Editor's Note

Providing Your Value

Social media offers a powerful way to bond with clients. Has the Facebook scandal changed that?

For most of my professional life, I have edited magazines, but for a few years, I worked as a senior marketing communications manager and my experience that is there is one way a business can cement lasting customer bonds it is through providing value on a regular basis. Best of all, social media have given every business in the world a platform for delivering that value.

What do I mean by value? I don’t mean value for money or corporate values. What I mean by value is giving your past, current and prospective clients something they will value. Moreover, you need to provide that value to your referral partners and patients regularly, and you accomplish this through your marketing communications.

As a provider, your most significant asset — outside of your patient and referral relationships — is your product knowledge. There is no other business in your marketplace that knows as much about home medical equipment as you do. You have trained and credentialed pros on your team who can cross reference a patient’s condition and doctor’s orders to find the exact piece of HME that will address a specific homecare need.

That is a tremendous asset, and it is something you can and should share with your patients and partners on a regular basis. In value marketing, you leverage that knowledge to create content such as blog posts, social media posts, email campaigns, direct mail campaigns, newsletters, and other, more communicative forms of marketing and sent it out regularly to your clients. Moreover, in this era of social media, you can dial up your value marketing efforts to regularly connect with your clients and give them that value.

If you keep current with marketing trends, about this moment, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, Dave is talking about ‘content marketing.’” Well, I’m not. I kind of think that term is a disservice to the approach because it comes from the point of view that “content” is some online or marketing “widget.” It’s not. Good content offers value. It gives your audience something that they will take away and apply to their lives. It is useful. Perhaps it is entertaining. However, it is not just a check market on a marketing to-do list. Good content possesses an intrinsic value that you can pass along to your patients and partners.

And when your clients receive content that they feel has given them some form of value, guess what: they subconsciously attach that feeling of value with your brand. And if you create value marketing campaigns that are individualized to specific team members — perhaps individual blog posts for each of your referral sales reps that are communicated via social media and e-newsletters to their contact lists — then your clients will attach that value with your individual sales professionals, as well as your brand.

It is an incredibly powerful approach to both consumer-directed and referral partner-directed marketing, and over the last few years, social media has only magnified the approach’s ability to capabilities. Now you can create value marketing posts and campaigns that are so targeted they are almost individualized, based on demographics, interests, incomes, location and other highly relevant marketing metrics. It’s essentially the cruise missile of marketing communications: right on target.

And that’s why social media might also be value marketing’s problem. As I write this, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is testifying before the House and Senate about how high-tech political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica exploited Facebook’s weak privacy policies to work with third parties to engage in hyper-targeted, dark-money political campaign advertising.

Suddenly, every social media user was reassessing their comfort level with the social contract they had with services such as Facebook. Was trading their private information and letting these services track their online activity worth sharing vacation pictures or catching up with their college roommates? The jury is still out. There are no reports of users abandoning Facebook despite the short-lived #deletefacebook hashtag trend.

For now, social media remains a powerful way for providers to connect with and drive real brand value with their patients and partners. If you haven’t launched a value marketing effort, now is the time.

This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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