Tag Archive for: logan

Make Your Thanks Count. Here’s How.

Think of the common ways we express gratitude to each other. A verbal “thank you,” a thank you card, maybe a gift basket or gift card. These are all nice gestures — and we should do them — but they can feel  generic.

So how do we avoid that?

With something called “incarnational gratitude.” (Give me a chance to explain before that big term scares you away!) Incarnational gratitude is how you SHOW and LIVE your gratitude in meaningful ways. More than just a gift or signed card, incarnational gratitude fuses gratefulness into the everyday life of your workplace and the ongoing interactions between you and your team members.

So how do you do it? Here are 7 examples you can use to show incarnational gratitude for your work team:

1. When times are tough, get in the trenches with your team.

One of the greatest fears employees have is being abandoned when times are tough. When the difficult client calls for a meeting, when the work is demanding, or when a task seems insurmountable, nothing shows your team that you’re grateful for their effort more than when you roll up your sleeves and dig in with them. When you step up for your team, they will step up their work for you and the company.

2. Make everyday moments special.

Holidays and birthdays are easy times to make people feel special, but you don’t need to wait for those to show your gratitude. With a little planning and creativity, any day or moment is an opportunity.

Mondays, Fridays, anniversaries, half-anniversaries, first day of the month, middle day of the month, start of a shift, end of a shift, milestones within a project, or completely invented moments – when you show gratitude and celebrate your team during unexpected moments, it can feel more special because you are celebrating without an obligation to. This can add a lot of positive energy and value to your team.

3. Celebrate when you catch employees doing thankless work.

Be intentional about looking for those who are handling tasks no one else wants or notices and who are supporting the team behind the scenes in a way that makes others shine and be successful. When you look for these moments and celebrate them, you will motivate your team to live these behaviors as well.

4. Empower your team to make decisions.

Very few people like to be micromanaged, and all people want to feel they are valuable contributors to the good of the company. One of the most powerful ways we show our team we are grateful for their work is by empowering them to make decisions and take responsibility. They can’t make valuable contributions — or feel your gratitude — without it.

5. Listen to your team. Deeply.

Many surveys have shown that one of the greatest frustrations people have with their leadership at work is a lack of listening. To show incarnational gratitude, nothing is simpler (or more meaningful) than scheduling and prioritizing time to listen to your team. Find out how things are going for them. See what’s frustrating them and what ideas they have to solve those frustrations. Really, truly, deeply listen. Even if you learn nothing new, the sheer act of listening is a gift to your team.

6. Help your team see and grow into their future (at your company or beyond.)

Help your team members see, plan, and grow into their best future, wherever it takes them. Great leaders invest in their team and want to see them grow, and we show gratitude for their work by pouring INTO them while we ask for great work OUT OF them.

Could team members leave your company in the future? Yes. Is that hard? Yes. But as leaders and team members, we should want the best for our people knowing that’s also what’s best for our company. Ironically, the less tightly we hold onto team members and the more space we give them to grow, learn, and thrive, the more likely they are to stay with us.

7. Reinvent the gift basket.

There are times when a gift basket is warranted. When possible, use it as an opportunity to customize the gift and celebrate the team member or client who will receive it. It doesn’t have to be fully customized; even the smallest of touches show you care and are well worth your time and effort.

Do your employees know you are thankful for their work, their commitment, and their time at your company? Start incorporating these seven examples into your everyday interactions and they’re sure to!

Level Up Your Writing With Contrast

While there are many ways to communicate — speaking, dancing, singing, painting, and even non-verbal communication — writing remains the most elegant and valuable form for individuals to master. A well-written paragraph can sell your product, launch your brand, or galvanize your followers.

Powerful writing creates movement.

But what elevates writing from mediocre to good? One simple approach can help you write better regardless the medium. Social media, brochures, brand narratives, web copy — you’ll write with more power when you amplify contrast.

