February 24, 2022
Invigorate Your Marketing Campaigns with After-Action Reviews
Anyone who has spent time in the military is uber-familiar with the infamous AAR—After Action Review. Rehearsing anything from an infantry assault on an enemy position to a military parade is immediately followed by a discussion of what went well, what didn’t, and how to improve it for next time. Immediacy is critical, while everything is still fresh in the mind. And everyone participates, from the senior leader to the newest member of the team.
What’s that got to do with healthcare marketing?
The AAR is a valuable tool for processing which marketing campaigns are working (or not working) and potential reasons why. AARs also help use the data gleaned to determine shortfalls, optimize practices, and build more successful campaigns for the future.
Here’s what you’ll need to implement a good AAR for your marketing.
1. Make it a priority. Get it on everyone's calendar and make it part of your standard process. When you formalize the AAR as part of the process, it ingrains its importance to the team. And do it as quickly as you can so everything is still fresh in everyone's mind.
2. Include everyone. Everyone will have a unique perspective and insight. Make sure you create a welcome environment where people are comfortable with honest discussion. This isn’t a performance review session but an honest-to-goodness assessment, so the next project is better than the last one.
3. Ask the Right Questions. The process centers around four main questions:
What did we expect to happen?
What did you and the team anticipate as the end result? Was the target audience reached? Did people click through to the website? Did phones ring off the hook with new medical device orders?
Once you discuss initial expectations, plunge into what actually occurred and don’t hold back. Again, this isn't a personnel performance review but a genuine examination of the marketing campaign. Explore both the positives and the negatives. Get insight from each team member from their perspective.
What went well and why?
Here’s where you discover what’s working and why so you can replicate it in the future.
What can we improve, and how?
Tackle this question after discussing what went right.
What can you do more accurately and efficiently next time?
The purpose is to learn from the mistakes made so that they aren’t made again in the future. And make sure you uncover why some things didn’t work as well as expected. It’s the why that will help improve your campaigns next time.
4. Write Your Report. No need to be fancy here; just summarize the points made during the meeting and list the win and the mistakes to be remedied next time. Look for items that you need to put together before the next campaign. Do you need fresh market research? New audience data? Are your old marketing channels still working, or do you need to explore other outlets? Oh, and a caveat: Identify a primary note-taker for the AAR to free you up to lead the discussion. This will make writing the report much easier.
5. Implement Changes. Don’t put off implementing changes suggested by your AAR. The closer you get to the next campaign deadline, the easier it is to fall into old patterns without acting on the new knowledge you gleaned.
Comments: Ben Singleton
Healthcare Social Media. Avoid the Dumpster Fire
Sometimes we look at social media and think to ourselves: “What a dumpster fire!” (Looking at you, Twitter.) And when you add healthcare to the mix, one might think: “Oh, great, now it’s a dumpster fire full of medical waste and biohazards!”
But social media can be a powerful tool for those in the medical and healthcare fields. Like it or not, social media networks have become a significant health information resource. Unfortunately, they’ve also become a source of disinformation.
For example, 76% of respondents to a survey said they used social media “at least a little” to learn about COVID-19. However, 63.6% said they were unlikely to check the information they found on social media with a health professional. (Source: NIH.) Too many of us cruise around looking for information that corroborates our initial biases, and once we find it, our "research" is done. Not good.
That's why it's crucial for healthcare professionals on social media to help inform the public and stop the spread of information that’s untrue. Sure, it can be tough navigating the challenges of social media in healthcare. It’s tricky creating engaging social content that’s timely, informative, and accurate while following healthcare rules and regulations, but it can be worth it. Here are some of the benefits of using social media in the medical and healthcare space.
Raising awareness. Social media is a great way to raise public awareness about new and emerging health concerns as well as breakthrough medicines, novel treatments, and best practices (how many of us can use a refresher course on proper hand-washing techniques?)
Combatting misinformation. There's a lot of crapola flying around the social media sphere. By providing sound information with credible sources, you can help fight the amount of bogus information floating around. Although debunking phony healthcare claims in social media might sound like a Sisyphean task, it's a battle worth fighting.
Crisis communication. Many of us remember the days of picking up a newspaper from the front doorstep in the morning to find out what was going on in the world. But now, more people get their news from social media than from newspapers, and for those under 30, social media is the most common news source. And that makes social media a great place to share breaking information. How many people do you know that go straight to Twitter to find out about breaking news? (The answer, for us, is a lot.)
The key to crisis communication is to have a plan before the crisis. Identify stakeholders and have a point of contact/spokesperson identified and trained. Have your social media networks up and running with regular content, so you have a built-in audience.
