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Mar 30

WebMD Health ExchangeWebMD is the most trusted online health brand, gets more traffic than any other health site, and they just launch WebMD Health Exchange. Every other startup online health community out there should be petrified. It’s like owning the town five and dime and having WalMart show up. It’s too early to tell the impact the WebMD communities will have, but they have smartly setup communities moderated by their experts (driving quality and more trust) but also allow anyone to create their own exchange which will allow for innovation and more traffic.

Big questions ahead…who will be the first big pharma to sponsor an official “exchange” in their therapeutic area? Should a big brand hospital setup their own communities, or grab some virtual land under the WebMD banner? Are Facebook fan pages still the way to go, or can you get higher quality health-targeted members on WebMD?

What do you think the impact of WebMD Health Exchange will have on health communications?


Mar 28

Previously I wrote about one panelist’s good answer to Jen McCabe’s question, “How come consumers aren’t rushing to adopt these personal health solutions?” But someone on the panel gave a really bad answer, too. He said:

“Consumer health apps and devices are taking off because people won’t pay for stuff.”

That answer got a second vote on the panel and most in the room nodded in agreement. That answer is wrong and while it might make us feel better because it implies it’s not our fault, it disempowers us as health marketers.

First let me acknowledge that it is hard to get people to pay for stuff. It’s why companies like Sermo, Patients Like Me, and others that don’t want to go out of business are rushing into the arms of Pharma. If you can’t make your money on ad revenue (and unless you’re a top 5 health site you can’t) and you can’t get consumers to pay (it’s hard) then you go to the people sitting on tons of money–pharma. Lot of people gnash their teeth at this fact but as a consumer I’d rather have a free solution with a pharma logo on it then to have no solution at all. But I digress…

So people won’t pay for stuff, huh? Seems to me that people love paying for stuff. They pay a lot for all kinds of stuff including beer, video games, stupid movies, porn, sports cars, designer handbags, ridiculously expensive watches and chia pets.

We just don’t make decisions rationally. We choose short term pleasure even if there is long-term pain. It’s easy to spend money on things that make us feel good now, even if there are consequences down the road.

It’s really hard to get off my damn couch and workout. After all, it freakin’ hurts. It’s really hard to take that pill that is going to make me nauseous now, when my disease doesn’t seem to be that bad this week. And if the health problem is something that I can’t see or feel, I just can’t relate. I know these cheese fries are going to make my cholesterol go up, but I can’t see it or feel it happening. And besides, I’ll eat salads next week to make up for it won’t I?

So back to selling your mobile health doodad, your patient community, monitoring device, whatever. Dig deep, and think about the immediate benefits. I wish it weren’t so, but that’s what you have to sell. You can do it subtly, you can do it with finesse, you can use a message ladder to adjust to your audience but that’s the secret.

Harley isn’t selling a motorcycle, they are selling the power of middle aged paunchy executives to be able to leather up, roar into town and scare the crap out of old ladies and kids.

We act–we change our behaviors–from an emotional response, not a logical one. I fought this truth for too many years in too many of my businesses but now this truth empowers me: We decide with emotion, we justify with logic.

A couple years ago at Kru we did an exhaustive research study of people with chronic insomnia. It’s a widespread problem, a serious health issue, and yet most people will never talk to their doctor about it or take any serious action to remedy it. There were of course different segments within this population, but by and large what we found was that people didn’t really care much about sleep, but they do want to be alert in the day.  They don’t really care about insomnia, but they do want to have the energy to play catch with their kids, make love to their spouses, and drive their daughters safely to their troop meetings. It’s a desire for energy (just think about all those “Five Hour Energy” power drink commercials).

Don’t get confused, this isn’t classic feature-benefit stuff. If you take that straightforward approach then you’ll think the benefit is “health” or “no headache” or “real time monitoring” and you’ve got it wrong. It’s the benefit you get after the benefit.

People do spend money on stuff. But it’s on the stuff they care about, not the stuff you care about.


Mar 28

“You need two things to get mass consumer uptake. Design and distribution.” That was the smartest thing I heard at the Everywhere Healthcare conference in Vegas last week. It was Zeo co-founder Ben Rubin’s answer to Jen McCabe’s simple question:

“How come consumers aren’t rushing to adopt these personal health solutions?”

Lord knows there are many other ingredients in the secret potion for consumer success, but I’d have to say that design and distribution are indeed at the top of the list. Design doesn’t just mean form or physical design-it’s the whole “experience design.” But what I want to focus on is the second “D” for distribution.

