in to where you are as an organization?

Ed Bennett:
For example, are you fully staffed with lots of really excellent professional people who understand the nuances of the things that you’re trying to do, and you simply need a vendor that can provide a set of services and you’ve got the staff that understands how to make use of them. Or are you really new to whatever the thing is you’re trying to accomplish and you need a vendor that can really help guide you into the best practices and hold your hand as you get up to speed to it and you’re able to take it on. So those are some of the factors that you start off that you have to drill down in a conversation to figure out, what are the limitations and advantages that you’re looking for in a particular vendor, to help figure out which is the right one for you. I can stop now, I could go on for another half hour. But I mean that’s the very first step in figuring out where do we start.

Stewart Gandolf:
So let me ask with the mindset when you’re talking to people, when they’re considering a new vendor, what are they thinking? Are they worried about making a mistake? Are they trying to get a sense of what even matters or what their criteria are? What are the common mindsets people would have as they begin to approach this process?

Ed Bennett:
Well, many times what I’ll find is that folks will have a certain set of preconceptions about what they’re trying to accomplish with the new vendor. In the digital space things are changing so quickly and all the different things that matter change all the time. That it’s very difficult sometimes to really understand exactly it is what it is that exactly what it is that you’re trying to do. So a lot of my questions are to truly drill down to that and get to get a very concrete idea of what you’re trying to accomplish. So someone may come to me and say, “We need a mobile app.” And so the natural conversation it’s all, “Why do you think you need a mobile app? What are you trying to accomplish?” Many times that conversation will lead us to decide that a mobile app, isn’t what they really need, they just think they need it.

Ed Bennett:
But there might be something that they could tweak that they’re doing already that would solve that particular ask. So a lot of times it’s a matter of weighing what is the expertise that you have on hand and balancing that against what you need out of the vendor. So many times you’ll find that you might have staffed that understand exactly what they’re trying to accomplish. They need someone to just help them get started and provide the right infrastructure. Other times you’ll find that they need someone who can really hold their hand and walk them through the whole process.

Stewart Gandolf:
What do you find are some of the biggest challenges to finding the right vendor? Again, there’s certainly a lot of people out there, what are the things that hold them back?

Ed Bennett:
I think it can be very confusing because in the digital space, there can be a lot of FUD, fear, uncertainty and doubt. As you’re trying to understand concepts that are being bandied about to figure out what is really important and what isn’t. So a lot of what I try to do is really get down to the nuts and bolts and make sure that the vendors are answering the questions that really matter. So what we find some times is that you find the right vendor is going to be the one that’s asking those questions right off the bat, instead of just saying, “Sure, you want a mobile app? We can build a mobile app for you.” So a good vendor will be taking a step back to make sure that what they offer really is a good fit for what you need. And then if it’s not then guiding you to the right person.

Stewart Gandolf:
What are some of the mistakes people make in your experience when they’re looking for the vendor process, what are some of the really common things that you can predict before you even get started?

Ed Bennett:
I think a lot of times some of the factors that folks may come in and have a very strong opinion about that really should be examined or things like, what is the size of the organization? Do you need someone that is big and has a huge structured process and can do 100 different things or do you really need someone who is an expert in a very particular niche executes on that really well and is small and nimble and can quickly respond to your needs. So a lot of times that’s one of the first set of questions, is to figure out what is it that you exactly in terms of the size of the organization and the diversity of the services they offer and the focus that they have. What are those factors that really would be the right fit for you?

Ed Bennett:
My directory, I will ask vendors to pick the services they offer but then give that a weight, do they focus 100% on one service or do they… A broader agency that looks at a dozen or so different services and offers some, all equally. So many times you’re looking for that one person who is 100% laser focused on one niche. Other times you wants someone that can pull in other types of services that might be needed as you go along on the project. So a lot of that just really gets back to how comfortable are you that you can… In what you’re asking for so that you can get what it is that’s really going to be a good fit for your needs.

Stewart Gandolf:
Now Ed of course, most of your experience is with hospitals and health systems and of course our readers certainly comprise of hospitals and health systems, but also smaller and larger enterprise level practices, pharma device, lots of different categories. But as this relates to the hospital market specifically, although I think these principles apply across the board, let’s talk a little bit about healthcare experience. And in your experience at least from the hospital and healthcare systems side, do you find that people are commonly really want that health care experience? Maybe some are trying to think out of the box and don’t want healthcare experience, maybe some of the pros and cons on what you would advise on that particular topic.

Ed Bennett:
Yeah, it’s a really important question. Back when I first started at the university of Maryland Medical System in the late 90s and early in early 2000s. The default mode was, we need a vendor that’s 100% focused on healthcare, because no one really understands health… We’re special, we’re different than every other industry, so we need a vendor that all they do is focus on healthcare. That really started to change as the internet became more and more important to all the marketing and communications efforts that healthcare organizations did. Especially as the commercialization of healthcare came along, where people were treating as a consumer experience. They expect to see star ratings for their doctors. They expect to be able to do online appointments and all those convenience things that we’re comfortable now, we expect from our organizations, they now expected hospitals to do that.

Ed Bennett:
So then hospitals realized, well, maybe we should bring in vendors who have a lot of experience in other industries, so that they can bring to us the best practices from those industries and helped us fit those into what we do in healthcare. So I think right now I’d be very surprised if any large organization said, “We need a vendor and they have to be 100% focused on healthcare.” I really think that right now, most organizations are going to look at that and say, “We need to find a balance. We need someone who knows healthcare but also can come back to us with their experience and best practices in other industries.”

Stewart Gandolf:
Another question that often comes up is, depending on the scope of what needs to be done, right? So sometimes somebody or people are looking for an agency of record, where they really want to have the general contractor who’s handling most, if not everything. But certainly in the hospital market at least, oftentimes it’s something more specific, they may have either act as their own general contractor. They may have an agency of record but they want to work where somebody is doing the SEO and somebody else is doing paid social and somebody else is doing something else. How important is for the vendor to be able to play well with the other people that may be involved, both internal resources and external resources?

Ed Bennett:
Well, I would say that’s absolutely critical. I mean the days of a vendor coming to you and saying, “We’re going to sell you this product and here’s a system and all the data is inside this walled garden and nobody else can ever see it and we have to guard it very carefully.” Those days are over. Pretty much the default now is that, the expectation is that any vendor you work with should be able to set up an API to be able to kick the information that they’re managing for you to other systems that you have. And I’d say that’s absolutely critical, because without that you’re going to be spending a lot of time and money on a vendor to do something for you, but you’re not going to be able to leverage the value of that service to the other systems that you might have. So whether it’s a CRM that needs a talk to Epic and be able to manage the information flows there, or any other system you can think of, that integration is really just completely a must have now.

Stewart Gandolf:
Not very long ago, people were very focused on finding partners that were local to them. And clearly in something like, for example, enterprise software that just is impossible, there’s only one or two or three major vendors. But the local issue for example on the agency side, how important is that to your… Did you find that some clients really, really want to find somebody local and maybe give up some of that vertical expertise and others find that it’s just fine to work with people across the country? And how is that evolving obviously, with technology and the needs of pandemics and all those kinds of things, how is that evolving?

Ed Bennett:
I’m smiling because, if you would ask me that question a year ago, I’d probably have a slightly different answer. My answer then might’ve been, if you’re looking for an agency of record where you’re going to have lots of meetings talking about big picture things about branding and logos and the whole scheme of things at a marketing function has to deal with, then probably having someone who you could meet with in person on a regular basis without having them to fly across the country and stay at a hotel, someone who might be local would have a big advantage. However, things have really changed and I think that as we become they get more comfortable with working from home and using tools like Zoom and restore in the early days of figuring all this out, not just for healthcare but for all businesses everywhere. But as we become more comfortable with this type of working environment, I think the feeling that we have to have someone local is going to diminish.

Stewart Gandolf:
Let’s talk about the whole marketing agency RFP and RFI system. Certainly that can be very effective, it can wind up being frustrating, a monster task for everybody involved. What are some of your thoughts on this pros and cons better ways of doing it than others?

Ed Bennett:
Well, certainly most large organizations have some mandated process that you have to… You can’t just go hire somebody, spend $5 million a year with them without some process to make sure that they’re the right fit. Well, usually an RFP, an RFI of course is what you do before that, when you’re trying to figure out the vendors. So I think that that’s not going to go away. A large organization that’s being financially stable and responsible is always going to have a process in place to make sure they’re getting the right vendor. And they’re following all the rules that they should be following in terms of the people that they give the contracts to. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be doing a lot of work ahead of time to make sure that one, the vendors that you’re sending this RFP to are the right vendors. And two, that the RFP that you send out is something that they can really respond to and gives them all the information that they need.

Ed Bennett:
One of the things that I see many times from the vendor side is that the RFPs that come in are really light, they don’t really give enough background information so that the vendor could really understand where the customer’s coming from. So I think there has to be a good balance between understanding that there’s a relationship that you’re building with this vendor or whichever vendor you ultimately select. And you need to be able to give them enough information so that they can make a very good recommendation. So for example, that means really detailing on the RFP, what your current situation is and what are the drivers forcing you to look for another agency. And making sure the vendor understands exactly what’s on the table, what you’re coming to them in the relationship with and then what your expectations are. So that’s much larger than just a straightforward RFP that doesn’t have a lot of meat on it.

Stewart Gandolf:
From our point of view as an agency, that’s… I’m usually much more excited about is when I can get a sense that there is a RFI at the beginning, request for information. And in that step, what that means to me at least and I would love to get your feedback on this is, okay, great. We’re not having a cattle call, we’re making sure that the people that are going to invest the time and energy to create the RFP, because not only is it a massive amount of work for an agency, for example, to respond. Especially if it’s a formal RFP process with that you’re qualified and it’s a reasonable number of people competing. So from my point of view, the RFI process is a really, really important first step and of course, from the… It’s also a lot less to review on the hospital side or the health system side. Do you agree with that? I mean, how important are RFIs?

Ed Bennett:
Totally. I totally. I mean, I think that these structured processes have a place and the RFI really should be there to make sure that you’re qualifying the vendors, that first of all, the RFI gives you information. I mean, request for information, it’s going to help educate you on the customer on what is possible, because a lot of these vendors are going to come to you with solutions to things that you’ve never even thought of. Some of them might be very useful, others may not be appropriate to you, but there’s going to be a lot that you’re going to learn from an RFI.

Ed Bennett:
And once you have that, then you’re in a better place to make an RFP that it’s actually much more relevant to what you actually need. When I did vendor selection projects at the University of Maryland, I definitely had used those two steps. I did an RFI first, actually would bring in a consultant who had expertise in that particular area to bring down the number of vendors that I was sending the RFI to. And then based on those responses, then that would bring it down to a smaller number of vendors that would receive the RFP.

Stewart Gandolf:
Again, some people may have to legally accept it or put the RFP out to the entire world but from an agency standpoint, if you’re one out of a 100 agencies, the question is do I even want to get involved with this? From my point of view at least lose some good people or good prospects, because it seems so daunting. Do you have any advice on the number of people that you are soliciting and should you be up front with that? What are some of your thoughts there?

