Marketing, Promotion, Public Relations

More Than Just a Pretty Package
Calendar Captures Quest Award
Winning Web Sites: Creating The New “First Impression”

by Renee DiIulio

More Than Just a Pretty Package

Stealing a page from the entertainment industry, premium packaging can enhance your business image
Remember that last CD from your favorite band? The cover case and the CD “face” were as arresting as the music. Simply put, the packaging “spoke to you” before the music even played. The point: Premium packaging can build any brand.

For radiology centers and hospitals, media, such as CD and DVDs, provide not only a useful tool to store and transfer information but also a blank slate on which to project the facility’s image. “Preprinted discs and packaging produce an enhanced professional image,” said Mike Cummings, national sales director with Medical Media Supply in Plainfield, NJ.

In today’s paperless centers, the best way to transfer patient information, particularly radiology images, is on medical-grade electronic media, such as CDs and DVDs. These materials may be delivered via the patient (who carries the disc between physicians) or directly. Ultimately, they may end up in another physician’s hands where they become potential marketing tools.

Premium packaging, which features professional design, labeling, and printing, will deliver a better impression than one with fuzzy information penned with a Sharpie. “It’s a subtle way to communicate quality,” said Matt Strippelhoff, a partner in Liaison Marketing Communications, based in Cincinnati.

Strippelhoff recommends including the facility’s logo, contact information, and core message within the design standards used by the facility in its other marketing communications. “This reinforces the brand,” said Strippelhoff.

The investment in such a project varies according to the services required of the vendor and the quantities ordered. According to Cummings, the average order for medical-grade media ranges between 1,000 and 5,000 discs but can vary widely; the size of the order may affect turnaround. Facilities can produce custom pieces or work with templates, often available through the vendor.

“The printed packaging gives the group or hospital the opportunity to explain in further detail who they are, what they are about, and how they differ from the competition,” said Cummings. Premium packaging is, therefore, more than just pretty; it’s also an opportunity to deliver a strong impact and helps enhance an institution’s image.

Calendar Captures Quest Award

Imaging center aims to build referrals
Pens get lost, pads get used, mugs get taken home—but a calendar? That can stay on a desk throughout the year. “We wanted to produce a new promotional item, and as I looked around the office, I realized that the promotional calendar my printer had sent me had sat on my desk all year,” said Dena Grove, director of marketing at Regents Health Resources in Brentwood, Tenn.

The marketing/communications firm was working on a creative campaign intended to generate business from referring physicians for a new radiology center—Lake Imaging Center—opening in Baton Rouge, La. With a hospital and competing centers close by, the new organization needed to set itself apart. Calendars are a common promotional tool in other industries, but are not as popular in the health care market (not yet, anyway). The idea was therefore as innovative as it was cost-effective—so much so that it won a platinum 2007 Quest Award from the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA of Fairfax, Va) in the category of physician marketing programs.

The Quest Awards recognize excellence in marketing with the goal of highlighting successful and innovative methods that can be implemented by other centers. Additional award categories include Web sites, advertising (print, radio, television), internal marketing programs, patient marketing programs, cause-related marketing, “ideas that wow,” and best of show.

A panel of experts judged the entries based on preestablished criteria. The Regents/Lake Imaging Center calendar was recognized for factors that included its ability to engage referring physicians, the effective communication of brand values, and effective use of marketing resources. “When you compare the cost of three or four other disposable items and that of the calendar, it’s worth the investment,” said Grove. The cost per calendar varies with the size of the order, as well as the type of calendar. Options include wall calendars, desk calendars, and magnetic calendars.

Regents opted for a wall calendar featuring a two-page vertical spread incorporating images from radiology and the region. The top page features a large monthly calendar; the bottom page features information on Lake Imaging Center. Users can easily see the available services/modalities, a list of radiologists, the information required to make an appointment, and contact numbers for Lake Imaging Center on every spread.

Because it is a useful desk accessory, the calendar provides the center with increased exposure. “It’s a good way to permit the front office professionals to keep the information on their desk,” said Grove. Regents felt the extra exposure would be helpful since the competitor was located between Regents and the hospital. “We needed to encourage people to drive an extra 100 yards down the road,” said Grove.

The calendar was just one piece of a marketing campaign that also featured television, radio, and media ads, but it was the easiest to implement. “It required the least amount of time when compared to the other elements of the campaign,” said Grove.

The calendars were hand delivered to physicians within a 2-mile radius by sales representatives, who used them as conversation starters. When the calendars were left behind, the representatives noted on later visits throughout the year that they were still visible in the doctors’ offices.

