healthcare marketing-triage Uncategorized

Establishing a high bar for vendor value  

Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians, BI Medical Center  

Marketing professionals have always needed vendors to support their work – today they are de facto staff. From photographers and writers to graphic designers and printers, vendors are now an extension of the marketing executives’ office and a lifeline for creating and implementing successful campaigns and programs. Christine Baratta, Chief Communication Officer for Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians, BI Medical Center has worked with many vendors across her successful career, and she has advice for those who would become vendors for healthcare marketing executives today.  

Before you walk in the door, be prepared:  
  1. Know healthcare: If you want to become a trusted vendor in the complicated field of healthcare, know the business. Read the organization’s website and understand the difference between a teaching hospital and a community hospital, a clinic and an ambulatory care center. 
  1. Know the terminology: Understand the difference between a practice and a department, an advanced level practitioner and a physician. Know the meaning of HIPAA and other acronyms central to healthcare.  
  1. Give yourself a foundation of knowledge: Understand the clinical area you will be involved in, read the website, research the topic. The marketing executive doesn’t have time to educate you.  
Bring a full-service solution to the plate:  

When well-meaning, talented individuals approach a busy healthcare executive to pitch services, they may not be promoting the comprehensive services needed. The more successful approach is to promote a suite of services. “Almost always I need more than just one person,” said Christine. “If I am producing a video, I could use a writer and a videographer, so it is advantageous for venders to see themselves less as individuals and more as units.”   

Work in symmetry with the healthcare executive:  

The best strategy for the vendor is to send a brief, informative email to the marketing executive, promoting services and healthcare experience. An aggressive, noisy sales pitch just is not going to work. “Vendors who are relentless with contacts and outreach aren’t the most successful,” says Christine. “However, I will usually keep an email from someone who offers a service I may need in the future, and I will reach out to them when I need them. Most of us in healthcare keep files of good people.” 

Mostly, understand who you are pitching into. Today, the fast paced, complex healthcare marketing department works with:   

  • Very lean marketing staff 
  • Farming out increasing amounts of work to vendors and virtual staff 
  • Multiple, shifting priorities that may delay and/or reschedule work  

Marketing executives need vendors experienced in healthcare who bring insight and understanding of the field to the table. 

“My word of advice to potential vendors is this,” says Christine. “If you are an individual vendor, find a retired healthcare marcomm professional, or someone who is between jobs. Combine their talent and experience with yours and then pitch your services. It will make you a powerful candidate for the project.”  

marketing marketing-triage multilingual Translation

How to translate English into English for different audiences  

You may be speaking English to English speakers, but if you are talking over their head, or delivering irrelevant information, your message is not being understood. Add to that the challenge of speaking to a splintered internal audience that holds doctorates, GED’s, and/or speaks English as a second language, and external audiences that have no background in the subject matter, and you have quite the communications challenge on your hands. It’s something that Kelly Katapodis is very familiar with, serving as the Head of Comms and PR at SOPHiA Genetics and previously as Director of Marketing at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center in Brighton, MA.  

“Many of us in healthcare have to communicate complex, technical topics in a way that can be easily understood by internal and external audiences,” she said. “The challenge is figuring out how to loop in the audience and connect with them to further the business at hand. 

Kelly says the first step in crafting any message is understanding “the why” of the message. “Remember your potential readers will be asking, ‘Why are you telling me this’, and ‘Why is this happening’? If the communication answers those questions, there is a much higher likelihood that it will be seen as relevant and will be read.”  

Whether the audience is comprised of employees and patients or potential customers, asking “why” is just as important for the writer as it is for the recipient. Internal communications set the tone for the organization’s culture. External communications need to be carefully “translated” so readers can understand and connect.  

She uses the five “Ws” of journalism to organize her approach and weave common sense into a complicated communication equation. Being intentional and proceeding with clarity of purpose helps determine where the audience is and increases the chances they will be listening.   

  • Who are you trying to reach?  
  • What is the message? What are you trying to say?  
  • When do they need to receive it, in what cadence and timing? 
  • Where will people see the message, on what platforms?   
  • Why is the communication being sent? 

