Marketing & Public Relations Firm - Verasoni Worldwide

All posts tagged healthcare marketing


The article below was featured in The River View Observer on September 10, 2009. You can view it by clicking here or reading it below.

New Jersey Company Doing Their Part to Help Bring  Down Health Care Costs…

CAMBRIDGE MEDCOM ANNOUNCES EFFICIENT REMEDY FOR HEALTHCARE MARKETING

New Plan by Cambridge MedCom Will Save Marketing Costs and Create Effective Strategies for Medical, Dental Practices, Hospitals

Healthcare Marketing Communications firm Cambridge MedCom has the prescription for healthcare providers looking to cut marketing costs and improve the bottom line.  According to Cambridge MedCom, using truly effective marketing tools can increase profits, cut costs, and allow healthcare providers to improve the quality of their services by reinvested otherwise wasted dollars into patient care.

Abe Kasbo, CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, the parent company of Cambridge MedCom estimates that the average medical or dental practice spends approximately $50,000  per year in marketing costs, and hospital marketing budgets can range from $500,000 to several million. “We’re in new world of engagement, not advertising.  Our clients know that they are no longer in control of their brand; their patients are now in control.

So how do you engage these folks?” Physicians, and dentists hire highly specialized marketing like designers for brochures or programmers for the web, who are good at what they do, but do not necessarily understand how to attract new patients,” says Kasbo. “In addition, we find medical, dental and hospital professionals usually expend their budget on tactics, rather than campaigns that are directly to business plan, leaving them with little to no return on investment. Cambridge MedCom helps healthcare professionals increase their business footprint, and save precious dollars by developing and executing integrated marketing plans, utilizing the internet as the center of their clients’ business universe.”

Physicians, dentists, and hospitals as well as other healthcare professionals continue to rely heavily on advertising, and are slow to adapt to the rapidly changing new media realities that can be leveraged to attract new patients, keep patient engaged with their brand. The Internet has changed the economics of healthcare marketing and radically impacted pricing on media buys, the ways people shop for healthcare services, and the way they interact with a healthcare brand.

Unfortunately too many medical providers are unaware of how this affects their bottom line, or they may not understand how to take advantage of the new opportunities. “All too often healthcare providers market without strategic plan, physicians and dentists are busy doing what they do best, which is providing patient care. They often “drop marketing bombs” by using singular tactics, which are very difficult to measure, and imprudent because you only have one data point to work with. For example you can’t just jump on Facebook and expect it to be effective by itself, because it’s about developing and sustaining a relevant network on Facebook.  In addition, Patient behavior tells us that people will join relevant social networks, but will go to the group’s main website, and if that’s not up to par with their expectation, then they will do two things, leave your group, and not do business with you because of your website. So because your website does not speak appropriately to your market, you’ve rendered your social networking efforts useless,” Kasbo states. Kasbo maintains that although online communications are now making a greater impact, the right media mix also encompasses vital offline communications and strategies, including a move towards patient engagement, and away from stale advertising techniques.

“The benefits of engagement are two-fold,” says Kasbo. “While clients save money by spending it more wisely on business-driven, effective campaigns which allows healthcare providers to invest the savings towards patient care. This way you not only save the healthcare provider money, but perhaps improve the quality of healthcare for their patients as well.”

Cambridge MedCom develops personalized plans for each practice that integrate all aspects of online and offline communications. The vital media mix will lead towards strong, strategic campaigns in which each marketing tactic complements works within an integrated plan.

The company believes that their plans will help redirect the future of healthcare marketing to be more beneficial for the patient, and not just the business. Cambridge MedCom’s practice has proven effective in the case of a plastic surgeon that previously overspent on advertising. Using Cambridge MedCom’s plan, the company was able to cut costs by about 25%, increase his exposure through a tailored integrated plan of Web, social media, advertising, public relations and events. Cambridge MedCom was able to increase the doctor’s business by 12% while saving him approximately 25%.

Another individually tailored case involved a pain management practice whose campaign costs were cut by 1/3 and incorporated physician networking events to meet referring physicians. Kasbo points out that while the events required more effort than simply advertising, the return on investment was greater, thus driving the cost per effective impression down, and the return on investment up.

Plans developed by Cambridge MedCom begin with strategy as a foundation, and are supported by strong tactics. Cambridge MedCom firmly believes in this strategy-based model due to the truth that tactics are dispensable, while strategy is not.



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.

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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.


by Abe Kasbo

[This article was published in Strategic Healthcare Marketing's May, 07 issue]

Yes, I am encouraging hospital CEOs and chief marketing officers to think inside the box to build successful marketing campaigns that positively contribute to their organization’s bottom line. Successful corporations tap this kind of thinking every day.

Anyone whose kept a keen eye on recent advertising and marketing trends fully recognizes that the increasingly potent cocktail of media fragmentation, greater advertising clutter, Internet influences, and subsequent consumer control over media has made creativity in reaching patients and physicians a hot commodity. I am not talking about creativity in the sense of creating branded or image ads. I am talking about implementing what some may consider being non-traditional marketing strategies that will drive your business and increase patient volume. To do that, you have to fully understand what’s inside your box.

Industries outside of health care have heeded the message, understanding that the advent of the Internet, mobile phone, and iPod has brought about fundamental changes in the way people consume and respond to media. The marketing heads of the world’s largest advertising powerhouses, such as Procter & Gamble and American Express, have recently demanded more accountability from their agencies, noting that traditional ad campaigns are simply not working to their satisfaction. Corporate marketers are no longer settling for great ads, logos, and tag lines. They are seeking a tangible return on investment through concerted campaigns that push the traditional bounds of advertising and marketing.

