What to do when every orthopedic service line campaign looks the same

What to do when every orthopedic service line campaign looks the same

How do you proceed when your market is being flooded with orthopedic service line campaigns featuring expert surgeons and touting best in class services? How do you step back, stay true to your brand and resist the urge to do a full-blown
“us too” campaign

More importantly, how do you stop the competition from stealing your knee and hip replacement patients—and grow volume for your bone and joint services? 

You zig when everyone else is zagging

That’s what we did when Lake Region Healthcare, our community hospital partner in Fergus Falls, Minnesota showed us samples of the “patient stealing campaigns” two of its competing hospitals were running. 

The standard orthopedic message

The competition’s campaigns contained the usual orthopedic surgeon headshot. A few nice lines about credentials and special training. The much-used line in orthopedic campaigns about “getting back to your life without knee or hip pain,” and a call to action that created a sense that time was of the essence.

Here’s the dilemma

Patients need to know that the surgeon they are trusting with their knee or hip replacement is an expert. They want to know when they will be able to do the activities they enjoy again without pain. And of course, they need to know how to make an appointment. Those are just a few of the reasons most orthopedic campaigns all look and sound the same.

Pushing beyond the usual

Our challenge was to include all the usual messaging in Lake Region Healthcare’s orthopedic campaign—but in an unusual way. In addition, Lake Region asked us to consider using time as the centerpiece of its campaign.

6 steps: Creating an orthopedic campaign unlike any other

1) Lake Region’s brand is patient-focused, so the first thing we wanted to do was flip the messaging the competition currently had in the market to create an on-brand, patient-focused campaign for Lake Region. 

2) The hospital marketing director was with us all the way, supplying us with patient stories that solidified our thinking and drove our direction. She introduced us to a young woman who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro after bunion surgery. And, a man who had lost one leg, but was adamant about trusting the surgeons at Lake Region to repair the knee on his remaining leg.

3) We knew we had to share these stories—they practically wrote themselves they were so compelling. But how could we connect the patient and the surgeon within each and wrap it all up by urging our audience to make an appointment—plus include time in the mix?

4) We got to work concepting and mulling about time and all the ways we could use time to tell these stories. 

5) We threw out the usual, “It’s about time” direction, and had similar concepts on our list when the magical beginning of every good story—once upon a time— came to mind. We knew instantly that this concept had the makings of a stellar orthopedic campaign. 

6) Once upon a time allowed us to:

  • position the patient as the hero to their own story
  • relate a before and after scenario 
  • incorporate the physician or surgeon as a natural part of the story
  • in most cases, describe how long recovery took
  • create a call to action that would get our audience thinking about their own orthopedic story and how they could change the outcome of that story with the help of Lake Region Healthcare

Lake Region Anna Ortho ad

Lake Region Matt Ortho ad

A happy ending

At the campaign launch we executed a full sequence of messaging and closely monitored KPIs. As of the date on this blog, traffic is up on Lake Region’s orthopedic service line landing page by 183 percent and the hospital has reported a significant increase in conversions resulting in orthopedic appointments. 

Health Care Access Issues Are Marketing Opportunities

Health Care Access Issues Are Marketing Opportunities

Have you seen this movie before?

A health care marketer is tasked with growing market share for their organization’s brand. Here comes the plot twist: the service lines that have the biggest opportunity for long-term growth can’t handle any more new patients!

Bah! Talk about a “Darned if you do, darned if you don’t” scenario. At Hailey Sault, we’ve seen this dynamic a thousand times before. 

That’s why we wanted to write this article. We don’t want limited access to key services to be a barrier to your ability to share meaningful stories about your health organization to build the brand and engage future patients. 

That’s why we wanted to share four ways to overcome access and capacity barriers when marketing key service lines and building your organization’s overall brand. 

Access Solution 1. Remind stakeholders that the goal of branding is to win over tomorrow’s patients—not to drive immediate access.

