Three Wise Dames

Marketing in the Life Science Industry

3WD Interview–Cheryl Bisera & Judy Capko October 2, 2013

Practice Marketing

Patient-Centered Payoff by Cheryl Bisera and Judy Capko

I had the good fortune of meeting Cheryl Bisera because of her work with a shared client/customer—Dr. Simoni. The first time we spoke, I knew she was as passionate about practice marketing and physician reputation management as I am. I was honored when she asked me to preview her new book with Judy Capko. The case studies are absolutely a highlight and bring to life the best-practice concepts presented in “The Patient-Centered Payoff.”

  • How did you arrive in your current role?

Judy: After working in medical offices for years, I realized how little physician owners knew about business and efficient operations. I decided I could be a resource to improve the efficiency and financial success for medical practices. My medical management consulting firm grew to include marketing, team building and strategic planning. I became a sought-after speaker and author throughout the healthcare industry and then decided to write my first book, “Secrets of the Best Run Practices” and demand for my services skyrocketed. I’m proud to be rolling   out my fourth book, “The Patient-Centered Payoff”, with co-author, Cheryl Bisera.

Cheryl: I discovered my passion for marketing and customer service during my college years when working for a promotional product company. I then joined a healthcare consulting firm where I developed my skills as a patient experience and marketing consultant. Cheryl Bisera Consulting partners with healthcare professionals to grow their business through innovative connections with referral sources, marketing and   increased visibility in their communities and delivering a stellar patient experience.

  • What do you love most about the work you do?

    Judy Capko

    Judy Capko

Judy:  I am a people motivator at heart, I love to get physician owners, organization leaders and staff enthusiastic about a vision of success that they couldn’t grasp before. When I can get everyone on-board and moving in the same direction, the energy is dynamic and the momentum is unstoppably positive. Success always follows and that is deeply rewarding.

Cheryl: When a physician or organization brings me in, there is some faith involved. They have to trust me and take certain steps without necessarily understanding how everything will come together. When they begin to see results and see the payoffs of all our efforts working together, it’s extremely   gratifying. Turning things around for a practice is an incredible experience.

  • Where is the most exotic place in the world that you’ve eaten?

    Cheryl Bisera

    Cheryl Bisera

Judy: I’ve had the good fortune to be able to travel throughout the world with my husband. Besides cruise ships that sometimes feature local fare such as escargot and turtle soup, the most exotic fare I’ve enjoyed was in Thailand. The spices are delicate and provide an indescribable influence on the flavors! I must say, I have had chocolate covered ants too – quite crunchy!

Cheryl: I have not had the same good fortune as Judy, but I do wish to do more travel in the future. I would have to say the most exotic place I’ve eaten is off my kitchen floor, because when you have three children, you pretty much just get what you can – and sometimes that means rescuing a rogue meatball or other hand-crafted goody that took too much work to let go to the dog.

(C) 2013 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

 

Getting to Know You March 15, 2012

Filed under: Customer research,Lisa,Physicians — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 2:00 pm
Tags: , ,

Getting to Know You, The King and IIn my previous post I emphasized the need to know your customer before initiating promotional efforts.  Let’s assume you have a foundation of customer insights in the business plan.  Or, at the very least, tidbits that are collected in the early stages of the product development.

Now you need to develop a full-length picture of your customer. There are a number of ways to uncover key aspects about your customer.  The most useful information comes directly from them.

I’m a big proponent of primary research.  There are some very good research agencies available, budget pending.  I’ll share some of my preferred agencies later.  To make the best use of your resources, gather information about the basic profile of your customer first with lower cost tools and in-house elbow grease.

Start with simple surveys.

Two great resources are Zoomerang and Survey Monkey. Both sites have tutorials, samples and process instructions to help you.  Need a model to craft your questions, try @researchinfo.com for sample surveys with a focused audience. Now all you need is a list of names to send it to.  A quick internet search will provide a number of list brokers to choose from.  Keep in mind that this outbound approach may not yield high returns.

The Home Page.