For communicators working inside large organizations, the audience will always be splintered, and there isn’t necessarily the luxury of crafting multiple laser focused messages. Kelly has one piece of advice, “You may not nail it the first time, but that’s ok. Have a desire to learn what works, evolve your style, and your success rate will continue to grow and you will continue to improve the rate at which you connect with an ever changing, diverse audience.”  

branding marketing-triage

Brand is everything: Julie Ganong with Chococoa Baking Company

A brand, once well established, is really still sitting at the beginning of the runway. Successful brands realize they need to constantly reinvent and refresh themselves to remain relevant, interesting, and vital to their customers. Thousands of brands vye for consumer attention, and only the ones that matter to the consumer are kept in their fold.

Julie Ganong of Chococoa Baking Company knows this very well. She is part of the husband and wife team that founded the company and reinvented the whoopie pie. They created an updated, rich, gourmet whoopie pie made with premium chocolate and all natural ingredients that has turned an old New England original into a luxurious, special occasion dessert. The Whoopie has been named Best of New England by Yankee Magazine, and featured in Chronicle, O Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications. They make 8-10,000 whoopies a week and ship them across the U.S.

Julie believes that all marketing comes down to brand. If you want to maintain a brand that will drive revenue, you must continuously reinvent that brand to maintain customer interest. Once a customer becomes engaged with your brand, they expect it to continually be exciting.

“We reinvent The Whoopie, within our brand standards, every month,” said Julie. “Our strict adherence to the highest quality, all natural ingredients never wavers. But within those parameters we have lots of room to play. For example, during the pandemic we decorated our whoopies with little faces wearing blue masks. They flew off the shelves as hospitals and healthcare providers bought them to say thank you to their staff. It’s a great example of how we can remain relevant and create new interest, all within our brand.”

A brand, well executed, can also support the community. During the pandemic Chococoa Baking Company decided to stay open, and it became a haven for customers. “They regularly told us that being able to come to the cafe was part of their new normal,” said Julie. “But they also trusted us and expected that we would know how to operate within Covid protocols so they would be safe when they came here. As a result, they supported us while we supported them. When the pandemic eased, we didn’t have to rebuild the brand or find new customers. They were right there with us, and we had built loyalty we could never buy.”

Chococoa Baking Company has proven that a brand can be luxurious and community minded at once. It can be adapted for holidays, weddings, special occasions, and even a pandemic. A good brand is versatile, and can be stretched to meet extraordinary situations while maintaining its integrity. The best brands know who and what they are, and what they are not. They are not all things to all people, but they are the absolute best to the audience they seek and their loyal customers.

_ _ _ _ _

We can help you maintain your brand through rich content that attracts and educates your audience. Our Marketing Triage program mines and creates the content you know is there, but can’t get to. We hired healthcare insiders to write for you, so it is right, relevant, and on target with healthcare nuances. We do the work for you, so that finally, content generation is under control and you are filling that deep crevice of content need for social media, blogs, web, and more.

customer experience healthcare marketing marketing-triage scriptwriting tips

Can Your Content Catch a Reader in 2 Seconds?  

As social media platforms expand and attention spans shorten, so does the time you have to capture readers’ attention and get them to stop scrolling – two seconds to be exact. It’s called “thumb stopping content” and that is what Jim Mancari spends his days analyzing and creating. He’s Director, Digital Marketing and Social Media for NYC Health + Hospitals and says the challenge to create content that will stop readers in their path is a dynamic one, with a target that is constantly shifting and changing.  

“The goal is to be relevant and engage our readers,” Jim said. “That means thinking about what we say, how we say it, and then posting it at the right time in the right place. Content has to matter to a reader to stop them as they scroll.”  

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok and numerous other platforms have already splintered reader’s attention and there are always new platforms crashing into view. So how does one cut through the noise to command attention in a target audience’s content feed? By generating relevant content and knowing what you are doing every day. James has hardwired specific tools to generate purposeful content.   

