HOSPITAL FOOD

What does it envision when you hear that repeatedly? Is it time to change how people think about your foodservice department?

Healthcare, foodservice, branding and marketing. Do those terms go together? Absolutely!

What are you doing about branding your foodservice department? Have you started to reimage the term,” hospital food.” What type of picture does it evoke? Are you happy with that?

I have been made more aware that healthcare foodservice departments need a brand to market to their customers especially after speaking at recent healthcare association meetings about thriving in these times coupled with my visits to foodservice departments. I have asked the same question, Are you satisfied with you foodservice brand?  The response was always the same, “what brand?” These departments’ financial budgets rival in amounts to some of your top rated restaurants and retailers. Those of which market their products, and services via an array of media including social media.

What do you want your employees, hospital employees, retail customers and patients to envision when they think about the services and goods you supply?

A brand is a statement about you is your organization, your services and your goods.  It is not  your name or your logo. It is desirable ideas that manifests itself in the experience product, services that you are giving to the customer.

Start customizing your brand and how you want you patients, internal employees, your employees and your customers to think about your department.

Getting started:

  • Get your department involved with brainstorming -terms, visual images
  • Use marketing to change perception and diagnose expectations
  • Marketing that communicates your message-e.g. educational programs, interactive sessions, internal articles, media, your website and social media.
    • Build authentic relationships between you and your clients: retail customers, patients, doctors, nurses, students….
    • Build a process that can  stay relevant and flexible

It is an understatement to say that the buy-in for social media is not easy for the healthcare market. It is not difficult to understand why some healthcare decision makers may be slow to adopt social media. Consider for a moment just what healthcare marketers are up against:

  • A multitude of privacy regulations(HIPPA rules still applies on line as well as offline)
  • Nursing, foodservice and support staff shortages
  • Increasing demand for services thanks to the quickly aging Baby Boomer generation
  • Competition

There is reason for such optimism surrounding the social web. Organizations that properly plan and implement social participation can reap a variety of benefits:

  • Build valued leadership
  • Improve customer relationships
  • Improve recruiting
  • Reduce customer service costs
  • Increase patient satisfaction
  • Improve search engine rankings
  • Increase media coverage within and outside the hospital
  • Influence  image
  • Sense of community
  • Increase sales

Check out how hospitals are embracing social media to enhance their brands, http://tinyurl.com/ybhl8hu  and http://tinyurl.com/yjezk6e

Getting started with social media: See my previous blogs and read Michelle Bowles’s approach on marketing tips for approvalhttp://www.toprankblog.com/2009/10/social-media-in-healthcare-marketing-5-tips-for-approval

Despite such optimism and benefits, social media is new territory for most healthcare foodservice departments. One issue is that a disconnect continues to exist between how hospitals are structured to formally communicate with customers via marketing, and customer service touch points.

I would like to hear from any healthcare foodservice department that has changed their brand and how.

Passionately branding,

Marsha

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