A better approach is to post the survey on your product or company website or social media content page. Less intrusive as the customer comes to you, however, you may gather responses from customers that aren’t in your target audience.

Need more?

Need larger numbers of respondents and more questions answered? It is time to seek out services that have developed opt-in panels of clinicians who have agreed to participate in research. Three that come to mind are Sermo, Medometry and Epocrates. The benefits of using the research services of these types of businesses include large self-profiled highly targeted participants, trusted platform, easy implementation of the survey and quality reports from the collected data.

Windfall research.

Great resources with good insights can be found already published. Tap into Slideshare, Hubspot and wesrch.  Search the directories of Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality – AHRQ, American Medical Association – AMA, World Health Organization – WHO and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC. Don’t forget the subspecialty association websites. Published findings are available at these sites for little, if any cost.

Shades of distinction.

Now that you have a good foundation of information that describes your customer, don’t let it languish. Update your knowledge base annually, yes, that often. As you acquire more customers and maintain customers longer, continue to learn about them. Don’t assume you know them because of an association with your company.  Challenge the thinking that defines your customer. With a strong understanding of the central core of your customer base, understanding nuances and distinctions may be needed to increase business among some segments. Consider exploring areas not well understood with experts who know how to mine for those subtleties. A couple of my preferred research agencies are Motivation Mechanics , the Kern Mueller Group and Kaplan Research.

Portrait or thumbnail?

Continued learning about the customer provides the best means by which to serve the customer.  You can never know enough about your customers. Working from a thumbnail image will limit your effectiveness in maintaining your relationship.  Go for the portrait, it is much more telling.

Have some other suggestions of gathering information or great research sources – tell us here!

(C) 2012 pH Consulting. All rights reserved.

 

Left Brain, Right Brain, Slow Start, Fast Forward February 26, 2012

This weekend while observing physicians learning a new technique, I was asked about stimulating interest and accelerating adoption.

This isTHE challenge for makers of new products, especially in life sciences.  After years of work and significant investment, when the time arrives that a company can finally move into the commercialization stage, the foremost thought is how to make everything happen faster.

In my experience, sustained acceleration follows a slow steady start. Taking the approach of learning to walk before you run will reduce the severity of a fall from the inevitable stumble.

Slow start

When I say a slow steady start I am referring to really understanding your customer from their perspective when it comes to buying your product.  The very best way to do that is to conduct research to draw out what they think, what they will respond to and how they will react when you put your offer in front of them.

It seems so straightforward, and surely after having spent extensive time developing your product working with a ‘few good advisors’ the customers reactions should be predictable. However, frequently they are not predictable, and without a sound understanding of their thinking, you will be challenged to get the reaction you desire.

Decisions in the ‘blink’ of an eye

Behavioral research continues to uncover the triggers behind the choices we make. A favorite author of mine Malcolm Gladwell detailed fascinating examples of how we make decisions in his book Blink: The power of thinking without thinking. Apparently we make decisions in the blink of an eye, or in real time terms, under two seconds!

Two seconds is not much time to convince a customer to buy a new product, adopt a new approach or change behavior. To get a customer to do those three things, knowing their thinking beforehand is critical. Mind-reading is truly a gift of very few. Thus, simple clean research of the target customer is the best way I know of understanding their thinking.

Buy button

Roger Sperry, a neuropsychologist/neurobiologist initiated a study of the relationship of the brain’s hemispheres for which he and scientists Hubel and Wiesel were awarded the Nobel Price in Medicine in 1981. Sperry et al, found that the left half of the brain tends to process information in an analytical, rational, logical way. The right half of the brain tends to recognize relationships, integrate and synthesize information and arrive at intuitive insights. These differences are frequently described as the left-brain is logical and the right brain is emotional. The brain doesn’t have a ‘buy button, rather it draws on several different processes when considering a purchase decision. Emotional response is recognized as a strong influence over making purchase decisions – in that two-second space.

Cues that compel

In the case of accelerated growth it pays to understand the thinking of the target customer such that companies can present their offer in a way that compels the customer forward. In a post by Sam McNerney, who blogs for Scientific American on cognitive psychology, he provides examples of written, verbal and visual cues that drive desired behavior (Especially compelling, the ‘fly in the urinal’ example!).