Classic literature uses contrast to great effect, creating power and momentum. Good versus evil. Angels versus demons. Weak versus strong. Our most famous stories, movies, comics, superheroes, and heroic rescues all use contrast to connect the reader with the story.

Businesses can also use contrast to connect audiences to their social media posts, brochures, websites, and anything else they write. Here are some examples:

Heroes versus Villains

In your business space, who is the hero and who is the villain? Don’t be afraid to employ contrast and paint a picture for your customers about good vs. evil. You can find villains all around your business: competitors, market forces, cultural frustrations, impossible challenges. Find the force that pushes against your company and create contrast with your product or service.

Future Glory versus Future Pain

Great business writing isn’t shy about painting a detailed picture of a glorious future that includes your product or service… and how dismal the future will be without it. A little drama makes the customer’s choice clear.

Pain Point versus Product Benefit

Whatever your business or service, you likely have created a list of customer pain points and product features and benefits. Don’t be afraid to bring these together! Find tension and contrast between these two lists and use it to strengthen the power of your message.

Now versus Later

There is power in immediacy, in acting now rather than later. Use your writing to amplify the value of acting now instead of putting off decisions about your product or service.

Take this lesson from generations of authors and use it to improve your business writing. The difference between good writing and mediocre writing is that good writing employs contrast. Mediocre writing is bland and boring.

So don’t be lukewarm! Be hot, or cold, or better yet, stage a battle between the frozen arctic wind and the sweltering tropical sunshine.

Need help with your communication? Contact the expert team at Matt Jensen Marketing!

Thoughts on Design Camp 2018

Our content team voyaged north to Design Camp for inspiration from leading creatives, technique sharing and time together. Here were some takeaways from the team:

The theme of this year’s Design Camp was “Inside Out” and the goal was for everyone to put it all on the table—personally, professionally and creatively. As a classic reserved Midwesterner, my first reaction when I heard this was, “No, thank you.” But as I listened to the speakers and presenters share their stories, the more I started to think that maybe I do have a story of my own to tell. I have always shied away from doing personal work, believing that my purpose as a designer could only be derived by creating things for other people. But the presentations left me questioning the assumption that creating something for myself is inherently incompatible with creating things for other people.

This idea culminated in the final keynote from illustrator Andy J. Pizza who talked about how looking at gig posters had helped him dig himself out of a depression. Something that was meant to be functional and ephemeral had become someone’s lifeline. As designers, we have very little control over what happens to our work once it has been released into the world. Most often, we worry about people misunderstanding or even ruining our work, but isn’t magical to think that our work could be thing to turn someone’s life around?

So, still being a Midwesterner, I of course did not voice any of the ideas that were running around in my head during the actual weekend, but it has got me thinking about how I can use design to tell my own story. Because, maybe, there is someone out there who needs to hear it.

– Kirstie

Design Team in Brainerd, MN

Plaidurday 2018

Design Camp 2018 was a great opportunity to glean new techniques and meet skilled designers, but the most important takeaway I had from the experience was that even the most veteran designers out there undergo the same brief moments of doubt and near-burnout that all creatives do. Not only do they have these moments, but their experiences have taught them how to systematically push through these obstacles and return to creating their best work. We able to hear these and learn from these stories thanks to the vulnerability the keynote speakers were willing to show us, so I think we can all agree that we’re endlessly thankful.

– Joel

Design Camp was a fantastic weekend of fellowship and learning for our design team. We studied and discussed the creative process, inspiration, and collaboration and came home with some great tools to improve our work. One teaching theme emerged for me from a number of the speakers, and reflects a comment from a famous athlete:

”It seems like the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

A number of speakers reflected on how they fought through low periods of creativity or dead periods of work. For those that found their way through these periods, a common theme was ”just keep working.“ Work projects, personal projects, passion projects—find a way to keep working and producing. It was often this work borne in low periods that created the exposure or inspiration for future successful work. This kind of ”luck,” obviously, is created through dedication and intentional focus, and all creatives need to find a way to fight through their low periods and breakthrough. At MJM, having a great team of creatives around to work with and create with definitely helps support each individual creative as they work hard and create more luck!

