Reflections on 25 Years of Leading and Living with Authenticity

Dobies Healthcare Group 25 Year Anniversary logoDobies Healthcare Group started in 1992 with the goal of creating healthier brands for our clients. Twenty-five years later, we are proud to serve as a thought leader and trusted strategic consult in the ever-changing healthcare environment.

Over the years, I have identified attributes that have allowed our firm to succeed and flourish. I have come to realize that these are integral not only to leading a successful business, but also to living a fulfilling and authentic life. As a business owner, I have found authenticity—that space where our words and actions intersect—to be indispensable. Following are five key attributes for leading and living with authenticity:

1. Be curious.

Curiosity solves problems. It sparks our imagination and feeds our ingenuity.

Changes in the healthcare industry are occurring at a stunning pace. Key to staying abreast of developments and answering the most vexing questions is having deliberate and boundless curiosity. One of our most valuable business tools is the seemingly simply question: “Why?” Ask it again and again. This will help you identify the problems worth solving. Follow it with “So what?” What is the significance of what you learned? Did you identify a new strength or opportunity? Did you discover a differentiator? This is the compelling part of your story.

Step out of your comfort zone. Be bold. Dare to ask the hard questions. You may unearth a hidden gem.

2. Be purposeful.

Purpose provides you with a specific place to go and a way to get there.

Our firm’s purpose is to make a difference in how people think about health. In 1992, my goal was to take healthcare marketing to the next level by delivering creative work based on sound strategic principles. Our work communicated our customers’ brand promises and conveyed authenticity. Leading with strategy continues to be our purpose. It differentiates us and drives our work.

Discover your purpose. Articulate it, make it your promise, and pursue it relentlessly.

3. Be absolute.

Conviction in your purpose keeps your batteries charged. It gives assurance you are on the right path and your direction is true.

In a world of large, big-box consulting houses and agencies, I used to be distracted by the fact that our firm was smaller than some of our competitors. I came to realize size does matter, but not in the way I expected. From the outset, I built a virtual network of exceptionally smart and talented professionals whose advice and counsel I respected. This virtual business model showed promise. I became confident that as a boutique firm we would have as much firepower—if not more—than our larger competitors. This has proven true. Our team of accomplished strategic and marketing professionals, coupled with a network of highly skilled independent associates, means we bring only A-team players to the table. We are agile and quick. We never lose sight of our mission; we live and breathe it every day. All of this translates to better results for our clients.

Lead with confidence. Be absolute in your convictions, and be confident in your direction.

4. Be passionate.

Passion generates emotion and intensity. It creates energy that is palpable and contagious. It feeds your mission and gives you staying power.

From the beginning, our purpose was to deliver decisive results for our customers. As our firm grew, it became evident that we were making an impact far beyond our original intentions. We were working for a greater good—to help people make better and more informed health decisions, leading to more fulfilling and productive lives. The power of that realization was significant. This became our passion and our mission. It motivates and inspires us every day.

Find your passion and evangelize it. Infuse it in your mission and make it the essence of your culture.

5. Be open to possibilities.

#ToutEstPossible – it means everything is possible. At Dobies Healthcare Group, we believe this to be true. It is more than a slogan; it is our guiding principle.

As we embarked on our 25th year this month, we paused to affirm our business plans and strategies, to validate our direction and purpose. We challenged ourselves to think beyond what is plausible to what is possible. This created a stark moment of clarity. Our mindset shifted. We discovered that everything is possible because we are unwavering in our mission and certain in our strategies.

Be authentic in work and life. Lead and live with curiosity, conviction, passion and purpose, and everything is possible.

Ambitious goals are more achievable when others share your purpose and passion. I am thankful for the bright, enthusiastic and dedicated individuals—mentors, staff and clients—whose advice and support are a continuous source of inspiration. Thank you for being part of our journey.

Carol Dobies is the CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group, where she has been bringing healthcare brands to life for more than 25 years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup or by commenting on our Facebook page.

Dobies Healthcare Group Hires Strategic Marketing Expert

Maurine Kierl, PMP, Strategic Marketing Manager at Dobies Healthcare Group

Maurine Kierl, PMP, Strategic Marketing Manager

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dobies Healthcare Group, a healthcare-specialized marketing, branding and advertising firm now entering its 25th year, is pleased to welcome Maurine Kierl, PMP, as Strategic Marketing Manager. In this role, Kierl will co-develop and manage strategic marketing plans and initiatives for the firm’s clients.

