Friday, April 06, 2007

Morris’s Exemplar

If you could drive your “customer base” up 500%+ in three years, you’d be pretty pleased with yourself, right? Right.

You may have been one of the 50 marketing professionals who watched Annetta Morris pack so much punch into her presentation this past Wednesday. You heard her speak about the integrated Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center (GCR) marketing program, Commit For Life.

Morris was the star (but not the only cast member) of our Healthcare SIG’s spring event. Reviewing our lunchtime presentation taught me four valuable lessons…maybe they’ll help you, too.

Morris was forceful. Funny. And pretty humble about the achievement that’s made GCR the exemplar of blood donor programs in the US. (EXEMPLAR n. One that is worthy of imitation; a model.)

Donations of blood are down nationally. But the Houston-based non-profit organization delivers almost all the blood that’s needed throughout our region…thanks to a program that keeps donors coming back again and again to donate: once a quarter, every quarter, year after year.

We collected post-presentation surveys from just over 50% of you (which is great all by itself). Then 85% of you respondents rated the presentation’s relevance and quality “Excellent.” And 88% thought Morris herself was equally “Excellent.” Want some actual quotes?

“Great presentation. Annetta is fantastic.”

“Great speaker.”


But enough about her. Back to what she presented and you can learn (as I did).

1. The Commit For Life program is a tightly woven tactical set that keeps “touching” the audiences (external and internal) continuously and meaningfully. But it didn’t happen all at once…didn’t spring full-blown into the world. It’s taken GCR three long years to get every cylinder firing and help it reach its goals. So, in your case, are you and your executives giving your marketing programs enough time to work? Or are you changing strategies and tactics every month or every quarter?

2. Everyone in the organization has to be on board. Has to. Nothing would have happened without GCR’s recognition that “business as usual” meant failure to reach its goals – and no blood for our hospitals and emergency rooms. That means changing the paradigm (terrible cliché). Now you should be asking yourself: if what I’m doing isn’t working, why do I keep doing it?

3. Morris made it clear that executives, marketers, staffers and vendors all participated thoroughly in the process of changing the GCR marketing program – and she gave appropriate credit to each of them: the people at the top, the phlebotomists that escort their patrons into the donor’s chairs, the partners with whom GCR cooperates in the rewards program, the vendors (like TCB Specialties and NextLevelThinking) who think and act in support of GCR. Qs for you: Do you get everyone on board with your program? Does everyone who touches a customer or a patient or a patron understand what the marketing program is trying to accomplish?

4. Back to “time.” GCR asks its patrons to take the time to donate. Morris was quite pointed about this: Time is an element much more valuable to donors than blood – though people don’t often think of it that way. In healthcare marketing (as in many other segments), we are not necessarily asking our prospects and customers to change their minds, or their brands – we’re asking them to take the time to consider our message, the time to think about a new software approach, the time to visit a clinic. What do you think? Does your marketing program help make your prospects think their time is worthwhile?

FYI, our SIG learned a few things as well – which will we apply to future events. That’s what an exemplar is all about: something worthy of imitating.

Thanks to Annetta Morris and the entire GCR team; our sponsors, XL Films and Medical Journal Houston; and the AMA Houston Healthcare SIG-folk: you know who you are.

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