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Marketing & Communications - Pat Parker
Marketing & Communications - Pat Parker
Garrett Group Marketing Communications specializes in all facets of marketing and communications related activities for healthcare, technology and financial services companies. The agency's services include advertising, product marketing strategy development, corporate identity, public and investor relations services and more.

Because Garrett Group's principals each have extensive product marketing experience, they are uniquely qualified to help the firm's clients leverage market conditions and maximize available resources.Pat Parker is a partner in Garrett Group and has approximately twenty years marketing experience. Prior to joining Garrett Group, she was a marketing consultant for several Atlanta-area high-technology companies. She also served as Director of Marketing for ZSoft Corporation; managing a multi-million dollar marketing budget and five leading PC software products.

As Vice President Sales & Marketing for Nashville-based Business Machines, Inc., Pat contributed to developing this start-up company into the largest independent banking and financial services equipment provider in the nation.

At the Garrett Group, Pat manages creative direction and strategy. Founded in 1992, Garrett Group has offices in Atlanta and Nashville. Some of the firm's clients include Sprint Telecommunications, Manhattan Associates, Robinson-Humphrey, Clear Communications Group, Inc., JustMedicine.com and LockBox Communications.

Garrett Group Marketing Communications
Corporate Offices
125 Bayvale
Atlanta, GA 30328
770-393-9853 Atlanta
615-826-6051 Nashville
E-mail: pat@garrettgroup.com


Question 1 - Hi Pat, Have you ever had the opportunity to do what I would call a "good propaganda" campaign? This would include things like ads that encourage a healthy lifestyle or maybe discourage unnecessary ER visits in favor of seeing your GP. Also, What's your experience/perception on the effectiveness of such programs? by BenDover on February 14, 2000

Answer 1 - Hi Ben, Sorry to take so long getting back to you...apparently we had a little e-mail glitch. I believe such campaigns are effective on a number of levels. First, the advertising organization, say a hospital or physician group, benefits from having its 'brand' communicated more frequently and positvely promoted within the community. Secondly, such a campaign builds a warm perception within the community - people feel that the organization really cares about them...which is a good thing. Finally, any such program, if it truly contains beneficial lifestyle information, is good for the the healthcare system as a whole and can over time, impact the cost of delivery. Any activity that promotes a healthy lifestyle is a positive for everyone concerned and should be viewed as an investment. We have found that humor works well in such consumer-oriented campaigns. It makes the information more memorable and portrays the advertiser in a favorable, realistic fashion to potential consumers. Hope this helps. by Pat Parker on February 14, 2000
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Question 2 - Pat, what recommendations would you give to healthcare organizations who are tight for dollars but very much needing to market their products and services due to the competitive environment? by tammy on February 15, 2000

Answer 2 - We strongly recommend that marketing departments evaluate every communications activity to make certain it meets strategic criteria before they spend one dime to develop it. For example, if the goal of the organization is to raise brand awareness within the community, that's a very broad goal. Spend some time and money, if necessary, to determine what segments of the 'community' are really the appropriate target for the advertiser's products and services. If the result of the study reveals a certain segment of the population, say seniors and young marrieds with small children are the best targets, then it is much easier to develop a cost-effective and highly targeted communications plan that reaches the goal. In other words, target your marketing activities and narrow your focus when competitive pressures are high and available funds are low. Another tactic worth exploring is partnering with entities interested in reaching the same targets. Share the costs, just be careful not to dilute your message. by Pat Parker on February 15, 2000
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Question 3 - Are healthcare companies routinely using the internet as a marketing tool and how? Have they found it effective? Do you currently work with healthcare companies successfully using internet marketing? by Terin on February 15, 2000

Answer 3 - Hi Terin. The answer to your all three of your questions is yes. We are working with healthcare companies who use the Internet very effectively. As with any marketing communications channel, however, we suggest that you know what you want to have happen as a result of your Internet presence before you build that web site. Many companies feel they should be on the Internet, but don't really know why. And it's easy to spend valuable marketing resources without any measurable results. Most of our clients use the Internet to enhance their brands by adding value with web-based information and services. They provide a variety of valuable information (parenting tips, q&a, healthy living guides, etc.)and more importantly, are making a comittment to maintaining the value they provide by keeping the web site content updated and enhanced to keep people coming back. Some use the Internet to deliver more in depth healthcare services. Once you've determined how you can use the Internet to support your marketing activities and goals, then it becomes a very cost-effective channel. by Pat Parker on February 15, 2000
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Question 4 - Hi Pat! As you know, the competition for patients is at an all time high. Have you put together any marketing strategies for physician offices? Are there certain marketing techniques that work better for physician offices? And, do the marketing plans require a person with marketing experience to implement? by kathy on February 16, 2000