– Logan

I have one core or foundational belief about creativity. It’s that new ideas are simply new combinations of familiar things. This concept of combinatorial creativity is only reinforced by conferences like Design Camp. It’s incredibly invigorating to spend a weekend retreat with like-minded designers and thinkers, getting inspired by the journey others have taken and the things they’ve learned along the way.

One of the workshops outlined a technique for ”Bulletproof Ideation” by combining ideas in a methodical fashion. We learned about the Bedno Diagram – a tool invented by designer and educator Ed Bedno—which provides a framework for seeing and exploring the intersection of multiple ideas. The process was very familiar, but I had never seen it implemented so thoroughly and methodically. And I was inspired by the suggestion to use the technique to reverse engineer ideas that have inspired me, to understand how their creator may have arrived at that solution. It was a good reminder that good ideas don’t come out of thin air, delivered by a muse in a ”eureka” moment. They are intentionally crafted and combined, and are accessible to all who are willing to work rigorously for them.

That last point connects back to the final keynote speaker, Andy J. Pizza. He shared the highs and lows of his creative journey, and wisdom he gained along the way, with the ultimate conclusion that there are no shortcuts for a fulfilling creative career. You have to do the work. And sometimes you have to struggle for it. That struggle might look like an exhaustive Bedno diagram, or piles of discarded concepts on the way to one workable solution. Learning to enjoy the process and to see it as intrinsically valuable is the key to going far.

– Brady

No matter what you want to learn, most skills and ideas are available to anyone who is interested through YouTube tutorials and Skillshare classes. You don’t need to drive halfway to Canada to find inspirational speakers or to learn interesting new techniques, but our design team does exactly that every year.

AIGA Minnesota’s Design Camp is a yearly retreat just outside Brainerd, MN. Each fall the MJM design team makes the trek up to northern Minnesota, and while the workshops and the speakers’ portfolios are interesting, to my mind they are not the most valuable part of the experience. The reward that compels me to make the trip is perspective.

This year that perspective had less to do with design methodology, new paper options, or printing techniques—it was something deeper. I felt like I heard two different answers to the question, “What is your work for?” Some of the speakers I heard and the designers I met talked about the scope of their portfolio and the size of their audience; they spoke about their personal brand and their career path. Good work equals more glory. Other people focused on the lives they had touched, the students they had taught, and the relationships they had formed with clients and colleagues over the course of their career. Good work means better relationships with people.

“What is your work for?”

Looking at my own past work, some of it has held up well, but much of it has not. Projects I worked on even 6 months ago can sometimes cause me to cringe. But the relationships I’ve developed with coworkers, students and clients are evergreen. Last year’s projects are getting stale; last year’s relationships are still a source of joy. Do the work, and enjoy the process, but don’t look to your work to make you happy. The work (whatever it is) is valuable, but it’s really only a backdrop to the things that matter most.

– Tim

Why Do Your Mission, Vision and Values Matter?

A good leader knows that in order to lead a project, people need to know why they are working, how they are working and who they need to be as part of the team. This is why we must focus on our mission, vision, and core values.

Mission Statement

What is a mission statement? Look around online and you will find many definitions for mission statements. A summary definition would be this: Why do you exist? Why are you in business? Answering these questions is central to writing your mission statement. At MJM, we often speak of “commission” rather than “mission.” A commission not only identifies what you are doing, but why you are doing it. So what is your commission? What have you been commissioned to do with your life and your business?

Vision Statement

Going deeper, your vision statement should paint a picture of where your business will be when it is wildly successful. Your vision should be bold, inspiring and paint a clear image of what will make you successful. It’s okay if, in some way, your vision statement is not actually attainable. But it must be an inspiring and powerful image that helps people see where you are going.

