The SHSMD annual conference continues with a great health brand communications presentation by Joel English, Managing Partner of BVK.  Joel succinctly shared the most important thing that every health marketer should know:

The valuation of a healthcare system’s brand is the highest asset on its balance sheet.

Here are some things to remember in protecting the integrity of your healthcare brand:

Health brands are goodwill.  Your health brand is an intangible asset. In the healthcare context, a brand includes health system and facility names, marketing campaign names, slogans, and logos.  It also includes marketing copy, images, and proprietary research, products and services.  A healthy brand is the result of cumulative goodwill cultivated at great cost and expense to an organization.

Health brands can be injured.   Healthcare brands, like other brands, are not immune to damage.  In the health marketing context, this often is the result of failure to follow HIPAA marketing rules, trademark and copyright clearance, or making unsubstantiated advertising claims.  So damage to a health brand is not just about attorney’s fees and monetary damages; it is about potential injury to your reputation.

Brand Health is your responsibility.   According to Joel, a brand is the responsibility of all members of the healthcare organization; including their outside agencies, and everyone who has contact or who influences an organization’s customers and communities.  Brand is the unified theory of everything; the context of how we act and communicate.

Editor’s Note:  Healthcare brands spends millions of dollars per year on marketing and advertising.  The overall goal of such efforts is to strengthen and differentiate the brand among relevant consumers.  Done right, health brand marketing can result in greater revenue and improved brand equity.  But if healthcare organizations fail to clear brand names or implement HIPAA marketing and related compliance training, their brand equity could quickly suffer from injury to brand reputation.  This is in addition to potential six-or seven figure monetary damages and attorney’s fees that could result from unaddressed marketing risks.

SHSMD 2018 continues with David Marlowe, CEO of Strategic Marketing Concepts, who provided an excellent presentation entitled Healthcare Marketing Plans That Work.

As a former President of SHSMD and health marketing expert and author, he provides practical insight. According to David, a good health marketing plan should include the following elements:

  • Executive Summary.   This is an overview of strategic plan priorities and goals.
  • Market Audit.   These are the key factors that influence the marketing situation facing the healthcare organization, service, or program.  It’s not just about data – its about good information.
  • Market Position.  Who you are and what differentiates your brand from your competitors.
  • Market Strategies.  Proposed strategies and initiatives for next 1-2 years.
  • Market Objectives.  An explanation of what you are trying to achieve as an organization.
  • Market Actions. The specific things you are going to do in the next year.

Here are some of David’s additional observations:

Does your organization have health marketing function policies in place and are they enforced?

  • Marketing is strategy.   Health marketing goals must be integrated into the business plan.  Yet, many healthcare systems and providers do not even include specific marketing goals as part of their formal strategy.
  • Content is what counts.  A health marketing plan needs to involve the entire organization.  The most effective plans are broad and holistic, including operations, management, and financial.   Involve every key internal client when planning.
  • Marketing must be measurable.   The days of wanting to improve brand reputation and visibility are past.  Looking at what is coming and how to prepare for it is one of the purposes of a good marketing plan.

An effective health marketing plan should include marketing compliance employee and vendor training.

Editor’s Note:  The David Marlowe publication, Healthcare Marketing Plans that Work, is now available for purchase at the SHMD Conference or on the SHMD website.

SHSMD 2018 is now under way in Seattle, Washington.

The Society for Healthcare Strategy & Market Development (SHSMD),  is a professional membership group of the American Hospital Association.   The annual conference brings together health marketing and strategic leaders from healthcare systems, providers, and consulting companies nationwide.

This morning’s Healthcare Marketing Credentials session features faculty member Rob Klein of Klein & Partners.  Rob’s company provides health marketing research and customer insight to help his clients make informed marketing decisions.  Two of Rob’s insights emphasized the importance of health marketing compliance in marketing and strategy management:

I care about the health of the brand.  If you make a bad marketing decision, you can lose your job.

Here’s some of our own observations on Rob’s thoughts:

Brand health is legal health.  Great marketing plans do not begin with great ideas alone.  Why?  Because great ideas sometimes put your health marketing efforts at great legal risk.  What do we mean by risk?   Things like:

  • Copyright infringement.  Failure to secure rights to images, or distributing copies of proprietary research or publications without a proper license.
  • Trademark infringement.  Commencing a health marketing campaign with a new brand name or slogan without a proper trademark search, clearance, or registration.
  • Consumer Class actions.   Certain law firms seek-out health marketing violations that are ripe for class action lawsuits.  Marketing violations that can quickly escalate into major law suits include violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA); HIPAA Marketing Laws; and CAN-SPAM Act.

Take an ounce of [legal] prevention.  The median hospital marketing department annual budget is $3.1 million, according to a survey by Klein & Partners and Greystone.net.  Yet our own observations of marketing compliance practices indicates that very few marketers invest part of their overall budget in brand marketing clearance, protection, and risk-mitigation.  This is despite the fact that failure to properly implement marketing compliance training and programs could result in losses that are equal to or greater than a hospital’s annual marketing budget.   An exaggeration?  Hardly.   Many health care marketers have unfortunately realized such losses through a combination of attorney’s fees, monetary damages, corrective advertising, and injury brand reputation.

Thanks to SHSMD and speakers like Rob Klein for running a great conference.

Marketing Compliance Advisory.   Health marketing compliance training and guidelines should be part of every healthcare marketing plan.  To discuss how to implement one in your organization, contact James Hastings, Editor.