Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital
Author: Chris Bevolo
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Publisher: RockBench, 2011
A decade ago, when I became the communications and marketing officer for Vanderbilt’s cancer center, I faced frustration that I couldn’t put into words.
I was caught between physicians asking for billboards, newspaper advertising and radio messaging, and an audience mostly made up of people who were not in the market for cancer services. We were marketing “a sick service to a well audience.”
At the same time, I faced resistance to online search marketing because, as our leaders pointed out, the average age of cancer diagnosis was 67 and “those people aren’t online.”
Yes, I argued, but most of those people are already going to follow their physicians’ advice, but those whose decisions we can influence, and influence directly, are online.
So, as we say in the South, “the choir said ‘amen’” when I read healthcare marketing strategist Chris Bevolo’s book, Joe Public Doesn’t Care About Your Hospital. In this “Manifesto for Transforming Healthcare Marketing,” Bevolo articulates my challenge – and offers solutions – in ways I was never able to on my own.
Bevolo calls us to transform how we market healthcare. He starts with confronting the reality that individuals seeking medical care basically don’t give a hoot about us. Our awards? Don’t care. Our hot-shot new surgeon? Don’t care. Our new gee-whiz gizmo? Don’t care. Our board-certified blah-dee-blahs and our high-tech, high-touch continuum of care close to home? Do. Not. Care.
Instead, Bevolo invites us to think about our audience not as patients, but as people who might become patients. He encourages healthcare marketers to find ways to connect with people first, through digital/content marketing and social media.
Bevolo gets it – and us.
He knows we sometimes end up making marketing decisions based on internal politics. (C’mon, you know you do.) He understands that opposing a powerful physician may be career-limiting; putting it most generously. He hears us when we say, “Yes, Chris, but patient volumes in total are down in XYZ clinic and we have to do something now.”
In Joe Public, Bevolo offers strategies for taking the small incremental steps and measuring results that will help us take bigger bolder ones down the line. He also warns us that as we embrace the idea that Joe Public doesn’t care, we may experience something like the Five Stages of Grief à la Kübler-Ross.
True enough. And I can personally affirm that acceptance is within reach. Initially, the idea that Joe Public doesn’t care like I once believed, was depressing. But once I accepted it, a world of possibilities opened up, allowing me to connect with people and patients like never before.