As we like to say at Hailey Sault, what your organization stands for is how you stand out in the marketplace. Branding is a strategy to drive long-term growth. Branding’s core job is to create a meaningful impression with your audiences—not necessarily to convince those audiences to take immediate action. Branding is all about planting seeds for long-term growth. Getting prospective patients to take immediate action is the work of highly targeted service line marketing campaigns, which have vastly different approaches to driving conversions. So help your stakeholders to recognize the differences between branding strategies and service line marketing strategies. 

Access Solution 2. Identify pockets for driving immediate access. 

We often work with health systems and other health care organizations to pinpoint those very specific services that can benefit from new patient acquisition. For example, when marketing cardiovascular care, you may determine that your physicians and care teams have the capacity to see new AFib patients, but have limited access for other types of cardiovascular patients. So marketing AFib solutions can become your go-to-market strategy for cardiovascular care. We see this strategy working well with providers who offer multiple sites of care—not all of which are at capacity. You can tailor your marketing to the specific geography of those sites of care that are able to see more patients. 

Access Solution 3. Focus your efforts on prospective patients in the Consideration phase of their journey. 

As a health care marketer, you know that patients move through a series of six stages in their patient journey. Access only becomes a barrier when a prospective patient is in the Decision stage of the patient journey. 

Need a refresher of the 6 stages of the patient journey? Get instant access to our guide to patient journey mapping!

Our work as marketers is to help our audiences make informed choices about how and where to receive the best care for our needs. That’s why you might choose to focus your efforts on connecting with prospective patients in the Consideration stage of their patient journey. This is the stage where audiences are researching, asking questions, and are in a focused fact-finding mission. Depending on the health condition or need, people may spend months—even years—in the Consideration stage. Cultivate a greater engagement with prospective patients by providing them valuable resources to aid them on their journey to care. That way, when your organization is ready for more new patient encounters, your prospective patients will be more knowledgeable and confident in selecting your organization for care. 

Access Solution 4. Conversely, focus your efforts on the Advocacy stage of the patient journey. 

If your organization has capacity or access challenges, it could mean that either there is a shortage of care providers … or your organization has such a great reputation for the quality of care that there is an incredible demand for your services. If the latter is the case, that might mean you have a high number of grateful patients who are open to sharing their positive experiences about your brand with others. Invest in a strong reputation management program to encourage sharing positive reviews on the leading review sites. Word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing and can help your organization outpace others for top-of-mind awareness, preference, and utilization.

In Summary

Never discount marketing a key service line or using that service line for a branding initiative because of access or capacity challenges. Turn that challenge into an opportunity by:

  • Finding other ways to leverage the service line to grow awareness and preference for your brand
  • Identify specific services or sites of care that can benefit from patient acquisition
  • Invest your marketing spend in key stages of the patient journey—such as Consideration and Advocacy—to drive long-term ROI. 

To reshape health care, The Believe in Better Project starts with stories of success

To reshape health care, The Believe in Better Project starts with stories of success

Have you ever paused and thought about what it would take to be in the best health you could be? Sure, we’ve all envisioned our best selves. That picture typically doesn’t look like our current selves. And it would take a lot of help to really get there. Now imagine that you had all the help you needed to get there—from your primary care doctor, physician clinic and fitness studio to a dietician, alternative therapy provider and even your employer. Now imagine they were all in one place telling you how to be better.

That is exactly what’s happening from October 16 – 17 at The Believe in Better Project in Duluth, MN!

For its second year, The Believe in Better Project is bringing some of our country’s most provocative thought leaders and innovators together to share how they’re reshaping health care in America. But it’s not your typical theoretical best practices. Here, you’ll see and learn—through real stories of success and failure—how some of the most entrepreneurial business people in health care are working every day to improve the lives of people they serve.

This year, Believe in Better will feature powerful stories of:

  • Transforming patient experience by transforming the people who provide it. More and more, we hear about physician burnout. Dr. William Maples will share how the Institute for Healthcare Excellence’s curriculum is “healing from within”.
  • Creating healthier lives by creating healthier workplaces. Vickie Rice will talk about the advancements that CareATC is bringing to some of the country’s most innovative employers, including bringing data and evidence-based, preventive care onsite—or near it—to foster better outcomes for employees and families.
  • Understanding the benefits of medical marijuana, and other applications in everyday health. Aaron Lachant has been at the front lines of crafting California’s cannabis policies, and will share his insights into the disruption and opportunity for health care providers.