First you organize: By generation, topic, current events, community interests, hospital health services, and by calendar day, time, week, and month.   

Then you integrate: Messaging, channels, and timing. This is the weaving of content into a tapestry that makes sense. It matches messaging to audiences and schedules publication at the right time in the right place, so it hits when it is relevant. 

You make sure the lead is at the top: Your audience isn’t going to stop on their way by if the image, message, video or audio aren’t compelling. Put the point of the story at the very front, if it stops them there is a greater chance they will read or view the entire story. But if the front is boring, you’ve lost them. 

You learn where your audience is: Where is each audience segment? What platforms are they on? Data informs you and is critical to molding the message to the audience in a way that makes sense on the platform.  

Remember: Everyone is on their phones: All content is mobile. Create it that way. 

“At the end of the day, we don’t want to compete with ourselves,” says Jim. “We need to make sure that we use data, knowledge of our audience, and the unique characteristics of each platform to expand our social reach. That’s what it’s all about – talking to the people we care about to keep them well and give them access to information that will make their lives better. We can do that through digital marketing and social media, but we must always have our ears to the ground and our eyes on the audience.”  

Great advice – and we can help. We know there is always more content than you can get to. We can help. We triage content – mining it from inside your organization, organizing, and producing it. We offer content generation, written by healthcare insiders, that expands your bandwidth and gets work done.

healthcare marketing-triage podcast Uncategorized

Can You Nudge a Consumer Toward Better Health? 

Communicating with healthcare consumers to improve outcomes and save money 

Communicating with your audience is challenging even on the best day. Consumers either drink from a fire hose of media or filter it down to a tiny drip. When the goal of communication is to change healthcare behaviors to improve outcomes and reduce healthcare costs, finding a way through those barriers becomes mission critical. It can be done, but you have to employ practical communication and a laser focused, data based strategy. 

There’s a lot on the line. Americans spend $4.3 trillion dollars on healthcare annually. That’s $12,914 per U.S. resident, the majority of it spent on hospital care*. It’s an unsustainable, skyrocketing situation that is driving healthcare providers and insurance plans to motivate patients to wellness in order to reduce consumption and costs. That means engaging them in education and that means reaching them somehow, with effective communication.

Engagys is at the center of trying to solve that Rubik’s cube. They are a national healthcare consumer engagement consulting and advisory services firm that helps corporations engage their consumer base and nudge them toward healthier behaviors. Holdcom Marketing Triage interviewed Kathleen Ellmore, Cofounder and Managing Partner of Engagys and asked her how communications can drive consumer behavior for better outcomes. 

“It takes an evidence based approach that assesses data and uses it to figure out how to get the consumer’s attention as the first step in the strategy”, she said. “You need to engage the individual before you can even begin to communicate with them, and that communication has to be relevant and resonate in the context of their everyday lives.”

First, the nuts and bolts

To achieve this, Kathleen and her firm approach the complicated communications equation with an “above and below the waterline” assessment. It’s a discovery of whether the nuts and bolts are in place to effectively communicate with engaged and disengaged consumers, and drive behavior change.

Above the waterline: 

  • Do you have the behavioral science data to determine what your consumers are doing, reading, and how they are living now? 
  • Have you identified the social determinants of health that impact their ability to change healthcare behaviors, like transportation, food scarcity, access to healthcare, etc.? 
  • Do you have messaging in place that can be used for AB testing? 
  • Do you know your channel mix? Where are you going to place the messaging and is that based on the data you have? 

Below the waterline: 

  • Do you have the people you need to craft and place messages effectively? 
  • Do you have the right process in place to create and maintain the messaging? 
  • Do you have the technology to make all this happen? 

Is your communication practical? 