“This is a very exciting time in the healthcare industry, and smart, strategic planning is essential for success,” said Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder. “We are thrilled to start 2017 with added strength on our core strategy team, and it is our pleasure to welcome Maurine to our company.”

Kierl is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with more than 20 years of experience in marketing, strategic planning, project management and client relationship management. In her most recent role as Strategic Program Manager for the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), Kierl led strategic marketing, communications and rebranding initiatives targeted at healthcare and academic leaders nationwide.

Prior to her work at AAFP, Kierl managed strategic marketing and communications at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), where she collaborated with health sciences schools and other academic units to develop and execute integrated marketing plans. She also spent 15 years at Sprint Corporation, serving in a variety of managerial roles in marketing and project management. Kierl has a bachelor’s degree in journalism with an emphasis in advertising from the University of Kansas. She has also held numerous board positions for organizations committed to health, wellness and education.

“I am excited to join such a highly talented and knowledgeable team,” said Kierl. “Having worked extensively with leaders in hospitals and clinics, academic medical centers, and health systems, I have a deep appreciation for Dobies Healthcare Group’s strategy-first approach to positioning clients for future growth in healthcare.”

About Dobies Healthcare Group

Since 1992, Dobies Healthcare Group has offered highly specialized expertise in healthcare marketing strategy, branding and creative communications. Our Kansas City-based company serves the marketing and branding needs of the entire healthcare industry, from hospitals, health systems and payers to medical device manufacturers, associations and certifying boards. We combine strategic marketing with creative communications to create healthier brands.

From Brand Challenger to Brand Leader

Three Strategies for Hospitals and Healthcare Organizations to Take the Lead

Picture of triumph on a mountaintop to represent making the ascent from brand challenger to brand leader (healthcare marketing)Like any competitive environment, healthcare markets include two key types of players:

  • Brand Leaders – The most dominant or recognizable brand in the market typically enjoys the greatest market share. Also known as a market leader, a brand leader usually drives the largest profit margins, making this spot highly coveted by competitors.
  • Brand Challengers – Challenger brands are not the category leaders in the market. Rather than simply competing in an existing product or service line category, a brand challenger aims to change mindshare by finding new ways to differentiate or segment its brand from the market leader.

With the right strategies and tools in place, challenger brands have an opportunity to rival long-established leaders by creating and executing effective, data-driven marketing and advertising strategies that help them effectively compete.

According to The Nielsen Company, “Challenger brands have to take a different approach.” In terms of advertising and market messages, Nielsen’s research suggests that for every 10% excess share of voice achieved (which is calculated by subtracting market share from share of voice), challengers only see 0.4% market share growth, compared to 1.4% market share growth for leading brands. As a result, a brand challenger needs an advertising strategy that is at least 3.5 times more effective than the market leader’s strategy to truly move the dial and capture greater market share.

[View our infographic to learn more about the dynamic between share of voice and market share.]

The key to creating and executing effective market strategies is data. When you use data to drive marketing, branding and advertising plans, your healthcare organization will significantly improve its ability to compete in market. Fortunately, the tools and expertise to support data-driven decisions that create healthier brands are readily available. These three approaches combine strategy with data to deliver a competitive advantage:

1. Evaluate your current brand position to reveal new opportunities

What you convey about your brand – and how you hope others perceive your brand – must always align with the experience you actually provide. To continuously build volume, preference and market share, it is important to give your brand a thorough, objective evaluation.

Exploring consumer and employee perceptions of your brand will inform your brand strategy, which should outline your differentiators and brand promise (as well as how to keep that promise), serving as a filter for future business, marketing and creative decisions. In addition, assessing your competitors’ communication brings insight to create a sustainable value proposition for your brand. This ongoing process requires continual maintenance and dedication over time.

[To determine your brand’s health, view our step-by-step brand assessment and strategy checklist.]

Brand building is a complex, interconnected process that requires authentic insight, objective decision-making and careful, sometimes even calculated effort. Insights from brand scout+ empower you to identify differentiators, design key messages and rally your team around a brand promise that will ultimately create a more authentic experience for your customers.

