Physician MBA Students Get Lessons In Digital Marketing

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Last semester, the wife/husband of Jenni (Edwards) and Michael Burton shared their combined decade+ experience in digital marketing with the Kelley Business of Medicine MBA marketing class. Jenni, up first, set the tone by suggesting that the way to think about digital marketing is as a way to create digital connections. To do this, you need to offer customers something worth giving up their name and contact info for. The key is that the name and email address is worth more than the "Like" or "Share." Your goal is to engage with customers. This is not a one-time effort. Instead, you want an ongoing relationship you can develop over time.

It all starts with an enticement. What can you offer that they want? Have you got a special club they should join? Is there some cool freebie they might like (think tchotchkes like stickers, t-shirts, gadgets, etc.)? What about special insider tips and tricks? If not, contests with cash prizes are usually pretty attractive. Think of the offer as a way of getting them to raise their hand and say " hey, that's cool and I want to be part of it." And don't underestimate the value of cash. Turns out that it's pretty motivating.

Once they respond to that offer and have given you something valuable in return (i.e., their name and email), cherish it and use it wisely. Now you have permission to have a "conversation" with them. This conversation is not your typical " hey, how ya doing?" and "great, how about you?" Rather, this conversation plays out over months and is a series of value-laden exchanges. So, think about what content you can send them that they want and that they will respond back to. The idea isn't to pelt them with emails on a regular basis — I am sure that we all know which brands we can set the calendar by with the Monday/Wednesday/Friday email you don't really want but are afraid to miss out on. Rather, think about what they need/want from you. Are there transactions that can be moved online? Is there information they need from you? In the healthcare arena (where this class was focused), there are some regulatory issues. But certainly, low value-added activities like making appointments, confirming appointments and managing paperwork can be moved to email whenever possible. Once you have that relationship established, you can then think about how to encourage other supportive behaviors like upgrading services purchased, or sharing with others through social media, or even referring friends. But, it all starts with having that digital connection.

Michael then shared the power of leveraging Apple’s new iBeacon — a low energy Bluetooth wireless technology device for location-based information sharing for iOS devices (see Estimote’s website for how these Beacons work). These little digital icons can provide information to those who have chosen to digitally connect with you. Within a store, an iBeacon placed on an item might send info to customers' smartphones like price, volume in stock, colors available, etc. Ultimately, Apple hopes these devices will enable more electronic wallet exchanges. Within a healthcare setting, they might provide directions to your office or lab or other key facilities (think restrooms). They might also monitor progress through the building. This information exchange is still based on that relationship, that digital connection. But, this high value-added information strengthens this connection. Overall, the goal isn't just to have a large numbers of followers, fans and subscribers. Rather, the goal is to have customers actively engaging with you because you are giving them something they want. So, how are you going to maximize your digital connections?

Thanks, Jenni and Michael Burton for sharing some great insights!

Jenni Burton, Customer Engagement Manager, Herff Jones

Jenni is a digital marketer as well as a digital native who has spent the past seven years in marketing technology in both sales & marketing roles. She spent the bulk of her time learning the ropes and helping businesses with their blogging & content strategies while at Compendium Blogware and subsequently as the Manager of Social Media & Fashion Blogging at Simon Property Group (Simon Malls). Today she guides digital marketing, promotions & customer experience for Herff Jones in the scholastic (high school) division. She also co-founded two local projects, IndySpectator & Citybox. You can follow her on Twitter @jenni_burton

Michael Burton, Regional Manager, Services, Exact Target

Michael is a client services professional with 13 years experience as a leader, project manager, consultant and business analyst. He is able to improve the client experiences through understanding needs, developing solutions and resourcefully executing. He has strong project management and resource management capabilities. Michael has been recognized as a dependable self-starter with the ability to overcome challenges through an analytical/process oriented approach. Today, he is a Regional Manager of Services at Exact Target. He also a board member of the Techpoint Foundation for Youth. He has previously worked at Courseload, Interactive Intelligence, Compendium Blogware, ANGEL Learning and Baker Hill.