April 23, 2019

Bringing Home the Best of MSHPM

What does the best airport shuttle ride have to do with storytelling, building trust and being courageously creative? Just about everything. William M., affectionately known as “The Candyman,” has built a brand and loyal following by creating a unique and memorable experience with every trip to and from the Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

The Candyman brings joy to each of his hundreds of passengers by sharing candy and telling his story through 10 to 12 perfectly choreographed songs most everyone can identify with and enjoy. Because he calls Detroit home, there’s plenty of Jackson Five Motown in the mix.

The Candyman has all the regular equipment each shuttle driver possesses-a clean vehicle, a uniform, and GPS. What makes Mr. M special is he looks for creative ways to connect with his passengers and deliver on his promise of “sharing a ride like you’ve never experienced before.”

The Candyman successfully turns the ordinary into the extraordinary.

On a recent visit to Detroit to attend the 2019 Michigan Society of Healthcare Planning & Marketing Conference (MSHPM), I had the pleasure of taking the shuttle with The Candyman. This extraordinarily unique experience got me to think…what can we as health care marketers learn from The Candyman?

Just as we have multiple options when getting to and from an airport, health care consumers have choices. And creating unique, memorable experiences is a must-do to build trust and loyalty to our brand.

As marketers, we need to be mindful of the commitments made to our communities, patients, and employees through messaging and marketing efforts. Are we building and reinforcing a culture of trust, transforming ordinary experiences into the extraordinary, and positively differentiating ourselves from the competition?

These themes were addressed during the MSHPM conference, a day-long event featuring industry leaders sharing their exceptional experience and numerous best practices.


In her session entitled “Building a Culture of Innovation Through Storytelling,” Tammy Zonker, CEO & Founder of Fundraising Transformed, shared thoughts on leveraging trust in storytelling. Tammy reminded her audience that to gain the most audience traction, stellar storytelling conveys the organization’s authentic story and how it connects to the consumer’s story.

As you develop your organization’s stories, consider:

  • What does your organization stand for?
  • What is your purpose?
  • How do your stories connect to your brand?

Courageously Creative

Franklin Street’s Associate Creative Director shared “Courageous Creative: How your brand can leverage great creative to get attention, build loyalty and yield strong results.” He reminds the audience that in the 1970s, people saw about 500 advertisements each day. In 2005, that number increased to about 5,000 each day. According to Forbes, we now see more than 10,000 advertisements each day…but only remember 7.

In this cacophony of advertisements, how will you position your brand to stand out? Will the traditional image of a lab-wearing physician with crossed arms drive prospective patients to choose your facility? Given we’ve all seen this image countless times, how might you be more courageous? In what new ways might you show your physicians’ passion for what they do?

What’s Next?

Sharing these kinds of learnings and best practices is at the heart of what happens at each Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development (SHSMD) conference. Many states have an organized chapter that host conferences, webinars, and educational events. I’ve had the opportunity to attend several and have walked away from each inspired to better serve our industry.

I hope you’ll join The Candyman and me as we both look for new opportunities to create unique experiences.