2. Use data-driven insights to guide marketing and positioning strategies

A marketing and positioning strategy is the compass that allows companies to successfully navigate the nuances of an ever-changing healthcare market. A smart and sustainable strategy should always precede marketing tactics. When you formulate a strategy before moving to creative tactics, you enhance your organization’s ability to elevate your market position relative to your competitors. Leveraging the power of information through market research, competitive studies and consumer insights will allow you to make more informed decisions to drive greater market share and brand equity.

Effective marketing and positioning strategies – also known as maps+ – provide key insight into your organization’s market position (including where you are now and where you can be in the future), as well as your competencies and capacity, viable differentiators, opportunities and challenges, and more. From there, you can develop on-point marketing imperatives and tactical plans to improve your market positioning, and grow market share.

3. Analyze competing campaign messages and performance to fine-tune advertising strategies

Understanding your competitors’ market position, share of voice and advertising spend are critical knowledge points to making informed advertising decisions. According to Nielsen, a brand is more likely to gain market share if its share of voice is greater than its share of market. Simply put, increasing share of voice is essential to market share growth – but how do you increase share of voice?

A comprehensive competitive market profile leads to better, more proactive recommendations for your organization’s local advertising strategies. Timely, reliable data and creative samples from competing campaigns and market presence—including key positioning messages, share of voice, media mix, spend analyses and creative samples—are key to gaining traction in your local market through advertising.

A competitive market profile from ad atlas+ evaluates each competitor’s brand position and messaging strategies, matching them against the industry’s top consumer drivers to identify the space they claim in your market. These insights inform and assist your efforts to be more competitive and targeted with your media dollars.

Empower your organization by creating a healthier brand, formulating a smarter marketing and positioning strategy, and challenging the competition. Keep an eye on your competitors and identify new opportunities for differentiation or segmentation in your market. Through the use of data-driven insight, objective decision-making and highly strategic planning, you will be better equipped to reach your targets with pinpoint precision and ultimately drive market share, top of mind awareness and consumer preference.

Three Solutions for Navigating Market Changes in Healthcare

picture of boat on the oceanNo other industry has seen quite the magnitude of change as healthcare. Today, nearly every facet of the industry is radically transforming as our core business focus shifts from illness to prevention. Providers and vendors are forced to transform their practices as they secure a meaningful role in the industry.

As I recently shared in an interview with the Kansas City Business Journal, “It always used to be about healthcare, and now we’re seeing it morph into life care … being able to take care of patients beyond just when they’re ill, but keeping them healthy for a lifetime.”

To build a sustainable and adaptable healthcare company in the midst of this changing market, healthcare executives should focus on strategy in three core areas: leadership, culture and fully integrated, consumer-centric care models. Let’s examine each of these three areas in more detail:

1. Complementary and strategic leadership

The right mix of personalities in the right executive positions at the right stages of growth is critical, especially in an industry undergoing widespread disruption like healthcare. In the book, Rocket Fuel, authors Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters describe the explosive combination of two seemingly opposite roles: the Visionary and the Integrator.

The Visionary is the dreamer, the champion for innovation, the person who looks at the big picture and provides passion and inspiration to others. The Integrator is the complementary force to the Visionary, responsible for governing day-to-day issues, aligning the team with goals and engaging with clients. As the degree of market complexity increases, so too does the organization’s need to be a “visionary” in its approach and an “integrator” in its execution. By clearly defining these roles in your organization – and delegating responsibilities that take advantage of each individual’s strengths – will you be able to clear the obstacles keeping you from achieving your strategic goals.

2. Focus on culture

Chances are the vast majority of your employees come to work each day motivated by the good they can do in the lives of patients and those seeking information about healthcare. That mission to make a difference is a powerful ally because your culture is closely connected to your brand.

The rise and influence of the Millennial generation in the workforce is making the need for that cultural connection more prevalent than ever before. A 2015 Fast Company article reports that 50 percent of Millennials would take a pay cut to find a job and/or company that matches their values, and 90 percent of them want to use their skills for good.

The opportunity to use social responsibility as a brand platform is potentially very powerful, both externally and internally. Healthcare organizations can embrace corporate social engagement as a strategy for building brands, fostering loyalty and enhancing employee recruitment and retention. Your mission hasn’t changed despite the market transformation, but now is the time to truly integrate your mission with your culture and live your brand.