Yes, this isn’t your typical health care summit. At the inaugural event in 2018, there was passionate discussion around several topics. The forum was constructed for plenty of dialogue. It’s one of the dynamics that made it so meaningful. So don’t come to Believe in Better expecting to just sit back. Expect to participate and share your ideas. 

However you choose to participate, you can expect a better understanding of how health care innovators are breaking systematic boundaries to help people throughout America. You’ll hear real stories. With real results. And real ways you can create change, too.

Side note: you’ll also get to hang out in Duluth during one of the best weeks of the year and at one of its most iconic venues, historic Fitger’s on the shore of Lake Superior. 

For a complete look at our speakers and agenda, check out the believeinbetterproject.com

Big ideas: How to make lightning strike

Big ideas: How to make lightning strike

You’ve seen them. You’ve envied them. You’ve wondered where they come from and how you can get your hands on them. They are those absolutely simple but brilliant big ideas that lead to memorable health care campaigns. 

Read no further. (Although if you don’t, you’ll miss some good tips and tricks). I’m going to let you in on a secret.

Big ideas that lead to the kind of campaigns that generate more click-throughs, calls, filled-out forms and appointments scheduled are born in kick-ass collaborative creative concepting and brainstorming sessions.

 Creating the right atmospheric conditions

At Hailey Sault, concepting typically includes an art director, creative director and a writer (or some similar combination) retreating to a favorite space. It can be a room, a corner in a coffeehouse, or a lakeside bench—wherever and whatever helps set the mood for brilliance.

Must-haves include: 

  • A creative brief that a gifted strategist has carefully crafted to include the challenge(s) we’re up against. 
  • A persona or outline of the person we need to move the needle for with our creative. 
  • Coffee, laptops, notebooks, those large sheets of paper you can hang on the wall, markers and possibly the office dog. 

I wish I could tell you that:  

  • Concepting meetings start with the team sitting down to follow a nice, neat, linear process that ultimately leads to a eureka moment and a big idea. 
  • We can generate “blow the competition away” ideas in a matter of minutes or hours. 

But you already know that isn’t true. 

Ideas that stand out and stand up against similar campaigns are generated by a slow build up of pressure and a passion to make it rain for our clients.

Generating the perfect storm (aka “the good tips” section)

With so many channels available in today’s information-rich environment, it’s important to go into every concepting meeting thinking large and holistically. Creating the idea is still the goal, but giving the idea long legs so it can extend across channels is essential. 

Here’s what works for us:

Start by spitting it all out 

  • The obvious solutions, the bad ideas and the really bad ideas that make everyone groan.
  • What others have done in the market, genre and industry.
  • The words/visuals/designs that can be associated with the challenge or with how you want your audience to feel.

Think dangerously 

  • Start mashing diverse ideas together.
  • Can you look at the challenge in an offbeat way?
  • Is there an idea that could get you in trouble?
  • Is there an idea that will make people laugh, cry or stop scrolling?
  • Can you represent the idea visually or with one or two words?

 Know when to take a break

  • After you’ve been brainstorming for a while, you’ll probably notice you’re repeating the same idea over again. You’re just saying it differently. When that happens, stop and take a break. No matter how tight the deadline, you need to stop concepting and come back with a fresh brain.
  • Think about the problem through a new lens. Could an idea come from something totally different or completely unrelatable? Look at anything and everything through the constraints of the campaign or idea.
  • Take a shower. Lather. Think. Repeat. The best ideas always come to you in the shower. Always!

Shop your ideas around

  • Share your concepts, test them out on everyone in the office, run them past relatives and friends. 
  • If there are any glitches or hesitation on your test subjects part, revisit the brief, get together with your fellow idea generators and push it harder.