Ed Bennett:
Well, I think you should be upfront, I think many times the vendors are left out in the cold and that the customers are coming to the vendors and they feel like they’re in a complete position of power and they can be as opaque and mysterious as they want in the RFP. However, a really good vendor may not need to deal with that obstruction or problems. They’re going to have customers coming to them that are actually looking for the right vendor and are giving lots of the information out that will help that vendor make the right choice. So I think that companies and large organizations that try to hold their cards to colorless close to the best, are sometimes they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

Ed Bennett:
Because they’re ruling out vendors that might’ve been a great match for them. So I try to be as upfront as possible, there definitely should be some phone calls and conversations to help qualify the vendors before you even send out an RFI. Why should you be wasting anybody’s time if that company isn’t the right fit for you. So I think the more work you can put up front with that discovery, the much more likely you are to have a better outcome.

Stewart Gandolf:
Again, the agencies are busy too and once in a while, I’ll get an RFP blind, I don’t know who this is. And I remember the one I got about a year ago which was, they were really looking for a PR firm. And if you looked on page 89 in [mice type 00:22:05] it said something like, “We will heavily favor PR agencies in our County.” Well, first of all we’re not really a PR agency, secondly we’re not in their county. So I had to read through 80 pages to get to that and it’s a waste of my time and it’s a wasted their time too, it doesn’t make any sense. And so I think that the idea of communicating and being a little bit more upfront will lead to a better outcome. And I guess I have a comment on this too and I don’t know how you can describe this, but really we’re presuming you’re looking for a partner typically. If you’re starting a partner that way, that’s kind of a right way to start.

Ed Bennett:
I mean, I can tell you that every vendor selection project where I was running, nobody got any surprise RFPs or RFIs. I would have the phone calls, that first introductory call, tell me about your company, what do you do, what do you focus on, what don’t you focus on? And the folks that would get an RFI or an RFP from me, they’d already talked to me. They already knew, they’d asked the questions, I’d answered, we had a good conversation, so it wasn’t a surprise. To me if I was a vendor and I received a blind RFP or a blind RFI, that would definitely go a bunch of lower on my priorities than someone who would actually made the effort to talk to me and make sure that I was the right fit.

Stewart Gandolf:
It’s really rare that when we get something like that blind, where they haven’t talked to us and it’s usually not only have they not talked to us, they refuse to talk to us. And so they’re asking us to spend hundreds of hours preparing for something and they won’t even tell us who, if anybody, how many people are playing. And usually when we get those things, “Opportunities.” There’s dozens of agencies that are out there and we just pass, we’re too busy. We want to be a partner and I think that at the end of the day the key issue here is, without being obnoxious we only have so many hours in the day. And if we feel already, there’s this obscure need and we’re just guessing and throwing proposals over the castle wall, that’s never worked out well in my experience in anyway.

Ed Bennett:
And it probably won’t work out for the customer either. Which has always mystified me, that you would take that stance as a customer to say, “Well, I’m not going to talk to them, they’re going to respond to the RFP, it’s on them.” That’s not how I want to start a partnership.

Stewart Gandolf:
From the agency standpoint, I can speak for the industry to some regard on that matter, is that it’s a pretty common issue and from the agency side is even respond to this and again the more… The problem is again, you could lose somebody who’s really great, because they feel this is already starting off in their wrong foot, it’s not exciting to them. Are there any other final thoughts or any key takeaways or things we haven’t talked about, that you think are really important for people remember?

Ed Bennett:
Well, I guess I’m going to pitch my a directory, because there’s one really big factor, very positive factor in our industry. And that is how the folks inside our industry, the people running marketing programs, inside healthcare organizations. I’ve been going to conferences with these folks for over 20 years and I find that it’s a community that really helps each other out. So I go to conferences, I see people talking in the hallways, they’re talking about their experiences with different vendors, they’re helping each other out. And my directory is designed so that anyone can come in and see reviews and ratings from their peers, talking about their experience with these different agencies. So I think that’s really critical and whether you go to my directory or you just pick up the phone and you talk to your colleagues across the street, getting that feedback will be very, very valuable to you.

Stewart Gandolf:
Ed is currently founder of the MarTech.Health-

Ed Bennett:
Martech.Health.

Stewart Gandolf:
… it’s a website directory. And then we talked offline again about, a new and enhanced version of your business where, for those hospitals that feel maybe overwhelmed or they really need someone to call those vendors. And they want those personal insights of all that experience that you have for over the years and would like it to help you get you involved in a bigger way to curate their list and cover the short list and hold their hands through these very, very important decisions, you’re open to that as well, correct Ed?

Ed Bennett:
Definitely, definitely. The first thing they should do is simply reach out to me via email or pick up the phone and call me, I’m happy to have that conversation and see if what I offer is a good fit for what they need. And then we can figure out the process from there.

Stewart Gandolf:
Very good. And your contact information, Ed?

Ed Bennett:
So on my website, I’m at [email protected]

Stewart Gandolf:
Well hey, Ed this has been fantastic, it’s always fun to talk to you.

Ed Bennett:
Same here.

Stewart Gandolf:
Again, Ed he’s a member… Were you the first member of the Healthcare Knight Hall of Fame?

Ed Bennett:
I was one of the first back when it was first launched, I think 2012. And it was a real honor to really be recognized that way.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yeah. So again, Ed is just a delightful guy, super knowledgeable, he’s been around the block. So Ed, thank you.

The post [Podcast] How to Find and Select the Ideal Healthcare Marketing Agency: 8 Smart Steps appeared first on Healthcare Success.

[Podcast] How to Adjust Your Creative Strategies In Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Dana Callow, Creative Director

Dana Callow, Executive Creative Director, Healthcare Success

COVID-19 has been a life-changing event for us all. It’s the kind of event that has lasting effects on people that we can’t even truly see just yet. We’ve thrust an entire population into a cycle of grief that is ubiquitous but unique to every person. How will the healthcare consumer, patient, and caregivers‘ needs, wants, and actions change now and in the future?

Meanwhile, has your creative strategy, creative communications, and creative messaging kept up? Which changes should you make now?

In preparing for a recent webinar, I asked our Executive Creative Director, Dana Callow, to share some of her ideas about COVID-era creative messaging. Dana has created award-winning healthcare marketing campaigns for over 20 years and brings valuable personal and professional insights to today’s marketing challenges. I liked Dana’s ideas so much I interviewed her for this follow-up Podcast.

In case you don’t have time to listen to the recording, here is a synopsis of the most critical points we discussed. There is also a complete transcript of our discussion just below this synopsis:

Coronavirus and the stages of grief

The Elisabeth Kübler-Ross grief model helps explain how people deal with death and grief. It provides a useful context to understand the many ways people cope with extraordinarily difficult circumstances, such as their own impending death, the demise of a loved one, a financial crisis, or, as Dana suggests, the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Shock and Denial: We still have many people in this grief-phase, and some may never leave it. In the early days, the spring breakers were a perfect example of this behavior. Now that the country is reopening, others are resuming their lives with little to no thought about protecting themselves or others from the coronavirus.
  • Anger: Yes, some people have moved on, but others are still right there. Many people vehemently protest masks, guidelines, and restrictions. Worse, misinformation and conspiracy theories are now polarizing the nation, thereby threatening public safety as well.
  • Depression and Detachment: Many are still here, and won’t be able to move on until some sense of normalcy is restored. These are the folks who’ve gotten more quiet and introspective over time. You’ve seen this in your family, your coworkers, even that used to be a super happy cashier at the grocery store.
  • Dialogue & Bargaining: The vast majority of people are here and will stay here for quite some time. The good thing is they’re talking, reaching out, learning, responding. We need to support them and help them make their way to acceptance.
  • Acceptance: People are tip-toeing into this phase. These will be the resilient leaders who pave the way for others. Eventually, they will move on to “return to a meaningful life.”

Rethink your archetypes

Rethinking your healthcare archetypes is critical right now. Before you do anything, think about how your patient population might have evolved for better or for worse in their thinking, or even jumped from one archetype to another. While everyone around you will feel the need to move fast, it’s worth your time to reevaluate your audience before you push out messaging that might not resonate anymore.

Enter the new “COVID Resolutionists

Many people are looking to respond to COVID-19 by taking this opportunity to make positive changes in their lives. Dana predicts that healthcare will be the highest priority on most people’s lists.

What will the “COVID Resolutionists” need from the healthcare system and their healthcare providers that is new and different as the battle marches on? How do we promote, embrace, and facilitate all of those who are now more motivated to act on their health and wellness positively? How do we think about and protect those that might be internalizing toxic levels of stress?

  1. The people who were already obsessed with health and wellness are going to be even more obsessed. Wanting to “get ahead of the health game, they will move forward with or without our help.
  2. There is also going to be a large group of people who took their health for granted (did some things right, some things not so right) who will be seriously stepping up their game. They’ll want to make sure they know whether or not they have any underlying conditions. Expect to see a rise in everything from colonoscopies to mammograms, skin cancer checks, etc. Expect lots of new questions from avid Googlers about diets, exercise plans, vitamins and supplements, proactive screenings, etc.
  3. The deniers with comorbidities will also have changed, at least a portion of them. Whether motivated by fear or the urging of their families, they’re going to try and step up to the plate. They’re going to be terrible at it, as they weren’t successful before. They’ll need encouragement as they begin to reach out. They’ll also need real strategies and tactics to help them get going, and even more strategies and tactics to promote adherence. The rest of this group will likely take the “head in the sand” approach and keep on as they have. However, many of them may be internalizing real fears that will only exacerbate their existing conditions.
  4. The worriers – have never been more worried. Not only will they obsess about every symptom, but they will see the world more differently than others. It will be far more contextual for them. They’ll need your reassurance. They, too, will be prone to toxic levels of stress that could negatively impact their mental and physical health. You’ll need to listen to these folks very carefully and be ready to help them address mental health issues/needs.

Begin your new creative approach now

What does all of this mean? It means you can’t just look at anyone on the surface and take their actions or behavior at face value. There is a huge danger right now that we misjudge consumer behavior as having moved beyond grief, when in fact, they haven’t even started.

And what happens with any resurgence? It’s a measure twice, cut once across your segments. Constant monitoring to facilitate evolutions in your reopening messaging is going to be critical.

Finally, if you’d like to explore how Dana, I, and the rest of our team could help you with your COVID-19 related marketing challenges, please let us know.

Transcript

Note: The following transcript is computer generated and may not be 100% accurate.

Stewart Gandolf:
Hi again everybody. This is Stewart Gandolf. Welcome to another podcast. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing our Executive Creative Director, Dana Callow. Dana has extensive experience, many years of experience writing and creating campaigns for healthcare. As we’ve been working together with some of our client projects, a lot of concepts come out, a lot of cool creative ideas come out constantly. Both of us are pretty philosophical about the current COVID pandemic. Dana has lots of great insights about how the creative strategy should change given that we’re in this pandemic. First of all, welcome, Dana.

Dana Callow:
Thank you. Happy to be here.