3. Emerging care models expand to focus on health and life

The visionary leader goes beyond the “sick care” model to establish a fully integrated, consumer-centric model of health and life services. Organizations must pivot to offering community-based services that encourage consumers to adopt new, healthy lifestyles. This means digitally connecting with consumers where they live, work and play using innovative telehealth options.

Think of it as putting a personal care provider in everyone’s pocket, extending care via smartphones to where it is most convenient for consumers. Or envision building a community -based continuum of healthcare and life services through public-private partnerships to emphasize access to healthy foods, fitness and health education—so much so that it becomes pervasive in people’s lives.

Virtual connectivity also encourages thinking beyond your immediate neighborhoods and examining the potential to directly contract or build referral agreements with specialty care centers across the U.S. for high acuity and complex chronic care conditions. As your organization embraces these and other new models of care, it is imperative that leaders adapt your organization’s culture and brand accordingly while empowering the whole team to skate to the new puck.

Look to the Future

Healthcare leaders must watch trends and study data to learn more about the market’s evolution—but they must also go further to find insights buried deep in the data and figure out what to do with them. In other words, you must be able to answer the age-old question, so what? Determine what matters amidst all the change and disruption. Take time to understand the transformation in the market and how best to adapt. Then, use that knowledge to drive results-oriented and future-focused change at your organization, and bring this new health model to life. The successful organization in the new healthcare world needs the vision to see the future, the flexibility to adapt to it, and a clear strategy to bring itself safely through it.

Carol Dobies is the CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group, where she has been bringing healthcare brands to life for more than 25 years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup or by commenting on the Facebook page.

Dobies Healthcare Group Welcomes New Addition to Client Services Team

Alexandria Fenske, Account Coordinator at Dobies Healthcare Group

Alexandria Fenske, Account Coordinator

It’s the people that make the difference between good and great at Dobies Healthcare Group, and it’s always a pleasure to welcome new talent on our healthcare marketing team. Last week, Alexandria Fenske joined our ranks as Account Coordinator, and we are very excited to welcome her on board.

As Account Coordinator, Alexandria’s role involves working closely with our firm’s creative, digital and strategy teams to ensure timely, seamless coordination of client accounts and deliverables. She assists with project execution, search engine marketing, research initiatives and more.

“Alexandria brings the right mix of skill sets, dedication and energy to our client services team, and we know she will serve our company and our clients very well,” said Thom Ludtke, Vice President of Client Services. “Her commitment to excellence aligns perfectly with our mission to make a difference in how people think about health.”

Originally from O’Neill, Neb., Alexandria graduated magna cum laude from Hastings College with a B.A. in Web Communication Design (with minors in Communication Studies and Visual Media). Her previous experience includes digital and social media marketing, graphic/web design and corporate event planning.

As we do with all new employees, we sat down with Alexandria for a little Q&A we call ‘InFocus.” Here’s what she had to say…

What three words best describe you?

Ambitious, organized and adventurous

What drew you to Dobies Healthcare Group?

When I was younger, I thought I would go into the medical field. But as I grew up and began to explore other interests, I realized I was better suited for something in the creative space. That spark of interest in healthcare has stayed with me all these years to some degree, and I’m very passionate about making healthy lifestyle choices and encouraging others to do the same. By putting all those interests together, I found my path forward in healthcare marketing.

I am certain I found an excellent opportunity here at Dobies Healthcare Group. I may be the newest employee, but I can already tell this team is made up of smart, talented and hardworking people who take pride in the work we do and the results of our efforts – connecting people, places and products in ways that drive better healthcare and life care.

You recently got married in your hometown. How did you meet your husband and what brought you two to Kansas City?

I saw my husband for the first time at a rodeo in Burwell, Neb., but to be honest, the place where we actually made a connection was Facebook (a sign of the times, right?!). After getting to know each other a little on social media, he came to my hometown for a visit, and from there we really hit it off. Fast forward four years to our wedding a few weeks ago, and I’m still glowing. I feel like the luckiest bride in the world.

We came to Kansas City to pursue our passions professionally. I knew the city would offer more opportunities for my pursuits in marketing – and I’m so excited I landed a job at Dobies Healthcare Group! My husband is about to begin his first year of chiropractic college here. We are both so happy to be starting our new lives together in Kansas City.

