One Medium to Rule Them All

In the ongoing battle to help health systems move from the overuse and abuse of mass promotional advertising campaigns to embracing digital and content marketing, I’m on the constant lookout for proof points that help make the case. For example, Best Buy’s decision to forgo its annual Super Bowl television spot for the second year in a row, reflecting a shift from “its reliance on traditional media to digital outlets and more targeted, personalized marketing that executives think will have a better payoff.” Today I heard another piece of evidence that digital is beginning to dominate, and thankfully, this one was from a health system itself.

I had the privilege today to moderate the “Clash of the Titans” session at the 2015 In2 Innovation Summit, sponsored by The Holmes Report, in San Francisco. The Summit is a “global network of events that explore the innovation, disruption and evolution that has — and continues to — redefine influence and engagement.” It was the perfect setting for our session, which sought to show what leading brands are doing to revolutionize how the health industry interacts with its audiences. The session featured Paul Matsen, CMO of the Cleveland Clinic, Jason Rushforth, Vice President North America, Industry Solutions & Emerging Channels for Oracle’s Marketing Cloud, and myself, and it’s where Paul provided that golden nugget of proof of the power of digital.

While setting up the discussion about what Cleveland Clinic is doing to leverage digital, Paul described the overall marketing framework at his organization using the diagram shown here, which shows the familiar focus areas of paid media, earned media, and owned media. He pointed out that the structure itself was intentional, with owned media taking the top spot in the triangle because it’s the top priority for the organization from a marketing perspective. That’s not surprising, given the great success of Cleveland Clinic’s HealthHub, its industry-leading health and wellness blog. What Paul said next, however, was a pleasant surprise: while earned media is still the overall driver of awareness for Cleveland Clinic, owned media is the top driver of new awareness.

Let me say it again: owned media is the top driver of new awareness. That means that among those who are hearing about Cleveland Clinic for the first time, more hear about it from the digital media owned by Cleveland Clinic (like the HealthHub), than either earned or paid media.

Awareness is such a hot-button topic in our world – everyone wants more awareness, and many believe the way to drive that awareness is to “tell our story” using the broadest channels possible – mass advertising channels such as outdoor, broadcast and cable TV, radio or print. That logic already has a fundamental flaw – given “Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital,” telling your story to a public who doesn’t find that story relevant (because they are not in need of a doctor, hospital or procedure), is a colossal waste of money and energy. At the same time, you’re missing out on the opportunity to connect with Joe Public in a meaningful and relevant way.

But even when awareness is a desirable end-metric, such as with the launch of a new facility or service, the assumption is once again that mass advertising is the way to achieve it. Cleveland Clinic’s findings (which Paul said they have validated with two separate consumer research studies), show that providing relevant health and wellness content using digital channels can actually drive higher awareness than paid media. And oh, by the way, also provide the means to engage consumers in ways that help both your organization and the consumers.

This is the kind of statement, coming from one of the top healthcare brands in the world, that needs to be shouted from the mountain tops. Cleveland Clinic’s experience is further proof of the power of digital to better enable marketing and business goals.

Click here to read the The Holmes Report’s take on our panel, Healthcare Companies Need to Activate Data to Engage with Patients

February 19, 2015
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