For consumers to adopt your health-widget, it needs to be readily available and promoted. The more places the better. The success of the iPod has as much to do with the iTunes music distribution channel as it does with a sleek but simple mp3 device.

Have much do you think about distribution? If you have a unique personal health device perhaps distribution channels could include Brookstone, gyms or fitness centers, running stores, weight loss centers, yoga schools, the  list could go on and on.

But even if your “product” isn’t a product, blow your mind and think about distribution. Just brainstorm for awhile. Promoting your health system or hospital? That’s local and (of course) you are offering authentic value through educational programs, right? But WHERE are you offering those? Only on your own website? Only through quarterly newsletter mailings? Again, think of all the other health channels in your area. Think of the people interested in your program-what else are they interested in? Maybe distribution is local fitness coaches, health food stores, senior centers, day care centers, etc.

Promoting a prescription starter kit or co-pay coupon for your product? It still works the same way. Think about who else reaches your target health consumer and see if you can partner in some way.

If you want to drive health consumer adoption of your product or service, think distribution.


Feb 10

This movie requires Flash Player 9

Marketing Mayo Clinic, Lee Aase (20 minutes)

  • Power of word of mouth marketing
  • Top 7 reasons patients choose Mayo Clinic
  • Series of tactics from new media to social media
  • Total cost of Mayo Clinic e-marketing = $0
  • Social media pyramid (ie, right number of servings per day)
  • The Mayo video that generated over 6 million views

for Pharma & Health Communications

Each one-day boot camp is led by Kevin Kruse and is limited to only 15 participants to maximize individual attention. Sign-up now to get a 50% early bird discount.

SAVE THE DATE: e-Patient Connections 2010!
September 27-29, 2010, Philadelphia Hyatt Bellevue

Feb 05

This movie requires Flash Player 9

Johnson & Johnson on YouTube, Rob Halper (10 minutes) watch video

  • Who’s Watching YouTube? Everybody.
  • Health searches and views on YouTube
  • Metrics, metrics, metrics
  • Two-way interaction with viewers
  • Selling the idea internally and overcoming obstacles

for Pharma & Health Communications

Each one-day boot camp is led by Kevin Kruse and is limited to only 15 participants to maximize individual attention. Sign-up now to get a 50% early bird discount.

SAVE THE DATE: e-Patient Connections 2010!
September 27-29, 2010, Philadelphia Hyatt Bellevue

Jan 22

cover_twitterThis new, free 40-page guide for health marketers and communicators has just been released. In Using Twitter for e-Patient Communications you’ll get:

  • Case studies from J&J, Detroit Medical Center, American Public Health Association
  • Complete Twitter tutorial for beginners
  • Double your followers by optimizing your Twitter profile
  • Expert insights from Dana Lewis (#HCSM) and John Pugh (Boehringer Ingelheim)
  • The Listen, Inform, Engage adoption mode
Click here to download this free guide.

for Pharma & Health Communications

Each one-day boot camp is led by Kevin Kruse and is limited to only 15 participants to maximize individual attention. Sign-up now to get a 50% early bird discount.

SAVE THE DATE: e-Patient Connections 2010!
September 27-29, 2010, Philadelphia Hyatt Bellevue.

Dec 21

interval_coverThe topic of social media return-on-investment (ROI) continues to be popular as innovators look to justify their efforts and laggards look for excuses. Compared to more tried-and-true marketing campaigns, the return on investment involved with social media can be hard to quantify.

Think Interval has contributed to the conversation with their white-paper, “Yes We Can: Measuring Marketing Performance for Hospitals and Health Systems.” It reassures health-care companies that while setting up consistent and useful measurement standards can be a difficult and time-intensive project, establishing a system of gauging marketing results in a Social Media (SM) environment is not only possible but crucial. They recommend a three-tiered system of “Marketing Performance Measurements.”

Financial Metrics provide the traditional ROI. How much money has your campaign brought in versus how much it cost? Financial metrics, if you have them, are the easiest to draw conclusions from, but getting them can be difficult, often requiring customer and patient actions to be tracked over long periods of time.


Action Metrics lack the bottom-line punch of financial metrics, but still deliverable measurable, concrete results. For example, a hospital offering a free booklet on the risks of arthritis can measure the number of requests for the information. Often these actions can be roughly equated with a financial outcome. Any campaign that can’t efficiently provide a financial metric should take care to track as many actionable angles as possible.