Stewart Gandolf:
Yes. Glad to have you. Dana, before we get started, I could brag about you all day, but I’d like to have you brag about yourself a little, just if you could give us, our listeners a sense of your background and how that relates to today’s topic at least. Not the whole thing, obviously, but just where these insights are coming from.

Dana Callow:
Sure. As you well know, I’m an agency veteran. I’ve been in the agency world marketing across a plethora of categories for 20 years. We’ll just leave it at 20, but I have spent a healthy portion of that time in the healthcare space in some way, shape, or form. Whether it was working for health plans like Humana, Blue Cross Blue Shield/BCBS, or working for major hospital systems and little hospital systems. Everywhere from rural Missouri to cities like Chicago and Detroit. Then a considerable amount of time working on pharmaceutical products. For the most part, products — drugs that are treating very rare diseases. Folks that are suffering from things that are lifelong afflictions, debilitating, definitely the kind that you’re talking about mortality sooner versus later.

Stewart Gandolf:
Very good. We were talking offline a little bit and I remembered as Kübler-Ross, you’ve heard of it more as the cycle of grief, but the concept is, and this was innovated by Kübler-Ross. There are various interpretations of that and controversy or whatever, but I still remember maybe it was in health class, but somewhere along the way in high school, this whole idea of people going through a cycle of grief that’s pretty predictable. Clearly, it’s a model, right? Not everybody goes through every stage. Some people go straight from the beginning to the end. It’s just a useful context as a place to start. As we’ve talked about the COVID pandemic, there certainly is a lot of grief and grief shows up in various fashion. Dana, since you’re such an expert and have used this model for your rare disease drugs so often, how about if you just give us a quick overview? Then we can drill down into each of these cycles and what you see is happening today.

Dana Callow:
Sure. I started using this model years ago. I think the other benefit I have that, I see it as a benefit, a lot of times people go, oh gosh, I’m so sorry. I also happen to be the caregiver of a child with special needs who is now 22. In that journey, I learned very clearly what the difference is between the common cycle of grief that we might go through for a broken dish or a fender bender versus a major health issue that impacts either you or a loved one or your entire family. I’ve always applied the model to these very serious circumstances and it is phased. It’s shock and denial followed by anger, depression and detachment, dialogue and bargaining, acceptance, and then returning to a meaningful life. When we talk about that in the rare disease space, the point that I’m typically making is the nuances as it applies to a very serious health condition.

Dana Callow:
Then the fact that it’s typically cyclical. When you’re dealing with something longterm, there are new developments in that disease, there are new developments that affect you physically, mentally, financially. There’s the impact on perhaps a family unit, et cetera. You’re constantly restarting the process or maybe overlapping processes on top of each other. I’ve talked in the past about for me and for lots of parents who are dealing with children that might have a serious condition, you go through it every so often. Usually attached to developmental milestones that you realize they may never make, or they might struggle quite a bit to make. What’s interesting about that as it relates to what we’re doing now, I thought about this the minute it started is that we literally thrust everyone on the planet into a massive cycle of grief, an intense one that wasn’t going to be easy for anyone to navigate. That was the first thought.

Dana Callow:
Then secondly, now we’re all navigating it differently based on who we are as people, our own internal resiliency, our ability to cope, our thoughts and beliefs, all of those things are coming into play. What we might see is behavior on the outside from people really might not reflect where they’re in that cycle. It’s just a really complex but fascinating and important issue as we move forward.

Stewart Gandolf:
Totally makes sense. Now, in our recent webinar, I’ve talked about the research. I do that a lot in our webinars. If you’re one of our longtime blog readers you’ll know from the recent webinars we’ve talked about it, and the research is very interesting. When you see photos of people in the Ozarks shoulder to shoulder, having a great big old party, there’s a tendency to assume everybody is like that, right? It’s just the research shows that’s clearly not the case. Some people for sure believe that there’s, “What pandemic? There is no such thing. It’s all a mass media ploy.” To other people who are in very severe consequences, I’ve just read an article from a lady talking about how much it pains her when they talk about, “Oh, don’t worry. It’s just the people that have immunocompromised or old.” She said, “You know, I’m in that target audience. I’m a little offended and I’m very, very scared.”

Stewart Gandolf:
People are all over the place in terms of how they’re responding to the various stages. I’d like you Dana to take a few minutes and maybe a couple of minutes per each to drill down on shock or denial, what that means and how you see that playing out. Anger and the various phases, just to put meat on the bones, because I think really what the key here is, is as you’re writing and creating and you can obviously expand on this more, you’re the creative director, but what do these things mean maybe? Then we’ll come back and talk about, okay, how do you adapt your creative strategy to that?

Dana Callow:
Sure. When you look at shock and denial, it’s so funny, I was right there when they were showing the spring breakers and everyone was so offended and just so upset with them. They were in shock and denial. We might see it as that’s bad behavior and that’s a lack of empathy or care or concern or maturity. But really for many of them, and I’m not saying all of them because there are always the I before E, except after C, but many of the people, even the folks out there protesting I will not wear a mask and attaching it to whatever reason that they are, many of those folks are still in shock and denial. Well, shock and denial and anger. They haven’t even truly begun to process what might be our new normal, the impact it might have on them.

Dana Callow:
They’d rather just be mad and live in that place of this isn’t happening. I think that that’s important as you start to talk to people or as a physician or any kind of provider is really looking beyond what might be that outward reaction to understand where they are because that’s going to affect the type of education and support that you provide to them. That might even affect how you’re looking at them from a treatment perspective. Thinking about what’s underneath that shock and denial and anger is going to be important. After that, we move into depression and attachment. Looking around the world, looking around my sphere of people, looking at the folks in my family, the people I spend most of my time with. I think a lot of us are still here and could be here for a considerable amount of time based on the fact that we really have no answers to where this is going.

Dana Callow:
Many of us are there and we won’t be able to move on until we figure out what normal is, whatever it might look like. You’ve probably seen it. You’ve seen people get quiet. You’ve noticed people, maybe they’re not talking about it as much or asking as many questions because they’re processing. They’re processing and they’re trying to figure out new routines. They’re trying to figure out how to adapt to this changing world. One thing you can bet is there is a level of stress there that whether you can see it or not is something I think we’ll have to consider as people start to go back to their regular healthcare routines and to their providers and start to address issues that they might be having.

Dana Callow:
You might even have noticed it in that super happy cashier at the grocery store is not the same person that they used to be. That someone who’s probably living in the depression and detachment piece of this. Then dialogue and bargaining. I mean, a lot of us are moving into this space. We’ve got one foot in depression and detachment and one foot in dialogue and bargaining because our will to live, our will to move on, our will to find a new normal will drive us there even though we’re still a little scared, a little stressed out, a little concerned. We don’t know what we don’t know yet. A lot of us are starting to move into that place where, okay, I want to talk about it. I’m going to start reaching back out to my healthcare providers, to my mentors, to my confidant, to people that maybe I’ve talked to a little bit but I have been detached from and I want to start to bounce ideas and things off of them.

Dana Callow:
I think to be ready for those folks who are going to come in. They’re going to have a lot of questions. As a healthcare provider, no one healthcare provider is going to be able to answer all of those questions. When we look at how most physicians out there, they have a set of resources that they offer to people beyond what they do in the day-to-day. Checking back into what those resources are, thinking about the places and spaces you can guide people, I think that’s going to be really important. Feeding their desire to move into that next phase, that’s going to be critical. The flip side of that, that’s going to reduce their stress and then reduce potential complications for any conditions that they have now or may develop in the future.

Dana Callow:
Then acceptance, I think maybe there’s a few, just highly evolved humans out there who are stepping into this. I think it’s fewer than we might expect. Even if you hear people who sound like they’ve accepted it, who are voicing a lot of like, this is what I’m going to do and this is how I’m going to handle it. This is where it’s going. I think there’s not a lot of those folks yet, but I am very encouraged to see them stepping into that phase because I think that’s where the leaders are going to come from. They’re going to pave the way for others. As much as this has all been this very overwhelming place that we’re living in, I think out of it is going to come so much innovation and so much progress because there’s nothing like putting a wall in front of a motivated person. They will figure out how to get around it, over it, or through it.

Dana Callow:
I think those folks are few and far between. I do think no matter who you are, if you come in contact with someone like that, we need to embrace that. They’re probably not going to be a huge problem for healthcare providers other than they will have read so many things and come to you with so many questions that are deep and have a lot of dimension to them. Being ready to have those conversations is what’s just going to keep them in that healthy place of moving forward. Then returning to a meaningful life. I mean, I couch this as stay tuned for the next available operator. I don’t know that I believe anyone is there yet, but I’d like to meet them. I think that’s what we’re all going to be trying to do for each other and all of the folks who play in any one person’s health and wellness ecosystem is going to be a very important part of that.

Stewart Gandolf:
Very good. It’s interesting because the idea of dialogue and bargaining because I always heard the model as bargaining but dialogue and bargaining is intriguing because… I think this model is useful because we go through different phases. The same person can go through different phases, right? They may generally be in dialogue and bargaining, but once in awhile get into depression, anger, and back and forth. I think the idea of being able to talk it out with friends. We recently met a friend in Palm Springs. We have a vacation rental there. We did our first social distancing friend visit. It was amazing to have that chance to just talk things through. We haven’t done that really, and it’s not the same when you’re doing it on through Zoom.

Stewart Gandolf:
I think that it’s really intriguing to know that these are out there. People are in general categories probably. At any given moment, they may be staying in one and probably we’ll go through this predictable sequence rather. Let me ask you. The key question here is here from a marketing standpoint because neither of us of course therapists, but how does this impact our creative strategy? That’s the meat of this. What can we do as marketing people and recognizing that we have a broad audience of people in our podcasts including super sophisticated marketers primarily at pharma or hospitals or wherever. We also have private practice doctors and everywhere all over the place. Just in general, if you were to give some advice on what your creative strategy should look like today. Well, today and then even as things start to continue to evolve, what would those kinds of things be?

Dana Callow:
The way that it’s strategy first, right? We have had for many, many years some pretty accepted patient archetypes. People behave in a particular way when it comes to their healthcare. While those may have become more robust over time, I think now is the time for everyone to stop. Whether it’s with your internal marketing team, in conjunction with your agency, just you yourself and your thoughts. It’s time to sit down and think about seriously, think about your patient population. The segments in it and how they might have changed because that’s what’s going to impact how you might change your overarching strategy or simply your messaging. Because we have people who have taken quarantine so seriously and then you have the people who I lovingly say hashtag what virus. Everything in between as far as how they’re thinking about it, but then you also have how they behave as patients.

Dana Callow:
That’s where I coined the little term COVID resolutionist because it’s like when you make a New Year’s resolution. So many of us do that, whether we’re super demonstrative about it or not is debatable. Some of us just have a list in our heads. Some of us just have one. Some of us have a dozen. There seems to be this thing every year where we see the New Year as a time to change or to attempt change. I think that COVID is going to do that for a lot of people when it comes to their healthcare. That’s where I think the idea of the cycle of grief next to how it will have actually changed people is how strategy must change. When you look at those, and I’ll keep it really simple, when you look at those patient populations, you’ve got your people who are on top of their health and wellness, your type-A personalities. Diet, exercise, staying on top of as they age, doing all the right things to make sure they know what their underlying conditions might be.

