Strategic Marketing Session

I’m at the Forum for Healthcare Strategists’ 12th annual Forum on Customer Based Marketing Strategies at the Omni Orlando Hotel at Championsgate. I plan to live blog as many of the presentations as I can.
Geoffrey Crabtree of Methodist Healthcare Systems in San Antonio is talking about “Branding at the Bedside” vs. relying on paid advertising. Health care is one of the most intense experiences anyone has, and they talk about it. Therefore, his main point to us as health care marketing and communications professionals is:

“Change what you do from Marketing to Market Services and take ownership over customer relationships.”

CRM – “the idea that organizations should build meaningful long-term relationships with their customers, such that information obtained from these relationships deliver better products, more responsive service and more relevant information”

Methodist’s CRM platform includes four Affinity Programs with 496,000 members, Employer Relationship Building, Call-a-Nurse afor Children, Commmunity Events, Permission-based Publications, Collateral Programs, Family Health Centers (free pregnancy testing), a Call Center, three HealthB uses and several International Services.

Physician CRM Strategies include Sales, Recruitment, PHO, MOB Leasing, and Referral Services. Unlike Mayo Clinic, Methodist doesn’t really employ physicians (only about 34 in their Transplant program), so their needs are someone different from ours (or rather, ours are probably much different from most of the rest of the U.S., because all of our 1,500+ physicians are on salary.)

Affinity Groups include: WomenPlus, 55Plus, Young Heroes Club (for kids under 12), and Viva

For Methodist, advertising is very limited and service-line driven. They believe proactive PR is much more effective than paid advertising.

The CRM Bottom line: Become a “must carry” for payors, help employers choose the right health care plan, physicians and consumers.

Mr. Crabtree closed with a diagram that contrasted the “Then” way of marketing focused on Mass Media, vs. the “Now & Future” relationship management approach. I think it’s good that he listed proactive PR as part of both worlds, because he had earlier contrasted $1 million in advertising vs. $1 million in PR value. One thing he didn’t mention is that while the $1 million in advertising costs $1 million, the cost of the same level of PR is much less.

Methodist is spending about $3 million on CRM and $750,000 on advertising. Their PR budget is $900,000 but that includes $300,000 or so in community contributions (e.g. Chamber of Commerce.) They use a 3x multiplier to get their dollar value of media, which seems to be an industry standard that makes sense, since editorial has much more credibility than paid placements.

In fact, I think that in the age of TiVo the multiplier should be even higher, because people skip interruptive commercials but focus on the content. Being part of the content instead of paying to interrupt and be skipped is a better strategy.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

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