Hello again from Las Vegas and the 2013 National Council Mental Health & Addictions Conference! Yesterday I kicked off this week’s discussion with an overview of the OPEN MINDS presentation at the conference. Our focus – the organizational competencies that service provider organizations need for financial sustainability in the years ahead. We can up with four – Four Essential Organizational Competencies For The Future all members.
Today, I want to focus on the first of those four essential competencies – competing for customers. The key to our marketing work with provider organizations in a competitive, insurance-based financing market is to think in layers – and to think about push and pull strategies. What has changed? Both payers and consumers – and we’ve covered the statistics before:
Payers are restructuring their provider relationships (see What Do Payers Want? all members and What Do Payers Want? They Want You To Define Your Value! all members)
Consumer are more proactive in their selections (see The New Health Care Market: Consumers Spend More & Consumers Want More and The “Have It Your Way” Revolution in Health & Human Services all members)
Because of these developments, old models of outreach to payers and consumers won’t work. And to quote P.T. Barnum, “Without promotion something terrible happens…Nothing!” The question: what is the new model for competing for customers?
The first step in the process is to understand the consumers of your services in terms of what portion of costs are paid by a payer or directly by consumers. For most provider organizations, one scenario – a combination of payer and consumer reimbursement – is the most common. And, I’m going to discuss “best practice” customer marketing from that perspective. In that scenario, there are three customers – the payer, the referral source, and the consumer. And, each needs a different approach.
To approach those three customer group, I recommend using a push/pull strategy market – this means that we gain endorsements of payers and referral sources (contracting, referral relationships) which is push marketing, and we use strategies to make consumers want what we offer (the pull strategies).
Starting with the payers is key. Payer marketing is push marketing – we need to get contracts (endorsements) with the payers in order to get reimbursement for eligible consumers. The question is one of positioning. What type of contracts? For most provider organizations, standard fee-for-service network contracts are a necessary evil but not lucrative. For most organizations, the strategy is to move “up the food chain” to more preferred relationships with payers
Marketing to referral sources is a push and pull strategy combo. We want the endorsements and preferred relationships with referral relationships, and we want them also to proactively select our services on behalf of consumers. Developing and managing these referrals relationships is a second layer of best practice marketing.
Finally, we have direct-to-consumer marketing. This is pull marketing – we want consumers to want our services. But consumer marketing these days has changed – it’s all about endorsements, reputation, and web optimization.
For more, take a look at my full presentation from Sunday’s Preconference University, Creating Consumer-Preferred Services, Marketing Directly To Consumers, & Managing The Consumer Experience . Just remember, to paraphrase a famous political operative, Lee Atwater, in the world of marketing, perception is reality.
For another free resource, see: Get Ready For The New Normal all members