#ThrowbackThursday: A Look Back at 25 Years in Healthcare Marketing & Branding

Dobies Healthcare Group 25 Year Anniversary logoIf you know me personally, then my enthusiasm for a ubiquitous trend like #ThrowbackThursday may seem out of character – but, then again, this is no ordinary Thursday. Later today, my team and I will graciously welcome many guests to our 25th anniversary celebration here at Dobies Healthcare Group.

As a company, we have been creating healthier brands for 25 years and counting. It has been an amazing journey so far, one we are very eager to continue because we know the best is yet to come. Right now, healthcare is filled with extraordinary potential. An industry long known for slow change is now on the cusp of rapid reinvention. As the centuries-old paradigm of sick care transforms into lifecare, industry leaders everywhere are taking action to create healthier populations – making it their mission to keep people healthy rather than just being there to treat them when they’re sick.

So, as I reflect on 25 years of doing what I love – what WE ALL love – today marks the ultimate Throwback Thursday. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and it’s striking to me how many lessons from a quarter-century ago are still relevant today, and how many are not.

For example, 25 years ago, the notion of publishing quality ratings was just getting started. Marketing was still viewed as a department like any other, and social media, of course, did not exist. Company culture was rarely discussed in the same sentence as brand and, perhaps most notably, it was unheard of to create a healthcare business model with consumers at the center of all strategic decisions and planning. Today, this approach, while fledgling, is taking hold across the industry – from rural critical access hospitals and local community health plans to large academic medical centers and national carriers. Even B2B companies and non-provider healthcare entities place a greater focus now on keeping people healthy, as they look to acquire new companies and partnerships that extend their brand promises in ways that make the most meaningful impact on the greatest number of lives.

Today, we work with clients all across the healthcare spectrum on these and many other strategies to help them revitalize their brands, amplify their share of voice and become market leaders. We have a formalized corporate social engagement strategy and encourage our clients to adopt a social purpose of their own. And through it all, we have championed our unique “strategy-first” approach to healthcare marketing and branding because that’s our superpower. We come to work every day to make a difference in how people think about health – that’s been our top driver every single day…for 25 years and counting.

On a personal note, I’d like to express my deepfelt thanks to all the clients, vendors, partners, employees, associates, freelancers and others I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. I hope to see all of you at the celebration later today.

About the Author

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

Dobies Healthcare Group Gives Back to Promote Better Health in Kansas City

Holiday_scavenger_hunt_groupThe holiday season is in full swing and things are busier than ever at Dobies Healthcare Group. Despite all the hustle and bustle, we still manage to find time every year to give back and promote better health in our community through our annual holiday scavenger hunt.

Keeping with tradition, this year’s philanthropic team-building activity incorporated our three-part process for healthcare marketing: Discover, Connect, Promote.  Like previous years, we split into teams to solve clues and determine which worthy cause Dobies Healthcare Group would be supporting during this season of giving. However, this year’s event had a twist. Instead of traditional clues, each team received only a series of GPS coordinates to find four mystery destinations. The first set of coordinates brought us all to one place to kick off the festivities together – from there, each team hit their coordinates separately.

We used our digital devices and mobile apps to quickly discover the locations. Then we came together at the end of the day to connect the dots and figure out which worthy cause Dobies Healthcare Group would donate to in 2015. Turns out, when we unscrambled the first letters in the names of all our scavenger hunt destinations, we formed the word C-U-L-T-I-V-A-T-E…and that’s when we learned our company’s annual community give-back funding is going to Cultivate Kansas City this year.

Cultivate Kansas City promotes a healthier, more economically and environmentally sustainable community by creating community-based farms that supply nutritious items to people in and around Kansas City. Promoting nutrition is one of several pillars of health that we plan to embrace more than ever in the coming New Year and beyond, so we are happy for the opportunity to support this cause.

As the newest employee at Dobies Healthcare Group—and someone who serves on the Board of Directors for a local nonprofit that focuses on bridging the gap between volunteers and our community—I was inspired to see how much my company cares about giving back and promoting a culture of good health in our city. I recommend all businesses, especially healthcare companies, look for opportunities to support organizations with missions and visions that serve local communities.

By creating a culture of corporate social responsibility and giving to causes that employees are passionate about (e.g. supporting local, healthy food sources), companies boost employee morale and improve connections with members of the community. I encourage healthcare leaders to make time for staff to “give back” each year, regardless of how hectic the office workload may seem. Your employees, customers and community will be better off because of it.