Really learning what the customer thinks before pushing forward with the heavy lifting of sales activities is a step that shouldn’t be skipped if fast forward is the goal.

 

(C) 2012 pH Consulting. All rights reserved.
 

Physician Google Thyself: Updates March ’11 March 30, 2011

Almost a year ago, I published the series Physician Google Thyself (with overview video) and as one might expect, many things have changed. The conclusion and reports out of SXSW provides an opportunity add some newly discovered resources that I think will help physicians leverage digital channels to manage their reputations and grow their practices.

By following Ed Bennett, I became aware of Dr. Kolmes–both were panelists at the recently concluded SXSW (South by Southwest). She exemplifies my truth about HCPs owning their their reputations. Two important discoveries that support Part IV:

  1. Dr. Kolmes is well regarded for her social media policies and other electronic recommendations for health care providers. I am excited to provide a link to these not-to-be-missed resources and they are FREE for HCP’s to use.
  2. Dr. Kolmes also uses a FREE secure email service called HushMail.com. For all the physicians that are (and should be) concerned about maintaining HIPAA privacy this is a brilliant option. Do not miss the section on email in the above mentioned social media policy that Dr. Kolmes provides to patients–it’s used for appointment logistics only and that’s OK! My philosophy is to tell everyone exactly how you will behave; if you set expectations you avoid offending someone or some other bad situation.

As an additional resource for Part IV, I’ve been investigating Reputation.com (formerly Reputation Defender). Their methods seem sound and the price seems reasonable. If you find yourself in a situation where negative information abounds, it might be a good first step to reigning in the chaos.

Reporting from that same SXSW panel session was Susan Spaight of Jigsaw who’s post titled Healthcare and Social Media: boundaries without barriers includes this suggestion:

Dana Lewis shared a great suggestion for approaching physicians to encourage them to participate in social media. Don’t just go to them and say “We want you to do social media.” Show them why first by having the physician Google himself or herself, and explain how social media can change search engine results. Of course, there are other reasons to participate in social media, but this may help the proverbial light bulb go on.”

It’s always nice to be in sync with others. I too have seen the light bulb go on and burn brightly when physicians Google themselves. Part II contains my recommendations for search engine terms to use beyond your name.

Contact me if you want a FREE copy of a spreadsheet to help you keep track of all your listings and profiles. I’ve complied over four dozen general sites that contain HCP listings to get you started.

It’s been fun revisiting this topic and especially great to provide even more resources. If you know any resources you’d like to share, please comment. The Three Wise Dames appreciate the sharing of wisdom.

(C) 2011 eGold Solutions; all rights reserved.

 

Vanilla doesn’t sell unless it’s Ice Cream October 28, 2010

Vanilla ice cream has a rich taste and appealing aroma, making it the best selling ice cream flavor around. The Wikipedia page devoted to vanilla notes that it is the second most expensive spice after saffron, because of the labor required to grow the vanilla seed pods.Vanilla is used in foods, perfumes, aromatherapy, and apparently even as a bug repellant and a home remedy for minor burns. Clearly, it is very versatile.

Getting it right

However, when promoting a product, a ‘vanilla’ description is anything but appealing or versatile. Product descriptions are critical in product positioning.  Descriptions provide the basis for establishing a brand identity, a communication platform, a competitive edge, the value proposition and so much more. In the medical device space product descriptions are considered labeling. Significant effort and expense goes into securing medical device labeling.  Because medical device labeling is absolute and creative license is forbidden, getting it right is critical.

Connect the dots

To have the best possible chance at successful product adoption customers should readily recognize the value of the product through the labeling. Product descriptions should resonate intrinsically with the customer. Understanding customer needs is the core responsibility of marketing. Therefore, involvement by marketing in the product description is essential. It is senseless to disconnect the customer and patient advocate – marketing, from the customer and patient guardian – regulatory/clinical. 

