NJBiz, a leading business publication serving New Jersey featured Verasoni’s Cambridge MedCom in an article Tited “Marketing Exec: Health care industry must get social to save money.“
Here’s a link to article about social networking in The Record by Joan Verdon. The article is also referenced below…
When North Jersey’s largest shopping mall, Westfield Garden State Plaza, was looking for a new way to connect with consumers, it turned to two marketing tools becoming increasingly popular with retailers — a Facebook fan site and a Twitter account.
For the past 10 days, the Paramus shopping center’s representatives have been posting news about sales and deals on the Facebook page, and sending out instant messages via Twitter.com about celebrity sightings and restaurant specials. Mall enthusiasts have been signing up as Facebook fans at the rate of about 100 per day. As of Monday at 10 a.m., the site had 1,067 fans.
“Social media is shifting the way we communicate with our customers,” said Lisa Herrmann, the mall’s marketing director. The Facebook site and Twitter account “allow us to send out information that is significant to our shoppers with real-time updates in a fun and engaging way,” she said. The mall plans to expand its offerings with fashion tips and shopping suggestions from style experts, and video clips of celebrity appearances at the mall.
The use of Facebook pages and fan sites has surged among retailers over the past year. A study released by Hamilton-based interactive marketing agency Rosetta in January found that 59 percent of the top 100 retailers had Facebook fan pages, and that the number of such sites doubled during the second half of 2008.
National department store chain Macy’s debuted a fan site in late June and already has more than 11,000 fans.
The return on investment for retail social networking sites has yet to be quantified, but the investment needed is minimal, although some sites have spent money for features such as interactive contests. Computer company Dell Inc. last month boosted the business credibility of social networks by announcing that it had made more than $3 million in sales through links to one of its Twitter accounts.
Marketing executives caution that malls and other retailers should have a clearly defined marketing strategy in mind before they jump on the Facebook and Twitter bandwagons.
“We haven’t surveyed retailers to see if they’re getting the ROI [return on investment],” said Adam Cohen, head of the social media practice for Rosetta. “But frankly, to set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page is not that expensive.”
The value of such networking lies in allowing retailers “to connect with their consumers in a different way,” Cohen said. The sites let companies build relationships and a sense of community with their customers, he said.
Retailers, Cohen said, need to dedicate time and effort to truly interact with online fans. “Otherwise, I think a lot of companies are going to be disappointed. Or they’re going to be measuring the buzz by how often someone comments on their page. They’re going to have a hard time being able to really attribute that to any quantifiable increase in sales,” he said.
“It’s very powerful if you do it right,” said Abe Kasbo, chief executive officer of Verasoni, a Little Falls marketing firm that has seen its social networking projects increase tenfold over the past year. “You can stay in constant touch literally on a daily basis with your clients and customers,” he said. “But the big caveat is you have to have a strategy and you have to do it right.”
The biggest mistake, Kasbo said, is launching a site and not maintaining it with frequent postings and relevant information. “It has to be relevant to the customer or they’re not going to hang out with you” online, Kasbo said.
Another potential pitfall with Facebook fan pages is any fan is free to post comments about the retailer’s news alerts, and those comments may be negative. The Plaza site has generated very little discussion thus far, and all of that has been positive. But some retailers have seen their sites hijacked by disgruntled shoppers or even their own employees.
On most sites, however, the Facebook fans live up to their name. The Target site, for example, gets daily postings by people proclaiming their love for the Minnesota-based retailer.
Westfield Garden State Plaza got a running start on building the fan base by launching it the week “Harry Potter” movie star Tom Felton (“Draco Malfoy”) appeared at the mall. His appearance drew 2,000 fans of the film series, and the mall used the event to promote its Facebook site.
The no-Sunday-shopping blue laws of Paramus and Bergen County don’t apply to shopping tweets and Facebook updates. Herrmann said the Plaza’s Facebook and Twitter followers can expect to get news alerts even on Sundays. This past Sunday, Plaza fans online at 6:21 a.m. could learn that the Tourneau store at the mall was offering a free pair of TAG Heuer sunglasses with any purchase of a TAG Heuer watch.
