Health Care Marketing Series – Marketing Effectiveness and Efficiency – Warheads and Missiles

We have previously discussed the research needed to create a marketing strategy that identifies a target demographic. The purpose of this research is to allow us to compare our relative strengths and weaknesses verses our direct competitors strength and weaknesses within the marketplace. Once our relative position in the competitive marketplace has been researched, a strategy that pits our strength against our competitor’s weaknesses can be formulated. This process is called marketing strategy.

Part of the marketing strategy is to formulate headlines and ad copy based on our relative position in the marketplace. We want our marketing to highlight our relative strengths against the relative weakness of our direct competition. All of this positioning must be crafted within the context of the solution to a specific problem that exists in a coveted demographic within our marketplace. The ultimate goal is to create a perception within the collective minds of our demographic that we have the best answer to solve their specific problem. This well researched, well crafted message is our marketing warhead.

The more congruent our message is with the wants and desires of our coveted market demographic, the bigger bang we will receive from our marketing efforts. This “bang” is measured as our response rate. This process of marketing strategy sends us into battle (contention for potential patients) under advantageous conditions. The process we have just described is the definition of marketing strategy. The better the marketing strategy, more effective the headline and ad copy. Notice that we stated the better the strategy the more effective the headline and copy will be. We didn’t say the more effective the marketing campaign will be. This is because there is one more major consideration that helps to determine how effective or ineffective a marketing campaign will be. The other piece of the puzzle is your delivery systems.

If the strategy and the headlines and ad copy are the warhead of your marketing campaigns, the next step in successful marketing is the missile or delivery system.

The variables for marketing success are the quality of your research, the art and science of your strategy development, the alignment of your headline and ad copy with your marketing strategy and finally the efficiency and cost effectiveness of your delivery systems.

You can have a nuclear warhead when it comes to knowledgeable strategy, headline and ad copy, but will obtain mediocre results if you choose a weak delivery system. Conversely you may have the best most effective delivery system and obtain marginal marketing results if your strategy, headline and copy are weak.

Optimizing all three components and constantly testing and perfecting these aspects of your marketing campaign is the key to effective, efficient and profitable marketing that produces a handsome return on investment.

We have discussed the intricacies of developing marketing strategy in another paper. The marketing metrics required to evaluate the return on investment (which is another way to say the marketing efficiency) has been discussed in a previous paper. This paper will integrate marketing strategy and research with marketing metrics to create a framework with which to evaluate marketing delivery systems. This process is a real world method for first determining and then improving both marketing effectiveness and marketing efficiency.

Before we can evaluate our marketing effectiveness and efficiency we must first define marketing effectiveness and efficacy.

Marketing effectiveness is how well a campaign or the action steps within a campaign’s execution produce a favorable response. What is a favorable response and how do we know if we got one? Well despite what marketing aficionados might tell you, marketing execution can be measured. There are several tangible measurements that matter and they are new (or repeat) business depending on your strategy, revenue increase and profit

Your marketing strategy can be judged to be effective if 1. It produces new business, 2. It increases revenues and 3. It increases profit.

It has nothing to do with image, branding, awareness or intangible returns.

In the context of marketing a professional practice, new business would be “kept” new patient appointments. Revenue is the gross collections increase from previous months and profits means your return on investments, also expresses as increased revenue minus the cost of your marketing effort.

By themselves these measures can give you a good handle on the effectiveness or not of your marketing execution. The next step is to eliminate marketing action steps that are not effective and to optimize those marketing activities that are proven to be effective. Once marketing effectiveness and marketing efficiency are optimized you merely repeat the most effective and efficient action steps. Again and again.

This process is impossible without marketing metrics and return on investment measurement. In fact according to the Harvard Business School no marketing action plan is complete without steps to measure and evaluate the implementation of a campaign. (1)

(1) Harvard Business Essentials

Marketer’s Toolkit

Harvard Business School Press 2006

Let’s look at an example at how all this works. Let’s compare giveaway coffee mugs with a full color print on demand booklet. Online print on demand printers can produce a 6.5 x 9 inch full color saddle stitch booklet at a cost of $6.50 per unit. Let’s compare this against a custom imprinted coffee mug, available for an average cost for mugs of about $1.50

At first glance the mugs seem like a much better marketing investment.

But are they? Let’s say our coveted marketing demographic is women ages 35 to 55 and we have found through are research that this market segment has a health problem: menopause or perimenopause.

First let’s look at headline opportunities.

With the coffee mug you are severely limited by space. You’ll need to try to create a slick trendy and catchy headline. Something like:

“Got Hormones?”

