Healthcare Branding & Marketing: Do Blogs Fit In?

Health care marketing and strategic positioning are not an activities that manipulate the intrinsic properties of a product or service. Instead, positioning is a process by which you influence a consumer’s opinion of the value of a product or service relative to its competition. The main goal of strategic positioning is to differentiate an organization from other similar organizations within the market. Then the organization must monopolize on those differences to gain a competitive advantage over others.

Deciding on a positioning strategy for a health care organization requires that administration:

examine the strengths and weaknesses of the competition,

communicate and listen to clinical staff regarding perceived internal strengths and weaknesses

listen to customers desires, needs and wants.
From there, we can begin to understand the possibilities for changing customer perceptions of an organization in order to improve customer loyalty and probability that a customer will utilize an organization’s services.

Corporate branding is a method health care organizations can use to differentiate themselves from competitors. The branding process is more that selecting corporate names, logos or advertising tag lines. Instead, it is structured business process that is planned, strategically focused and integrated throughout the organization.

At its very heart, the branding process is designed to create an emotional, rational and community image of an organization within the mind of the consumer that allows him or her to rank the value of an organization and their services against those of competitors.

We know that insurance contracts are important to a healthcare organization, but ultimately it is the patient that must be convinced to choose a service provider. What is important to them? A provider that cares and who well versed in the “Art of Medicine”. Also they want to be cared for by organizations/people who practice the best, research supported, cutting-edge medicine.

While the informal and personal tone of the blogosphere, to date, has been identified as a risk of a healthcare organization starting a blog, there is the very real possibility that these very traits of blogs could play well into marketing and branding endeavors. What’s the harm in letting patients know a little bit more about you as long as it is presented professionally?

Author’s Bio: Carol is the Vice President of The Promedica Research Center. She has a masters degree from Mercer University in Health Policy and Administration and currently teaches a master’s level course on Health Care Organizations for the University of Phoenix (Online), College of Health Sciences.

In October 2005, Carol started a blog for her continuing education company to help to provide a value adde

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The Three Reasons Your Small Business Needs a Blog

Just a few short years ago hardly anyone knew what a blog was, but now, because they are so easy to set up and maintain, their popularity has blossomed beyond all expectations. Blogs are not just for ordinary people who wish to expound on their hobby or area of special interest. Blogs are for the smart small businessperson who understands the power of the published word online.

A blog can provide a low cost means of marketing online, a feedback mechanism for establishing your side of the story against someone spreading negative and potentially damaging things about you and your business, and a means of connecting and communicating with existing clients and potential clients. The purpose of this article is to explain these three main positive reasons why your small business needs a blog.

1. A Blog as a Marketing and Promotion Tool for Your Small Business

Small business internet marketing seems easy at first glance, but many have tried it and failed. Others have persevered, perfecting search engine optimization techniques, keyword density and linking strategies, which work for some but not always for others. They have followed the advice of every “guru,” only to be more mystified at the end of the process than when they started out. They invariably end up thinking that there has to be a better way, and there is – a blog.

The search engines love blogs. Yes, a little optimization with careful keyword placement and some back links will never go amiss, but even the complete novice knowing nothing whatsoever can enjoy good results simply by regularly maintaining a blog. All it takes is a simple strategy, perhaps focusing on a particular product line and posting just once a day, to get results that will make a difference.

With time and as your understanding of blogging techniques improve, your small business internet marketing efforts will bear significant fruit. And remember, the cost of all this is negligible compared to newspaper advertising, for example. Of course, this is not the only reason why your small business needs a blog. What if someone is “badmouthing” you by blogging all over the Internet, perhaps because they didn’t like something about the way you do business? How do you defend yourself and give your side of the story? You need a blog!

2. A Blog as Feedback Channel to Establish a Positive Image for Your Small Business

A real-life example of someone who found themselves dealing with negative blog posts involves a medical doctor who practices on her own in California. She treated two patients whose poor health situation was largely of their own making. She told them that they needed to take some responsibility for their own health. This was not at all what they wanted to hear. Feeling insulted, they started to blog about it online, giving only their side of the story and painting a very damaging picture of the doctor in the process.

If you were to go to Google or any of the major search engines now and do a search for her name, the only information you would find are negative, almost libelous, rants created by these two aggressive individuals who couldn’t face up to the truth about their own health situations.

However, had this doctor previously considered the advantages of blogging for local small businesses to complement her business activities, she would have been able to limit at least some of the damage caused. P

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