After Rebranding Your Hospital: Five Guiding Principles to Brand Sustainability

Brand promise vs. mission statementIf you have recently launched a new brand at your healthcare organization, you are well aware that your brand is not a logo – your brand is an intangible asset that resides in people’s hearts and minds. It is defined by expectations developed over time though communication and, more importantly, through actions.

While you have good reason to celebrate a successful launch, it is important to know the public unveiling of your new brand is only the beginning. Maintaining what you’ve created is a continuous journey of aligning operations with communications to ensure you continuously deliver an authentic brand promise.

Here are five guiding principles to sustaining your brand:

1. Be a visible leader.

Effective leadership is like oxygen for your brand. It is an essential driving force that ultimately determines whether your employees live your brand promise, and whether your customers experience it.

Take every opportunity as a leader to demonstrate commitment to your brand in words as well as actions, promoting an aligned, shared vision across the organization. Integrate your key talking points into all employee communications. Reinforce your commitment at executive and board meetings by including brand strategy as an ongoing agenda item. Reiterate what differentiates your product or service, and work to ensure those points of differentiation continuously elevate your brand above the competition. Use your brand strategy as a key filter for business decisions, keeping the big picture in mind as you guide your organization in delivering your brand promise. Hold your organization accountable for delivering on the brand promise every day.

2. Measure, measure, measure.

When you developed your new brand strategy, you did so with data from surveys, in-depth interviews and local market studies. You gathered information from your customers, community stakeholders, industry leaders and employees. Similarly, as you work to keep your brand strategy sustainable, it is important to continue gathering input and measuring perceptions.

Insights from data help redefine differentiators, invigorate key messages, rally your team around a brand promise and execute an authentic brand experience that makes positive emotional connections with customers.

Consider a results dashboard to track and trend key data that provide the insight needed to maintain brand authenticity. For hospitals, metrics might include quality indicators, customer engagement activity, brand awareness levels and customer feedback.

3. Keep an eye on competitive activity.

You spent significant time and money developing your new brand strategy and the marketing materials to support it. Your competitors noticed, and they are likely taking action to ensure they’re not left behind. They may be adjusting growth strategies and geographic focus. They may be altering their marketing and advertising plans, possibly increasing their media spending to reduce your share of voice and share of market. Some of this activity will be readily apparent; some will not. It is imperative that you know what your competition is doing in the marketplace and how customers are reacting.

Acquiring competitive information may require significant time and resources to collect and interpret. Hospitals can consider products like ad atlas+, which is updated annually. ad atlas+ consolidates and synthesizes the information health systems and hospitals need to make informed, strategic marketing and advertising investments. Regardless of your approach, it is crucial to dedicate time and effort to understand competitive market activity.

In the healthcare industry, NRC Health’s Market Insights provides detailed customer perception reports that can be customized to compare your system or hospital to a distinct set of competitors. This information, updated monthly, is a valuable resource for understanding how your brand is performing. Regardless of your segment of the health industry, measuring customer perception is essential to understanding what actions you will need to undertake as you continue your rebranding journey.

Your #HospitalBrand is a valuable business asset. Maintain & evolve what you have created. Click To Tweet

4. Ensure culture is your brand driver.

The health of your brand internally (your culture) is as important as customer perception and competitive activity – perhaps more so – because brand is a byproduct of culture. To promote and encourage internal brand adoption:

  • Maintain cultural and strategic alignment. Understanding and embracing the link between strategy, culture and brand is key. Your organization’s culture is inspired through leaders and demonstrated through core values. It is a powerful strategic asset and a sustainable differentiator that requires ongoing focus and commitment.
  • Enlist internal brand advocates. Branding extends far beyond the marketing department – brand advocates can and should span all levels and departments within your organization. These individuals can encourage a shared sense of purpose, keep others focused on the brand strategy and help implement tactical components to fulfill the brand promise.
  • Audit internal brand adoption. Ask your brand advocates to track key desired behaviors. Provide clear guidelines on the activities and cultural attributes you want employees to demonstrate. Empower employees to innovate to deliver products, services and experiences that align with your brand promise.
  • Adhere to your visual brand guidelines. Although you likely inventoried your corporate identity assets and brand presence as part of your rebranding effort, there are ample opportunities for branding oversights or mishaps. Create and distribute a simple brand identity checklist for everyone to follow. Be sure your new logo, tagline, tone, color palette and other visual elements are followed consistently. Be diligent about it, and engage your brand advocates and other passionate team members to assist in this effort.