You’ve got it: just ask these last questions

You can hardly contain yourself. This is it—the big idea.

  • Does it speak directly to the persona?
  • Does it address the communication objectives, key benefits and barriers?
  • Can it be rolled out in multiple ways across all media channels?
  • Is it new or outside the box? Does it capture attention?
  • Does it have potential for expansion?
  • Will it work?
  • Can it be executed on budget?
  • Do you feel it in every fiber of your being, like you know this is it, this is good, really good?

Are you looking for big ideas that can steal the thunder in your market?

Check out some of the work that has moved the mark for our clients.

Hospital Marketers: Time to Stop One-Size-Fits-All Campaigns?

Hospital Marketers: Time to Stop One-Size-Fits-All Campaigns?

My stepmother used to knit me sweaters. Every Christmas there was that awkward moment when I had to try on her latest knitting experiment. The sweaters never fit—the neck was too small, the sleeves were too long, or my belly would show. (I was a fat kid. I didn’t want my belly to show.)

Most hospital service line marketing campaigns are created the way my stepmother knitted me sweaters: a one-size-fits-all approach that never quite fits the audiences that the campaigns seek to engage. 

Our firm has been creating health care service line marketing campaigns for over 40 years. You can imagine the number of headlines we’ve written over the years. Recently we were involved in a pitch and our contact asked us a thoughtful question: “If all you do is health care marketing, how will you give us new thinking?” 

It’s a great question. When you do something for as long as we have, you’d expect to achieve a level of mastery  …  and a level of sameness. 

I welcomed the prospect’s question. Health care marketing can reek of “Seen that a thousand times before” thinking. I think most health care marketing campaigns follow a tried-and-true playbook. (A former client described ads with doctors holding a piece of new technology as “Grip and Grin” ads.) 

But the campaigns we do today at Hailey Sault are vastly different than the campaigns we created even just a few years ago. The reason is that we’re embracing the new opportunities—and complexities—available to us via data. Data is giving us insights like never before to create campaigns and messages that move the needle. One of the insights that the data has given us is that consumers are far too sophisticated and unique to be motivated by “one-size-fits-all” campaigns.

The End of Singular Campaign Messages?

We find in our research that consumers today are ignoring messages like “We fix the most broken hearts of any hospital in town” or “We have the latest technology.” The reason: those messages are about the health system, not the patient. When a prospective patient is thinking about medical solutions, they care most about what’s in it for them.

In fact, as consumers research their own medical conditions, they become even more desensitized to blanket, across-the-board marketing messages. If a person is diagnosed with AFIB, they care about irregular heartbeat messages, not messages about heart surgery. 

As we prepare for 50% of all searches by 2020 to be done with voice, we’re seeing that consumers today are asking specific questions to get specific solutions. We’re spoiled in our ability to get the exact solutions we want. Most ad campaigns haven’t gotten the message that consumers are interested in specifics, not generalities. Singular, umbrella messages about hospitals and services can easily be seen just as noise. 

People Don’t Buy Podiatrists. They Buy Bunion Removals. 

People buy solutions to their unique and specific problems, including health care. By definition, singular service line marketing messages can’t address the unique and specific problems that consumers have. When the messaging platform stays at the highest level, it doesn’t resonate at the emotional center where we make our buying decisions. 

But health systems can’t afford to market every service to every audience. At some point, marketers have to prioritize and consolidate messages. That’s one of the reasons there are so many singular-message health care marketing campaigns. Instead of running ads for all the treatments a health system offers in a service line, the streamlined solution is to run a blanket service line marketing campaign. The hope is that the message leaves just enough of a positive impression that consumers will connect the advertising message with their treatment needs. But in our experience, consumers don’t have the headspace to connect those dots—especially when it comes to their health and wellbeing. 

So these days we’re developing different approaches to service line marketing and approaching the messaging platform differently. I’d like to share more of what’s working for us with the hope that our approach inspires you to generate better results for your health system. 

If You’ve Seen One Ortho Campaign, You’ve Seen One. 