For example, the vision at Vance Thompson Vision is “Best on Earth.” Now, measuring whether they are actually the best on earth can be tricky, and they are not able to be best on earth in everything—only in their areas of specialty. However, regardless of whether “Best on Earth” is measurable and attainable, it definitely allows staff and patients to clearly envision where they are headed as a business and what they aspire to be. That is the power and importance of a vision statement—it paints a picture of success that is motivating and inspiring.

Core Values

Of these three foundational items, your core values may be the most important. They certainly will be the most important for your daily operations as a business. In simple terms, your core values define the way you operate and exist and live as a business. They are the values you make decisions by, the values you hire and fire by and the values that set the culture of your business.

Your core values should be very memorable for all staff. Ideally, you will be able to reduce your core values down to three to five words or short phrases. These core values only have power if you actually live by them, make decisions based on them and champion them within your staff and customer base. Choosing the right core values will make your decision-making easier and bring much clarity to your business.

These core values only have power if you actually live by them, make decisions based on them and champion them within your staff and customer base.

Perhaps the hardest part of finalizing your mission, vision and values is coming to agreement with your leadership team on the final version of these items. There are so many good reasons we exist and so many great values we want to embody! Many groups have a hard time editing down their content and ideas to the most vital and actionable statements. But this editing and simplifying process is vital.

Your mission, vision and values need to be short, inspirational and actionable. Don’t give up on editing and building these vital statements until you finalize them in forms your entire team can live with and execute. Spending time as a team discussing, debating and agreeing upon a clear and powerful mission, vision and values can power your business to new clarity and new success.

8 Things a Jazz Quartet Can Teach Us About Team Culture

My wife and I recently had the privilege of attending an intimate performance by a world-renowned jazz quartet. As we enjoyed the music, the environment, and the experience, I realized how the same factors create a powerful jazz performance and a powerful team business culture. Let’s look at eight ways jazz can teach us about team culture.

1. Purpose

We entered the small jazz club—the lights were low, the tables scattered throughout the small venue, the instruments waiting expectantly on the stage. As I reviewed the program for the evening, I marveled at the clarity of purpose of each of the musicians; their education, their passion, their blood, sweat, and tears all coming together in that moment with the sole purpose of creating beautiful music together. Businesses that discuss and emphasize their team purpose and the purposes of each of their staff create a powerful identity that can power their culture.

2. Preparation

As I reviewed the program, two of the musicians walked on stage and began preparing for the show. One at the piano, the other on upright bass, they began to methodically tune the instruments to create the perfect sound. How many times had they done this simple preparation? What seems like a mundane task is actually essential preparation for their performance that night. Team culture that focuses on proper preparation enables the entire team to produce their best work.

3. Inter-Connectedness

After tuning their instruments, the rest of the musicians came on stage and the group began to play. Slowly at first, the group eventually found their rhythm and worked their way into the first song. The most important part of this first song was the inter-connectedness of the quartet — the piano player intently watching the rhythm of the drummer; the bass player watching the energy and flow of the piano; the saxophone player watching all three instruments to join the pace of the music. Without awareness, without this inter-connectedness, the music cannot reach its pinnacle. Team culture built on inter-connectedness is vital to getting projects and great work off the ground and accomplished.

4. Harmony

As the music quickly ramped up, it became apparent immediately how years of preparation and dedication helped create this harmonious, synergized sound. Each of the instruments blending together with the others created perfectly timed, perfectly matched sound. How does your team culture create harmony between the players? Does your preparation and connectedness create the best possible synergy of work?

5. Space to Shine

The beauty of jazz music is not only its synergy, but also its space for improvisation. The tenor saxophone player sits down, eyes closed, soaking in the music. The drummer brings the rhythm down to a steady, subtle backdrop. The bass player joins him, creating a repeating baseline, which allows the piano player to roam. His fingers fly over the keys, exploring new spaces, taking years of training and the support of his fellow players and finding new music. As he concludes his exploration, the bass player tries a new riff, playing faster, then slower, then with more energy. Finally, the drummer has his chance to shine as a solo player, raising the energy of the audience to new heights. There is space in jazz for individuals to shine and to grow. Does your team culture offer individuals a chance to shine and grow?