Engagement at a higher level

Proactive interaction by marketing with the regulatory/clinical department early on in the clinical plan development provides the best possible outcome for labeling that will resonate with the physician customer.This is not about making it easy for marketing to promote a productNor is it about securing labeling that is loose, boastful or inaccurate in any way

Rather, this assertion that marketing participate in the discussion about the clinical plan and the desired outcome is because marketing should be leading the efforts to ensure that the product or service truly meets and exceeds customer expectations and is reflected clearly in product descriptions. The regulatory/ clinical expertise is most impactful by establishing strong and undisputed product labeling, that doesn’t need interpretation or lyrical descriptions for the product to be appreciated.

Untangle the tangle

Many marketers complain that they are hamstrung by the regulatory department when product promotion and communication plans and tactics are proposed. Many regulatory departments cringe at the creative approach marketers present to convey a product purpose, benefits and applications. 

It seems that the simplest and cleanest approach is to use the product labeling granted by the FDA,

based on evidence provided by the regulatory and clinical experts

that distinguishes the product precisely as it is intended to be used by customers,

through the distillation of customer needs by marketing. 

And while that seems a mouthful and a tall order, early collaboration between marketing and regulatory/clinical is the most likely path to labeling that is descriptive and telling. The kind of labeling where ‘creative marketing’ is about the many ways to communicate product availability and not about the many words required for product description. Product labeling typically happens only once. Getting it right so the right customer connects their needs with the value of the product will make the best use of all efforts to promote and protect.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting; all rights reserved.

 

Fish for Your Supper May 18, 2010

 

Fishing with nets, tacuinum sanitatis casanatensis (XIV century)

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. 

Teach a man to fish; you have fed him for a lifetime.  

Teach a man to sell fish and he eats steak.”  Author unknown      

In a previous post I suggested that industry could play a role in physician practice marketing. To do so successfully defining a common purpose and identifying the intersection of that purpose is primary.  

Physicians and healthcare product companies have related interests, and very different roles and responsibilities. Because a patient exists, physicians and healthcare suppliers have purpose. The patient is at the very nexus of these interests, roles and responsibilities.   

If physicians desire greater demand for their special services and skills, saying so out loud, as discussed in prior posts Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Surgery and Make Some Noise, is essential.  Physicians are accustomed to communicating with patients through a one-on-one interaction.  While this is an effective means of communicating, it will take a bloody long time before this approach is impactful. A broader approach is needed and industry can provide effective lessons in marketing to a larger target audience.       

Essential Foundation   

 To effectively implement practice marketing programs a company must be committed to the following three fundamentals:   

  1. Focus on the patient as the primary reason for communications programs
  2. Grounding of all marketing activities around the needs of the physician/practice
  3. Establishment of professional marketing expertise before designing third party services

 Once these three fundamentals are well established, the tenets below will be useful in creating practice marketing programs for the physician.    

Program Framework   

Be a role model   

  • Develop, implement, measure, analyze, fail and refine all programs and processes first, before you ask your customers to do it.  If you haven’t tried it, why should your customer?

Identify common goals   

  • Clearly define the marketing goals and gain commitment by all participants of a practice marketing program in advance of implementation.  Hint:  The goal should be eerily similar to Fundamental #1 above…

 Start where they are   

  • Keep in mind that physicians’ expertise is in patient care, professional marketers excel in marketing.  Effective practice marketing starts the beginner at the beginning and advances them as tolerated.

 Respect boundaries   

  • At all times the doctor-patient relationship is a two person ‘only’ relationship.  Professional marketers can provide guidance, examples, recommendations, support and encouragement, but never patient care.

 Differentiate and collaborate   

  • The same methods and measurement models may be used in commercial and physician marketing programs; however, the objectives of the programs will differ based on the audience. Both parties will benefit by learning from each other.

 Teach and release   

  • When teaching and training the physician and staff on marketing practices take the opportunity to develop program champions and practice trainers. Success from doing/failing/learning/redoing will more likely encourage the practice to be self sustaining in their marketing efforts. 

 Applaud and move backstage   

  • Support the physician with information, analysis, recommendations and additional opportunities and then let the physician and practice staff take center stage with the program and the patients.