Answer common questions. Social media is a great way to allow your constituents to reach out to you with questions. And you can address frequently asked questions as a good source of content for your feed.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Comments: Ben Singleton
Bask In These 2022 B2B Marketing Trends
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, here comes another "trends to watch in 2022" listicle. But this one has the hot take on what to look for if you’re in the medical and healthcare marketing B2B space. So just read this one and go back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Here’s what our informed sources are telling us about 2022.
Retain existing customers. Sure, attracting new customers is sexy, and we love it. But don't forget about your current customer list. We all know the old saw that it's easier to keep an existing customer than attract a new one. Are you keeping your old customers informed about your new medical device lines or product upgrades? Do you have new services they can use? Are they planning new services you can help with? And make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
Virtually virtual. While things are loosening up COVID-wise, don't scrap all your virtual strategies just yet. Business travel is still down, web meetings are still de rigueur, and while many trade shows are back up and running, they're not as robust as they were. Continue to plan for virtual trade shows, online training and seminars, virtual product demonstrations, and social media for outreach.
Push send on those emails. Speaking of reaching your customer base electronically, email remains one of the most cost-effective ways of communicating with your customers. Email helps you stay top-of-mind and is a great way to reach out with new product offerings and incentives to your existing customers and prospects.
Content Marking is still cool. Continue populating your blog with informative and creative content, building SEO, and driving traffic to your website. Content marketing can establish you as a subject matter expert, introduce your new products to prospects, and answer customer questions.
Make it authentic. Make sure your emails, content marketing, social media posts, and all advertising speaks with one brand voice, and that voice is genuine and authentic. It was true for Holden Caulfield, and it's true for everyone else: We all hate a phony.
Mobile or bust. If your content is not mobile-responsive, you are waaayyy behind. Over 80 percent of folks use their smartphones to view most content. Have you pulled up a website or email on your phone that isn’t formatted for mobile? That, my friends, is an instant deal-breaker for most people. Get all your digital content mobile-ready ASAP.
Comments: Ben Singleton
Marketing Matrices We Love
SWOT, PEST, 2x2s, and The Eisenhower Matrix
Whether you're trying to decide which tradeshow to attend or defining a strategy for a marketing campaign, matrices can organize your thoughts, probe for insights, and help generate new ideas for your business. In this article, we'll examine analysis by SWOT, PEST, 2x2s, and the Eisenhower matrix to help you prioritize and get down to work.
These tools encourage engagement from a team that might include marketing and sales to cross-functional talent, like R&D and upper management. The template for all these matrices should look something like this:
- Brainstorm ideas for each area you wish to analyze
- Discover directions to be explored by grouping ideas
- Score ideas according to likely impact on the organization, high or low
- Share the results with team members and stakeholders
- Develop strategies and tactical plans that address vital weaknesses and opportunities
SWOT – Analyze Internal factors
If you work in marketing, you've already heard of SWOT - Strength, Weaknesses, Threats, Opportunities – and possibly used it. SWOT is an excellent way to evaluate the most significant internal forces on your business, like a product, customer relations or service line, costs, and threats. Here's an example:
The list items in SWOT don't present in any particular order based on impact or importance. The point is to brainstorm and anticipate as many outcomes as possible. It's common for the same item to appear in multiple columns. For example, "higher price" plays as a strength, weakness, and a threat.
Make RecommendationsIn the Harvard Business Review (2021/02), Laurence Minsky and David Aron convert the most salient entries in your SWOT into recommendations.
"Given the condition of our current recession, our ability to realize cost savings over our competitors leads to our recommendation that we reduce our price.
"Given the condition of our current recession, our ability to maintain strong relationships throughout our distribution channel leads to our recommendation that we offer discounts to our channel partners to help them weather the storm."
These recommendations will be high-impact for your organization and offer a way to prioritize your budget and tactics.
PEST – Analyze External Factors
While SWOT focuses on internal factors of your business, PEST analysis focuses on external forces. The grid looks like the SWOT but with different column labels: Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological.
PEST helps you to identify business opportunities and threats. You can't change external factors, but you can change your response to them.
2x2s – Assess the impact of decisions
2x2 Matrices is a decision-making tool where you and your team plot options on a two-by-two matrix. The two axes can represent any two factors you wish to analyze, for example, social media leads vs. cost, customer service vs. specific products, or the impact of a merger on existing service lines. Plotted within the four squares would be various social media, like the example below. We've placed it in the top right-hand quadrant, making it a high-cost and high-impact tactic.
Both SWOT and PEST generate a multitude of options via brainstorming, but 2x2s will lead you closer to decision making.
Eisenhower Matrix —Prioritize Action
One that's been around for a while, proven to work, super simple, powerful, and battle-tested, The Eisenhower Box was named by former US President and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe – Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Eisenhower's strategy to take action and organize tasks is simple. A 4-square box helps you prioritize (and delegate) tasks based on four possibilities.