5. Continue to tell your brand’s story.

Preserving brand health involves telling the brand story at every meaningful opportunity. Encourage employees at all levels of your organization to refer to your brand talking points as they communicate in person, online, over the phone and every other touch point for connecting with consumers. Lead by example.

Take talking points a step further by developing a compelling story about your brand. According to Harvard Business Review, stories are essential in today’s information-rich (and often data-overloaded) environment. Telling stories creates “sticky” memories when emotion is embedded in the story. Take time to develop a narrative around your brand that creates memorable and positive associations. What is the inspiration behind your brand? What specific challenge(s) have you overcome that made your brand what it is today? What role do your employees play in that brand story? What role do your customers play?

Your brand is one of your most valuable business assets. Invest time and energy to maintain and evolve what you have created. Keep your brand healthy through strong leadership and close attention to consumer and competitive activity as your healthcare business grows and transforms. Look for opportunities to strengthen your brand internally, and continue to share the meaning and purpose of your brand to enhance connections with your customers. Your efforts will be rewarded with loyalty and preference, both internally and externally.

As a side note for healthcare organizations that wish to embark on a rebranding journey but seek expert guidance through the process, brand scout+ is an excellent resource for leaders to consider. Learn more in this blog post on revitalizing your brand.

About the Author

Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group

Carol 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.

The Emerging Lifecare Model: A Platform Strategy for a Healthy Future

For organizations that operate within the U.S. healthcare system, change has become inevitable. Several major market forces are converging to change the size, shape, and scope of healthcare financing and delivery. Born from the premise that population health management must adapt to emphasize prevention as well as treatment, healthcare is now actively transforming into lifecare. Engaging people in their desire to remain healthy—beyond just receiving treatment when they are not—is the newest requirement for sustainability in the industry.

Market forces converge, shifting the healthcare landscape to lifecare.

Market forces converge, shifting the healthcare landscape to lifecare.

Imagine what a health system or health plan model built from the ground up would look like today. Instead of reflecting the long-standing industry focus on supply and demand for service, coverage and revenue churning, the new business model would likely be an evolutionary adaptation—an enterprise capable of meeting increased consumer demand for services that engage people in health throughout their life spans using innovative and effective channels.

In a white paper we recently co-authored with HealthScape Advisors, we call this the lifecare model – a new approach to meeting the full continuum of consumer needs related to staying healthy over time and ultimately creating healthier populations. By its very nature, the lifecare model cannot succeed in a vacuum; it is achievable only through collaboration. To seamlessly connect dots along the continuum of care, as well as the life span of the consumer, lifecare integration requires new partnerships between health systems, health plans and a host of other organizations at the local, community level.

The Lifecare Model: Creating an Ecosystem to Foster Healthy Lives

In this innovative model, consumers and suppliers (including payers) of comprehensive health services connect on a platform. An article published in the Harvard Business Review titled, Pipelines, Platforms and the New Rules of Strategy, notes that companies such as Apple, Uber and Airbnb have successfully unlocked the power of platforms. “Platform businesses bring together producers and consumers in high-value exchanges,” explain the authors. “Their chief assets are information and interactions, which together are also the source of the value they create and their competitive advantage.”

In the healthcare industry, the platform acts as a hub, facilitating interactions through which consumers can actively and continuously engage in their health. The ideal environment allows competitors and other players in the health space to become collaborators, working together on behalf of the consumer. Public and private partnerships provide greater access to community-based life products and services such as healthy foods, fitness programs and health education. Preventive health and wellness programs become more accessible and personalized, leading to increased engagement and utilization.

New #lifecare model creates sustainability for enterprises operating in today’s health industry. Click To Tweet

Lifecare is about inspiring and supporting decisions that encourage healthy lives, which means the focus on health must (1) put the consumer at the center, and (2) extend far beyond traditional delivery and financing systems. Schools, churches, libraries and grocery stores can all be viewed as community partners working to promote health, as can employers, community centers, ancillary providers and many others. More consumer engagement with these partners will lead to more interactions with all purveyors and payers along the continuum, making lifecare a highly sustainable, consumer-centric model with real potential to make a meaningful impact on individual and population health.