 Learn and adapt   

  • Each practice will experience their program differently than the next. Take notes, ask questions, and adapt the master program to incorporate the best and most innovative elements gleaned from the individual experiences.

 Healthcare companies can play a role in practice marketing by teaching the practice personnel new skills.  Teaching physicians to cast their net for a larger target audience will result in greater demand.   

Note:  There are defined regulations and restrictions that companies must adhere to with regard to practice marketing programs; the specifics of these are not covered in this post.  Y68BQHEBG7DJ

 (c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

 

  

 

Yes, Doctor, This IS a Business April 27, 2010

“Thank you for calling. Our office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  We’re closed from noon to 2 p.m. for lunch. If you have reached this recording during normal business hours, please leave a message. We will get back to you by the next business day.”

That’s the message I keep getting when I try to schedule an appointment with one particular physician.  And I have left several messages with no response.

Under normal circumstances, I would have zero tolerance for this total lack of responsiveness and would simply have called another doctor. But in this case, I have already seen the physician for a particular injury, went through the trouble of getting an MRI and would really like to get the results.

Where’s the Disconnect?

Given the practice’s troubling habit of not responding, I should not have been surprised when I called again this morning only to learn that the phone number had been disconnected.

When will physicians really grasp that they are in business and that to stay in business, they need to start treating patients as their customers?  Ok, I understand that doctors went to medical school, not business school.  Still, somewhere in between anatomy and pharmaceuticals 101, were they not taught that private practice requires more than office space and a listing in the phone book?

Running a successful physician’s practice takes the skills and talents of multiple staff members, from the front desk person who answer the phones to the physicians and nurses who provide the clinical expertise.  The one thing each of these people has in common is their interaction with customers—the practice’s patients.

Basic Customer Service

There is much a physician can learn from studying the successful marketing and customer service standards of other businesses:

  • Return phone calls and emails promptly, and always within 24 hours
  • Provide continual staff training on customer service excellence and how to handle difficult customers in a professional and effective way
  • Provide multiple ways for customers to contact you including phone, email and website

These are a few of the simple fundamentals that physician practices must take seriously, especially in today’s tough economic climate where consumers are judicious in how they spend their money. Mastering the basics is also a prerequisite before a practice can effectively implement a marketing or public relations campaign.

For more information on practice marketing, refer to Lisa’s most recent post and Debbie’s post on ‘Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Science’.

 

Make Some Noise! April 26, 2010

Are your customers marketing to their customers?

Every contact or interaction customers have with companies or providers of goods and services, are viewed through our marketing lens. The four ‘P’s’ of marketing shape our perceptions. Attention getting [promotion] efforts must be followed with relevance [product], value [price] and accessibility [place] marketing efforts.

Perception versus Reality

Promotional efforts that are consistent and impactful convey the message that a higher caliber of good or service is available.  Inconsistent, bland and lack of promotion conveys a message that the good or service is not available or of poor quality.  The caliber of a good or service is held in the eye of the beholder, not in the intentions of the provider.

As patients we use the same marketing lens to evaluate our healthcare providers.  Each individual within a practice serves as an ambassador, marketing the care a patient can expect to receive.  All interactions a patient has with the practice staff will influence their perspective on the physician’s business, much the same way the physician is influenced through interactions with product suppliers.

Implementing good practice marketing processes will go a long way towards raising the perceived caliber of the practice and patient care.  A review on practice marketing considerations can be found in Debbie’s post ‘Practice Marketing is Not Rocket Science’.

However, practice marketing processes can only be appreciated by the patient once we go to the practice.  First the patient must know to go.

Which brings us to the question – are your customers marketing to their customers?