Dana Callow:
They are ahead of the cancer game. They are ahead of their eye health. They are on top of those things. They’re just going to get more on top of those things and that’s okay. That’s okay. Then there’s this giant group of people. I definitely fall into probably one end of this one, but there’s this giant group of people. We do a lot of things, right? We don’t do all the things right. We try things with our diet and our exercise. We fall off the wagon. We know we need to get that colonoscopy but we put it off until like, okay. My mother gave me a hard time about it. My spouse is staring at me like it’s time. You have a family history, whatever, go get it done. I think you’re going to see a lot of those people who are pretty good about their health, really stepping up to the plate and wanting to check the boxes and do all the things. Making that easy for them, making that comfortable for them, encouraging them to pursue those things.

Dana Callow:
I think that it’s a great time to message around that for that group. Like, let’s embrace the idea that I’m going to make a resolution to not let something like this scare me as much as it has ever again. Get ready for that flood of folks who want to, they want to figure it out. They want to dot their i’s and cross their t’s. Then you’re still going to have that giant group of folks, they are the deniers and we all suffer from it. That’s why I say I’m on the edge of the previous group because I’m the worst when it comes to… I take care of everybody else before I take care of myself, but that’s a different kind of denial. Then when you look at people who know, they know that they have diagnosed conditions, they know there are life changes they should make, they should have made a long time ago. They have been recently connected to their mortality on a whole new level.

Dana Callow:
The interesting thing about this group I think is that we’re going to have to approach them as if they fall into two categories. You’re going to have the deniers who, yes, I have severe diabetes but I have not addressed my diet and exercise and I never planned to. But this connection I now have to my mortality, the connection that my family has been literally in my face about every day before COVID and now even more since COVID happened, all right, I’m going to give it a go. I’m going to give it a shot. That’s good news, but they’re going to be terrible at it because they always have been. They’re going to need a lot of support. A, messaging that assumes that there are some people in that camp. Targeting those folks with, if you weren’t ready before, we hope you’re ready now. Let’s talk about whatever it is that we need to. Let’s do it. Getting them to go ahead and act on that notion, and then they’re going to need a ton of support.

Dana Callow:
They’re going to need a ton of atta-boys and atta-girls and all kinds of strategies and tactics to help them stay on the bus. Then you’re still going to have a group of those deniers who head in the sand. I won’t go. I’m not, I’m just going to know that it’s not going to come for me. That group is going to be really tough to reach as they always have been, but this might be the time for a proactive conversation. Healthcare providers could be a tipping point. They are feeling it, their family. You could be that exclamation point on the sentence to help them go ahead and give it a shot. Then the group, I think, well, and one more thing on those folks. If they do just put their head in the sand, that doesn’t mean that they’re not experiencing a lot of stress around it. That stress can be toxic and actually exacerbate their situation, whatever it might be. That might be something to message around as well.

Dana Callow:
Then the worriers, they’ve never been more worried than they are now, and that will continue. Again, I think very solid pragmatic information and facts that help them address their fears and concerns that make them feel comfortable and confident about seeing their healthcare provider, about pursuing whatever health issues they might have. They’re going to need confidence instilled in them. I think that’s an important messaging strategy with those folks. Again, these are also folks who are going to possibly suffer from just a great amount of stress. Recognizing that and being able to have the conversation around that to make sure that that doesn’t either aggravate an underlying condition they might not even know they have or exacerbate one that they do, that’s going to be important. I think the gist is sometimes we try to be very focused in our messaging, one size fits all. I don’t think that that’s where we’re going. I think targeted messaging that gets to these audiences where they are in this journey is going to be paramount.

Stewart Gandolf:
Then the last question I have is pretty universal today. In fact, you and I have a conference call in what, 23 minutes, about this with a client. The point is that a lot of providers on the provider side are reopening in stages. Some are wide open for business, others are not. Then there’s a whole fear of what happens as the other shoe drops, are we in the beginning? Are we just in the continuation of the first phase, which a lot of people argue? Is there a second wave? All those kinds of things. That makes it very flux right now. The idea of reopening, in this very uncertain environment where just like I described everything is changing, looking at a different model with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, safety is way down there at the bottom. Basically, self-survival and safety are at the core of this. Nobody’s going anywhere if they don’t feel safe. What are some of the communication strategies that providers might be thinking about now with all this that we just discussed in mind? But really, about safety and reopening, and do you have any tips on that for our audience?

Dana Callow:
I think clearly communicating all that you are doing to provide a safe environment is important, but I think combining that message with general health messages, you’re right. We don’t know if we’re still in phase one. We don’t know when phase two might happen. We don’t know any of those things. To some degree, all of this is quite a grand experiment and a tough one. I think just the utility of communicating, this is what we’re doing to keep you safe and healthy. I’ve seen a lot of good work done out there down to the…this is the brand of disinfectant that we’re using. This is what we’re doing. Coupling that with health and wellness messages that cater to your audience, whether you’re a specialist or a GP or a big hospital system with lots of offerings, or a pharmaceutical product, whoever you are. Combining that functional message with that comment, come and see us. We’re here for you, here to help you. Don’t wait to tackle whatever might be happening in your life with regard to your health and don’t let your primary care go. I think it’s a marriage of messages with where one doesn’t necessarily take precedence.

Stewart Gandolf:
That is a really important thought because we’ve talked about this on a number of webinars recently with research and so forth, but this is an opportunity for thought leadership in your community. Some people are doing this better than others, and obviously some health systems are well-funded than other private practice. They may not be, or some pharmas have that as part of their mission. Again, we have a very broad audience listening to our podcast, but thought leadership is such an important part of this. Everywhere I look, I read today in Fierce Healthcare an article about how for a while there or actually it was a different publication where for a while their hospitals are just thought of as these entities, faceless entities. The public was losing touch with them and they didn’t really understand any kind of, despite the hospital’s point of view, that community commitment.

Stewart Gandolf:
Nowadays, there’s a resurgence where certainly depending on where they’re located, hospital systems and healthcare providers are seeing a resurgence. I think this is a time to continue to consider thought leadership and figure out how you can be not the educator, both sides of the brain, right? Dana, the right and left brain side.

Dana Callow:
Yup.

Stewart Gandolf:
Certainly, the educator, the thought leader, but also the compassionate people, the people that are really invested in the community. As we wrap up here, I don’t know if you have any additional thoughts on any of this stuff, Dana, because I think all these communication strategies are important. Our audience may be looking for new insights on where do we even begin.

Dana Callow:
Yeah. I think you’re exactly right. I think one of my favorite phrases is, measure twice cut once. I think circling the wagons internally no matter who you are and having a very thoughtful and thorough conversation about your patient population, your geography, the mindsets of people and how your patient archetypes might have changed. Then a balanced message that plays off of both right and left brain is spot on, not easy but spot on.

Stewart Gandolf:
Well, I think it’s a terrific opportunity, a COVID resolution. It’s a terrific opportunity. Then you alluded to this a little bit ago, rethinking your personas but also rethinking your marketing and creative strategy and your messaging. We’ve been, from the very beginning it is something I’ve been writing about is to look at your marketing from a new. I think that okay, for a lot of people on the hospital side at least, they’re just dealing with patients and reacting to a crisis. It’s hard to think very strategically, but this is a good time now where, okay, we’re past, in most cases obviously. It varies by where you are in the country, but most of us are past the sort of crisis phase. We have Telehealth and Telemedicine in place…we have providers in place largely.

Stewart Gandolf:
Who are we? What do we stand for? I challenge our listeners to think about that because it’s a terrific opportunity. Some people in some organizations fall to the wayside. Others can really demonstrate and take a leadership position, not just from a business standpoint, but from doing good standpoint. Thank you, Dana. It’s been great having you for this healthcare podcast discussion. As I predicted, this would be a great podcast and you did great and thank you.

The post [Podcast] How to Adjust Your Creative Strategies In Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic? appeared first on Healthcare Success.

Addiction Treatment Center Marketing Webinar: How to Adjust Now and After COVID

We have never seen an addiction treatment marketing landscape as the one that continues to evolve due to COVID-19.

Stewart Gandolf, CEO, Healthcare Success

Stewart Gandolf, CEO, Healthcare Success

Kathy Gaughran, Senior Healthcare Marketing Strategist at Healthcare Success

Kathy Gaughran, Senior Healthcare Marketing Strategist, Healthcare Success

While some substance abuse and behavioral health centers are withdrawing from marketing, others are increasing their budgets to take advantage of the void in the recovery marketplace. While some centers are struggling to keep up their census, others seem unaffected. While some marketing campaigns continue to draw inquiries, others border on “crickets.”

Meanwhile, many people are sadly and predictably resorting to drug and alcohol abuse to ease their pain and stress. How should you adapt your health marketing to this new reality?

To answer this question, I hosted an addiction rehabilitation webinar with our Senior Marketing Strategist, Kathy Gaughran, titled, How to Adjust Your Addiction Treatment Marketing, Now and After COVID-19.

In this timely healthcare marketing webinar for senior addiction treatment executives who represent addiction treatment facilities, join Kathy and me to discover:

  • Should your marketing stop, pivot, or push forward?
  • How to ethically and cost-effectively reach potential clients who are seeking help now?
  • What are some of today’s unexpected marketing opportunities?
  • How to leverage social media to build your brand and thought leadership over time.
  • Which strategy shifts make sense as the COVID-19 crisis evolves, and eventually fades?

If you would like to speak to us about your addiction treatment center marketing budgets through and after the COVID crisis, please give us a call at 800-656-0907.

The post Addiction Treatment Center Marketing Webinar: How to Adjust Now and After COVID appeared first on Healthcare Success.

Webinar: How to Rebuild Your Medical Practice Now and After COVID-19

The following webinar was sponsored by the
American Osteopathic Association and took place Thursday, May 7.

Almost every osteopathic practice has experienced financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and many are reeling.

Fortunately, there are many marketing and communications strategies you and your team can implement to help protect your practice now and prepare it for the days ahead.

Join Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, for a dynamic, real-world webinar to discover:

  • How to create educational emails and social media to grow patient loyalty.
  • How to market your new telehealth capabilities to your patients and community.
  • Which digital marketing strategies work best?
  • How to position yourself as a trusted healthcare expert with local media.
  • Should you freeze your marketing budget – or push forward?
  • Why now may be the ideal time to invest in a new website or marketing program.
  • Why some savvy practices are taking this opportunity to grow their local presence and brand
  • How to capitalize on highly discounted advertising rates.
  • What marketing strategies make sense if you have a minimal budget.
  • Conversely, what should larger, well-funded, enterprise-level practices do now?
  • How to survive and thrive in an uncertain future.

This webinar is appropriate for physicians, surgeons, and leaders of osteopathic practices of all specialties, sizes, and styles. CME credit is available.

The post Webinar: How to Rebuild Your Medical Practice Now and After COVID-19 appeared first on Healthcare Success.