A couple of weeks ago, I read an article about social networking in a leading New Jersey business magazine. The story quoted several New Jersey based marketing firm execs who weighed in on social networking. The article found a consensus among these folks who opined correctly that social networking is still in its infancy, but wondered about the direct relationship between social networking and the bottom line. The article went on to say the following [editor's note - I have removed the names to protect the innocent]:
While the article suggested, correctly, that social marketing efforts ought to be tied into integrated marketing efforts, it completely ignored certain business driven realities of the medium and went on to substantiate the experience of those quoted in the article. I called the reporter to let him know that, indeed, you can quantify the contributions of social networking to the bottom line. I provided the reporter with several cases from our firm showing him the direct correlation between successful social networking efforts and the bottom line. Other firms who work within, and understand the nature of the medium have done the same for their clients. The reporter rationalized that the purpose of the column was simply to point out that social networking is no panacea, that there are still miles to go before we perfect the medium for business. Agreed and if you read my previous posts on this blog, you’ll see how much I agree. But as much as I agree, I cannot accept the fact that the other side was not told.
The truth is that social networking takes work. It takes time, it takes strategy, and moves in real time. This is not easy, and not easily explainable. And yet, we have the other extreme where the corporate business media make it sound like you can sign up for Twitter and make a million dollars. The blinding speed in which people adopt, and are attracted to social networking, certainly does not help. Which means, that as marketing/advertising/PR/communications professionals, we have to stay not only on top of what is happening, but provide meaningful interpretation for our clients in order to best leverage the medium to advance their business goals.
But there are certain realities that marketing and PR folks will not speak about in public. Frankly many traditional marketing firms are very, very afraid of social networking, because social networking, if done right, is a game changer, an eminent threat to their bottom line. Much like the Internet decimated newspapers because of their their head in the sand rigidity about protecting their revenue stream, newspapers were like the proverbial frog who hangs out in a slowly boiling pot until it’s too late. Traditional marketing and PR firms will soon suffer the same fate, unless they begin to change their business model, and delve deeper into social networking to uncover real value and meaning for their clients.
Take a look at the last quote above from the article. With all due respect to the depth and breadth of the experience of the marketing executives who were quoted, but, have these people been on the Internet? Have they looked around to see how “corporate America” is utilizing social networking and the web? Have they seen major international / national brands direct people from TV commercials straight to their Facebook, rather than their own websites? Do they realize that “marketing and advertising” or a very good portion of it, is so 20th century, and engagement is about today and tomorrow. Have they heard of the iPhone and it’s billion dollar earning apps? I am sure that these folks have heard the calls of major brands like Procter and Gamble, American Express, Verizon, who understand that their businesses indeed do not have control of their brands, but they’ve adapted by developing strategies to engage their customers to proselytize for them and advance their business. Have they attended the many leading conferences, where the Global marketers have called on Madison Avenue to stop wasting their money and their time?
Head in the sand strategy seemed to have worked fine for our banking system, right? I make the same analogy here, marketing and advertising firms have a responsibility to their clients rethink and reshape the way they do business. Because like newspapers, if they keep the old model close to their vest because they don’t understand the realities of the day…well, need I say more…
I’ll post about the imperfection of social networking in my next blog…more to come.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Perth Amboy, New Jersey. March 23, 2009. Raritan Bay Medical Center announced today a partnership with Verasoni Worldwide to expand its reach and brand on the web. Raritan Bay Medical Center is in the process of redesigning and reprogramming its website found at http://www.rbmc.org. “We’re excited about working with Verasoni Worldwide on this initiative. We selected the firm because of their significant experience in healthcare, and their market leadership on the web,” said Lynette King Davis, Assistant VP, Marketing and Business Development.
“Healthcare is the number one searched category in the United States on the web, and with that as a backdrop, we’re pleased to partner with Raritan Bay Medical Center to extend the reach of their world class services. Our goal is to help the Raritan Bay Medical Center make stronger and more meaningful connections with patients, physicians and the community on the web,” said Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni Worldwide.