Answer 4 - Hi Kathy. We've had the opportunity to work on this issue in the past and understand the problem very well. With regard to strategy, once you've determined who you want to 'market' to and what you want to say to them, then an implementation plan can be developed that does not require an experienced marketer to carry it out. However, I would suggest that you rely on an experienced marketing organization to help you, at a minimum, develop the plan so you can focus your efforts effectively and avoid spending time and money needlessly. The most important advice I can give you in this situation is to determine what you want to have happen as a result of your marketing efforts - and be specific. Is there a certain segment of the community you are targeting? If so, then charge your marketing group to be very creative in reaching them. I hope this helps. If you want to talk more about your specific situation, let me know. by Pat Parker on February 16, 2000
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Question 5 - Hello! How do you advise hospitals in particular how to spend their marketing dollars? Do you go for the heart or the mind of the patient/customer? What, in your opinion and experience, works best? A mixture? Or more one thing than another? The emotional appeal certainly has clout to it, but the intellectual appeal/advertisement has more educational value to it, I think. Your ideas/comments would certainly be appreciated. Thanks. by Ingolfsson on February 16, 2000

Answer 5 - Great question! Anne Marie, selling any product, regardless of what it is, begins by stirring the 'buyer's' emotions. And, health-related decisions by their very nature, are greatly impacted by a patient's emotions. I want to 'feel' that a hospital understands my situation and 'cares' about my well-being. Having said all this, however, in this market of better informed consumers, it would be easy to overdo the emotional appeal. Therefore we think ads that are carefully crafted to communicate both caring and capability are the most effective. So how do you achieve this delicate balance? Ads (whether print or broadcast) that depict real life medical expertise, but also show a reassuring touch, an extra moment spent with a family member....you get the idea. This is powerful stuff. If your hospital excels in a particular field (heart, cancer, pediatrics) then showcase this expertise. But don't leave the patient out of the equation. Good Luck! by Pat Parker on February 16, 2000
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Question 6 - What suggestions can you give for creative marketing for those who do not have marketing budgets. What tactics do you have up your sleeve? by Luke on February 17, 2000

Answer 6 - This is an interesting question. I suggest leveraging your affiliations. When possible, 'hitch a ride' with other organizations making noise in your target market segment. What that means, is participate in events - it's relatively low-cost to provide an expert speaker at an event or to hang your logo on 'sponsored' activities that appeal to your market segment. This can be done for a fairly low-cost. If you do not have a web-site, create a simple brochure-ware site and publish your website address on all your correspondence. Or, have someone in your organization author an article that can be published in a publication that targets your market. The key here is to use your imagination and a little creative 'leg-work' to promote your organization when you have limited funds. Good Luck! by Pat Parker on February 17, 2000
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Question 7 - Do you recommend any basic reading for your business partners who are not in marketing (and don't really want to be) but need to be able to speak the language to work with a marketing company to insure they understand what they are getting and to help insure that they are getting what they need? by BenDover on February 18, 2000

Answer 7 - Good question. We have a very strong opinion about that and feel that any ad/marketing agency that's worth its salt isn't going to speak to you in marketing-ease and will take the time to clearly explain the what's and why's of any recommended activity. In fact, I make it a habit to ask clients if THEY recommend any reading in their industry to ensure that we are up to speed on what's going on in their world. OK, I'm off my soapbox. There are literally hundreds of good books written on every aspect of marketing and I wouldn't even know where to begin. However, because getting and keeping clients in this Internet era we live in is so important, I like books like Patricia Seybold's Customers.com. And, there are also number of good web-based newsletters that provide a wealth of timely information. Of course, if you really want to delve into the marketing mindset, then I recommend any of Jack Trout & Al Ries' books such as The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. Although I haven't read them, there is another author with a popular series of "101 Ways To...." on all sorts of marketing subjects. I believe his name is Pinskey. Enjoy your late night reading! by Pat Parker on February 18, 2000

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