Vein Practice Marketing Strategies to Implement Now

Marketing Strategies to Implement Now For Your Vein Practice

A Webinar Sponsored by the American Vein and Lymphatic Society

COVID-19 has caused massive economic disruption to virtually every kind of business, including vein practices.

Which marketing strategies should you begin now, and which should you implement in the coming months as the crisis slowly subsides? To find out, join Stewart Gandolf for this practical, information-packed webinar. When you attend, you’ll discover:

  • Which marketing strategies should you invest in now, even if your practice is currently closed?
  • How to communicate with your current patients as things change.
  • How to capitalize on the marketing opportunities that telemedicine brings to your practice.
  • How to balance social media, digital marketing, and traditional advertising?
  • How to communicate with referring doctors?
  • What are some “silver lining” opportunities?
  • Where should you invest for the best possible ROI?

These challenging times require courage, optimism, and foresight.

About Your Webinar Leader

Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is CEO of Healthcare Success, LLC, one of the nation’s leading healthcare marketing agencies. Stewart and his team of 30 marketing specialists have marketed over a thousand practices and hospitals over the past twenty years, including dozens of vein practices. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. Over 21,000 doctors and executives read Stewart’s healthcare marketing blog. Finally, Stewart and co-author Dr. Mark Tager recently wrote, “Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow and Perfect Your Cash-Pay Business.”

The post Vein Practice Marketing Strategies to Implement Now appeared first on Healthcare Success.

COVID Healthcare Marketing Questions: Pause, Pivot, or Push Forward

COVID Healthcare Marketing Webinar

COVID-19 has changed the healthcare industry quicker in the last two weeks than in the last 50 years. With medical practices temporarily shutting down and elective procedures put on hold, what should healthcare networks and healthcare specialists do with their marketing campaigns‘ strategies?

Stewart Gandolf, CEO, Healthcare Success photo

Stewart Gandolf, CEO, Healthcare Success

Photo of Aaron Clifford, SVP Marketing, Binary Fountain

Aaron Clifford, SVP Marketing, Binary Fountain

To answer this important question for healthcare marketers, I partnered with Aaron Clifford, Senior Vice President of Marketing, at Binary Fountain for a marketing webinar, COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing: Should You Freeze, Pivot, or Push Forward? This event drew tremendous audience response and I want to share it with you on our Healthcare Success blog.

In this timely COVID healthcare marketing webinar for marketing practitioners & healthcare CMOs, you will learn:

  • If and how you should reallocate your marketing budget
  • Which marketing strategies and tactics make sense…and which don’t
  • How to tweak brand communications because of COVID-19
  • If you should change your digital marketing and directory listings as Coronavirus spreads
  • What key updates need to be made to social media profiles and healthcare organizationslocal listings

I’ve included this presentation’s video above (and below), and a pdf of the deck, audio options, and the entire transcript further below, for your convenience. And, I trust this webinar helps your medical practice, health network or hospital survive and thrive through the Coronavirus pandemic.

If you would like to speak to us about your marketing budgets through the COVID crisis, please give us a call at 800-656-0907.


PDF: COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing webinar slides

Podcast: COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing webinar audio

Other streaming services: COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing podcast is also available…
Spotify | iHeartRadio | Google Play | iTunes | Pod Bean | Tunein | Radio Public | Stitcher

COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing Webinar Transcript

Aaron Clifford:

Welcome everyone to today’s webinar, “COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing: Should You Freeze, Pivot or Push Forward?”

Welcome everyone and thank you for taking time out of your busy day to join us. My name is Aaron Clifford. I’m the Senior Vice President of Marketing here at Binary Fountain. We know that it’s been a challenging time in everyone’s business and your personal lives, so we are extremely grateful that you’re here and we’re going to try to squeeze as much help, ample information and advice as we can. I will warn you, Stewart and I both are remote, so you may hear the a random dog bark or other noises that you typically wouldn’t in a normal webinar. And so I’m sure many of you are remote as well and probably could understand that. So for the next hour, we’re going to discuss specific ways healthcare marketers can shift their digital marketing efforts and engage customers online throughout the COVID crisis.

To help lead this discussion, I’m joined by Stewart Gandolf, CEO of integrated marketing firm Healthcare Success. Stewart, you care to introduce yourself?

Stewart Gandolf:

Sure. I’m excited to be here. Everybody I know, again, as Aaron just said, we’re all busy trying to adapt to a new reality. I’m CEO of Healthcare Success and as Aaron mentioned, we are an integrated marketing firm. We work with really kind of all kinds of healthcare entities, hospitals, medical practices, pharmaceuticals, device, heath plans across the board. I think there’ll be fun to share some insights today.

Aaron Clifford:

For sure. Thanks, Stewart. So glad to have you here. Really appreciate it that you joined us. Before we begin, let’s take a quick look about what we’re going to be talking about today. So first we’re going to discuss strategizing your digital marketing in a way that matches the current shift in consumer behavior. What we’re seeing. Then we’ll cover recommended adjustments to marketing budgets and brand communications in light of the health crisis. And then we’ll dive into some key updates to the local listings and also social media platforms. We’ll cover things that you should be looking out for and some strategies from a social media standpoint. And finally we’ll have a Q&A session. So we’ll be collecting the Q&A and we’ll make sure that we get to your questions. So please feel free to ask questions as we go along and then we’ll address those towards the end. But for now I’m going to pass it over to Stewart to get started. Stewart.

Stewart Gandolf:

All right. Hey everybody, as I said I’m really excited to be here. As some of you may have seen me speak at different venues, I tend to go really fast. I like to give as much information as I possibly can, so it’s kind of like drinking from a fire hose. Aaron, I both have a lot of subject matters today. So I think you’ll find this interesting. First step is to keep in mind that, we are living through historic pandemic. And so the I want to give a thank you and shout out to the caregivers on the front lines today. You know, one of the things we’re going to talk about today is to acknowledge the reality in your communications, where we are today.

And you know, we have caregivers in the front lines out there. We have people who are working hard, to protect ourselves and our loved ones. One of the common themes I’ll talk about today is to stay at home, right? Because that’s a more than a hashtag. We are literally trying to save some lives. One of the things that I’d like to talk about too is that how we act today will be remembered tomorrow. And so meaning that we’re working together to create marketing plans. We’re trying to communicate to the community out there. And one of the things that we’ll talk about a bit more later, is that even if you’re staying at home, you can help.

But the reality is that we’re trying to get the word out, and help for the common good marketing today in a real sense.  There are still people who don’t know what’s going on. I just saw something in the news today about a governor who didn’t really realize that the Coronavirus is transmittable before symptoms happen.

So I would argue that this is our chance to not only do a good job for our various institutions, but to really help the public. Keep that in mind as we go forward from here.

So we know today that it’s amazing what’s going on here. We see that the headlines just seem to be more and more depressing. Some of the recent ones include

“Model’s predicting spread a virus is a grim picture,” according to New York times.

“More than 75% of all Americans have been ordered to stay home.”

“Social distancing appears to be slowing the spread,” which is good news. That’s great given that the crisis won’t be over soon.

“The Dow dropped 410 points down, 23%. The worst quarter ever.”

“Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million.”

It’s just amazing.

“Unemployment could be 32%.”

This is coming from a super-heated economy where a couple of months ago it was, what two or three percent unemployment.

One bit of note of good news for the small business owners out there. The feds are putting together the new CARES package. The $2 trillion stimulus has hundreds of millions of dollars set aside to help small business owners. They can request forgivable SBA loans to help cover salaries over a couple months. And you can certainly look that up. And I should mention after the webinar, we will be sending out the the video and there will be links.

There’s lots of information we can point you to. So anyway, I think it’s really important to recognize that this is our new environment. I mentioned a minute ago how things are changing so quickly. This is an amazing trying to prepare for each day. Think how much the news has changed. If you look back just a couple of weeks ago, people were still largely in denial.  Then by latest data on our chart, March 20th to 22nd, large percentages of people began avoiding events, avoiding traveling, avoiding small groups and stocking up on food.

So it’s amazing how quickly and really historic how things are changing so quickly here.

I’m big on data. Hopefully you are as well. Up to 70% are now avoiding major purchases, up from a couple of days ago when just 40% said they were delaying major purchases.

However, great challenges can create great opportunities sometimes from a marketing point of view. So we’re seeing today, and this is something that we’re confirming a lot from our side, that 95% of global consumers say they’re spending more time in media consumption.

That’s of course not surprising. The fact that they’re watching more news coverage isn’t surprising. One of the benefits, again, as terrible as this crisis is there are some silver linings. Like I have proved myself, I’m spending more time with my family. I have two daughters, one of them is a teenager, and we’re just having some excellent family time because normally we’re always so busy. And I think it’s important to recognize present moment, not just with yourselves but in your communications.

And it is a different time. What’s amazing is the growth of streaming – not just Netflix which doesn’t have a lot of commercial opportunity there – but just streaming TV and streaming radio. I’ll talk about this more later.

From a marketing point of view, this creates some unprecedented opportunities. People are spending more time on social media. Again, not surprisingly, but these are all opportunities.

And we were talking before we got started here about how things are changing forever. So, with so many people using Zoom for video conferences, it is unlikely we’re ever going to go back to the way we were before.

Regarding telemedicine, it took some hospital systems years to begin to experiment but over the last couple of weeks they’ve embraced it and fully figured out how to do it. So the world has changed.

So it’s a lot of what I am sharing are things that I’ve observed, but I wanted to make sure I got my team’s input on this as well. People that are dealing with clients every day.

And so the first thing I mentioned to kind of at the opening is I think it’s really important to acknowledge the current situation. It’s almost hard to have almost any conversation without discussing this virus. And that’s okay. It’s really important to be transparent. You’re seeing this beginning to happen with broadcast TV. Any ad that has pictures of large crowds, handshakes, big parties, look just out of touch.

And I think the public understands that, commercials like that were creative before COVID, but the more you can be transparent, the more you can feel up to date, the better.

Also, I think while most marketers are aware of this, it’s really important to not look exploitative. Just be careful of that because the it is easy to do that.

Make sure that you don’t present any unintended messages. This is particularly true if you have lots of things going on. Be careful of words like, “I’m dying to see you,” or referencing viruses when you mean computer viruses. Obviously we’ll have a whole new meaning today if we are not careful.

And then remember how empathy is really, really important. I talked to our Creative Director, Dana, about this yesterday. Dana’s has worked on a lot of pharma campaigns, and she was actually in the process of writing a campaign that describes how people with rare diseases go through various stages of grief. And we were both remarking how many people we know are grieving. Employees of ours are grieving, clients are grieving.

And I really don’t see people talking about that very much. But we have to recognize that if there was ever a time for grief or empathy it is now. Our messaging and the way we communicate with people needs to recognize that everybody’s stressed out. As human beings, we want to have empathy.