6. Communication

Suddenly, with barely a noticeable look of the eyes and nod of the head, the drummer brings the entire quartet back into the original song. Over the course of the entire performance, I was in awe of the way a look, a nod, a turn of the head, or a simple hand gesture could communicate in depth the next move of the performance. How does your team communicate? Does each member of your team understand the cues, the signals that you share to move on and produce the next great work?

7. Trust

Within these levels of inter-connectedness and communication, I was struck by yet another core value of the performance—trust. Every member of the quartet must trust their fellow players to keep the rhythm, to stay within the song, to stay on pitch. If one player loses the rhythm, the entire synergy is lost. Likewise, if your team fails to execute consistently, projects will be incomplete and deadlines missed. Your team culture must be one of trust. If your team members do not trust each other to do their jobs, you will not be successful as a business. So, do you have trust within your team?

8. Energy

Finally, my experience of this jazz performance reminded me of the importance of energy and response in our team cultures. The players feed off of the energy of each other, the audience, and the songs themselves. You can see the players getting lost in the power of the moment and In the emotion of the song. The energy we give each other on our team, along with the energy of the work itself, is vital to doing our best work. Are you responding to the energy of your team? Is the work that you do getting your team the energy it needs to create a powerful, vital culture?

When these team culture conditions exist, jazz shows us that it’s possible to create consistent performance, dynamic improvisation and new innovation. If these are your goals as a company, then take these ideas to heart and invest in your team culture.

Once the Dust Settles: A Post-ASCRS Review

Recently, a few members of our team made the west coast trek to Los Angeles to participate in the annual spring ASCRS conference. The conference is an opportunity for ophthalmic professionals to learn, grow, and network with peers.

As attendees, we had a lot to take in, from the exhibit floor to the classroom. We had the opportunity to hear excellent doctors present on their life’s work and to see live surgery being performed with the industry’s newest technology.

Exciting new refractive technologies, such as SMILE from ZEISS, were available for education and hands-on learning. Healthcare regulation and reform were hot topics of conversation, as we all wait anxiously to see what emerges regarding MIPS and changes to the ACA. And, as always, we were all learning and hunting for new innovations in patient care, surgical offerings, and best practices in ophthalmology.

The biggest challenge for exhibitors at ASCRS is getting your product or offering to “cut through the noise.”

With hundreds of industry partners present on the convention floor, the biggest challenge for exhibitors at ASCRS is getting your product or offering to “cut through the noise” and reach new potential consumers.

So how do you set yourself up for success? How do you ensure that your product and your booth will stand out above all others?

Do it well

If you’re going to spend the money to be present at the conference, you need to do it well. How do we define “doing it well?” There are four key components:

  1. Focus on cohesive branding and materials.
  2. Offer pointed messaging that clearly outlines your value proposition and ideal customer.
  3. Have something “actionable” at your booth; something for visitors and customers to do immediately to improve their skill, practice, or thinking.
  4. Learn from your successes and mistakes. Audit every conference you attend and determine what worked and didn’t work from a booth presence perspective. Ask your loyal customers what they thought of your booth. Ask what others thought the best parts of ASCRS were this year. Learn, learn, learn.

If you “do it well,” you will shine at meetings like this.

PRN booth at ASCRS

As part of their presence at ASCRS 2017, PRN included a number of materials intended to educate their consumers and to show how their unique offerings stand up against competitors’ products.

Create space for conversation outside the exhibit hall

Some of the best conversations we saw happen at ASCRS happened outside of the exhibit hall and over a shared meal. Relationships and trust are built when real conversation is allowed to happen, and the best place to build relationships and trust is over dinner.

Relationships and trust are built when real conversation is allowed to happen, and the best place to build relationships and trust is over dinner.