Giving Thanks for a Job Well Loved

Giving Thanks I speak for all of us at Dobies Healthcare Group when I say this: we LOVE what we do at work every day. As healthcare marketing strategists, artists, storytellers, brand-builders and more, we feel very fortunate that our work empowers us to make a difference. While marketers everywhere have the opportunity to strengthen brands and connect people to products and services, not every marketer can say inspiring others to make their health a priority is the driving force behind their strategies and communications. If we were marketing soda or rental cars, for instance, our work would bring results to our clients, but the overall impact wouldn’t feel as meaningful.

Carol Dobies touched on this very topic last week when she blogged about our mission statement and what drives our team to excel. In case you missed it, here’s an excerpt:

“We come to work every day because we fundamentally believe our work makes a difference in how people think about health. The creative messages we send into the airwaves for a community hospital, for instance, inspire consumers to take their health more seriously…We succeed when our strategy, words and designs inspire people to make better, more informed decisions about health and contribute to improved care and quality of life for patients…Simply put, our work illuminates the better decision.”

So, on this special day of thanks, we just wanted to express how thankful we are for each and every opportunity to bridge gaps between patients and providers, and between providers and better business solutions. To all our clients past, present and future: thank you for partnering with us for such meaningful work. Happy Thanksgiving!

What is the Difference Between a Brand Promise and Mission Statement?

Brand promise vs. mission statementFor some, distinguishing a company’s brand from its mission statement can be confusing. During brand sessions with clients, someone in the C-suite will usually ask, “Why do we need a brand promise when we have a vision and mission statement?” Given the way we define brand, I can understand the confusion. Both are all about what you do, but their foundations and purposes are not the same.

You create a mission statement to describe what your company does from an internal perspective, often to inspire and motivate your employees.

A brand promise, on the other hand, is externally focused. It is crafted to hold your company accountable for delivering a consistent customer experience.

At Dobies Healthcare Group, we tend to be rather zealous about our definition of brand. To emphasize that brand is not encapsulated in a logo, tagline, slogan or campaign, we repeatedly say, “Brand is what you do – it’s how you present yourself every day and how your customers experience your company.” It starts with the promise you make to your customers – but your ability to keep your promise ultimately determines the health of your brand. In other words, your brand is the culmination of expectations your customers form over time based on your actions. It is an intangible asset that lives in the hearts and minds of your customers. Your customers are emotionally connected to your brand.

Your mission statement should emotionally connect your employees to your company. Your mission statement describes what the company does, and, hopefully, gives your employees a very good reason to wake up and come to work every day. A good mission statement distills what your company does into a couple of sentences and underscores your organization’s purpose.

For example, our mission statement at Dobies Healthcare Group underscores two things. First of all, we come to work every day because we fundamentally believe our work makes a difference in how people think about health. The creative messages we send into the airwaves for a community hospital, for instance, inspire consumers to take their health more seriously. Sometimes we compel consumers to choose a primary care physician or schedule their heart risk assessments; other times, we educate consumers about how to find, use and understand hospital quality data. We help them think differently about their health.

Secondly, we succeed when our strategy, words and designs inspire people to make better, more informed decisions about health and contribute to improved care and quality of life for patients. For one of our medical device manufacturer clients, we showcase how automation in anatomic pathology reduces errors, streamlines workflow and ultimately gets patients an accurate cancer diagnosis quicker than ever before. Simply put, our work illuminates the better decision.

What about our brand promise? We promise to always engage strategy first. No matter how big or how small the assignment may be, “strategy first” is what we do every day. Our clients expect it. They know they can count on us to uphold our brand promise by infusing strategy into everything we do. And we know that consistently delivering on those client expectations is an essential aspect of our brand health.

What about your healthcare company? What is the expectation you want your customers to form about your organization, and how do you intend to equip and inspire your employees to make that happen? Your mission statement and brand promise, when crafted carefully and strategically, are the firsts of many essential steps, touch points, actions and communications that together comprise your brand.

Why Healthcare Marketing Matters to Me

picture of women searching InternetAs a healthcare marketing professional, I am often asked what drives me—why I am passionate about healthcare marketing and why I think it is so important. The answer is simple: I care about my health and the future of our healthcare system, and I want to make a difference in people’s lives.