At this moment, our team is creating four orthopedics campaigns for four different health system clients. And each campaign is incredibly different. Not just in brand design or the voice of the health system, but in media selection, user experience, conversion points and messaging

There are many factors that influence campaign strategy. But the starting point begins with the intended audiences. Our Audience Persona process brings a three-dimensional perspective to the people we want to help our clients engage and connect with. It’s a significant process to create spot-on audience personas, but worth the care and attention. Because we move from marketing to “Women, age 25-54,” to:

“Carol, mom of three teenagers who turns 56 this year, prefers natural treatment over conventional medicine, gets half of her news from Facebook, doesn’t own a laptop, has put off her annual mammogram and knows she ought to get it scheduled but hasn’t because yet she hasn’t found a provider she doesn’t have to call and schedule an appointment with, and is easiest to reach from the hours of
9 to 11 pm each night while she’s sipping a glass of wine and checking in with friends and family on social media.”

A little different, isn’t it? 

By creating highly personalized audience personas, we get the opportunity to create highly personalized messages and campaigns. We bypass the default singular message strategy and instead are able to lock in with the specific wants, needs, and questions that our audiences are asking to help them on their care journeys. 

There’s No Excuse Anymore Not to Personalize Messages.

Digital media has given health care marketers the power to target like never before. We should leverage the power of these tools and insights with our service line campaigns. After all, the journey of an AFIB patient is different than the journey of someone with heart disease. Both are cardiac patients, but both have vastly different needs and experiences. Ad messages should be tailored. The sequence of those messages based on patient journey stages should also be tailored. Landing page experiences should be tailored. Calls-to-action should be tailored. After all, we have the power to create unique, custom experiences that can yield better outcomes: for the patients and for the health systems who seek to help those patients. 

Personalized Marketing Can Also Mean More Complexity.

The downside to the end of the singular message is that it can require a higher level of complexity for the campaign strategy and execution. It’s not uncommon for us at Hailey Sault to create dozens of ads to serve to five or more different unique audience personas. That’s a lot of ads! 

It’s also a lot of data to track. We’re always looking for indicators as we monitor campaign performance that messages are converting or not converting, and how our audience personas are trending through their patient journey stages. Fortunately, we have the team to build the dashboards and tracking necessary to bring clarity to the data and respond accordingly. But it can be an eye-opener if you’re accustomed to running only two or three ads in a campaign targeting a single, general audience. 

But Creating Personalized Messages Is Worth The Work.

Instead of promoting an overall service line like orthopedics, you have the power to drive volume to sub-specialties and treatments for that service line. You also have control over how to tell your service line story so that it matters and resonates with your different audiences. A mother of three small children may care more about convenient, online booking than a retiree who is more comfortable calling someone to book an appointment. The audience dictates message hierarchy and calls to action. Your campaign messaging benefits from the richness of the lives of the audiences you serve. Instead of talking about your health system’s services in a vacuum, you can create more meaningful messages because you’re connecting with where your audiences are in their lives, wants and needs at that moment. 

This personalized approach to messaging also helps marketers positively impact the brand experience. As marketers, you can control the flow of new patient prospects into your health system and monitor access and capacity. You also have the power to manage your marketing spend to invest in those audiences and services that drive the most revenue back to the organization. You move out of the “spending money” category when promoting singular messages to the “making money” category by honing your messages to the specific services that generate the most ROI. 

What’s Your Next Move?

We’re fond of saying that health care consumers are increasingly sophisticated and our marketing should follow suit. What are you doing to advance your marketing strategies to reach and appeal to today’s health care consumers? Leave us a comment or drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

Key Factors to Influencing Patients During Consideration & Decision [Part 4 of 5]

Key Factors to Influencing Patients During Consideration & Decision [Part 4 of 5]

Let’s be real. New patient acquisition is the Holy Grail of health care marketing. Sure, we have other priorities, too. But acquisition is what we all strive for. I’m not talking about just increasing inquiries, appointments or volumes. I’m talking about market share—bringing people who previously weren’t patients of your organization to your organization for care. That means that they decided to make a change. 