Some options for holding these coinciding events include round tables or additional presentations. As you plan your event, create goals of the amount or type of feedback you hope to gain. In this way, you can measure the success of your event. Answers to these questions should affect your materials, your way-finding, your room set-up and your presentations.

Another exciting option at national events like ASCRS is to plan “experiential meetings” where you combine some form of learning or content sharing with a locally sourced experience. The goal of these events is that attendees would become actively immersed in your brand and product. For example, work with a local tour group to book a double-decker tour bus of the city. Before or after the event, offer some exciting new thoughts about your product or company. Because ASCRS has many vendors and meetings competing for the attention of doctors and staff, give people an added incentive to attend your experience.

Visiometrics booth at ASCRS

With these long standing banners, Visiometrics extended the visual impact of their booth’s presence. This modular approach also allows them to reuse those elements separately in other events.

Your booth layout matters

Depending on your product and presentation, the floor plan of your booth matters. In smaller booths, like a 10×10, the options are limited. However, there are still decisions to be made. Some questions you should ask yourself as you design the layout include:

  • What’s the one message you want people to see and understand?
  • Do you want a table separating you from your potential customers?
  • Do you need a private space to meet with interested buyers?
  • How does your floor plan affect your ability to draw in passersby?
  • What will people be able to stop and do at your booth?
  • How can your booth be unique and different from any other?

Answering these questions clearly before you begin working on your booth design will help ensure you create the ideal booth for your meeting goals, at ASCRS and beyond.

One Mistake Losing Brands Make

If someone were to ask 10 of your customers to describe what makes your business or service different, what would they say? Would they all say the same thing? What if the same question was asked of all your staff, leaders, and owners?

Winning brands have a consistent story, a message that staff and customers understand and can explain. The words and the message are always similar, always clear.

“Winning brands have a consistent story—a message that staff and customers understand and can explain.”

Losing brands have no center. They haven’t claimed their story or their space. These brands lose to consistent, clear brands.

So, is your brand winning or losing? What should you do if you’re not sure about your business brand?

Start here:

Step 1: Write down what makes your brand different and better in one clear, specific sentence.

This is not as easy as it seems, but it is vital to your success. This one line should explain the problem you solve and what success looks like, all in simple language. Cut any unnecessary words. Be specific. Ask key staff and customers to help refine this sentence until it’s right.

Step 2: Teach this sentence to every staff member on your team.

Do what it takes to ensure that every staff member knows this sentence by memory. Make it a game or a competition. Reward those who learn it quickly. Recite it every day together. Do something to make it stick.

Step 3: Use this sentence as a guiding thought for all your market messaging.

Brochures, website, social channels, print ads – everything you use to reach and educate your customers should be built from this one sentence. If something you’re currently using is not built on this sentence, get rid of it. Recreate it. Make it consistent. The cost of confusing your customers is much higher than the cost of printing new brochures.

Long ago, Aristotle taught us that excellence is only created when we repeatedly do the right thing. This lesson remains true for modern brands and businesses. We need to do the right thing, create one clear message, and repeat that message in everything we do and say. This is the secret of winning brands.

Be clear. Be consistent. Repeat.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
—Aristotle (as paraphrased by Will Durant)

4 Things Fatherhood Taught Me About Healthcare Experiences

At MJM, we work with many healthcare practices and vendors and one of our primary roles in this work is researching, understanding and improving the patient experience. For a vast majority of patients, the quality of their overall experience is just as important to their satisfaction as the quality of the medical care provided. It’s remarkable that at the end of 2015, most healthcare practices still focus so little on creating the best possible patient experience. Practices that want to grow in 2016 will be wise to deeply understand the experience their patients are having with their staff, building, and processes.

Being a father for two young children has taught me many valuable lessons that translate to great experiences in healthcare. Here are four of those lessons, which any healthcare practice can use to consider new staff training, tactics and patient touchpoints:

1. Build and honor trust

Children have an intrinsic trust in their parents, that they will do what’s best, provide safety, and offer comfort. As a father, I’ve learned that such trust is a fragile thing and that building and honoring this trust requires daily work. Maintaining trust with children creates space for them to grow, make decisions and be honest about their feelings and concerns.