Like many healthcare consumers, I want access to information, products and providers that help me maintain my well-being—and I want it when I need it. Moreover, I want to know that if/when I have children someday, they will be able to find resources to meet their health and wellness needs. Healthcare marketing makes that possible.

Digital media, in particular, allows me to access health information and make healthcare decisions in real-time. As a millennial, I constantly search for data online. In fact, when I first moved to Kansas City and was looking for a new OB/GYN, I turned to the Internet. I narrowed my search based on my location and insurance carrier. From there, I was able to read reviews about local gynecologists and pick the one with the best online reputation, professional background and academic credentials. Fortunately, the provider I selected allowed me to schedule an appointment with a single click of my mouse—and I have been going there regularly ever since.

Aside from making it easier for consumers like me to access health information, healthcare marketing connects professional health service organizations, suppliers and medical manufacturers with customers and, ultimately, encourages people to choose their healthcare brands based on personal needs and preferences.

Take, for example, our award-winning 2014 campaign, Megan’s Journal, which we created to generate awareness that Lawrence Memorial Hospital (LMH) offers comprehensive, multidisciplinary expertise for patients fighting cancer. The campaign showed cancer patients in Lawrence that they do not need to travel outside their community for the care they need, and it convinced people to choose LMH instead of out-migrating to other hospitals in nearby cities.

Similarly, as the digital partner for Dickson-Diveley Orthopaedics, we manage the practice’s social media presence (including production of online videos highlighting each physician’s area of expertise) and search engine marketing, and develop physician referral strategies to reach and resonate with target audiences. Through benefit-oriented key messages, we guide prospective patients to the appropriate specialists.

You see, for us, it’s not about the awards—it’s about connecting people to providers, products and information that empowers them to make more informed decisions about their health. That’s why I decided to pursue a career in healthcare marketing—and it’s why I work at Dobies Healthcare Group. As healthcare marketing experts, we forge connections that help save and improve lives. We may not directly provide the services or products that make individuals healthy, but we show people how to get there, and that’s what healthcare marketing is all about.

Dobies Healthcare Group: Committed to Making a Difference in Organ Donation

We are a passionate group of people at Dobies Healthcare Group. We take deep pride in our work and strive to help our clients improve the health of their communities. We know the campaigns we create, the brands we craft and the strategies we use can deeply impact the lives and health of others. After all, that’s why we come to work every day. Donate Life 2015

One healthcare cause close to our hearts is organ donation. Currently, there are more than 123,000 people on the transplant list, and each day approximately 79 people become transplant recipients. Yet, an average of 21 people die every day while waiting. Sadly, the number of those waiting far exceeds the number of donors.

We want to improve these statistics. Through our skills and talents, we’re doing what we can to support the field – through board memberships, speaking at forums and conferences, and fostering relationships with research groups. Here are some highlights of our commitment to organ donation.

Donation and Transplantation Community of Practice (DTCP) – For the last year and a half we have facilitated three strategic planning sessions for the organ donation and transplantation community of practice. DTCP members represent a highly committed group of individuals and organizations interested in improving donation and transplantation practices across the nation. Learn more about DTCP’s goal’s to increase the number of organs transplanted by 5,000 over the next five years.

NATCO, The Organization for Transplant Professionals – Dobies Healthcare Group has facilitated strategic planning and marketing advisory services for the NATCO Board.

American Board for Transplant Certification – Previously serving on its Board of Governors, Carol Dobies and team are working closely with the Board to drive new marketing and awareness strategies to help ABTC achieve its goals of creating knowledgeable, certified transplant professionals.

Research and Planning Group – Our strategic alliance with RPG extends our capabilities in the area of market research, giving us insight into consumer wants and needs related to all areas of healthcare, including organ donation.

Midwest Transplant Network – Through our marketing partnership with MTN, we have the opportunity to compel people in our market area to sign-up to donate, and in turn save the lives of our fellow Kansans and Missourians.

It’s an honor to work with these outstanding organizations, and we are thankful for the chance to lend our expertise to this cause. These organizations are at the forefront of change in the organ donation community, and without their efforts, many more candidates would not have hope and the opportunity for a second chance at life.