What do you like most about life in KC so far?

Since I have not been here very long yet, I would say I am most eager about the opportunity to explore so many new, exciting things within such a close proximity to our home. Having grown up in a smaller community, I am definitely thrilled to explore everything KC has to offer – the entertainment, food, athletic events, outdoor activities and new faces.

Tell us a fun fact about you.

I love creating things with my hands – especially wooden crafts…that’s what I find most relaxing these days. I’ve even been known to ask for saws and sanders as Christmas gifts! I’m still honing my sawing skills, but decorative signs are my favorite things to create in my free time right now.

Meet the rest of the team at Dobies Healthcare Group.

About Dobies Healthcare Group

Since 1992, Dobies Healthcare Group has offered highly specialized expertise in healthcare marketing strategy, branding and creative communications. Our Kansas City-based company serves the marketing and branding needs of the entire healthcare industry, from hospitals, health systems and payers to medical device manufacturers, associations and certifying boards. We combine strategic marketing with creative communications to create healthier brands.

Taking the Guesswork out of Hospital Costs

The Role of the Marketing Team in Hospital Price Transparency

Picture of woman reviewing hospital pricingAfter attending a Kansas City Healthcare Communicators Society (KCHCS) educational session, I began to think more about the role of marketers in hospital price transparency initiatives. Participants at the session joined in a lively discussion about consumer expectations for comparative data on healthcare costs. With many providers supporting price transparency, marketers are seeking additional resources to successfully communicate consumer-friendly information about hospital costs.

Launching a price transparency initiative in a hospital can seem overwhelming. This is due in large part to the fact that each patient’s healthcare needs are different, and cost structures related to testing and treatment can be complex – often with one or more third party payers – making out-of-pocket costs hard to understand for consumers. Hospitals, in particular, struggle to find the best way to share this information on a public platform. Below are five key takeaways to help hospital marketers take an active role in creating successful communication strategies for price transparency.

Take a lead role in interpreting cost information for consumers. If that doesn’t sound like a marketing function to you, think again. Just as they plan service line communication plans, marketers should be catalysts for collaboratively developing and implementing communication strategies for hospital transparency initiatives. Marketers have a much better understanding than their financial counterparts of consumer wants and needs. In addition, most have an innate ability to distil data—in this case, financial data—into information that is easy for consumers to understand.

Fortunately, some hospital marketers have already begun paving the way by presenting case studies on what works best when communicating hospital and healthcare price transparency. For example, HealthLeaders recently featured the launch of a new online price transparency tool at St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh. The groundbreaking tool allows patients to compare the cost of more than 100 different tests and procedures based on their specific insurance information. This is helpful for patients, and it allows St. Clair to establish a position regionally as an innovator in cost transparency.

Know and use existing resources. The American Hospital Association (AHA) has developed a resource called Achieving Price Transparency for Consumers: A Toolkit for Hospitals. The guide is designed to help hospitals evaluate their current efforts and provide samples of price tools currently being used by other health organizations. The AHA toolkit includes a Self-Assessment Checklist, which is an excellent starting point to help you understand which departments/personnel have likely roles in price communications. While many items on the checklist may not be within the purview of the marketing team, some fit the scope of work, which leads us to our next point…

Research the current consumer experience related to price inquires. Ask employees on the front lines (administrators and providers) how they usually address price inquiries. Get to know how the entire process is addressed operationally, from point of initial inquiry to the moment the final answer is conveyed. Audit the financial communications they provide. AHA also recommends placing a few “secret shopper calls” to document and analyze current performance and identify opportunities for improvement. With this type of information on hand, you will be better positioned to assist your organization by mapping out an action plan for improved responses and processes.

Support the financial staff’s ability to be consumer-focused. For consumers, healthcare costs can be difficult to understand. For hospitals and healthcare providers, price transparency involves as much of a cultural shift as it does an operational one, so this is a key opportunity for your marketing team to lead the process as both coach and catalyst. Take a proactive role in ensuring that all communication related to price is helpful, easy to understand and easy to access. You’ll need to take many different forms of communication into account: scripts for people who respond to price inquiries both by phone and in person, written materials, web content and apps, email communication, patient forms, and even the invoices should be examined and reformatted for clarity, consistency and ease of use. Establish and maintain open communication between the marketing team and the financial department so you know when updates need to be made to these communications.

