How to Include Healthcare Reform Factors in Medical Marketing

We only have less than two years left before full implementation of healthcare reform in 2014. Yet there are still a lot of uncertainty and debate going on. The only certain thing is that healthcare is in a fundamental transformation process. The changes are bound to affect everything and everyone in the industry, including marketers engaged in medical lead generation.

To help you avoid being caught underprepared for these changes, here are a few things to think about when formulating your marketing plan and strategies.

Consider your branding approach. Among the chief aims of healthcare reform is to combine fragmented health service providers into integrated delivery systems called Accountable Care Organizations (ACO). This arrangement leads toward new branding challenges not only for hospitals and other healthcare providers but for all companies doing business in some way in the industry. You need to rethink the underlying value that your brand represents. This idea will greatly influence your medical lead generation efforts in the years to come.

Reexamine the way you plan. With the reshaping of your brand comes the reexamination of your marketing plan and planning approach. Clearly, healthcare companies which thrive in changing times are those who quickly adapt and readapt through dynamic planning. In this regard, you may need to reconsider your target segment, healthcare pricing, marketing budget, and promotion tactics. You have to gain insights from stakeholders in the healthcare industry to adjust your plan accordingly.

Focus on marketing intelligence. Without information, your marketing efforts or even your business itself is as good as likely to fail. You have to examine whether your marketing and business intelligence systems are fine-tuned to provide quality insight for making decisions. Do you have the ability to determine which aspects are contributing to growth and profitability? Specifically, your medical lead generation campaign needs to have all the necessary tools to measure, manage, and improve your results.

The year 2014 is fast approaching. By that time, your healthcare marketing systems should have been reengineered to adequately meet the demands of the new environment under the healthcare reform. If you have not started realigning your marketing means toward this end, now is the best time to begin doing so.

Best Practices Maximize Your Healthcare Marketing Budget

Many healthcare products and services providers tend to overlook the value of a proper marketing budget. Quite a lot of medical facilities, manufacturers, distributors, and professionals neglect to adopt a sound and consistent approach to allocate resources for their medical marketing projects. This attitude certainly has many dangers for such organizations. Medical marketing is an investment and therefore should be handled with extreme care. Here are some best practices ideas to help you avoid the mistake of improper budgeting.

There are certain budgeting practices in medical marketing that needs to be avoided no matter what. One such method is the “wild guess” approach wherein a marketer simply sets the campaign budget to an arbitrary amount. Another budgeting blunder is applying the “what you can afford” approach which is very similar to the wild guess method.

With the bad practices set aside, let’s now turn our attention to the advisable forms of budgeting in healthcare marketing.

  • Benchmark Budgeting. The benchmark budgeting method fixes a budget estimate according to some criteria or objectives. For instance, a budget that includes generating health leads and appointment setting may be set to exceed what a direct competitor is spending on the same item or set to industry averages. The main disadvantage of this approach is that the underlying benchmark may not apply to the company’s situation.
  • Percentage of Sales Budgeting. This is a traditional approach wherein the marketing budget amount is set as a percentage of sales. A healthcare manufacturer, for example, may set the budget for its medical lead generation campaign at 25% of sales. Here, the total budget increases or decreases directly with changes in the value of sales. However, this violates the sound principle that marketing efforts should be intensified when revenues are declining to revive sales growth.
  • Capital Budgeting Methods. These methods include using financial metrics such as the ROI, NPV, IRR, payback period, and profitability index to evaluate which projects become part of the marketing budget and which ones go back to the drawing board. Capital budgeting methods are more systematic and reliable than the two above because they take into account the costs and benefits associated with a marketing project. Of course, this does not imply that capital budgeting methods are completely infallible.

So, there you have it, a list of some of the best practices in coming up with a sound marketing budget for healthcare companies. You can try any of these and see which one works best for your campaign. A good approach with be to start with capital budgeting then work off from there.

Healthcare Marketing Best Practice and the FCC’s New Telemarketing Rules 2012

In February, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave the go-ahead to implement new rules governing the activities of telemarketing companies. These apply to telemarketers who rely on auto-dialers and pre-coded messages when contacting prospects or customers. Although companies that employ real human telemarketers do the prospecting work, it’s quite helpful to look at these rule changes as the best practices guide for your healthcare telemarketing campaign.

According to a news article from CNN.com, these new regulations are meant to extend the limits imposed by existing Federal Trade Commission policies on “robocalls” and “dead air” calls. Robocalls are automated and “interactive” telemarketing calls where dialing and messaging are done by a computer. Dead air calls occur when recipients encounter nobody at the other end after picking up the phone. If your healthcare lead generation process makes use of any of these, then you better pay close attention.

Telemarketers will have to get written permission from their contacts before dialing their phone numbers through robocalls. In the past, businesses with an established relationship with their contacts were allowed to place robocalls without permission from recipients. Health insurance customers, for instance, could be contacted through auto-dialers by a provider trying to promote new offers. Under the new rules, this practice of generating healthcare leads is not allowed unless written permission has been obtained.

The new rules cover other aspects of robocalling as well as dead air calls. Telemarketers using robocalls are now also required to provide interactive “opt-out” choices to their contacts. This enables such recipients to easily discontinue any future automated calls. Dead air calls are a result of a delayed response time because of too many calls placed by an auto-dialer at one time. The new FCC regulations aim to limit the number of these type of calls.

As you can see, the excesses that the FCC is trying to curb with their new policies can easily be avoided by a telemarketing company who really places its prospects and customers at the core of their campaign. This is why more qualified healthcare leads are generated by a company who avoids these bad practices with or without these rules.

How to Offer the Right Incentives to Your Medical Marketing Prospects

Offering incentives to your prospects is among the most effective way of getting them to respond in a favorable manner. For very obvious reasons, most people feel an almost-irresistible urge to repay others who have given them something useful or interesting. However, despite being part of common sense, the use of incentives in marketing still needs careful consideration, especially in medical telemarketing projects.

The first important concept behind the use of incentives is based on age-old notion of “reciprocity.” In our case, this means giving something of value or interest to your prospects in the hopes that they themselves will offer to respond. This is seen in medical lead generation, taking many form from offering free medical research literature all the way to handing out invitations to attend related seminars. Again, the point is to generate some sort of response from the prospects.

The next idea behind incentives in medical telemarketing is to make your brand stand out. Just telling your prospects what your business does is simply not enough. You have to point what benefits they can get from having you as an alternative vendor or service provider. If done right, this in itself should give your prospects enough reason to respond.

Let’s now turn our focus on how to apply the things we’ve figured out above to our medical telemarketing campaign. First, we need to decide what specific incentive scheme should apply to particular categories of prospects. Next, the incentives themselves must be neatly packaged as part of our message. Then, our medical lead generation effort should turn its attention to implementing and monitoring the campaign to see which schemes work well and which do not.

As marketers, we depend on our prospects’ response for our success. The right use of incentives is among the tools we have at our disposal to effectively carry out our plans. So, make sure to have incentives around whenever possible.