“This was a really great tool, and we will absolutely use it again,” said Grove. With the Quest Award to back up its effectiveness, other centers can be expected to use promotional calendars to build awareness and referral business.

Winning Web Sites: Creating The New “First Impression”

A Web site can be a “placeholder” that briefly describes a product or service offering, or it can be a comprehensive sales and marketing tool. “This strategic decision is based on how the web-site sponsor positions the site with the customer,” said Cynthia E. Keen, consultant with i.t. Communications. Either way, the web site is often the first impression for potential clients and can reveal more about an institution than its employees.

Axis Imaging News spoke with three experts about how to create winning web sites—sites that invite visitors in and keep them there beyond the few seconds required to make a first impression. We also found some winning web sites to help illustrate the experts’ points.

The Audience

“In the medical industry, the accuracy and relevance of the message that the web site sponsor wishes to convey are of paramount importance,” said Keen. Simply put, content is king. But that content needs to be relevant to the visitor.

“What can be often overlooked is understanding the target audience and what they are most interested in finding when they visit your site. The audience should drive development,” said Matt Strippelhoff, a partner in Liaison Marketing Communications, Cincinnati. The audience’s needs will help to determine structure, content, and tone.

The Valley Open MRI and Diagnostic Center ( in Kingston, Pa, is directed toward patients, which is fitting since patients are at the center of the facility’s vision statement (easily found on the site). The center’s home page starts a conversation with patients and offers links to modality and procedure descriptions in lay terms.

American Radiology Associates ( takes the opposite approach, focusing on information for physicians who would use the institution’s services. Links offer information on the capabilities and benefits for this group.

Booth Radiology ( in Woodbury, NJ, includes information for both groups; the home page prominently lists links for “patients” and “referring physicians and staff.”

“When appealing to different publics, you want to segment the audiences, and you can be deliberate about how you do that,” said Strippelhoff. This will help to assure that visitors will see the information as they scan the page. “If they can’t find what they are looking for, they will go to the next site,” said Strippelhoff.

The Elements

The organization of the site should therefore be well thought out. “The structure should be approached with goals in mind,” said Ashley Lazonick, principal and designer of Ace Designs in Cambridge, Mass.

There is no typical number of pages (“they can range from six pages to hundreds of pages,” said Lazonick), but the depth should be considered before starting.

It goes without saying that the site should be easily navigated, and every element should have a purpose. “If there are flashing icons or rollovers you can’t click on easily, it can be annoying,” said Lazonick. Valley Open and American Radiology use Flash animation introductions but provide the option to click through directly to the home pages, which are simple in design.

Used appropriately, multimedia can convey information effectively as well as add a human element. “If you are targeting the consumer, you’ll really want to humanize the site—make it friendly and inviting visually,” said Strippelhoff, who recommends a “fair” amount of photos of people. Both Valley Open and Booth Radiology, which include patients among their audience, have images of caregivers and patients on their home pages. American Radiology, designed for physicians, employs more technical images, such as x-rayed hands at a keyboard.

Lazonick and Keen both recommend using original photos when time and budget permit. Keen notes that posed shots or common stock photos can be distracting. But Strippelhoff thinks stock photos can work if rights are questionable. “You must always get the model release form signed so permission to use the image is secured,” Strippelhoff said.

Videos can be more complicated. “Videos are very expensive and may not be needed,” said Keen. Valley Open decided it did want a video and features a short “commercial” on its CT coronary exam page. Although it is similar to a patient testimonial, which Keen believes runs the risk of obvious self-promotion, the video illustrates the ease of the CT coronary exam, using images to help alleviate patient fear and anxiety in ways words could not.

Additional tools that allow visitors to take advantage of the site also help to increase its effectiveness. Examples include RSS feeds to publications, bookmark tools, and the ability to easily share information, such as “e-mail this article” links—Keen labels these “bonuses.” Booth Radiology features these, providing links to resources such as associations and trade journals on one page as well as guidelines.

Media should be used to better illustrate a point. “It should offer information that cannot be replicated by words,” said Keen, who suggests that graphics open in another window (Booth’s commercial and guidelines both open in new windows).

Copy will convey what the graphics don’t and should be written with the audience in mind: more technical information for doctors, more lay terms for patients; a more professional tone for physicians, a more caring approach for consumers. Lazonick recommends using professional writers. “Copy that works in a brochure doesn’t always translate well to the web page,” Lazonick said.

Content should always be easy to read with the option to delve into more detail if desired. It should also cover the important topics, defined through company research and leadership. “The information at the audience’s top of mind should be a focus of the site,” said Strippelhoff. Visitors are more likely to stick around if they can find what they are looking for, particularly on their first impression.