The lifecare platform strategy connects community partners in a virtual, consumer-centric ecosystem.

The lifecare platform strategy connects community partners in a virtual, consumer-centric ecosystem.

Disruption through Innovation

Equally important to the lifecare vision is the ability of enterprises to create disruption in the traditional sense, where innovative operating protocols and collaborative marketplace alignments take on new meaning within the enterprise. As pressure to reduce cost of coverage and care continues, many enterprises are responding with new product and service innovations, usually in the form of technology solutions. Healthcare disruptors come poised to compete – but they also carry real, actionable potential to enter the market as good collaborators for the lifecare platform model.

Some disruptors are focusing on integration with community agencies to facilitate better access to services that help people stay healthy. Others are bringing new distribution channels into markets outside the traditional framework, including targeted product offerings toward technology-oriented consumers. From consumer-facing solutions such as telehealth, digital health coaching, virtual health memberships and integrated lifestyle modification networks – to provider-focused solutions like prescription monitoring for physicians, predictive analytics for home health clinicians and more – innovation that identifies and tracks how consumers will expect service and care in the future will come to enterprises that focus on staying ahead of others in the race.

Growing venture capital interests in the healthcare industry are further fueling disruptive innovation in mobile and virtual healthcare, financial services, and a range of “big data” and health analytics initiatives. This, coupled with high levels of consolidation and accelerated diversification strategies among several large insurers and health systems, signals that we should anticipate the emergence of new, innovative and consumer-oriented solutions. Potentially, venture funds will find healthy investments in lifecare transitions and underwrite innovative disruption to strengthen platform strategies now underway. More importantly, they may invest in creating entirely new ones in the future.

In other words, the ability of present-day healthcare enterprises to remain innovative and build alliances with consumers via marketplace disruption throughout the next decade will drive the new, consumer-centric approach. And, as the healthcare market continues to evolve toward the consumer, there too will be unique and creative responses to meet the expectations of this new era.

#HealthcareConsumerism is driving industry collaboration toward health & #lifecare. Click To Tweet

Building a Lifecare Platform Strategy

Developing a lifecare platform strategy is complex but necessary, and the time to begin your planning is now. With the health industry’s rapid transformation into consumerism, population health, value-based reimbursement and even empowering consumers to monitor their health in their daily lives, healthcare entities that are slow to embrace a collaborative, consumer-centric lifecare model will get left behind. Particularly as mhealth, virtual health, wearables and other types of consumer health technology become more and more sophisticated and commonplace, we need look no further than the state of today’s taxi industry to see the effects of responding too slowly to disruption and the rise of consumerism.

Successfully creating your new business model design requires a firm commitment to strategic business planning, organizational readiness assessments, collaborative partnerships, cultural alignment, consumer engagement and brand authenticity. There is no universal approach – the scope and application can and will vary from one enterprise to the next, but all will have at least one common denominator: collaborative partnerships – even among organizations that once viewed themselves as competitors – with a shared vision of keeping people healthy throughout their lives. Acute, episodic, bricks-and-mortar-based care will always be needed, but it is no longer enough. The wave of the future involves reducing illness and injury by making healthy living more pervasive in everyday life.

How will your organization adapt? For in-depth insight that may help you answer that question, download “The Emerging Lifecare Model: How Consumerism is Driving Industry Collaboration Toward Health and Lifecare as a New Strategic Platform” [white paper].

About the Authors

Julie Amor, Chief Strategy OfficerCarol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare GroupJulie Amor, Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Healthcare Group, brings more than 20 years of experience elevating healthcare brands to our firm and our clients. Julie co-authored this article with several industry thought leaders: Carol Dobies, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group, and a 25-year brand and marketing advisor; Arjun Aggarwal, a co-founder and Managing Partner at HealthScape Advisors who has more than 25 years of experience helping health plans and health systems understand the demands of a constantly evolving healthcare marketplace and plan for the future; and David Gentile, Senior Advisor at HealthScape Advisors and the former President and Chief Executive Officer for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City.

Share your thoughts about this article by tweeting @DobiesGroup or commenting on our Facebook page.

Consolidation and Integration Require New Brand Strategies for Healthcare Companies

Brand authenticity comes when you align what you say with what you do.As healthcare industry leaders look to increase efficiency, grow market share, improve outcomes, and meet consumer expectations for health and life services, many are finding solutions through consolidation and integration.