As the month of April ends, so does National Donate Life Month. If you haven’t signed up to be an organ donor, please take a moment to join the registry. If you live in Kansas or Missouri, please visit YesTheyWantMe.com. If you live elsewhere, DonateLife.net will direct you to your state’s registry. Through organ donation, you have the potential to save up to eight lives, and improve an additional 50 lives through tissue donation. What are you waiting for? If you have already signed up, please encourage family and friends to join the registry. Together, we can all do our part to #DonateLife.

InFocus: Meet Thom Ludtke

“InFocus” showcases the unique personalities and talents on our team at Dobies Healthcare Group. This week’s Q&A is with Thom Ludtke, Vice President of Client Services.

Welcome Thom – time to get InFocus!

Thom Ludtke

Thom Ludtke, Vice President of Client Services

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Twenty years ago, I would have told you I was on a career path to become a creative director. A few months into my first job, however, I realized my true passion was creating clever solutions that delivered results for my clients. Since then, I’ve worked as an account and strategic leader in many fascinating and diverse industries. I still exercise my creativity through integrated marketing plans to help clients find success. My mantra is to earn the right to play again tomorrow by delivering results today.

What helps you infuse creativity and strategy into each marketing project?
I believe focus is what makes creativity and strategy in marketing great. The focus comes from asking three universal questions:

  • What is the objective?
  • What market place issues will help or hinder our ability to achieve it?
  • How can we overcome or leverage the most critical issues identified?

Answers to these questions define the landscape and allow relevant, highly effective strategic freedom and creative ingenuity.

What do you like most about life in Kansas City?
The climate is much more temperate than in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska. I love the seasons of Midwest living, but I like the shorter winters here.

What three words best describe you?
Energetic. Curious. Creative.

Tell us one fun fact about you.
I led the way for Alex Gordon to play baseball for the Royals! You see, I played third base at Lincoln Southeast High School more than a decade before Alex played there. I went to the University of Nebraska…Alex followed. Then I moved my professional career to Kansas City and, well, so did Alex. So clearly I paved the way for him. (But don’t say anything to Alex – he has no idea I exist!)

Why Dobies Healthcare Group?
There are three primary reasons I joined Dobies Healthcare Group:

  1. The industry – my experience is very diverse, but healthcare is where I belong.
  2. The quality staff – first-class, talented and hard-working people. I greatly respect Carol Dobies and the culture she has created.
  3. The product – Dobies Healthcare Group is a top-tier healthcare strategic marketing and branding company. We share a philosophy of developing long-term client relationships by crafting data-driven, strategic solutions that deliver results.

Learn more about Thom and the rest of our healthcare marketing team at dobies.com/people.

Happy Holiday Happenings at Dobies Healthcare Group

‘Tis the season for tradition, and to us that means our annual Holiday Scavenger Hunt! Each year at Dobies Healthcare Group, we team up with our friends and associates at Group 3 Solutions to celebrate the holidays with an afternoon away from the office and around our great city. While we tend to share A LOT of laughs at each celebration, we also make sure to incorporate the values we hold dear. This year, we met three main goals for our 2014 holiday scavenger hunt: unleashing our creativity, giving back to our neighbors in need, and enjoying the centennial celebration inside Kansas City’s favorite holiday destination.

And, because we love what we do and can never really get enough of it, we even themed our festivities this year around our three-part process for healthcare marketing that inspired our new logo – Discover, Connect, Promote.

Discovering our Creative Sides

Team 1

Team 1

We use our creative brains every day (after all, that’s why we work here), but this time we competed with each other for some creative bragging rights. We started off the afternoon by splitting into three teams. Each group received its own sack of items to complete the tasks at hand in the most creative ways possible.

Team 1 built a snowman from cotton, fake snow and rubber balls (and learned some practical life lessons about skin and craft glue along the way). Team 2 wrote a new holiday song using tiny musical instruments for inspiration, and Team 3 designed a gingerbread house using an array of cavity-causing sweets. In the end, judges crowned Team 1 the winner.

Team 2

Team 2

Promoting Goodwill & Cheer

We believe in giving back all year long, but we always make a point to help others in need during our scavenger hunt. Each team received money to donate to a Kansas City nonprofit organization of their choosing.

Team 1 donated to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund to provide gifts for local children, rent and utility assistance for struggling families, food for the hungry and more. Team 2 donated to Grace and Holy Trinity Outreach, which provides a variety of programs to serve hungry Kansas Citians as well as aid children in foster care and provide diapers to low income families. Team 3 gave to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Kansas City, an organization that pairs impoverished or at-risk youth with positive role models.