FYI, change is happening more than you think, and perhaps more than you’d like. In fact, the number of people considering changing health systems is growing by approximately 50% every two years.

This is EXACTLY why Patient Journey Mapping, and the new Marketing Operating System for Patient Acquisition, Engagement and Advocacy is so critically important right now. You need to have insight into people’s behavior as they experience their trigger event, and understand their intent as they begin considering their options. (Don’t be fooled by the fallacy of the inherent value of in-network referrals. Your prospective patients are looking at their options. More than 33% of your market has switched providers in the past.) 

Assuming you’ve already completed persona development, let’s get started influencing patients through the Consideration and Decision Phases of their Patient Journey. You’ll notice we’re skipping right by the Awareness Phase, assuming you’ve got a handle on creating awareness. After all, this is where the magic happens.

Influencing Moments of Consideration

In a 2017 national study of 1,200 people across America, we asked two critical sets of questions to understand why someone would consider switching providers.  The first set of questions focused on what they felt they needed from their health care organization. The second set focused on characteristics that, if offered in their community, would truly be unique. The intersection of these two ideals is your sweet spot for influencing patients.

The chart below highlights where patients’ interests cross over with unique offerings in the market. In other words, there are a couple of key characteristics that you should consider focusing on as you communicate with prospective patients in the Consideration Phase.

Hailey Sault research graphic

Key insights:

1. If you can market any kind of cost transparency, or offer cost counseling prior to care, do it. Please! People want it, and it’s highly likely that your competition isn’t doing it. Figuring out how to leverage this is a front-running strategy.

2. Outside of cost issues, leverage positive patient experience! It’s more important than technologies by a long shot. People want compassionate care from their doctors. They want their doctors to spend time with them, talk about their options, and for those relationships to be personal. Unless you’re bottoming out on patient experience, jump all over storytelling it during the Consideration Phase!

Separately, don’t spend money or energy on marketing your awards or national rankings. People don’t care. Everybody’s got ‘em.

Influencing Moments of Decision

Leaving a current health system to get care elsewhere is a hard decision. It’s typically instigated by poor patient experience or significant changes to costs. Those are the built-in barriers, especially for boomers, who have the longest relationships with their care providers.

However, if you’ve built a platform for nurturing someone along their journey, here are several recommendations for influencing during the Decision Phase.

Key Insights:

1. If you’re in-network with other payers in your market, make sure prospective patients know. This may be the least sexy thing I’ve ever written, but the fact is that people are guided by inertia. For your organization, that means that the majority of the people in your market either a) feel like they must get care within their preferred system, or b) can only go where their insurance company tells them. So if you’re on par, make sure the market knows that the door is wide open. Trust me, their insurance companies or employers aren’t going to put in the effort. You should! (The exception to this rule is millennials. They’re more likely to not have a primary care provider, and therefore not stuck within a system. Plus, they question authority and choices more.)

2. Once people know they can switch providers, they’re a lot more likely to choose someone who really knows them, versus treating them “like a number.” These relationship shortfalls are highlighted in the chart below. Here, you’ll see what people describe as their ideal relationship (Committed Partners, Teammates), versus their everyday reality (No Relationship, Casual Acquaintance, Distant). Stories elaborating on meaningful relationships are a powerful tool to woo prospective patients as they enter the Decision Phase. Curate them!

Hailey Sault research page 60 graphic

As you read this, I’d urge you to consider whether the smartest of your competitors has likely already modified their methodologies. Based on most of our experience, that answer is probably, “to a very limited degree.” So if you’re in your own personal arms race in a competitive market—and it’s likely you are—I’d urge you to consider how much of this intelligence you’re applying to the critical phases of your prospective patients’ journeys. 

As health care marketers, there’s only so much you can do to affect choice drivers like price transparency and how physicians engage with patients. But you do have massive opportunities for nurturing prospective patients along their journeys of care. As I’ve shared in this article, patients are on the move in record numbers. What will you do to capitalize on this opportunity?