You don’t hear the word “practical” very much, but it’s the lynch pin of reaching the consumer. In other words, are you taking a practical approach to any given communication campaign? According to Kathleen, practicality requires asking questions that provide essential insights: 

  • Do I understand where my audience is – figuratively and literally speaking? 
  • What is their social-demographic profile? 
  • Do I know where they live and work? 
  • Can I estimate their level of health literacy? 
  • Do I know if they can be compliant, even if they read the communication?
    • What are the barriers to that compliance? 
    • It’s one thing to try to educate a consumer about diabetes control, but it’s not going to be effective if s/he doesn’t have access to healthy food. 

Reaching consumers will always be challenging. Now it’s essential. As you review the how and what to communicate to engage your customers and patients, consider what content you have accessed and what remains to be optimized for various channels. We know there is always more content than you can get to. We can help. We triage content – mining it from inside your organization, organizing, and producing it. are part of that solution. We offer content generation, written by healthcare insiders, that expands your bandwidth and gets work done.

healthcare marketing-triage

The Release Valve for Healthcare Marketing Pressures Lies in Contract Help

To state the obvious, being a marketer in a healthcare organization today is tough. It takes tenacity and resourcefulness to get the work done. Days are filled with demands, deadlines, and little or no help on the horizon. Like other professions, marketers are participating in the “Great Resignation” and leaving for more promising horizons. It can seem to be an untenable situation, but there are effective solutions, and they may just lead to a more agile, effective marketing practice. Here’s what’s going on.  

In a recent MarketHire survey of more than 25,000 marketers, nearly 48% said they were planning to leave their jobs. It’s not easy to fill their shoes. In the same survey 68% of business leaders said they have struggled to hire an in-house marketer.  

But, despite tight budgets, some organizations understand that marketing is necessary, event essential to grow market share and buffer encroachment and competition. So, if you’re the professional in the marketing seat, how are you to build a reliable marketing practice while meeting deadlines and delivering substantive product?   

One solution is to hire outside help. Respondents to that same MarketHire survey said they are outsourcing nearly half of all marketing responsibilities to freelancers. In addition: 

  • 80% said they had worked with a freelance marketer recently  
  • 63% reported working with at least one in the past six months 

Korn Ferry, a national recruiting firms says that one of the trends in hiring is executives increasingly relying on contract employment to meet scaling workforce needs. It’s more flexible, easier to find the skills and talent necessary for the ecosystem, and perfect for an economically dynamic landscape.  

It’s impossible to find good help – or is it?  

We all know staffing shortages are projected to continue (if not worsen), and that makes finding most any skill set challenging. Marketing is not immune. When a daily “To-Do” list ranges from social media and web maintenance to branding and competitive analysis, finding capable, skilled help seems nearly impossible, or is it? 

Believe it or not, there are a lot of highly skilled people out there, and their expertise is available for hire. As it stands today, fully 36% of the American workforce are freelancers – 59 million Americans1, and it’s a workforce that is growing three (3) times faster than the overall US workforce2.  Hiring a contractor can bring with it speed, economy, and experience. According to Upwork, a platform of millions of freelancers, companies can:  

  • Hire a freelancer within 1-3 days compared to 20+ days with traditional staffing firms  
  • Save 30-50% on hiring costs, compared to the 80% markup by traditional staffing agencies) 

There is no shortage of talent to fill the types of work you need. In 2020 hiring managers engaged freelancers for a wide variety of work3:  

  • 58% – writing 
  • 58% – creative/design 
  • 51% – web, mobile, and software development 
  • 46% – marketing 
  • 35% – IT/networking and database admin 
  • 33% – engineering 

Contractors – A Compelling Solution    

Just because the resource is out there, doesn’t mean you have the budget, or the approval, to go after them. But here is the compelling argument to get that contracting ability:  

  • Freelancers can be hired for only the amount of time you need them 
  • Contractors are usually highly-skilled, motivated, self-starters who are fast learners and assimilate quickly into a new team  
  • By nature, freelancers are agile and adaptable, comfortable in dynamic situations 
  • Planning is easier when staff is hired for specific timeframes and project length  

We are part of that solution. We offer content generation, written by healthcare insiders, that expands your bandwidth and gets work done. Learn more



3: 15 of the Best, Highest-Paying Freelance Jobs | Upwork