marketing conference Marketing Conferences

Listen. Welcome Feedback. Learn.

When I was a young instructor at the college level, I dreaded reading those end of term evaluations from students. It wasn’t that I didn’t get good reviews, but there was always that one student who had negative things to say. I would spend the next several weeks obsessing about that one piece of feedback, rather than focus on all of the positive comments from the rest of the students. The truth is I learned from those negative comments and they made me a better instructor.

As healthcare marketers, we now live in a world where our organizations and physicians are constantly getting reviewed. And we’ve created platforms (Facebook, Twitter) that make it easy for our constituents to give us feedback. We’re also under greater pressure to deliver measurable results. That means your performance is potentially being evaluated based on campaign metrics and ROI measures.

Feedback, whether it comes from consumers, family members, patients or our direct supervisors, is often painful to hear. But it is invaluable. If we’re going to get better as healthcare organizations (and marketers), we need to welcome the feedback and come to view it as a positive – even when the message is negative.

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 1.54.29 PMI was recently the keynote speaker at a healthcare marketing symposium sponsored by my firm and Market Street Research. One of the benefits of having Market Street as a partner was the attention they paid to surveying attendees. They conducted onsite speaker evaluations and a follow-up online survey to better understand attendees’ satisfaction with the symposium and identify areas to improve, should we hold a similar event in the future. Here’s what we heard:

  • Attendees were highly satisfied with the symposium and are likely to attend in the future (if this event is held again)
  • Most found the location (Northampton, MA) convenient and appealing.
  • The quality of the sessions and ease of networking were perceived as the major strengths of the symposium.
  • Sessions were well-received and garnered praise for their relevance, useful takeaways, and the knowledge of the speakers.
  • The quality of the food was the only real weakness identified.

Sounds pretty good, right? For my session, I received a 4.9 rating out of a possible 5. Not so fast! Celebrating would be premature. Hidden in the comments was some extremely useful information. Attendees really liked my presentation, but they wanted dedicated time for Q&A. They also wanted the presentation to include more opportunities for audience interaction and engagement. This is exactly the feedback I needed to hear. And it is ironic that I should need to receive this feedback (like a slap across the back of my head), because I’m always the first person to complain about organizations spewing content at consumers. And what was I doing? Spewing content at this audience. So what am I going to do with it? I’m going to use it as motivation.

I’m currently working on presentations that I will deliver in July and October. Taking this feedback into account, I plan to take a whole new tact with these presentations. I am going to enter each of these presentations armed with 8 to 10 scenarios. Each PowerPoint slide, and there will only be 10 of them, will briefly outline a scenario that a healthcare marketing team might face. Once I introduce that scenario (less than a minute), I will open it up to the group to tell me how they think that situation should be handled or addressed. We’ll have a conversation. And I’ll jump in with my thoughts. We’ll do that for each scenario. The presentation will build from the most simple scenarios to the most complex or high risk.

I’m excited about this approach. The obvious risk is that no one plays along. If we get the participation I hope for, my role will be that of a moderator rather than presenter. I’ll report back on how it goes. Whatever the outcome, I am grateful for the feedback that has led me to this change. It will definitely lead to another learning experience. What more can I ask for?

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