Predictably, when organizations join forces, they experience a cultural transformation that affects all aspects of the company, including its brand. At a pivotal time like this, it is essential that leaders skillfully align company culture with the business strategy and brand strategy. Of the three, the latter is the most often undervalued or overlooked by companies that fall short of their full potential post-merger. Those who address all three with equal importance are the ones who succeed…the ones who lead.

Case in point: CVS Health. Once a traditional pharmaceutical retail chain, the company now owns 50 percent of market share in the retail clinic space. Cited as “arguably the country’s biggest health care company” by The New York Times, CVS Health’s business model has positioned the company to deliver on its publicized promise of “helping people on their path to better health.” A series of consolidation moves over the last decade set the stage for the organization’s transformation, including the 2006 acquisition of MinuteClinic, the 2007 merger with pharmacy benefits provider Caremark, and the 2013 purchase of Coram, a home infusion services company.

Incidentally, CVS Health further bolstered its brand promise in 2014 when it announced the discontinuation of tobacco sales. In doing so, the company forfeited $2 billion in annual revenue but moved the dial on something priceless: brand authenticity.

And that’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak—brand authenticity is the much-coveted marriage between what you say you do (e.g., helping people on their path to better health) and what you actually do (e.g., providing highly convenient access to healthy products and services). Aligning words with actions across an entire enterprise is no small feat, especially post-merger, but it is as possible as it is imperative. The most important ingredients are skills, experience and a unified commitment to the new brand promise.

Increasing Capabilities through Consolidation

According to a report from the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, healthcare is currently the third most active industry in mergers and acquisitions (behind only computers/electronics and professional services). The healthcare industry announced more than 1,000 deals valued at $176 billion in 2016, and more than 1,200 deals valued at $417 billion in 2015. This trend is expected to continue. According to Kaufman, Hall & Associates, 63 percent of hospital and health system leaders surveyed for Futurescan 2017-2022 predicted their organizations will consolidate with another hospital or system within the next five years.

It’s not just health systems. Companies all across the healthcare industry are consolidating, often bringing together unexpected partners to create a platform of products and services that engage consumers in innovative ways. As healthcare organizations expand their footprints, diversify into new business segments, and bring innovative products and solutions to market through consolidation, they will likely find it challenging to integrate cultures from two companies into one. Is it a big undertaking? Yes. Does that mean it should be bypassed for efficiency sake? Definitely not. While difficult, transforming the culture to align with the new promise is essential for delivering an authentic brand experience, which is, in its own right, essential for customer satisfaction, loyalty and trust.

Just look at how others are broadening their capabilities through consolidation:

  • Nonprofit entities Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives announced last year they were exploring a merger that could be one of the most sizeable deals of 2017, creating the largest not-for-profit hospital system with revenues of $27.6 billion.
  • Roche, the world’s largest biotech company, made six acquisitions and investments in genomics companies in just over a year to boost its standing in the drug discovery arena. By acquiring organizations with operations that complement its own, Roche is positioned to accelerate its understanding of genetic causes of disease and further establish itself as a leader in the field.
  • UnitedHealth Group, a leading managed care company, announced in 2015 it was combining OptumRx, its freestanding pharmacy care services business, with Catamaran Corporation, a provider of pharmacy benefit management and technology solutions. The combined company links data typically found in disparate systems—including demographic, lab, pharmaceutical, behavioral and medical treatment data—enabling clients and consumers to make better decisions regarding care effectiveness and pharmaceutical compliance.
  • In January 2017, Optum and Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA) announced a merger to create a comprehensive ambulatory care platform that will operate in 75 markets, representing about two-thirds of the U.S. population. Together, Optum and SCA will serve millions of consumers each year through 20,000 affiliated physicians and hundreds of care facilities.

The Power of Brand

What do all these examples have in common? Through mergers and acquisitions, they are creating new opportunities to broaden their scope of capabilities, and as a result, extend their promise. They are thinking outside their own enterprises and finding innovative ways to make a deeper impact on health and healthcare. However, even the most experienced leaders and smartest strategies can only take the promise so far. In the end, the authenticity of the actual experience becomes the most critical success factor.

