Richard H. Bailey has recently published a small book with a big message, Coherence. Although Bailey’s main focus is on developing marketing strategies for nonprofits and universities, there are two important lessons hospitals can glean from his writings: coherence and navigation.
The first one, coherence, is incorporated in the title of the book, “Coherence: How Telling the Truth Will Advance Your Cause (and Save the World).” Bailey defines coherence as “the discipline of ensuring a transparent connection between customer expectation (brand) and authentic user experience.
“Coherence is aligning what we deliver with what we say we deliver. Coherence engages customers in a meaningful experience that meets their needs.” Social media, with its potential for openness, can definitely play a role in helping your hospital reach coherence.
The second concept is a way to navigate your way to a coherent brand. Bailey reminds us that we don’t own our brands…we don’t even create them. He writes, “You can influence what people think. You can consistently deliver what you say you will to help strengthen your brand.” But he adds, “… consumers control your brand, based on their expectations of and experiences with you.”
Bailey uses the analogy of a car’s GPS system. He explains that GPS systems use “navigational triangulation,” or three points of reference for positioning. He urges marketing directors to use three perspectives to “position themselves accurately within their environment.” He suggests using internal audiences (who we say we are to each other); formal communication pieces (who we say we are to others) and external audiences (who they say we are). This is where Bailey notes that his firm helps organizations gather this information.
I say, here’s a good place to employ social media.
Let’s consider a joint replacement center that initiated a hospital-sponsored online chat for those considering hip replacement. Through that online chat, it revealed the need of another customer… not the patient who is considering the hip replacement, but the adult children of that patient. They may voice concern about caring for their parents after the surgery or having to send their parents to a “nursing home” for rehabilitation.
By creating an online virtual tour of the rehabilitation center and by letting them know that in-home care options are available, you’ve just engaged customers in a meaningful experience that meets their needs–coherence. Recognizing that social media can help you achieve coherence is an important step as you develop a meaningful social media strategy.
So I encourage you to let social media be a guide on your hospital’s journey to coherence. According to Bailey, if you achieve coherence you not only advance your cause, you could save the world!