Team 3

Team 3

Connecting with Christmas

Continuing our traditional holiday festivities, each team received a clue for a Kansas City landmark. This year’s clue led us to Union Station and the Mayor’s Christmas Tree at Crown Center. We marveled at the beauty of our city and shared good times with our coworkers.

It was a great day capped with a white elephant gift exchange and holiday food and drinks at our annual holiday party later that evening. Check out our Facebook page to see more photos of our 2014 holiday cheer. Seasons Greetings, everyone – and here’s to a happy, healthy New Year!

InFocus: Meet Shelly Searles

“InFocus” showcases the unique personalities and talents on our team at Dobies Healthcare Group.
This week’s Q&A is with Shelly Searles, Creative Services Manager.

Shelly Searles, Creative Services Manager

Shelly Searles, Creative Services Manager

Welcome Shelly – time to get InFocus! Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
My first design job was interning at Pier 1 Imports in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1995. I stayed until 1997 then packed up and headed to the mountains of Colorado, where I worked for a small design studio for four years. In the fall of 2001, I started my own design business and had the pleasure of working with many great companies. With our move back to Kansas City, I decided it was a great time to find that “team” that I wanted to be a part of.

I’m also the proud mother of two awesome, silly children.

You grew up in Kansas City and recently returned after nearly 20 years away. What do you like most about being back in KC?
I love being closer to my family and friends that I grew up with. I also enjoy four seasons and humidity for a change!

What helps you infuse creative energy into each new project at work?
I try to bring my personal perspective on design to the table, and I like to stay up to date on trends and what’s happening in the industry. I also love roaming around bookstores for inspiration.

What three words best describe you?
Curious, quiet, patient

Tell us one fun fact about you.
I once took a snowboarding lesson with Tone-Lōc (you know, “Wild Thing” and “Funky Cold Medina”) and his family. Pretty funny.

Why Dobies Healthcare Group?
Dobies is a group of very talented, genuine people. It’s nice to be a part of a team that focuses on an industry that is meaningful to me. And if I can contribute creatively along the way to help a clear, positive message get across to its audience, then I feel a sense of accomplishment.

Learn more about Shelly and the rest of our healthcare marketing team at dobies.com/people.

Healthcare Marketing Has Real Life Impact

It’s easy to get wrapped up in ROI and profit-building strategies. After all, as healthcare marketers, that’s what we’re hired to do. We drive growth. We build brands. And when we do, we often save lives.

Every day I wake up thinking about the consequences of our work. If you’re the chief executive at a healthcare organization, you and I have that in common. In healthcare, we know far more is at stake than the bottom line. Real people are affected by what we do and say about your brand.

Just one short post may have been the most important thing I did the other day. I read a forum chat between two men who had testicular cancer—one a survivor and the other a young man searching for information about the best doctors, treatments and cancer centers. Armed with knowledge and confidence in the medical care at Indiana University, I inserted myself into the conversation and posted a recommendation. I connected the young man to an oncologist and researcher I was fortunate to meet in 2006 – the same physician who saved Lance Armstrong’s life a decade earlier.

Just a personal story?  Not really. In many ways, this is what we do for our clients every day. We convince patients, patients-to-be, physicians, suppliers, manufacturers and healthcare organizations of all kinds to make better, more informed choices. We convince people to choose our clients’ brands. We encourage people to make connections that save lives. These are the consequences of healthcare marketing.

Here’s what I mean:

When we promote cardiac care, we say the heart center can reliably and consistently open blocked arteries in notably less than the 90-minute national standard.  As our clients know, we won’t execute a single ad until we absolutely, positively know the promise can be delivered. When we produce white papers, webinars and campaigns to convince pathology labs and blood banks to adopt new patient safety technologies, we know that patients can benefit. We also know failure to do so can have devastating consequences.

I could go on and on with examples like these, but the real bottom line is this: everyone deserves to make informed decisions about healthcare. That’s why Dobies Healthcare Group exists, and it’s why we are so passionate about everything we do for our clients. As a healthcare CEO, you deserve a marketing partner like us – experts who know how to drive new patient volume, sales, and market share, and who wake up every morning thinking about the consequences of what we do for your brand.