Creating a brand strategy—in preparation for consolidation or anytime—involves defining how the brand resonates both internally and beyond: what should the customer experience look like post-consolidation, and how will the new brand promise be communicated—and kept—for customers? Finding the right answers takes a significant investment in time and resources, but it is well worth it. A newly consolidated company has much to communicate and even more to do, and success depends on doing everything well.

For expert guidance navigating your own organization’s brand strategy, discover brand scout+.

For insights to drive a new marketing and positioning strategy, discover maps+.

About the Authors

Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare GroupJulie Amor, Chief Strategy OfficerCarol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group, has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 25 years. Carol co-authored this blog with Julie Amor, Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Healthcare Group, who brings more than 20 years of experience elevating healthcare brands to our firm and our clients. 

Share your thoughts about this article by tweeting @DobiesGroup or commenting on our Facebook page.

What Differentiates a Healthcare Market Leader? One Word: Strategy

Compass and road map symbolizing how a marketing strategy defines what is possible and gives the roadmap for achieving it.The healthcare industry is undergoing radical and disruptive change, creating unique opportunities for healthcare organizations to “think differently” and establish market positions through innovative new approaches. There has never been a more critical time to lead with a clear and distinctive strategy, and by doing so, dominate in market.

Developing a market strategy requires a full evaluation of market opportunities, as well as operational conditions that must be present to fulfill the strategy. It spurs necessary critical thinking about the future, and requires us to ask questions and challenge assumptions about the organization, as well as the competition and scenarios for the future.

A marketing strategy defines what is possible and gives the roadmap for achieving it.

Think about healthcare transformation. It’s not just the industry that is changing – consumers are transforming as well. Today’s patients are becoming more active consumers of care; they are now more price-sensitive and apt to shop around for the best value. With a dizzying array of options available, patient loyalty is being challenged in ways not experienced before. Moving patients along the traditional continuum of care, once a given, now has hospitals and physicians seeking new ways to attract and retain patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

Another factor at play is consumer demand for services to help them stay healthy. Increasingly, these are being offered by non-medical entities. Payers, businesses and community organizations—in addition to health systems and providers—are collaborating to provide services that promote healthy lifestyles. The idea is to prevent illness and injury, rather than simply being available to treat those who are sick or injured. This concept of “lifecare” represents a significant shift from the conventional (and increasingly outmoded) healthcare model.

As the possibilities mount for various approaches to healthcare transformation, has your marketing team formed a strategy to guide your organization in positioning for the future?

Strategy as a Differentiator

Organizations that respond to transformation by adopting smart, strategic approaches to marketing now have the ability to position themselves as market leaders. In a stark departure from familiar methods of attracting and retaining patients, providers now can demonstrate their value and commitment to the everyday health and wellness of consumers, increasing the likelihood of being the top choice when healthcare—and lifecare—is needed. They can build trust and loyalty through physician relations programs, and they can create community advocates by engaging physicians and staff in delivering on the brand promise.

Healthcare marketing professionals understand that leading in today’s world requires more than a clever slogan or catchy advertisement. While creative execution is important, it is critical thinking and a deliberate strategic approach that will define the competitive edge and deliver results. To lead and excel requires a keen understanding of market position and competition. It requires a deep dive into data and market trends, as well as a compelling point of differentiation. And it requires a fundamental understanding of who you are, what you stand for, and why you stand for it. With consumers now seeking services that help them stay healthy, it is imperative to engage people in ways that historically have not been a part of most healthcare organizations’ marketing plans.

Long-held assumptions about how the industry works are now being challenged. With products, services and platforms becoming increasingly similar in their offerings, strategy becomes the competitive advantage. Those who pursue a strategic approach to marketing will stand out among the competition by creating new levels of value…for consumers as well as themselves.

About the Authors

Julie Amor, Chief Strategy OfficerCarol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare GroupJulie Amor, Chief Strategy Officer for Dobies Healthcare Group, brings more than 20 years of experience elevating healthcare brands to our firm and our clients. Julie co-authored this article with Carol Dobies, CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group, who has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 25 years.

Share your thoughts about this article by tweeting @DobiesGroup or commenting on our Facebook page.

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.

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 more than 25 years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup or by commenting on our Facebook page.

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.

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 more than 25 years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup or by commenting on the Facebook page.

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+ provides details on share of voice, media mix, brand positioning, message platforms and creative samples across your competitive landscape

Click image to learn more about ad atlas+.

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.