If haven’t heard the harrowing tale of Blockbuster's fall from existence, you'll want to pay attention. It's not just a fascinating business story, it's also a poignant lesson for healthcare marketing leaders. It’s the story of how to recognize pivotal technology adoption opportunities when they're staring you in the face.
Back in 2000, Netflix founder Reed Hastings approached Blockbuster with an offer — a partnership that would combine Netflix's innovative video by mail service with Blockbuster's existing brand. As the story goes, Hastings “got laughed out of the room."
You probably know how things turned out after that. Blockbuster went bankrupt ten years later, and Netflix is now a household name. Blockbuster's CEO John Antioco is also largely seen by history as having turned a closed eye to innovation.
That's only partially true. He was doing what a lot of healthcare marketers are doing right now —making decisions based on the current state of his business and missing out on the direction his industry and his consumers were headed. Since we know healthcare marketers don't want their organization to end up in the same bin of history as Blockbuster, let's explore a few lessons from this story that will help you succeed.
Know Why Your Healthcare Consumers Trust You
You might think your patients are with you because of things like your history, beautiful facility, or convenient location, but the truth is probably very different.
Your patients want a relationship with you and your providers. They want an end-to-end healthcare experience where scheduling, communication, and payment experiences mesh with what they're used to receiving in other industries. You have an opportunity here to become a leader in creating those experiences that inspire their loyalty and are patient-centric because of their convenience (convenience won out in the case of Netflix).
Thankfully, you have resources that Blockbuster didn't. You can push beyond traditional advertising and marketing and build a genuine understanding of your patients. Focus on developing highly detailed insight with data-enabled digital marketing and the right technology, and you won't be left guessing about healthcare consumer motivations.
Your Profit Should Be Closely Connected to Value
A part of the Blockbuster story that doesn't get told is that John Antioco did eventually see the light. He realized his customers were annoyed by late fees and suggested taking a different route. The problem? Killing off late fees would have cost Blockbuster hundreds of millions of dollars.
Basically, one of Blockbuster's primary sources of revenue came from a place that offered no value (and mostly annoyance) to its customers.
Healthcare is sitting in a similar position now. With value-based care leaving fee-for-service in the past and reimbursement models shifting, it's more important than ever to understand where patients find value.
Digital marketing can become part of a complete healthcare experience in the form of value-enhancing education and convenience that acknowledges their needs as consumers. Remember that as healthcare shifts to more outcome-based care models and patients take more control of their health, you'll need more than marketing that drives people into your office when they aren't feeling well. Lean on your organization's strengths to offer more value around particular service lines, price transparency, pre-appointment communication, or wherever it makes sense. Again, you must think about convenience as a huge value add to consumers.
Ignoring Change Doesn't Make It Go Away
John Antioco probably saw the light in time, but unfortunately, his executives, board, and investors didn't.
Instead of investing in change when Netflix made its proposal, or even when Antioco came up with his own plan, they ignored the opportunity to catch up with the disruption that would eventually contribute to their bankruptcy. They did eventually try to catch up, but by then it was too late.
“Too late" hasn't come yet in healthcare, so now's your opportunity to drive long-lasting change for your consumers and your organization.
Every day your competition is integrating digital marketing techniques that healthcare consumers love (and expect). Since an effective digital marketing presence takes time to build - waiting means risking lost patient relationships, increasingly difficult implementations, steep tech learning curves, and higher expense.
As healthcare content and education become a more important part of the care experience, a dynamic content presence will become a healthcare service on its own (just like Netflix's in-home movie delivery became and now their streaming service has become one for entertainment). Remember, every now and then, in every industry, disruption happens faster than some are able to recover from. Make sure you learn from Blockbuster's mistakes, and start rethinking your approach to marketing today.
Want more insight into how to create the experiences healthcare consumers crave? Download our guide to Healthcare Consumer Experience Today.