Intentional effort must be focused on getting the word out that the practice is interested and ready to serve specific patients.  A bare minimum of key messages to communicate include:

  • ‘We are here and ready to serve’
  • ‘We offer the services that meet your needs’
  • ‘We stay current in specialty training’
  • ‘We are uniquely able to serve patients in our specialty’

These are likely messages that are conveyed to patients in the absence of marketing the practice:

  • ‘We are not interested in new patients’
  • ‘We do not offer new services’
  • ‘We are not current in new techniques’
  • ‘We are indistinguishable from all other practices’

Gracious and respectful interactions, good follow through and high caliber patient care constitute powerful marketing.  Patients will reward physicians for this service through provider loyalty, positive reviews and recommendations, and new patient referrals.  But first, the patient must be inclined to seek the physician, and that requires making some noise.

For another perspective on the same subject read Stewart Gandolph’s post found here:http://bit.ly/d0OxNw

Next up – what role can industry play in physician practice marketing?

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

Expect the unexpected – what happens when the DTC campaign is launched February 3, 2010

Filed under: DTC,Lisa — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 11:28 pm
Tags: , , ,

You’ve launched your campaign and the phones are ringing – and among the many calls you’d hoped for are those you least expected.  Some reactions are anticipated, some will leave you gobsmacked!  These are a few that caused our heads to turn:

  • To capitalize on the DTC campaign, a physician invests in a local advertising to promote his practice and the new procedure; when interested patients with no contraindications or insurance issues contact the physician he convinces them to have an alternative procedure.
  • After being refused an elective procedure by a physician who promotes performing the procedure, consumers go to chat room sites and ‘teach’ each other the questions and responses to ensure getting what they want.
  • A non medical group successfully discourages physician adoption of new and safer techniques because of the implications to the group tenets and governance.
  • Advertising is dropped by a broadcaster because of one complaint received from a listener about the use of anatomically correct terms in the description of the procedure.
  • Competitors began advertising their unrelated products with our message.

Plan to be surprised from the most unexpected of experiences.  And remember to chuckle at the things you can’t control.   Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

The velocity of revenue is a direct result of the speed of confidence February 2, 2010

Filed under: DTC,Lisa,Market Planning,Physician Preparation — Lisa Pohmajevich @ 11:16 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Image credit: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

New products released into the market have cleared many hurdles. Clearance from the FDA indicates that the product meets safety and efficacy requirements. This milestone in a product life cycle typically follows extended research, development, design, testing, and refinement phases. Companies that have invested and toiled over the development challenges in anticipation of a market release are understandably eager to realize revenueAs much and as soon, as possible.

To that end, planning discussions turn to training, distribution and marketing. This is frequently the point in time when the acceleration question is raised.

How fast can we ramp up sales?

Should we do DTC advertising to increase demand?

What kind of promotions can we offer to encourage volume purchases?

I believe these questions are premature. Ideally, DTC advertising and promotional programs are part of marketing strategy that includes market development and preparation. They are most effective when conditions for market adoption of a new product have been optimized.

The best time to advertise to patients and consumers, introduce promotions to encourage purchases and increase sales activities, is when physicians have reached a state of confidence with a new product. Confidence represents the final stage in customer adoption of new technology.

New product introduction requires physician training. The three stages of adoption are defined by the state of accomplishment the physician achieves during training on a procedure with a new product.

Stage one – Capable
The physician understands the product concept and purpose. They can successfully deploy the product with support of a trainer. Use of the product is occasional.

Stage two – Competent
The physician correctly performs the procedure using the product with limited training support. The physician is proficient performing the procedure and use of the product is intermittent.

Stage three – Confident
The physician has mastered the procedure and product use. No support is required.

Confidence occurs after the physician has enough positive experience and good patient outcomes with the product. The confident stage is also recognizable beyond performing the procedure without support. Two hallmarks signal the physician has reached a state of confidence.

1. The physician routinely incorporates the product in their treatment regime.
2. The physician proactively discusses the product with patients in which treatment including the use of the product is appropriate.

When physicians reach this stage, DTC advertising and promotional programs are good strategies to employ. The physician has been appropriately supported by the company and is well prepared for new patients investigating the advertised procedure. The questions regarding increasing revenues should first center on the physician and accelerating their state of confidence. The best time to do advertising and promotional programs is when the market is optimized with confident customers.

Comments welcome.

(c) 2010 pH Consulting

 

 
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