Patients often enter a healthcare practice fearful of what they may find out. They can be scared, unsure, and anxious about learning bad news or making big decisions around their health. Doctors and staff that focus on building and honoring the trust of their patients create invaluable space for healthy patient experiences. And patients who have their trust honored become lifelong fans and champions of the practice.

Much like parenting, the skills required to build and honor trust are time and listening. Honor the time of your patients, be present with them and listen to what they are communicating both verbally and non-verbally.

2. Create space for asking questions

One thing every parent craves is the discovery of the right environment for their kids to open up and discuss the thoughts, questions and concerns deep in their minds and hearts. It can be a different environment for each child—a long car ride, laying in bed at night, going for a walk or playing with stuffed animals. A key to finding that space for conversation is awareness and openness to your child, leaving time and opportunity for them to share, ask and talk.

Too many times in healthcare, the urgency of getting a patient through the clinic schedule reduces or eliminates any chance of our staff members creating space to truly listen to the patient. Beyond the occasional (and obligatory) “Any questions?” the process is actually structured to reduce the time each patient spends in each room. Without the space for conversation, practices lose much of their opportunity to really connect with patients, understand their fears and goals and best meet their needs.

As a father, I’ve found that I need to create specific times and cues to slow down, make space and listen deeply. Healthcare staff members likewise need to create cues during patient visits to slow down, connect, and listen.

3. Use language that the listener understands

We don’t expect young children to understand the exact language explanations of politics, sports, car repairs or why they can’t eat candy for every meal. Yet, healthcare staff often forget that their patients don’t have the knowledge or training to understand much of the language used during consultations.

Studies have shown that when patients feel overwhelmed by or don’t understand what they’re being told, they simply shut down and quit engaging the conversation. That’s unhealthy and dangerous for both the practice and the patient.

Much like being a parent, practices should constantly be aware of the language they are using and prepared to explain in more general terms what is happening with the patient. Practices should role play this often and create a list of phrases and language they use that will be challenging for patients to understand.

4. Know when to make a personal recommendation

As a parent, you know that you will need to make decisions and rules for your kids, especially when they are young. Yet, you also try to create space for them to make their own decisions and live with the results. This is an important part of growing up and functioning as an adult.

When people come to their doctor, they are looking for guidance in making big health decisions. More than ever before, doctors need to be prepared to offer a personal recommendation for a care plan for each patient. This plan should take into consideration all that they’ve learned about each patient.

On this point, the worlds of parenting and healthcare come together—doctors and staff should be doing their best to make recommendations to each patient as if they were part of their family. What would you recommend if it were your son? Your sister? Your father or mother? This kind of personalized, deeply committed care makes a world of difference in providing the patient with an experience to share with others.

Parenting has much to teach us about growing in our skills of listening, creating space, and personalizing care for healthcare patients. Let’s make this the year we truly focus on improving the patient experience across all of healthcare.

Video Testimonies: DIY or Hire a Pro Team?

In our work, we do a lot of customer/patient testimonies, doctor bio and education videos, and group interviews or conversations. Clients often ask us which option is better for their video project — a do-it-yourself approach, or hiring a video team? There are pros and cons to each option. Here are the things to consider when making this decision:

1. How much technology and time do you have?

Creating your own video requires, at a minimum, a camera to record the footage and a computer to edit the footage. Most clients who are thinking about DIY have both of these things. For basic videos, these technologies are sufficient. But the added technology you receive with a pro team – audio, lighting, advanced editing, and more options for file exports—can create a much more polished final product.

Additionally, we find that most clients drastically underestimate the time they will spend shooting and editing their videos. Depending on your DIY editing ability, one 3-5 minute testimony video could require 5-10 hours of editing. Considering whether you have the time to edit the videos you want is an important consideration.