Make appropriate recommendations for how your hospital can make price information more accessible. For example, AHA recommends offering multilingual communications if your service area includes ESL (English as a second language) communities, posting price information on your website and/or providing a customer-facing cost estimator tool, providing information to individuals as soon as possible upon request, and sharing price information with community health organizations.

The Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) also offers a free resource specifically for consumers that you may wish to post on your hospital’s website. Understanding Healthcare Prices: A Consumer Guide educates patients about healthcare pricing in general (not specific to your hospital) so they understand how to obtain an accurate cost estimate. The guide is available in both English and Spanish.

The more transparent your hospital is – and the more helpful you are in providing clear, reliable price information – the more trusted your organization will be with consumers. As a marketer, you can help facilitate the delivery of cost information consumers want and need to make value-based decisions.

The Dynamic Between Share of Voice & Share of Market

An Infographic for Hospital Marketers

Share of voice is a critical metric for consumer marketing. Quite often, when hospitals evaluate share of voice and competitive positioning in the context of the full competitive landscape, they find their ad spend is not enough. Why? Because increasing share of voice is essential to market share growth.

For example, if your hospital is the local brand leader, excess share of voice is a worthwhile investment because it supports greater gains in market share than it does for competing brands. Likewise, if you’re competing against a brand leader, your advertising strategies need to be several times more effective than the brand leader’s to grow market share. The following infographic explains the dynamic between share of voice and share of market in more detail:

Ad Atlas Infographic: Share of Voice-Share of Market

Click to download the infographic.

The key to creating and executing effective ad strategies is data. To learn more, scroll to the top of this page to download our Strategy Brief: The Hospital Marketer’s Guide to Smart Advertising Strategies. For the tools you need to analyze your positioning and guide your hospital’s advertising strategies, it’s time to discover ad atlas+.

Breaking Through the Noise

Optimize your share of voice to grow market share

As a healthcare marketing leader, you know how noisy the competitive landscape can be. As the industry shifts toward a consumer-centric healthcare marketplace, it seems every hospital and health system is vying for the same patients—and they all have advertising dollars devoted to buying the largest megaphone.

In today’s hyper-connected world, consumers are bombarded by advertising messages at every turn; one estimate suggests consumers are subject to 3,000 to 5,000 messages each day. Healthcare is no exception, so what is your strategy for determining reach, frequency, and key messages to best position your healthcare organization? After all, if you’re in the orchestra, it’s better to play the trumpet than the piccolo.

Amplify Your Voice for Bigger Gains

Clever ads alone rarely produce sustainable results, so the relationship between your ad buying strategy and your market share growth should be treated with care. It is important to understand the correlation between share of voice (SOV) – defined as your organization’s percentage of the total media buying in your industry for a specific time period – and share of market (SOM), which is your percent of the total revenue for that same time period. You probably already know your market share, but your SOV can be more complex. Knowing your SOV relative to your competitors, however, can be critical to your strategic advertising efforts for top-line growth.

The Nielsen Company published research that sheds light on this relationship between SOV and SOM. They found that with everything else equal, you are more likely to gain market share if your SOV is larger than your SOM. This “excess” share of voice is shown to have a very direct effect—an increase of 0.5 percent additional market share when your SOV is 10 points higher than your SOM.

Of course, rarely is the math that simple. The same research found that a lot of factors play into this, including the size of your brand, whether you are the brand leader in your industry or a brand “challenger,” and of course, the level of sophistication in your creative campaign. If you are the brand leader, for example, a 10-point differential can net you as much as a 1.4 percent market share boost.

Even with multiple variables, savvy healthcare organizations can still make this research work for them. Dave Beckert, a media planner, gives this advice:

“Smart marketers investment spend (SOV slightly exceeds SOM) to some degree to deter attack. To show major gains in SOM, you must create or exploit disequilibrium … using advertising spending as an offensive weapon, based upon an analysis of the competitive situation.”

Use the Right Tool for the Job

As the former VP of Marketing for a major academic medical center, I cannot overemphasize how necessary it is to have competitive market data driving strategic recommendations for media planning and creative concept development. In addition to providing the foundation of those recommendations, I needed the competitive data to secure support for the marketing and advertising budgets I proposed. The only problem was that collecting a comprehensive market analysis of competitors was incredibly arduous and time-consuming.