I shared this screenshot which just happens to be one of (an appropriate for the times) Verizon commercial. Here is an even better Verizon commercial, which is a well-produced shout out to its employees.  I saw that and it piqued my interest. I also have seen another great ad sponsored by the city of Las Vegas. And I’ll share some others on Twitter

By the way my Twitter handle is at @Stewart Gandolf. And right now is you’re live tweeting through this healthcare marketing webinar, we just chose the hashtag #healthcaremarketing. So if you have things to tweet hopefully Kaylie you can watch that while I’m presenting to see if there’s anything to respond to on Twitter.

But going back to what I was saying, there are already some examples of commercials that are out there. I’ll try to tweet and share things that I like and are certainly a lot of updates that we are all seeing today. So one of the big questions and by the title of our webinar is, should we pause, should we run straight forward? Should we stop?

We are having these conversations with every single one of our agency’s 80 or so clients.

And the first question that comes up from a lot of them is, “In light of what’s going on, should we just stop marketing?”

Should YOU stop marketing? And our answer to that is no, but it might sense to stop advertising. And let me explain what I mean. I definitely don’t think that stopping marketing is a good idea for virtually anybody, but for advertising, maybe. We’ll talk about what that looks like in a few minutes.

We have a reminder just for those of you who are marketing people here. We also have some executives that are not marketers, like CEOs and operating people, and we certainly have some doctors too. Just as a reminder to the marketers, and you may remember the four Ps of marketing, or maybe you are familiar with the seven P’s of marketing.

When we lead our seminars, we teach seven. And just as a reminder, marketing is not the same thing as advertising. Advertising is a small subset of one of the P’s of marketing, promotion.

So while advertising is certainly important – it’s the sexy stuff that everybody focuses in on – marketing is much broader than just advertising. So as I mentioned a moment ago, with every crisis sometimes there’s opportunities, right?

And I think it was Rahm Emanuel who said, “Never waste a crisis.”

And so certainly again, I don’t want to in any way underestimate the human toll of Coronavirus, and people are dying. It can’t be any more serious.

So with that in mind though, a lot of us still have to do our jobs to inform the community and help people in any way we can. So this is really, really important.

So what can we do? Well, one of the first things is keep in mind is many competitors are freezing or doing nothing.

So if you’re in a competitive specialty or competitive hospital or a competitive drug, a lot of people are just running for the hills and pausing or doing nothing. And I would argue strongly that that’s probably not the best strategy.

I would say that almost in any event, assuming you’re going to stay in business, which hopefully most of us are, your job is to prepare for the future because eventually COVID-19 will recede. There are drugs they’re testing now, and hopefully they find a breakthrough that can help us until a vaccine is available in a year, a year and half. Hopefully it won’t drag on for months and months. We’ll see. But in any event we want to prepare because once the smoke does clear there’ll be tremendous opportunity for new leaders to emerge, and also become visible.

So even if you’re not looking to attract patients in this environment, there are things you could do. Certainly you could continue your branding, right? So if you’re a hospital, for example, you don’t want to disappear in the community. You could do ongoing branding kinds of messaging.

If you aren’t going to advertise, you could be doing marketing planning. You could be doing brand strategy and development. You’ve always thought about your brand, and maybe you’ve always wondered where it’s off.

I would again argue strongly this is a time to look at your creative work. For example, a lot of people that I meet are really dissatisfied with where their website. Or maybe  there’s other changes they’ve been trying to make, like video content or a new content strategy.

And just a little transparency here on our side. Our company has grown tremendously over the last three or four years. Regarding our own website, we’re usually focused on client stuff first. This is a pretty common issue with agencies. While we’ve been working on it, it hasn’t had that kind of energy that we would like. So it no longer represents who we are today as well as we’d like.

But today is a fantastic time, so over the next three months we’re aggressively working on our own website, as well as our clients’, to represent better who we are today.

So these are the kinds of things to start thinking about. Where can you make an effort?

Even simple administrative things. I was talking to our managing director of the day, and now is a great time to complete all that HR training that we’ve been trying to get around to. This is a good time continuing ed, and also for strengthening your employee communications.

A lot of you are in larger institutions and they have thousands of employees. These people are begging for leadership and guidance today.

My head of SEO urged me to tell you a 15 second tip here. Right now there is massive things you can do to build enterprise SEO, particularly with schema. If you don’t know what that means, it is a kind of the infrastructure that helps the machines learn the meaning and the context behind what’s on the page.

These are tremendous times. We’re working a lot with clients on that.

One of the things I’ve mentioned earlier is we can use social media and again. Aaron will talk about the organic social media in a few minutes, and how to really work on growing your own reputation.

So of our blog subscribers may recognize that our last post mentioned how the US Surgeon General appealed to Good Morning America viewers about social distancing.

And because of the way the CDC had communicated in the early days, a lot of Millennials and Gen Z famously thought they were immune, and it’s no big deal to go partying on spring break.

So the Surgeon General called upon influencers like Kylie Jenner to go out there and say, to Millennials and younger Americans that this is for real. And she did. And a couple hours later, Kylie posted a video to her 4 million followers on Instagram. So my argument here is that while I think it’s fantastic Kylie Jenner used her clout with Millennials and younger Americans to get the word out about social distancing, I would argue anybody in healthcare has a responsibility too. Not from a marketing and making more money point of view, but for the good.

But you know, on my own social media, I tweet educational info about this epidemic.Independent private practice doctors can simply put up a notice about COVID on their Facebook page, and email their patients. So I think it’s fantastic opportunity to, just for the common good, promote social distancing help people who think they may have the virus.

Again, the CDC is one voice in the wind. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Certainly we want you as providers to put out accurate information and to help people understand that, for example, people could be contagious before they show up with symptoms.

Wellness tips. A lot of doctors, a lot of hospitals are providing wellness tips. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

You can also make sure the public knows you’re taking proper safety precautions You can answer frequently asked questions. You can update notices on your websites.

All these things are things for the common good. Again, not just from a marketing point of view, or business development. So I would argue, we need to get the word out to everybody in our communities. You have people that you’re influencing personally. You know, we went virtual in our office way before the government told us to. A friend of mine is a neuroscientist who sent me out information on the importance of social distancing early. His email was so compelling that we took action immediately. And I just think that’s the spirit of what we all have to do today.

So let’s say that advertising doesn’t make sense for you now to attract patients. Yet, I would argue that if you are in the position to position yourself as a community thought leader to educate the public during the Coronavirus crisis.

So certainly pharmaceuticals, health plans and hospitals, may find themselves in that category. Maybe even forward-thinking private practices depending on the size, philosophy and specialty.

So beyond the organic social media, advertising can make sense there if you’re looking to build your brand for the long term and capitalize the competitor’s absence.

If you’re a small independent practice, just trying to keep the lights on and you’re shut down, then maybe it’s not possible to advertise, but that’s not everybody.

When should you not advertise? Well if you’re in the situation where all your budget has to be direct response advertising, and every dollar must bring an immediate trackable ROI. Or maybe you’re an elective business that’s closed, right? The Surgeon General asked you to close and if you can’t accept patients that would be a factor. And obviously if you’re struggling advertising may have to wait.

So I want to share some insights for the rest of my time with you today. Many of my ideas come from my team, because they’re on the front line every day.  While I’m looking at the big picture, they’re watching new developments daily for our clients.

And here are some of the insights we’ve noticed.

Number one. Some specialties are actually seeing increased traction, including increased click through rates and increased inquiries or lead conversions. These include urgent care, not surprisingly, and primary care. Maybe not surprisingly, people are looking for alternatives. We have a integrative medicine, primary care doctor who’s seeing tremendous opportunity because people are looking for things like wellness and boosting your immune system.

Addiction treatment searches are up right now. I just tweeted something I saw yesterday, that alcohol sales are booming. They’re up 50%. Again, it’s not surprising.

Just watching people’s behavior, we need to have empathy. I’ve participated in a couple of these virtual cocktail hours. Some people are drinking too much, and you can just see it. So sad.

We have a number of addiction clients who recognize that  there are people out there who are addicts and are at home. They are hurting. And so some of these specialties are seeing great big increases in interest.

Other essential categories are holding strong like cancer related searches.

Not surprisingly, inquiries for elective based surgeries like vein surgeries are falling. While inquiries are down, clicks are not dropping as much. A lot of people we are finding at  home, and they’re clicking on those paid ads, but they may not be actually inquiring.

So whether you are with a practice or a hospital, you need to really actively manage your campaign.

I mentioned earlier preventative care kinds of terms are hot, like “boosting immune system.”

We are predicting we’ll see a little bit of cost decreases for the cost per click if you’re doing pay-per-click. And we expect to see that to continue as competitors flee the market.

So our recommendation going forward for your paid search campaigns, Google or Bing, is to make sure your ads read appropriate for a new reality. Also actively manage your campaigns. Just like we’ve talked about earlier, refine your general creative direction, and monitor keyword searches and campaign results as consumer behaviors continue to change.
Be ready to pivot and make adjustments to keywords and landing pages and websites as appropriate. Recognize we want to avoid trying to exploit COVID, yet capitalize on new opportunities like telemedicine. We’re doing a new blog post next week about the marketing opportunities with telemedicine.

Other ideas include Televisitation for addiction centers or SNFs, or free transportation. Think a little bigger. What can you do that you never did before?

Another thing to do is think through beyond paid search to  display advertising, native advertising on Yahoo! And Youtube. Remember people are spending more time online, but not always actively searching.

By the way, Google is also going to be throwing out some credits to people that have been advertising since last year. They’ll be rolling those out in coming months. They’re not very specific on that, but that’s a little bit of relief to people that have been advertising with them for a while.

If you’re interested in current search terms, there’s a plethora of information out there. You can just search for “Google trends, Corona virus search terms,” and see what people are searching for on a minute by minute basis. This changes constantly. Just some sort of free value added. I think you’ll find that interesting.

Regarding Facebook, we work with lots of different clients with different specialties. We’re not seeing a big dropoff and click through rates or conversions at the stage across most of our campaigns.

Again, it varies a little bit with addiction. It’s just such a great example because it is so relevant right now. Keep in mind we want to be emotional appropriately for the particular world that we’re in. You can consider Facebook live or promote various events. We’re going to share some examples of that in just a moment.

One of our pharma specialists came up with such a great idea of promoting our community actions, or our everyday heroes, especially the providers.

Again, Facebook is also considering a grant, though there’s no details of yet. But, they’ll probably be providing some rebates to small businesses as well.

Since everything is shutting down, if you can hang in there, there will be some opportunities.

Something else I want to share, that our paid social media manager is so excited about. Facebook Messenger now has a program similar to chatbots. This happens to be from one of our recovery clients.

I blocked out the names and phone numbers. It asks prospects to start a confidential message and then the bot will come back and give a couple of different options. You can dictate the questions, and people feel like they’re talking to a real human. You can control the conversation.

And we’re finding that we’re getting tons of inquiries this way. Facebook always comes up with new formats. This just happens to be one of our favorites. I’m just sharing a little secret that we’re seeing tremendous success with this early on. This is brand new. Another thing that’s cool about this is we’re able to share a social endorsements. This is an example of a real life patient. Again, we blocked out the name of this real patient, interacting with the addiction treatment center.