There is not much room on a mug to do much else. What are our options with the print on demand booklet? With the booklet, space constraints are not an issue.

Here are several options:

– “A doctor’s guide to choosing the best treatment options for your perimenopausal symptoms”
– “Tired all the time, irritable, depressed, gaining weight? These are symptoms of perimenopause” “Learn about modern treatment options.”
– “What every women should know about perimenopause and how she can feel good again.”

Really with the space the booklet provides the headline can be extremely specific. You can use subtitles and even an excerpt from the content on the cover. So in terms of our warhead, which one do you think produces a bigger bang?

“Got Hormones?” or “Tired all the time, irritable, depressed, gaining weight? These are symptoms of pre menopause” “Learn about modern treatment options.”

With the coffee cup the story ends here. Because of space restrictions you can’t really get much more detailed. You might put your name on the mug, but you would be hard pressed to add much more information. The catchy headline “Got Hormones?” hopefully will start conversations about you and your services. The downside of this is obvious however. If you give your coffee cups to a patient or the owner of a trendy salon and if one of her customers sees the mug and asks the proprietor about hormone replacement, what are the odds that layperson can represent you and your services in a dramatic, appealing and informative way? Patients rarely remember to take their medications yet alone the reasons why they should and all available options you discussed with them.

In other words, the coffee cup doesn’t allow you to give enough information to sell your service to a prospect. It relies on third party information. The coffee cup hits a dead end rather quickly.

So in terms of a marketing warhead the coffee cup is more fizzle than bang. There is simply not enough space on the cup to allow you to create a headline that is in alignment with your target markets’ problem, yet alone enough space to educate her on how you have the solution to that problem. In other words, there is no way, using a coffee cup, to position you and your service in the mind of a prospective patient. Unless of course you sell coffee.

In terms of effectiveness, the coffee cup while seemingly relatively inexpensive is of dubious effectiveness. It doesn’t matter how cheep the mugs are, if they are not effective they are expensive.

Let’s go back to our full color booklet.

It’s full color so you can use appealing photos and graphics. There is plenty of room on the cover to place a well thought out headline that will stimulate your target to read the copy. Then there is the copy. With 15 pages you have plenty of time and space to sell yourself as the answer to your prospect’s problem.

You should always include a section that details your education and experience. This has been termed your unique selling proposition (USP) or your exceptional value statement (EVS). It is your chance to toot your own horn and you should toot it loudly. The purpose of the EVS is to position you in the prospect’s mind as the “go to” doctor. Your EVS must be powerful enough to motivate the prospective patient to drive by hundreds of other doctors on the way to your office. So spend some time on it and if you don’t feel comfortable talking about yourself, have someone read your CV and write your exceptional value statement for you.

Next let’s consider the body of your ad copy. This is where your research and marketing strategy comes into play. In your booklet you are going to list the basic approach of all your competitors. This may seem counter intuitive but remember you will be highlighting their weaknesses as you go. You are going to offer up alternatives to your own treatment approach, but frame them in a way that showcases their (your direct competitor’s) specific weaknesses. You slowly introduce your answer to the prospect’s problems. If your copy writer is talented, he or she should be able to bring the prospect along so by the end of your information booklet, the only logical conclusion for the reader is that you have the best answer to their problem. Never bash your competition, only frame your comparison highlighting the strengths of your approach compared with the relative weaknesses of your competition.

This shouldn’t be too difficult if you have developed marketing strategy as we discussed in previous papers.

Now within the booklet you should always include multiple ways for your readers to respond. Of course your office address and phone number, but also your web address and email. Perhaps an invitation to take an on line survey and of course your innovative Ask-the-Doctor program. How about a detachable postcard?

All of these methods of response should be interspersed throughout the text of your booklet. Not hidden at the very end.

The most important thing to remember is that your booklet should include valuable information. Don’t worry that you might be giving something away for free. If your information helps the patient they will consider you an expert. They will consult with you when they need help. They will already know that you can help them, because you already have.

Consumers are deluged with advertising offers. Research shows they are more likely to read marketing material if it contains valuable information that will likely benefit them. If your booklet is valuable it will have staying power. It may also be copied and passed around. It might be a good time to mention that you should waive the copyright and tell the reader to feel free to make copies and pass the booklet around.

So after reading this article do you still think that coffee mugs are an effective way to market? Are they efficient? They may cost less than a full color booklet, but do you think they are more cost effective?

If a marketing action step produces no return on investment, is it a good a deal at $100.00, $50.00, $5.00? Do you want to repeat it again and again? Conversely if you spend $2000.00 on action steps than returns $10,000.00 to your practice, is it expensive?