Now, that’s no longer true. The need for robust competitive market data is still great, but the work that goes into creating those market profiles is not, thanks to an innovative product called ad atlas+.

ad atlas+ for smarter healthcare advertising (screen capture)

Click to enlarge image and learn more.

Custom designed for hospitals and health systems, ad atlas+ packages comprehensive competitive market profiles into a single interactive tool, empowering you to view and compare what competitors are saying in your local market with only a few clicks. ad atlas+ lets you watch competing television spots, click through banner ads, hear radio promos, view print ads and more. Additionally, ad atlas+ provides a market analysis of each hospital’s key positioning messages, SOV and ad spend. These analyses provide much-needed clarity and the competitive advantage to aid in capturing a larger SOV for your healthcare organization.

I recommend ad atlas+ because it was designed for healthcare marketers by healthcare marketers, and it offers meaningful insight to guide healthcare advertising strategies. You can finally answer such questions as, Should we be buying magazine display ads? and Will that many TV spots even make a difference? ad atlas+ gives you the power to see your local market differently – and when you can stand up and see who is playing in the orchestra, you can finally decide if you need to pick up a louder horn. If you’re a healthcare marketer, that should be music to your ears.

Julie Amor is the Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Healthcare and has more than 20 years of experience elevating healthcare brands. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup or by commenting on our Facebook page.

Secrets for Success in Healthcare Marketing

Insights from Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group

As a member of the 25 Under 25® Class of 2016, Dobies Healthcare Group was proudly named among several outstanding Kansas City small businesses earlier this year. Recently, CEO and founder Carol Dobies, MBA, spoke with Kelly Scanlon on Smart Companies KC Radio to discuss the driving force behind Dobies Healthcare Group and its success as a specialized healthcare marketing and branding firm. You can listen to the full broadcast below:

Highlights from the on-air discussion include:

Strategy-First: The Driving Force for Dobies Healthcare Group

Carol and her team have always championed a strategy-first approach to healthcare marketing. Unlike creative agencies that traditionally offer a new logo or advertising campaign focused on product promotion, Dobies Healthcare Group says, ‘First, let’s talk about who you are and what you do’  before the creative work begins. The idea is to initiate meaningful conversations with clients about their brands – a process that begins with insightful questions about how they interface with customers and employees, how leadership impacts and drives culture, and how they “deliver” on their brand promise. The ultimate goal is to tactically align client operations (what they do) with their communications (what they say). Brand authenticity is deliberate, and therefore, the work that goes into it must be highly strategic.

The Greater Good: A Passion for Making a Difference

Both professionally and personally, Carol has long understood the need for expert information and guidance that drives smart health and healthcare decisions. She has always had a passion for making a difference by connecting consumers to providers, providers to partners, and so forth – and she fosters the same passion within every member of her team. In fact, the notion of inspiring better, more informed decisions about health and contributing to improved care and quality of life for patients is at the very heart of the company’s mission. “We come to work every day because we believe we can help people make better, more informed healthcare decisions—and the power of that is pretty significant,” says Carol.

Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group

Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder

A Forward-Thinking Business Model

It’s not easy being a small business, but Dobies Healthcare Group embraces a smart and innovative business model that focuses on using talent and time wisely. From the beginning, Carol chose to embrace a virtual agency model, employing a small team of in-house healthcare marketing experts while strategically extending capabilities and reach through a national network of highly skilled, independent strategy leads. “The virtual model has really served us well,” she said. “It’s helped us play just as well, if not better than, any big business.”

Lessons Learned

Carol noted she has learned a lot since she founded Dobies Healthcare Group in 1992. Although it hasn’t always been this way, the company now has a C.P.A. on staff to proactively advise the company on finances, ensuring financial health. They are now “papered up” in ways they never were before with smarter, more binding contracts with clients and employees alike. Most importantly, Carol learned along the way the value of having a plan and vision for the company’s future. Looking forward, she anticipates continued growth for Dobies Healthcare Group – particularly with the launch of three strategic marketing and branding products last year and another new product on the horizon.

For more information about who we are and what we do at Dobies Healthcare Group, contact us.