- Urgent and Important. Do these Immediately, e.g., Prospectus due to printer.
- Important, but not Urgent. Schedule these for later.
- Urgent, but not Important. If you can, delegate these tasks to someone else, e.g., Coming up with a party invite for an office celebration.
- Neither Urgent nor Important. These tasks you can eliminate. Unless they're fun, then you find time to squeeze them in.
Order a free Eisenhower Matrix pad
We like the Eisenhower Matrix so much we created them as tear-off pads of 25 each. We have 50 extra pads in stock. If you would like one, please email your street address to Susan Abramovitz, and we'll ship one out to you.
The Inbox Has a Few Choice Words for You
Dear Emailing Person,
I’ve given you permission to enter my email Inbox, so don’t blow it. And, because you’re in my personal space, don’t scream “Buy Now” or “Limited Time Offer, or While Supplies Last” One, I don’t believe you. Remember, I’m a marketer, too. Two, you’ll trigger my SPAM filter and good riddance to you forever. And worst of all, don’t pretend that you know me or have a meeting with me. This makes me feel angry. My pet peeve are the companies that send me email from a no-reply address. I thought you wanted to have a “conversation.” But I can’t talk to Mr. Noreply.
Instead, entice me into your content. Get my attention, like a good friend. Nudge me. Romance me. Act like you care. Spark my imagination and be provocative but not bellicose. Tell me you understand my angst and my dreams.
Tell me where to go next. I’m bad with directions
The content better match the subject line, too, or I’ll dump you in the circular file before you can say, what the heck? Yes, my Inbox and those of my brethren can be cruel. If I opened every email sent my way, my Inbox brain would explode. So be brief, to the point, and don’t try to trick me.
Your email needs to speak to me and my inner emotions. I need a laugh or a good cry to know you’re for real. This isn’t the place to bore me with specs. When you send epic emails, especially uninvited, you better give your WIFM (What’s In It For Me?) and fast. Show me how your affect my inbox’s inner life. And, for God’s sake, check your spelling and grammar. Not to is just plain disrespectful. And it makes me worry that your products could be just as sloppy.
At the end, tell me where to go next. I’m bad with directions, so tell me clearly. Should I go to your landing page, download an e-book, or make an appointment?
That’s all I’ve got for now. Please consider my feelings the next time you hit send.
Let’s talk soon.
Sincerely, Your Inbox
Comments: Bill Abramovitz
8 Tips for a Medical Product Launch with Pizzaz
1) Make a splash. Design a strong message and strategy for your new medical device, and then develop creative messaging that will stick in the minds of your prospects. Try to do something new or unexpected that your competitors haven't used yet. We've fielded street teams peacocks, projected products on landmarks, and cooked up entertaining promotions. For maximum impact time, everything to hit during a narrow launch window and set aside enough budget to support the product at a lower level in the coming weeks and months.
2) Tease the launch. Let everyone know that something big is coming from your company starting two to four weeks before launch day. And, yes, do select a launch date to encourage the excitement to build. Use teasers on social media, email, or any other platform you choose. If possible, reuse the creative you've developed for the rest of the campaign. It could be as simple as "On June 14, the Acme company will unleash the first artificial intelligence for the brain." After all, they will be waiting with bated breath on launch day.
3) Plan ahead. Once a launch date, back time all your marketing production timelines. Start with a plan with clear objectives and measurable goals followed by tactical scheduling. Consider that the production time for publications, video, animation, and tradeshow fabrication may create a longer timeline than you expect.
4) Know the competition intimately. Do some sleuthing to discover what your competitors are communicating to the market and what media and creative approach they're taking. Define the weaknesses and strengths of their product that you can exploit in your messaging.
5) Leverage your brand. How does the new medical device relate to your overall brand? Is it a brand extension, or is it in a different category? How can you use your existing brand reputation to foster faster awareness or message consistency?
5) Find the emotion in your product. How does your product solve the crying need or desires of your customer? Does it help patients live longer, avoid pain with ergonomic design, or boost office throughput? To get the engagement you want, lead with emotion and the product's main benefit. For example, the feature might be ergonomics, but the message should focus on relieving the doctors' pain in the
7) Don't leave your distribution network flat-footed. Train dealers to use your product and arm them with the promotional materials and collateral that they need to sell your medical device. And for consistent communication about the product, use animation and video to break down and explain the product's technical features. Also, make these available for distributor websites and salespeople during presentations.
8) Inventory. Make sure the medical device is available to your dealers on launch day. There's nothing worse than a significant demand for a product. We've been in this situation where the marketing has worked well – maybe too well – and the product is still in R&D, or the stock is low. It's plain disheartening to us marketing animals.
Comments: Bill Abramovitz