You can’t tell which actions steps are smart, effective and efficient marketing unless and until you measure.

This article provides a brief glimpse at the metrics and thinking behind the marketing metrics that will help your choose effective and efficient methods of marketing your professional practice. Refer to my other articles on marketing strategy and marketing metrics.

The Only Way to Discuss Metrics

Companies across all industries should have one important weapon in their arsenal – the balanced scorecard. This is an extremely important managerial tool that functions to check where the company is at present against the goals and objectives it once upheld. It is very easy for companies to lose track of their own goals and objectives, especially when this concerns the long-term ones. When faced with short-term goals and objectives, well, they seem to rather have a more impending nature, so companies tend to focus more on the short-term, rather than the long-term. This is why it is important for companies to discuss metrics and KPIs so that this problem can be sorted out. And if you do not have any idea how to go about this, then one thing you can do is check discussion forums on metrics.

A forum is a venue or place for people sharing the same interests to discuss those interests. If you are an avid fan of Maria Sharapova and her tennis prowess, then you would surely find a lot of forums about the Russian tennis player where you can share her thoughts about her with fellow Sharapova fans. This is the perfect way for Sharapova fans to gush about their tennis idol! Similarly, if you are an avid fan of metrics and the prowess it has in the business sector, you should then turn to metrics forums to have that scintillating conversation all about metrics.

What kind of metrics can you expect to be discussed by the participants in a metrics forum? Just like any other forum, this would be about any type of metric that you can find under the sun. There might be participants discussing economic metrics, with frequent mention on the GDP and other types of econometrics. There might also be people who are there to discuss education metrics, and they might be discussing how to use the GPA as a metric in the academe. So many types of metrics could be discussed on these forums, and these can include market metrics, software metrics, health metrics, delivery metrics, corporate investment metrics, and more.

Joining a metrics forum might require you to create your own account, with your very own User ID and your password. You can opt to be a mere visitor though, but this does not really give you that much freedom to begin with. As a visitor, you may be allowed to read through public threads and posts, but that is just it. You would need to have your own account so that you can participate in the forum itself. Surely you have some ideas off the top of your head that you want to share! Do not limit yourself to just browsing through threads. Go ahead and create your account now! After all, registration is free.

Once you are registered, you can then start to discuss metrics with participants who share the same interests with you. These forums are very organized so it would not be hard to find the particular metric you want to discuss. Just browse through the categories and you will get there in no time at all.

You’ve Measured It, Now What? Understanding How to Use Metrics in the Organization

The executives in your organization demand it. Your automated call distribution software is constantly collecting it. And if you are heading to a performance review, you won’t leave your desk without it. Metrics are an important part of managing a Service Desk or Support organization, and while we all know the common metrics measured across the industry, what we do with all of that data can drastically impact its effectiveness. Let’s look at how metrics can make a difference!

Quality Over Quantity-Know Your Audience

Thankfully, Automated Call Distribution software and incident management tracking applications make data collection a relatively easy task. When the time comes for preparing monthly reports for the executives in our organizations, we tend to get report happy. It’s easy to fall into the trap of creating a towering stack of reports simply because you can. Executives are generally concerned with the overall performance of the Service Desk and the benefits that it is providing to the organization. Executive reports should focus on Service Desk performance against the Key Performance Indicators identified by the organization. Your CIO may not be interested in the fact that 75% of your email related incidents are reported on Wednesdays, however metrics that show how an increase in the usage of self help tools is improving IT’s bottom line will certainly garner attention. Whenever possible, tie your reported metrics to the organization’s business objectives, and save the rest of that data for ad hoc requests that come up from time-to-time.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It!

While executives may not need to see the detailed nuances that make up your monthly metrics, you can use this information to help market the Service Desk within your organization. Metrics such as Calls Answered, Average Speed to Answer, and First Call Resolution Rate are great for communicating to your user community the overall health of the Service Desk. Your metrics can help convey the amount of work that flows through the department and can help you and your counterparts across the organization make educated decisions on staffing and technology. You can also consider publishing some of these metrics in the company newsletter or create a bulletin board in a high traffic area. Use your performance to show the goals that you’ve met and the hard work being done to work towards achieving others.

By knowing what is important to the organization and using metrics to market the Service Desk, you can present a statistical summary that provides your stakeholders with a concise snapshot of the health of IT support. It’s important to remain flexible and think beyond the common reports you expect to provide. Being able to react to requests for ad hoc reporting reflects a solid understanding of the Service Desk and its role within the IT organization.