So these things are very, very powerful. Another thing we’re doing with another client right now is we’re promoting webinars. They’re not seeing patients live. So, if you’re able to stay in the marketplace, instead of doing dinner seminars this is a fantastic time to try something new. If you have some marketing budget to test and track, now you can finally get around to it. And I would argue there are some terrific opportunities here today.

I recognize that some of our audience listeners are very sophisticated marketers, who understand things like OTT, CTV and programmatic buying. Others may be much further down the marketing continuum in terms of experience with it. Either way, this slide here from Comscore underscores the amount of time people are spending online that I described earlier. And if you’re interested, you can go to that URL yourself.

This was a screenshot from yesterday. So for example, Hulu streaming through Apple TV or Amazon fire or through smart TVs is just exploding. Viewership is up in record numbers. Both broadcast and streaming TV are showing record numbers, and behavior is changing daily.

You have to be paying attention here if you want to capitalize on this. And I know if you’re a provider and you’re just trying to take care of patients, you have challenges. And, we’re all scared. But, from marketing standpoint, this time has some tremendous opportunity. My team is working harder than ever currently on these types of opportunities. This graphic was shared with us, with our reps at iHeartRadio.

This Nielsen study from a couple of days ago shows that because people are no longer commuting, and they’re not listening to the radio in a car, streaming radio is taking off. Interestingly a couple of days later, this is an email I got that work for a work at home playlist from iHeart radio.  It’s funny, I love their programmatic buying and use of artificial intelligence. They obviously know I like chill. And so they not only came up with a word from home playlist, they targeted me with the kind of stuff that I might be interested in, although that was a big mess with me on country. But it feels so personalized.

Our iHeart rep tells us that new subscribers are up by 20% plus us over recent days.

So I asked my media guru Charlie for some tips, and I thought this would be really intriguing to you.He and I always agree on this kind of stuff.

Streaming radio and television are our favorite opportunities, but for for billboards and print, “not so much.” Print is slowly dying and nobody’s driving to see billboards. So are if you’re going to do traditional advertising, these are some of our favorite things.

Interestingly, while viewership is up and listenership is up, advertisers are fleeing the marketplace. Due to COVID, the cancelled Olympics, reduced political ads, prices are dropping. So it’s a very strange time that you have more viewership and listenership than ever, coupled with declining rates. Now remember with broadcast in particular, that’s is dead space. It’s gone forever. It’s like a little revenue is better than no revenue because it’s dead space.

That’s why broadcast is often negotiable. Those of you that are more experienced marketers know, broadcast is very, very powerful. A less sophisticated advertisers often go with the newspaper, but broadcast tends to be super powerful. And it can be negotiable.

Regarding creative, we talked about creating positive messaging that informs the community I think it is a good thing just to acknowledge where we are. If you have an agency (hopefully), or media buyer, whoever it is this is a time to cash in those relationships with your media reps.

Our Charlie has worked in 200 of 210 DMAs [Designated Market Areas] in America. His knowledge level is insane – he can tell you which train stations in New Jersey have the best outdoor signage, for example. More importantly he has thirty years worth of relationships with hundreds of reps nationwide.

Charlie’s been going back to our clients’ media reps saying, “Hey, my client is thinking of pulling out of the market. Help me convince them to stay in.” And I would recommend you do the same. If you have relationships with your media reps, ask them for help. They’re a lot more willing to negotiate right now.

I’m not saying grind your media reps, but look for win-win. So just two anecdotes are inspiring.

First, for one our big clients in Chicago, Charlie was able to negotiate 80 free community oriented radios spots, while also changing our mix to streaming.

Second, for one of our multi-location practices in Texas, Charlie advised the client to move most of the April media budget to TV. Rather than complaining, our radio rep offered 180 radio spots free across three stations. He said he looks at it as an investment in the longterm, and a measure of goodwill.

The broadcast stations are hurting, everybody’s hurting right now. They used to say back in the depression, “Things are tough all over.”

If you have no relationships, it’s hard to do this. But if you’ve been in the market, I encourage you to negotiate with your reps.

I’m going to turn the ball over to Aaron here as this is my last slide again. If you’re interested, because I know some of you may have to run, you we’ll be sending the deck to you afterwards. If you want to follow me on Twitter, it’s just @Stewart Gandolf: is simple and we’ll provide you contact data later. Aaron?

Aaron Clifford:

Hey, thanks in just such great content and great information. There was a lot of engagement and questions. So do you mind just answering a couple of questions related to your content? Real quick.

(Sure, go ahead.)

All right, so one question was with more people watching news and TV, would you recommend television perhaps over social media or is it a both and, or what’s your recommendation there?

Stewart Gandolf:

You know, it is, that’s a great question. Here’s the deal. In our experience, it is now both. One of the things we write about a lot,is that everybody’s multitasking. They’re watching TV and they’ve got their iPad or phone in front of them. So I don’t know if it’s necessarily either / or. It’s integrated. We see, for example, one of our clients is an addiction center hates to put phone numbers on their ads They just feel like they don’t want to look too salesy.

And so we see that as when we’re on radio or on TV,  their website just explodes with activity. So that’s really why we are an integrated agency. I love digital (but advertising works well in conjunction with it). I would try to do both.

Aaron Clifford:

All right, thank you. Helpful. A couple of more while we got you. So in reference to the Facebook Messenger slide, are these Facebook they considered HIPAA compliant?

Stewart Gandolf:

They are, if you set it up right. I’m not giving legal advice. Let’s start right there. But remember these are private messages that are coming from a prospect to the provider through a bot. So consult your own attorney, but our team feels comfortable using them. This is brand new technology. So I would do your own research, but so far we’re comfortable.

Aaron Clifford:

Good. All right, thank you. And then someone was asking about the webinars and what the success has been or attendance what are you seeing there?

Stewart Gandolf:

Okay, great. So that’s a good, another great question. You know, it’s like the one I just showed as an example. He’s gotten, I don’t know, I think during the first day or two, five registrants. So, not hundreds, not thousands, but response depends on the topic too.

But one thing I didn’t share very well before is that’s important for the listeners who are not as familiar with paid social versus organic social. (While organic social is powerful), you’re only reaching your followers. These are people that are already following you. And even then, oftentimes you’re getting just a small percentage of the followers. Meanwhile, with ads on paid social, you can reach tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of prospective patients, and it’s a really good value cost-wise. It allows you to reach a far broader audience.

Stewart Gandolf:

So I think the capability and, and success of that will be based upon how good your offer is and especially how compelling your topic is. Like right now, we have hundreds of people viewing it on this webinar, which is exciting. We had even hundreds more register who probably want to get the recording.

And while I would like to think the reason is because you and I, Aaron, are so good looking and smart, it’s really because the topic is so timely. So I feel like the right timely content is everything, the right offer. So we are seeing that this is brand new. I’ll just say for our listeners, whether you’re with agencies or whether you’re with hospitals or whatever, this is a great chance to try things that you wouldn’t have gotten around to before. And this is how breakthroughs happen.

Aaron Clifford:

Great. Great point. Thank you Stewart. And please keep asking questions and we’ll have a time at the end of the webinar to go through a number more.

Stewart Gandolf:

Thank you for asking those. I’m happy to help. I’m having a blast with this. This is great. So, yeah.

Aaron Clifford:

All right. So a lot of my contents going to dovetail into what Stewart described. And for those of you who don’t know, Binary Fountain is a customer experience platform and we help healthcare systems, a number of different industries.

We have a large contingent in the healthcare with large enterprises down to large medical groups and mid-size and even down to small, smaller clinics. So we analyze a lot of online data, we analyze a lot of first party surveys patient satisfaction surveys and we get a lot of detail. And so we’re helping businesses not only manage all of their listings on the third party platforms like Google my business and Facebook and Vitals and health, Verizon getting all of their information accurate, but then also monitoring their reputation online. So what we did is a little study and we’re doing this study weekly just in looking at all of the mentions per platform where COVID-19 and related terms are being mentioned and the frequency and quantity.

So what we’re seeing is right now Twitter’s exploding and this is related to our brands and the mentioned the, with these terms in relation to our brands. And we cover about over 250 clients. And again, often they are, have hundreds of locations and cover hundreds of providers. And so we’re seeing a lot of activity there. Of course we’re seeing a lot of information and surveys, but then Facebook is number two to Twitter.

But in terms of mentions, Twitter is, is just dominating. And there with regards to the brands, there’s a lot of questions there. People are getting answers and some cases not getting answers and others. But we are encouraging clients to manage and you know, make sure that you are having a pretty good strategy for each one of these platforms as it’s mentioned, but also spending time where the most questions and activity is happening. So there goes Twitter, Facebook, Google, you’d expect to be a lot higher. But since Google had suspended their reviews their numbers aren’t as high. And so we were seeing quite a bit of lift.

Technology we are seeing Google started to increase and then there is that freeze and not as many reviews there. So it’s kind of interesting and you guys may be thinking that as well. So some of the best practices that we’re seeing on social media you’re, we’re seeing a lot of activity and good brand promotion on various social media platforms. Folks in giving information, helping their patients and the consumers and also employees and get most up-to-date information. Many of them answering questions and linking over to their own website where there’s valuable information. And I’m sure many of you on this call have been doing that as well. You’ll see the engagement there. There’s when there’s questions being timely to making sure that your dispelling disinformation in health systems, communities and providers, physicians are so important in this particular space right now where there’s so many different rumors and just so much coming at patients and they’re looking for trusted resources and are seeing that the providers are filling an incredible void right now when they are able to answer those questions.

Twitter, there’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of times I’ve seen some angry posts and some definitely the misinformation and rumors. And just some the wild, wild West that sometimes. Twitter is, and our recommendation is not necessarily to answer every single one of those. You can’t, you don’t have enough resources. There’s not enough time, but there’s definitely when there is an opportunity to answer a question directly or direct and that comment or reviewer poster to correct information on your own website or social channel. We’re seeing a lot of customers having success in there and a, a large click through rate as well going to their own content with the correct information. So, you know, make sure that you’re responding to those questions calmly in a transparent manner. But also you’re not having to answer every single person that’s out there either with relation to your brand.

It’s just too much where you can take those comments, whether it’s on a review platform, on a Facebook post or in Twitter, taking those offline. Right now the challenges, we know there are not a lot of resources offline to handle the calls that are coming in. So I say only take it offline right now. If you have somebody who’s going to pick up the phone and an actual human being to answer those questions, if not, it may be a bad patient experience or a bad brand experience. So be careful, you know, prior to COVID-19, I’m, I’m saying for the most part when you can’t resolve something online then almost always take it offline. But right now things are different and resources are scarce that many of these provider locations and systems. So you guys make that call when you can and when it makes sense to take it offline, but only if there’s a human being to answer.

Next seeing content recommendations, you know, making sure that you’re creating content that answers all the questions on potential questions that you know about is extremely helpful. So I referenced this earlier just in terms of all of the different misinformation. But you know, we’re seeing our customers pages and locations on their own website and social channels that are answering frequently asked questions. And I recommend that this too, for those that even though Google your patients and their family members and consumers aren’t able to post questions right now to your Google my business page, you can anticipate what some of those questions are and do a Google post related to COVID and Google is prioritizing those on the Google my business page. So there’s a real opportunity there to provide information in Google my business and Google my business posts to create content for that particular channel and then link it back to your own website with them, the information and frequently asked questions.