Raritan Bay Medical Center, a leading New Jersey hospital with campuses in Perth Amboy and Old Bridge, is committed to providing excellence in service and quality healthcare to residents of Central Jersey. For more information, please visit, http://www.rbmc.org.
Verasoni Worldwide, http://www.verasoni.com, is a fiercely independent, diversified strategic marketing and public relations firm with clients in healthcare, financial services, media, hospitality, and government services. Verasoni delivers innovative, integrated marketing and public relations strategies across traditional and new media platforms.
Fairfield, New Jersey. March 10, 2009. The Dental Studies Institute, a leading provider of continuing dental education, announced today the selection of Cambridge MedCom, Verasoni Worldwide’s Healthcare Division, as agency of record. Cambridge MedCom will be responsible for developing comprehensive marketing strategies, including the Institute’s online brand launch. “We’re excited to be working with the people at Cambridge MedCom. It’s their depth of understanding and experience in both healthcare and the marketing worlds that made them an ideal marketing partner for us,” said Lois D’Apuzzo, Director of the Dental Studies Institute.
“The Dental Studies Institute has helped thousands of dental professionals over the years, and we’re excited about the opportunity to help build their brand on and off line.” said Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni Worldwide.
The mission of Dental Studies Institute is to provide high quality continuing education programs using the highest educational standards. The educational activities are designed to review existing concepts and techniques, to convey information beyond the basic education and to update knowledge on advances in the chosen profession. The objective is to improve the practitioner’s knowledge, skills and ability to serve the public.
Verasoni Worldwide is a fiercely independent, diversified strategic marketing and public relations firm with clients in healthcare, financial services, media, hospitality, and government services. Verasoni delivers innovative, integrated marketing and public relations strategies across traditional and new media platforms.
Cambridge MedCom’s web portal will launch at the end of March 2009.
By Abe Kasbo
There are certain tendencies in almost every industry to communicate to the market in sector specific lingo, and actually believe it will deliver results. This lingo usually leaks into advertising, marketing communications, and worse, the language between the business and its customers. This isn’t good for both the business and its clients. Let me explain by giving you an example from health care. (Not singling out health care here for any reason, and this practice is pervasive in many business sectors).
In hospitals, people speak differently. They refer to Mr. Johnson as a patient. To physicians as “providers.” People who come in for a particular test or procedures and leave the premises the same day are known as “outpatients.” Similarly, people who stay in the hospital over night are referred to as “in-patients.” Out if you go, in if you stay. Seems simple enough, yet there’s something about these terms that are simply not “patient-friendly.”
If you work at a hospital or a large medical practice, it’s fashionable, if not a must to speak hospitalese to your your peers. While this language is certainly as young as western medicine itself, it is pervasive. Hospitalese, like a bad virus, quickly spreads from employees, physicians, nurses to the patients, and general public even though usually, both the patients and general public the lingo confusing.
Take for example my favorite word from that comes from that foreign language known as hospitalese – “Ambulatory.” Hospitals name some of their “outpatient” (there’s another term that drives me loopy) services as “Ambulatory Services Centers.” Like “Westmount Ambulatory Imaging Center,” or “Westmount Hospital Ambulatory Surgery Center,” or the Ambulatory Care Center of Westmount Hospital.” My question here, isw what does “ambulatory” mean? So I looked it up. Here’s an official definition from the Random House Unabridged Dictionary
am·bu·la·to·ry [am-byuh-luh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation adjective, noun, plural -ries. –adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or capable of walking: an ambulatory exploration of the countryside.
2. adapted for walking, as the limbs of many animals.
3. moving about or from place to place; not stationary: an ambulatory tribe.
Hmmm…Having said that, let’s look at the operative or key terms that will resonate with the market. If you’re promoting surgery, then focus the message so there’s less distraction. “Westmount Hospital Ambulatory Surgery Center?” or ” “Westmount Hospital Surgery Center?”
Simply put, diluting your message with industry lingo adds to confusion and confusion is enemy number one to your brand and brand equity. With the downward pressures on hospital budgets, one can ill afford to loose focus of communicating more directly to the market. So speak directly and let your message carry a big stick.
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