Tag Archives: healthcare marketing

Rebranding a Major Healthcare System

I’m honored to present at the Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network (MHSCN) spring conference next month. I’ll be discussing the rebranding of Allina Health – a major endeavor I’ve been focused on the past two years.

This article on the MHSCN web site previews some of the topics I’ll be addressing in the presentation, including some of the highlights and challenges of the work.

Are you interested in healthcare marketing and communications? I’d love to see you at the spring conference! Registration information here.

Update: See the slides from this presentation here.

Shouting from your social media rooftop

The beauty of social media is sharing our experiences with others. Each day I learn new things about you and the things you care about. Inevitably I end up more educated on a wide range of topics and find new things I care about, too. I love learning from you!

When interacting with others and sharing our thoughts online, we all have a voice. It doesn’t matter if you have 5 followers or 5,000, people are listening.

Technology is a game-changer.

Back in the day (you know, like three years ago) customer service trainings would warn companies that customers will share positive experiences with 2-3 people, but an “upset  customer” will share with 9-15 people.

I’m sure anyone who spends time in social media will agree there’s been a significant change in the last few years in terms of the customer experience. This stems from advances in technology giving us both immediacy and amplification.

Immediacy: Our friends are only a hyper-moment away. Smart phones have brought real-time sharing of customer experiences. We commonly share where we are, what we are doing and how it’s going. Foursquare and Twitter encourage this moment-by-moment publishing of our lives.

When we are angry and feel like we are being treated poorly, we may choose to immediately vent our frustration and anger with friends… in the heat of the moment.

Amplification: I’d argue the ratio of people complaining five times as often as they give compliments is still valid. The difference now is our networks are dramatically bigger.

The average Facebook user has 130 friends. Twitter numbers are harder to nail down because the majority of users abandon their account within a month or so. The average users, at my best estimate, have between 200 to 2,000 followers.

When you complain, people listen.

There was a lot of chatter a few weeks ago when Bob Harper (pseudo-celeb from The Biggest Loser) tweeted out a complaint when he couldn’t get a table at a hot restaurant:

“OMG!! The manager at Bar Lagrasa in Minneapolis was SO RUDE to me. I wanted to have dinner there. Why are people so mean sometimes?”

Dramatic, right? I watched it unfold. Of his 130k Twitter followers, many retweeted it (shared it with their followers). A lot of people publicly supported him and vowed never to eat at Bar La Grassa. According to the manager, 15 people called in Bob’s defense. A week or so later, a behind-the-scenes account of the story was printed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune that told the real story – exposing Bob the trainer as nothing short of a whining egomaniac.

I see people in my network acting like Bob – every day. Some are general comments about companies. Some are more specific and call out employee names in specific departments of a store. In fact, I’ve even seen people call out their ex-lovers on Twitter and Facebook – with the goal of publicly humiliating them.

There are two sides to every story. In Bob’s case, the restaurant admitted they wouldn’t give Bob a table – because they were packed. However, they also offered his American Express concierge (the person actually making the call) other options. But he didn’t give the full story in his tweets.

Shouting from your social media rooftop.

That brings me to the question… do we have a responsibility to use our voices carefully online? If you complain online frequently, especially in the heat of the moment, I challenge you to take a step back and think about the impression it gives to everyone around you.

Not because I’m out to protect the brand of every company that provides bad service. Of course there are positive things that can happen from complaining online. Many would argue it gives companies an opportunity to repair a relationship. That said, I believe there are often more constructive ways to be heard than shouting loudly from your social media rooftop.

Bottom line: There comes a point when your complaints reflect more poorly on you than the company you are complaining about.

As you can tell, I’ve been chewing on this topic for awhile now and discussing it with others as I’ve been grappling with the tension of how much complaining online is healthy for our commerce v. how much is simply whining.

I’m careful with my words online, but that doesn’t mean that all complaints are off-limits either. In my next post, I’ll cover my personal policy on complaining in social media. Until then, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Inspired to help others

inspiredThe ’98 senior capstone class at Drake University challenged students to build a PR campaign for Kraft Cheez Whiz. I was grateful for the opportunity to build my portfolio with a national brand, but I was completely uninspired. The lesson I learned that semester set the tone for the rest of my career: product marketing was not for me. I need to direct my skills towards helping others. Because of that experience, I knew upon graduation I would focus on service marketing and non-profits.  

In fact, I landed my first job in healthcare, for the Hazelden Foundation, marrying my service and non-profit direction with a goal of helping others during a difficult time in their lives. While marketing skills are generally transferable from one industry to the next, most people need to find the product or company they are promoting interesting, or at the very least, challenging.

I’m quite confident I won’t ever take a position marketing consumables, such as food, cars, toys or clothing. The Cheez Whiz experience taught me that I’m simply not interested in the retail aspects of pricing and positioning when it comes to product marketing.

Although my skills lie in marketing, I’m careful not to confuse it with my passion. Truthfully? I am not passionate about marketing. (Okay, I am passionate about BAD marketing…) but my inspiration is in using my skills to help others. Making sure people have the right information, at the right time, to make important decisions in their lives.

Knowing my hands (and heart) have touched these folks in a meaningful way – that inspires me.

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