As a health care professional, you focus on providing the highest level of care to your patients or developing the best products to better serve your clients who care for patients.
You may think you have no need for a grassroots coalition, but it is critical to build a network of supporters before you need them to take action.
Brand advocates are valuable for referrals and word-of-mouth brand building, as well as more urgent circumstances like when you need help pushing for legislative change or brand defenders in a crisis situation. Having an existing coalition to call on will help you hit the ground running.
To get started on building your grassroots supporters, follow and build upon these steps:
- Deliver on your promise – Whether it’s compassionate care or technology to improve patient safety, when you make a claim, deliver on it. Provide high-quality customer service and be a likeable brand that people want to promote and if necessary, defend. Though customer service and communications are typically managed by different groups within an organization, the two areas can have a profound impact on the success of one another.
- Build community – Health care results improve when relationships are developed. Marketing results also improve when you take the time to form and maintain a rapport with your customers. Patients often bond with staff and other patients over their shared experiences. These relationships can naturally transition beyond treatment into advocacy groups if you give them a forum to keep in touch. Host a discussion board or closed Facebook group, and invite everyone back for reunions or annual picnics to maintain the personal connections developed during treatment.
- Empower your supporters – Once you become a likeable brand that consumers trust, they often want to help you succeed. Some just need your encouragement to know that they can truly make a difference. Give your supporters resources to accurately speak on your behalf and offer different tiers of involvement to match the various comfort levels they may have (i.e. speaking to a civic organization about their experience on your behalf versus arranging for someone on your staff to speak to the organization).
- Recognize your advocates – No matter their level of involvement, thank your supporters for being a positive voice for your brand, and when possible, thank them publicly. Share advocate highlights on your website, social media channels or in newsletters. Offer branded swag for them to proudly display. Host a regular luncheon or dinner so they can hear from leadership, engage with your business and feel like an insider. You may even consider branding your advocacy program to further differentiate and honor your supporters.
Grassroots building might not currently be on your radar, but it should be. It is much easier to give an existing group direction than it is to build, motivate and activate a group from scratch when you have limited time to make an impact.
By Rachel Hinderman, account supervisor and member of Saxum’s health care practice