Attitudinal Metrics simply measure the attitudes and opinions of a selected audience. These could be the results of surveys, polls, focus groups, interviews, or even anecdotes. While these can be a useful gauge of what people are saying about you, it is important to keep in mind that attitudes often do not correlate with behavior. As a result, attitudinal metrics are usually the least useful of the three.

With definitions of what you can measure in hand, the paper goes on to discuss how to measure the success (or lack thereof) of a campaign. The first step, the micro-level, is concerned with figuring out how to measure the results of specific marketing activities. To quote the paper, “your goal is to answer the question ‘Did this campaign work?’ with a definitive ‘Yes, and here’s the evidence to back it up.’” The report offers a fairly detailed run-down of what you should be measuring as results vs. actions, and how exactly you should look at these results. First, define what actions you will be taking. An action can be anything, the paper says, from a simple one-sheet brochure to an expensive television spot. If your metric is your end-goal, then try to include as many activities in this metric as possible. Open-houses, phone reminders, promotional websites-it all counts.

Make sure to set an objective (for example, “200 new appointments this month”) and take note of your current baseline (”75 new appointments last month”) to compare the results of your campaign to (”225 new appointments”). Make sure to look into the relative results of previous attempts to boost the same or similar branches of your organization, and make sure the source of your metrics and whose responsibility each aspect of the campaign falls to are also noted.

We’ve written in the past that at Kru we think social media ROI needs to be based on the purpose of your social media efforts. For example, using social media to “listen” is akin to conducting a focus group, and proving ROI isn’t necessary or practical. But if your goal is to get them to buy your product, or visit your website, then hard ROI metrics are possible and should be pursued.

Nov 30

Advertising maven, Roy Williams, has been speaking about Society’s 40-year Pendulum since at least 2003. Grounded in the generational theories of Strauss and Howe, Roy Williams has been accurately predicting the changing behaviors of consumers for some time. 2009 was the first complete year of a “new” Civic minded generation (which transitioned since 2003 from an Idealist perspective). We now reject hype the way the baby boomers rejected conformity.

Key takeaways:

1) Authenticity is paramount — “Keepin’ it real” has replaced “being cool”

2) Networks are valued — Belonging has replaced winning

3) We trust our friends — Word of mouth has replaced mass media (WOM always the most powerful form of marketing, and Web 2.0 has eliminated friction and increased the velocity of messages)

Does your marketing and health communications reflect all this? Hopefully you’ve already made the shift; after all, you’ve had the previous six years to figure it out.

But if you need further inspiration, look no further than Madonna (the pop-star, not the Mother of Jesus). She is now in her 50’s and she isn’t the same artist/performer that she was early in her career. Her debut album in the 1980’s was self-titled, full of Ego and she became known as the “Material Girl.” Generations change their views as they progress–as we age–and Madonna today is known for her spirituality, Ray of Light album, and efforts to adopt children from Malawi.

You work in the most noble of professions; you are working for better health. Your drug, or hospital, or health publication, or non-profit is a valuable resource to patients; you are part of their health team. Does your marketing reflect all this? Does the “we” generation understand what you have to contribute?

Jul 09

pr_cover1I just released our newest white paper, Patients Rising: How to Reach Empowered, Digital Health Consumers.

Download here:

Jun 11

Run, don’t walk, to YouTube and setup your own channel. Have a hospital? Set up a channel for your hospital. Have a drug? Set up a channel for your disease state. Trying to get people to wash their hands, or take Vitamin C, or get their blood pressure checked more often? Setup a channel.

Nielsen Online estimates that YouTube gets almost 100 million visitors a month, which puts it right up with Google and Yahoo as one of the top 5 most visited websites on the Internet. And it’s still growing fast.

jnj_youtubeClick over and look at the J&J channel on YouTube. Go ahead, I’ll wait until you come back… OK, you saw it?

In less than a year J&J has posted over 140 videos, and the top 20 most viewed have garnered a whopping 425,000 views. Additionally, they have over 1,000 loyal “subscribers” who are anxious to view new content as it’s broadcast (er, published?).

Unless you have a mega-brand that is driven by tons of expensive DTC TV ads, I’ll bet there are few product websites out there that get over 40,000 views a month. And when is the last time 1,o00 people asked to subscribe to your branded website?

Need more examples? The Mayo Clinic YouTube channel (with 365 videos) is a good approach for hospital marketers and of course I’ve written before about the amazing job the CDC is doing with their channel.

And the kicker is that web video is cheap. You probably have all kinds of video shot for other purposes that you could repurpose for the web. And you don’t even have to pay for a separate web site or video hosting. YouTube has it taken care of. It’s a mantra…video, video, video.