By Kim Blake (@kimkblake)
For the past few months, I’ve been working with our BISSELL client while a colleague has been out on maternity leave. Though healthcare seems vastly different from the world of housewares, I’ve found that public relations and marketing basics do, in fact, apply across industries. In addition, my time in the world of vacuums has provided some reminders that are helpful for any healthcare marketer.
Lesson 1: We recently helped BISSELL execute its White Sock Test contest, a program to promote BISSELL’s Lift-Off® Deep Cleaner. CRT/tanaka secured more than 84 million impressions through blogger outreach, a viral video and much engagement through Facebook and Twitter. A key learning for me was the importance of trial in any program. We engaged 23 bloggers to test and review the product. Clearly, we can’t (or probably shouldn’t) engage bloggers to test and review the latest surgical approach, but there are ways to give consumers a “sneak peek” at what they can expect at your hospital or from your doctors.
- For Bon Secours Health System, CRT/tanaka developed the Health Academy, a six-week program that provided consumers with an opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn about various surgical advances and the latest technology. The program operated like a mini-medical school, with a lecture component and a lab component. The Health Academy allowed the “students” to get familiar with the “faculty” (hospital nurses and surgeons) and the facility.
- Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford created the Doc Shop, a doctor “speed dating”-style event that allowed consumers to test drive primary care physicians by interacting with them and asking them questions.
Lesson 2: BISSELL also reminded me of the important role corporate social responsibility plays within any organization. Pet owners are a key audience for vacuum brands, due to the inevitable messes created by our furry friends. In fact, proprietary research conducted by BISSELL revealed that 38 percent of Americans would add a pet to their home if “cleaning up after them” was easier. BISSELL already had a longstanding commitment to pet adoption and helping homeless pets find homes. They recently extended that commitment by establishing the BISSELL Pet Foundation to support pet adoption, spay neuter programs, micro-chipping and foster care.
- In healthcare, we are already addressing an issue that is near and dear to people’s hearts – the health of their community. One of the more creative examples of hospital corporate social responsibility is Chesapeake Regional Medical Center’s Bra-ha-ha® – an event that raises funds for breast health, including free mammograms for those in need.
Lesson 3: In the world of consumer products, it is not uncommon to utilize co-branding. BISSELL just recently launched its new Total Floors® Pet vacuum that features a Febreze® filter, which removes household odors. By itself, the vacuum has a number of impressive features, but the inclusion of another respected brand like Febreze® helps differentiate it from the competition.
- It’s important for hospitals to weigh the benefit of partnering with well-respected local or national brands to add consumer appeal. For instance, Georgetown University’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center worked with Ritz Carlton to provide their famous plush robes to breast cancer patients during their hospital stay.
Looking at healthcare through the lens of a consumer brand shows that there are many tools of the trade that make sense for any organization. Whether it’s tapping into causes your customers care about or forging partnerships, these are all strategies health systems as well as consumer brands can apply to reach their target audience.