Indeed, what’s inside the box can drive volume and positively contribute to your bottom line. Here are some ideas to fuel your thinking:

Define the key elements of each service line in your hospital and their relationship to the overall market. Your marketing efforts must reflect your strategic plans and should focus on those services that provide your institution with the best opportunities to profitably grow patient volume in your primary and secondary markets. Prioritize your service lines with this objective in mind. Carefully researched and executed advertising should enhance your organization’s brand while it tells your market about your hospital’s unique and specific services.

Take a broad view of the market. Today, a variety of different types of providers from outpatient surgery centers to imaging facilities may be competing for patients in your primary and secondary markets. By recognizing these entities as competitors and understanding their services, you can more clearly define your offer and what sets your organization apart.

Give your brand away. This is what successful brands do every day. Google, Yahoo, Coca-Cola, Harley-Davidson, and MySpace create communities of people who share a passion based on their experiences with the product or service. The company here is almost irrelevant; no one talks about the parent company of MySpace, News Corp. Community building, although non-traditional, is an activity that allows for more business growth potential than any other communications form.

You can build communities by looking inside, to the people whom you’ve successfully treated as well as loyal physicians and volunteers and bring them together around specific events and functions. Let’s say you have patients with a unique experience with your hospital and you know that there are people in the community who would benefit from the same service. Involve those patients in your community outreach plan, and if they agree, and usually they do, ask them to speak at events on behalf of your hospital. Perhaps you can also feature their stories on your Web site or through a blog.

Make every patient a spokesperson. Focusing on the experience rather than the transaction is a surefire way to get advocates in the community to rave about your hospital. In speaking with marketers, I find that while the “patient experience” is important to them, they tend to focus more on advertising. Without a doubt, the patient experience piece takes time and effort to develop because so much of it has to do with how everyone in the organization interacts with patients, physicians, and visitors. However, staff encounters, or touch points, with patients and others are an integral part of how your institution communicates its brand and is perceived by various constituents. Experience management requires leadership commitment to operational changes and investment in training and incentive programs.

Consider how much you spend on external versus internal advertising. Let’s say you spend $7,000 a month on image print ads. Are you getting a good return on the ads? Consider moving some of your budget to inside your building to build your brand in-house. I once worked at a large academic medical center where the lobby traffic averaged about 2,500 people per day and that didn’t include employees, now that’s measurable.

Embrace the Internet. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 93 percent of health seekers have gone online to look for information about a particular illness or condition. Your Web site is your key to solid connections with your community. Utilize search engine optimization and fill your site with appropriate clinical content and relevant service information. Position your Web presence as your community’s health care resource and communicate that consistently to your community. Make it easy to do business with your organization by including tools such as online bill payment and registration for elective procedures and diagnostic tests.

Your Web presence is a vital strategic and business development function that needs to be an essential part of your strategic planning. We are now in the pull media age, meaning that the consumer chooses what he or she will watch and see.

Tap appropriate social networking sites. If you have specialized services where people choose to travel for care, such as cardiac or bariatric surgery, tell the world. Some sites to consider: OrganizedWisdom.com, DailyStrength.org, PatientsLikeMe.com, and Sermo.com (for physicians only).

Know that your employees are your sales team. Yes, your physician relations department is also very important, but if your organization has 1,000 employees, then you have 1,000 sales representatives. Be sure that your employees know about the organization’s key services, physicians, what sets it apart from the competition, and other relevant information that will enable them to engage in positive word-of-mouth communications with friends, neighbors, and family members. If recipients of positive communications believe in the clinical excellence of your physicians and nurses, they will also utilize your services. Remember that people buy from people.

Your communication should be to the point and focus on the benefits. Use different formats and make them fun. Think way beyond employee newsletters to intranet quizzes, facility treasure hunts, electronic bulletin boards, and one-minute stand-up expert talks. And, be sure the workplace is highly regarded by employees and the community at large.

Stay focused. Just because the competition places an ad in your local newspaper doesn’t mean you have to respond in kind. Focus on your game plan and brand distribution strategies. An effective marketing and public relations plan is a disciplined one based on which service areas you want to grow in a given area. Diverging from the plan for emotional reasons is likely to take you off course and waste resources. Keep an eye on your competition and their campaigns, but do not feel you have to respond to one or two ads. Research tells us that frequency reigns in media campaigns and most likely a few ads will not sway the market.

Although exposure to the market via traditional communications efforts is vital, it is equally important to demand more creativity from your marketing strategists and ad agencies. This year and next portend a far different marketing universe than 2005 or even 2006. With the speed of technology adoption by consumers, who knows what the media outlook will be like in the next few years. Accordingly, hospital CEOs and marketers must also recognize these changes in the market and consumer behavior quickly in order to build market-driven strategic marketing plans.

By having a thorough understanding of your box and what’s in it, you can create meaningful campaigns, using the right mix of traditional and non-traditional tactics and brand distribution strategies, to drive volume and heighten patient and physician loyalty.

So the next time you’re working on your strategic marketing and public relations initiatives, look inside the box for non-traditional ideas that, if implemented correctly, can pay off in a big way

Abe Kasbo is the CEO of Verasoni Worldwide, a marketing and public relations firm in Montclair, NJ. Kasbo is also an adjunct instructor in health care management in the Graduate Department of Public and Healthcare Administration at Seton Hall University. He can be reached at kasbo@verasoni.com.