About Dobies Healthcare Group

Since 1992, Dobies Healthcare Group has offered highly specialized expertise in healthcare marketing strategy, branding and creative communications. Our Kansas City-based company serves the marketing and branding needs of the entire healthcare industry, from hospitals, health systems and payers to medical device manufacturers, associations and certifying boards. We combine strategic marketing with creative communications to create healthier brands.

Marketing Is Not a Department

Why Healthcare Marketing Leaders Need to Inspire Others in the Organization to Deliver on the Brand Promise

brand buildingWhen we present a strategic marketing plan to a hospital, for example, we start with a simple statement that has enormous value. It sets the tone for the entire data-driven document:

“The strategic marketing plan is a blueprint to support organization-wide growth. It is used by hospital and physician leadership, practice managers and the marketing department to guide the execution of organizational and marketing initiatives that will contribute to market share growth.”

In other words, marketing is not a department. While the quote above is specific to hospital marketing, the overarching concept is true for any healthcare organization. And our brand plans carry a similar message: brand is all about what an organization does. Everyone in the organization has a role in delivering brand authenticity – the behaviors and actions of everyone in the company come together to form the brand. When we emphasize this to clients, we see heads nodding, but few really understand what it means. Our job as healthcare marketing and branding experts is to make certain that leaders at our client organizations understand that brands are symbiotic with culture. Or, stated another way, brand building is not an initiative that belongs solely to the marketing team.

Today’s competitive healthcare market requires engagement throughout the organization to deliver on the brand promise. While the marketing department can strategically share the right message with the right audience using the right method, it is the experience each customer has with the organization that creates the brand. That’s because purchasing healthcare isn’t like purchasing your everyday product – it is far more complicated, involving far more moving parts. Before selecting a doctor or a hospital, consumers have to piece a lot of information together. They look at online ratings and reviews, social media posts from friends and neighbors, and content on health-related websites. They also have conversations with multiple people at the various hospitals and practices they are considering. Some of the information they obtain comes from communication created by a marketing department, but the vast majority is organically assembled by the experiences consumers have with the brand.

So, isn’t it logical for each person in your health organization to have a role in ensuring the right purchasing decisions are made? Logical, yes…but few outside the marketing team will claim responsibility for customer engagement, much less marketing.

A 2011 McKinsey Quarterly report summed it up nicely: “At the end the day, customers no longer separate marketing from the product—it is the product. They don’t separate marketing from their in-store or online experience—it is the experience. In the era of engagement, marketing is the company.”

As such, everyone in a given organization needs to be accountable and universally accept that marketing is the organization. This is a notion that continues to challenge many in the healthcare space. For example, recently we were exploring how one of our healthcare clients might better engage his organization to deliver on the brand promise. While the employees were conceptually on board with the notion that everyone in the organization is accountable for delivering on the promise that is communicated by marketing, they expressed concern about who would ultimately be charged with driving market share growth. We explained the marketing leader is the catalyst – the individual responsible for fueling the company’s customer engagement engine, while the marketing team is responsible for designing, building and deploying new customer engagement approaches and brand-building strategies across the organization’s departments. The marketing leader must influence everyone at the organization – not just the marketing team – to row together, getting the organization further, faster. In doing so, the marketing leader creates brand ambassadors who exponentially increase the reach of the marketing team and engage employees in new ways that make them more vested in the organization’s performance.

According to the 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, there is a clear and compelling business case for connecting with employees as brand advocates. Data show people want to hear from employees more than any other spokesperson on issues like organizational performance and business practices. Plus, an engaged workforce is typically happy to be part of the organization and willing to go the extra distance to help enhance the organization’s overall performance (especially when the company is engaged in societal issues, as our Chief Strategy Officer, Julie Amor, discussed recently in Corporate Social Engagement: What it Means for Healthcare Brands).

In today’s era of consumer engagement, marketing and branding are no longer the purview of a single department. As mentioned, your customers no longer separate marketing from the healthcare service – it is the service. After 24 years of helping healthcare clients deploy strategic marketing and brand plans, I encourage you to build a culture of brand authenticity and engage your entire organization in the role of delivering on your brand promise. It’s time to influence others in the organization—to coach them on effective customer engagement tactics and reward them for building tighter relationships with customers. Your customers will appreciate hearing directly from your employees and your leadership will appreciate the accountability to organizational performance.