While leafing through my Henry Ford Magazine last month, I came across a small article that offered me a ray of healthcare marketing hope—and from a system right in my own backyard! Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital has opened a hydroponic greenhouse on its campus.
Of course, the West Bloomfield location is the newest in the Henry Ford system, and they launched with a health and wellness position, but this is tangible and unique evidence of that position in action. Not only are they using the garden in their hospital kitchen, but they are also offering what appears to be robust community education tied into healthy diet and nutrition. Good for them! It’s critical for hospitals and health systems to walk the talk in this fashion.
Over the past several years, we’ve worked with healthcare entities trying to take a health and wellness position. In each case, our survey results revealed prospective patients found the concepts tested to be appealing, differentiating and relevant, but not believable. The community at large needs tangible ways to consider how their local health system might play a proactive role in their health and wellness as opposed to as a location they dread/only associate with illness.
Then, just as I was getting ready to publish these thoughts, I listened into my first Arrogant Healthcare Marketing Bastards podcast (highly recommend), coincidentally entitled I’m Sick of Wellness! (1/28/13) and my ray of hope was gone. They referenced a very concerning finding in a report from McCann that threatens the future of how wellness as a potential position will score for differentiation as well. In essence, it suggests that every brand could conceivably weave some element of wellness into their position (paraphrasing):
“Nobody has that [wellness] expertise baked in more than providers. But, companies like Apple have an advantage because people are willing to receive their messages. That’s not the case for a hospital. People don’t want to hear from you.”
So, I guess it should be no surprise that Ford Motor Company has a wellness-oriented radio spot airing right now. As healthcare marketers we must give people a reason to want to hear from us. To review: a position is a pact, which is more than the words themselves. We must establish our brands as credible and distinct resources by developing more than just the message, but the proof points, too.