You know, Revive Health, they did a survey last week and I encourage everybody to look at Revive Health survey and study, but they showed that local health care experts are trusted 86%, 86% of the respondents said they trusted local health experts. And with regards to Coronavirus information, massive opportunity. If you’re a marketer and you’re a content producer for your facility, for your system, now is the time to engage your physicians. And I know the front lines are so inundated and they are swamped. And like Stewart said, just so appreciate everything that they’re doing in the communities, but with, there’s an opportunity if you have some physicians that may not be on the front lines and they may not have the patient volume that they normally have right now, might be a good time to engage with them to see if you can get some video content and ask them, maybe do an interview and produce some blogs that are helpful, that are providing relevant and good information.

You know, posting information if there’s a need for supplies and we know across the country there’s different hotspots and there are different needs and definitely from health system to health system, the needs vary a little bit, but if there are needs, it might be appropriate to be posting some of those that information on your social channels and on your own website. And then you know, what’s interesting is I’m sure many of you follow what Cleveland Clinic does is such an amazing job with health content and with just all the way around in marketing. But you know, Amanda toward [inaudible] on Twitter the other day mentioned that the health essentials portion or sites or health essential site, they had over 11 million sessions in March. And according her, that’s 3 million higher than the previous month traffic. So, you know, we’re, we are all not going to be Cleveland Clinic and it was something when I was at HCA, we aspired to Oh man, were it to be, have all the content that they had, but in your corner of the world and where you’re at, it might be a good opportunity to start creating some content relevant to COVID and on a consistent basis and where it is helpful and providing value.

You can start small. It doesn’t have to be health essentials. That’s pretty aspirational. But you can start where you’re at. Your community wants to hear from you for sure. And then we’re recommending from a consistency and communication on all of the various channels. You know, you know, sometimes and some companies, social is not managed by the same people who manage the digital content and these contents. There’s two silos. Seeing that a number of times, but there is an opportunity to make sure that you are lockstep, your content team is feeling the same information to both social and to the digital teams that are postings and making updates on the websites are really important. It sounds common sense, but you’d be surprised that some of the things that we’ve seen who were not necessarily congruent there are customers here that are doing a great job of this and making sure everything is just lock step with their digital channels with their social and with their own website.

And then obviously in phone, their call centers, everyone’s operating from some the same playbook and we’re really important there. So demand generation versus providing information. I mean, this is shows just week to week the amount, so it’s not apparent here, but it completely, but this was a nine days we saw it and go up just double from the week of March 22nd to March 31st we saw a massive increase and what people are talking about online. And with regards to COVID. So really important to, you know, all of the effort right now in responding and putting out good information related to COVID. Don’t lose sight that there will be a day and we don’t know when obviously, but there will be a time where demand generation comes in really strong and there are some demand generation obviously right now for telemedicine.

We’re seeing that. And so there is opportunity if you have those services and capabilities to be making sure that you’re not ignoring that piece of demand generation for your clinics and for your providers. But you know, there will be a day where this will be over. And so there is an opportunity right now to look at what does a 60 or 90 days from now look like and what are those activities and what are the demand generation activities going to happen that are outside of cope. And finally on listings management. So this has been a really incredible time in the listings management space. So as far as the volume and the changes, the temporary closures and the updates to ours and the changes that the platforms have made. So you know, it’s really important just when we’re seeing a 60% increase and just the Google my business call volume right now.

Google released a new, or not in Google, but schema.org released and Stewart mentioned that they’re released a new schema type for the COVID-19 specific items. So if you have not checked that out, look at schema.org and the new COVID-19 specifications and if possible, implement those on your site to make sure that your content has structured appropriately so people can find and get the answers, their questions answered, really important there. But you know, if there’s been a change in hours or service suspensions or revised contact information Google is providing more priority for health systems. So it’s still, you know, at times tough. But please update all of your Google my business pages. Of course, all your other third party directories as well. If you’ve not done that, very important. And we’ve been posting articles on how to do this, what to update kind of Binary Fountain.com at the top there’s a carpet area you can click on and we’ve published a number of blogs and then we’ve had webinars in the past and cover some of these items as well.

So Google temporarily suspending reviews as I mentioned along with the Google Q&A. there’s there they will be. Now if you post before it was the posters who are leaving reviews didn’t know that their reviews were not being posted. But now Google is saying that, Hey, this is temporarily disabled indicating that there will be a time in the future where these posts will be posted. I doubt all posts will be there. Hopefully they will take some of the ones that are damaging or not accurate with regards to the health system. Hopefully they won’t let those posts. But those are coming soon to the business Google descriptions, Google recommend adding information about any extra precautions, putting those into Google with descriptions. And then they’re temporarily allowing for small edits to your business name when it’s applicable. So testing centers, virtual visits, appointments, only a drive through curbside pickup, you know, those things.

They’re allowing businesses to upstate there. Those particular business names where you can make a change. So it’s apparent to those that are looking on their phone or on a desktop. And then the Google post, I mentioned those earlier, but they are being, those are going to be live for 14 days after you publish them. So that’s an extension Google has made. And within response to the COVID-19 crisis and regarding Yelp, just touching on them, for those of you who get a number of Yelp reviews they announced a zero-tolerance policy for any reviews of a person contacting COVID from a business or its employees. So they’re not allowing any of those reviews to go out. You can customize the COVID-19 alert message at the top of your Yelp business page now. So that’s something else that they’ve added.

And there’s going to be more virtual services that they are going to be offering virtual classes, virtual consultation. So if your particular community is a heavy Yelp user with regards to healthcare, some aren’t, some are make sure that you’re aware of those updates. All right. That was a lot of information squeezed in there. We have a couple of more questions, so let me get to those real quick.

Stewart standby. My Q&A is not showing up exactly, but I have them right here. Here’s the question. I’m in this medical spa business. What is your feeling about doing virtual consultations and selling gift cards online? I want to be sensitive not to be asking for money at this time. Stewart, do you want to take that one?

Stewart Gandolf:

Yeah. I think that’s makes sense. You know, it’s funny my wife and I are joking, like, I’m going to look like seventies guy. By the time this is over, right. New haircut. I think that’s going to come back. And my wife is complaining her gray hairs starting to show up underneath the dye. It’s like I haven’t seen her real hair color for a long time, so I think, there are people that are still interested in these things. I think the idea of doing it like that, if you’re not taking money now or you’re doing those kinds of consultations, people are bored. I would just experiment with it. You can stop if you try it and it doesn’t work.

Aaron Clifford:

I would agree. Somebody asked about having a Zoom panel discussion for the public with our providers. I’ll take that one and Stewart you can jump into, but I think that that’s a great opportunity where you have influence in your community. I think it’s great for the providers. You know, I’ve talked to a number of provider friends and they’re, they’re uncertain right now. They know it’s going to come back, but some of them are not working in the ER or in the ICU or you know, for the health system as far as in they’re waiting for their patients to come back. And so there is some capacity and some areas and I think would be beneficial if you have those providers who are willing and can provide value to your community. It’s not only good for the community, but it’s good for those providers, their own personal brand and then the brand of the health system. Stewart, any thoughts on that one?

Stewart Gandolf:

Yeah, sure. I love it and I just think, you know, I’m a creative guy, right? So this is fun to me. Like what I would do is take that idea and maybe here’s a good supplement. What if you created like a regular weekly show? You know, that would be cool. You could have your feature, your providers, you can have themes that are topical. And especially if you’re like in a hospital or hospital system, it’s a great opportunity to highlight various topics. You know, it’s funny you mentioned that earlier that some specialists are probably helping out in the ER and helping out with, you know, telemedicine patients depending on where the hospital is located. Obviously it varies a lot, right? New York is overwhelmed. Other states hardly feel anything right now. This is an opportunity to truly take thought leadership.

And remember, we’re trying to help people. So there’s a double whammy there. And I would just say if you do this for sure of your organic channels, but man, that paid social is so great. Instagram or Facebook paid in particular, we get such fantastic results with those for our clients. Beause you can reach people that you otherwise wouldn’t. So it’s a combination of paid and organic social to promote that. You know, this opportunity won’t happen again. Everybody’s home. So, yeah, I love that idea.

Aaron Clifford:

Yeah, great idea. Somebody asked about texting versus emailing patients, you know, it’s a lot of that is dictated by your organization or the contact information that you have taken on intake as far as in your registration papers on what can or cannot and contacting the patients. So every organization is going to be different. Every business is going to be a little bit different. But a lot of that I would just refer you to your own. What has the patient provided permission or consent to how to be contacted? Texting rates. Obviously if you do have permission to contact them through texting, depending on the message and what you’re communicating. Texting has obviously a higher open rate and a higher click through rate than email. But you know, it the depends on the message is what I would say. Stewart. Anything extra to add on that?

Stewart Gandolf:

Absolutely. And the texting is so intrusive. It’s very powerful. You just have to use it correctly.

Aaron Clifford:

Good. good question here. How does downstream provider services such as radiology engage with physicians who are moving to telemedicine instead of traditional B2B methods? That’s a great question. Stewart, do you want to take that one?

Stewart Gandolf:

There’s opportunities that are surprising. You know, with radiology and radiation oncology, they’re not usually the stars of the show. They’re usually behind the scenes, but it does vary. We have a highly prestigious and well respected radiation oncology group in New Jersey. In normal times we do paid social for things like prostate cancer and radiation for an alternative to Mohs surgery – and it works. So even something like radiation oncology that you wouldn’t think would be very consumer direct has opportunity, does have some.

Stewart Gandolf:

So if you’re looking at radiology or imaging, just making this up, we might not be doing routine mammograms in this environment. But if you feel a lump, then what, how do you really know what that is? So there’s an example of some thought leadership. You could take almost any specialty and find a compelling angle, that’s what’s fun about this business is just trying to think a little harder and you might find an idea that can be, wow, that’s cool. And then you’re also engaging your doctors that way. So, they can feel heard and be part of the program.

Aaron Clifford:

Okay, great. Great. great. We’re going to end on that question. I know we are about to go. We’re a little over now, but thank you Stewart and thank you all for joining. We will be sure to follow up with those questions we weren’t able to answer during the session. So we’ll send a response there and if you have any additional questions, I know Stewart and I am available as well. Please feel free to reach out. Thank you for joining us. We will be sending the recording soon to all the participants along with additional resources that might come up for further guidance from all of us at Binary Fountain. We hope you stay well and you stay healthy. We’re here to help. So please let us know and I’m sure Stewart, you all at Healthcare Success feel the same way. So I’ll speak on behalf of both of us. We’re here to help here to provide any assistance that we can stay safe. Thank you for joining.

Stewart Gandolf:

Thanks guys.

Related COVID/Coronavirus disease links here on Healthcare Success:
COVID-19: Healthcare Marketing Adjustments | Ways Social Media & Digital Marketing Help the Public During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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