Friday, January 30, 2009

Health Care and Social Media

One of the most interesting areas where social media will make an impact is in the health care industry. Most people would readily admit the last two groups to adopt any technology are lawyers and doctors. Of the two, I think that the doctors, and the larger healthcare industry, will be much more rapid adopters of social media. Here is why:

- Government regulation: healthcare reform, medical process management, electronic health records are all trends that, for better or worse, are pushing technology and healthcare workers together. It's easier to adopt social media when you are already using a mobile device, PC or laptop to view professional development videos, process medicare forms, view/send patient records and run your hospital/HMO/personal office.

- Generational shift: as the Baby Boomers move into retirement, they will create openings in senior management for people who are comfortable using technology to communicate transparently with peers, co-workers, vendors and customers.

- Customer demand: patients have adopted social media with amazing rapidity. They are now used to communicating with their service providers in a community type environment where the corporation's voice is merely one among many. Smart companies have mastered this new viral, less controlled communications environment. Less nimble companies have fumbled this opportunity to recreate relationships on a stronger basis, and have suffered sales and market share effects. Organizations as diverse as insurance companies to hospitals to medical device companies to professional associations will have to master social media in order to communicate effectively with their stakeholders.

What do you think? Am I off base? I'd like to get your feedback. Leave a comment below or feel free to fill out a quick three question survey I running on the use of social media and the healthcare industry

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

CQ is Up for Sale

In another small but real way, the continuing meltdown in publishing world spreads through DC. I just read an announcement that CQ is being put for sale by its owner, Times Publishing, based out of Florida. From today's Washington Business Journal:

In a statement, Chairman Paul Tash said Times Publishing would explore the sale of the 63-year-old publishing company, based in the District, to steer investment capital toward the company’s other publishing ventures in Florida, including its flagship newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times.
I used to work at CQ and it is a phenomenal organization that develops amazing stories each and every day that are absolute must have for any DC insider.

Founded in 1945 by St. Petersburg Times owner Nelson Poynter, CQ grew over the decades into a leading publisher of news and information about legislation, the federal government and politics. Its clientele is largely made up of professionals seeking to influence Congress, including lobbying firms, law firms and government agencies.

In the late 1990s, CQ moved aggressively into the online world, turning into a powerful tool for tracking legislation moving through Congress. CQ also publishes Governing magazine, which covers state governments.

Times Publishing said it has retained New York-based investment banking firm the Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc. to handle the transaction. JEGI performed the same role last year in the sale of CQ’s books division, CQ Press, to Sage Publications of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

“The Times Publishing Co. has been a wonderful steward of this business. But to maintain CQ’s double-digit growth, we appreciate that it’s time to bring our enterprise under the banner of an owner with national or international reach,” said CQ President Robert W. Merry.

My only worry is that, in the hands of a private equity group, the pressure to drive growth will dilute the world class product CQ has produced over the years, and ultimately kill the golden goose.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Most Important Thing in a Recession- Sales

On the very day Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th President, the stock market tanked by 3-5% depending on what index you prefer. Our economy is in tatters, confidence is shot, businesses are failing. It's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But fear not. Your sales pipeline is probably half as robust as it was last year, but by getting back to basics while integrating your efforts with the latest marketing and social media best practices, you can survive 2009 and get yourself positioned for strong growth in 2010.

What are the sales basics? It's easy to forget, but here are three, compiled by a great resource I read regularly,

1. Establish a relentless focus on talking with prospects and customers at every moment of each sales day. Sales requires contact. Make contact your first priority.

2. Be prepared with one to three absolutely solid statements that communicate the reasons someone should buy from you now – buy from you... now. These should be powerful statements that create a sense of urgency and make it clear why you and your offering are the solution to their situation at this very moment – scripted and rehearsed to a point where you can deliver these benefits with appropriate voice intonation, literally, in your sleep. (please remember: being the biggest, oldest, or "premier" provider is rarely a reason someone should buy from you... in fact, sometimes it could be the reason not to)

3. Be ready with an approachable, non-defensive method of responding to the top three objections you and your team hear each sales day. Again, these should be scripted and rehearsed to be delivered without hesitation.