Of course, if video editing is a hobby or interest and can be done off-hours, that is a consideration as well. Editing time can drop with more practice and training.

2. What’s your brand image?

When people think of your business or practice, what do they see? A premium offering with the best staff, technology, and facilities in the region, or a low-cost offering with average offerings? The technology additions offered by a pro team – improved audio, lighting, and editing – move the final product from a home movie to a professional movie. This improves your brand image and the perception that people have of your business or practice.

One additional word about audio. Perhaps the biggest mistake people make when creating DIY videos is not using, or improperly using, microphones. I’ve seen countless video interviews with decent lighting, a good camera, nice framing, and horrible audio. It ruins the entire video and can make it virtually unwatchable.

The care you show in these little aspects of your video reflect the care you show your customers or patients.

Occasionally, groups succeed with a DIY approach because it feels more “authentic.” By this I mean that it feels more natural, not coerced and not edited or altered. With customer/patient testimonies, authenticity and trust are vital. A good pro team captures this authenticity as well.

3. How will you troubleshoot?

As with any project, there are a number of things that can go wrong or affect your video. In the world of video, here are just a handful of things to consider: Having a clean camera lens and sensor, camera and audio batteries, sound control, camera settings (white balance, focus, brightness, resolution, frame rate), camera card or tape, file transfers, file backup, editing properly based on camera settings, color or audio correction, exporting for web vs broadcast, and adding titles, photos, or b-roll.

Depending on the scope of your video project and skill of your DIY team, having a pro team to troubleshoot may be of immense value in these areas.

4. What’s the end product?

We always start with the overall goals of the video project. If indeed the goal is simply to record a couple patients or customers talking about their experience, A DIY approach is reasonable. But we often discover that, over time, clients want to build a library of interviews and create longer videos featuring doctor or narrator education woven together with patient/customer experiences. The larger the scope of your project, the more value a pro team brings to the table.

The value added by pro video teams — music, lighting, audio, advanced editing, troubleshooting, efficiency, modern equipment, proper shoot settings, file export experience — can add a ton of value for businesses and practices and save a lot of heartache. Unless you have a skilled DIY team and a significant investment in quality equipment, I believe hiring a pro team both provides value and reduces risk.

MJM has worked with pro video teams around the country and is happy recommending video partners to meet your needs.

3 Web Metrics Doctors Should Be Watching More Closely

We work with doctors and health care practices around the country, and there are a couple basic metrics most clinics don’t watch closely enough. If they did, it would change the way they built their site and the type of content they shared. Here are 3 metrics doctors and administrators should be watching more closely:

1. Mobile Device Usage

Like every industry, I think health care understands that more people are using their site via mobile devices than ever before. In reality, our experience is that nearly 1 in 4 visits is now mobile. That’s a lot of mobile visitors, and the number grows every year. This number is startling because so few doctors in the ophthalmology/optometry space have responsive websites that work well with mobile devices. Ask your web provider what your mobile device percentage is, and take a look at your website on a phone or tablet. If, like many doctors, you are getting 25% mobile visitors and your site is impossible to use with a mobile device, you are creating a poor experience for a bunch of current or prospective patients. It might be time for a web redesign.

2. Keyword Search

Your web analytic report can tell you the exact words people search to find you. If you need a quick and easy place to start understanding your market and what people think of you, this is where you look. Some people spend $10,000 on a “market study,” and they can be helpful. But start with your keyword list and see what words people type when they end up choosing your link. You might find that people are choosing you for reasons other than you think.

3. Top 5-10 Pages

Again, not rocket science — You should know the top pages on your site. These are the pages people are natively drawn to, the ones they send to friends to read, the ones they bookmark for future reference. These pages are working for you, and if you understand why, you can improve your overall site. Perhaps the content is great, perhaps the menu option or link is compelling, or perhaps a tool you include is helpful. Figure it out. If you combine keyword search with a look at your top five pages, you’ll have a nice start to updating your web strategy in a way that gets results.