Healthcare marketing without borders
Are brand and marketing at the center of your healthcare organization’s attention? In this extraordinarily competitive and challenging healthcare environment, I’d suggest they should be.
This really came to light for me while meeting with a prospective client. Regardless of which way you looked out from the tenth floor of their offices, you’re in view of a competing healthcare provider. But beyond competition, there are a few other forces at play that lead to re-thinking the traditional siloed approach to marketing:
• Unlike other industries and organizations where employees are tightly aligned around their corporate brands, e.g. Whole Foods, Google, Zappos, to name just a few, healthcare brand and marketing delivery are often subject to the performance of dispersed, individual (often unemployed) care providers.
• Patient service revenues continue on the path of being generated outside the inpatient side of the business, calling for stronger operational integration and communication.
• The customer experience, so important to fostering longer-term relationships and enhancing overall brand value, is rarely informed and shaped by “marketing.”
• Customers are now co-steering your fate. They’ve evolved from passive receiver to active investigator and empowered influencer. They can access and interface with the organization through numerous channels. And they have new alternatives to traditional providers in terms of new upstarts, intermediaries, resources – changing the rules and redefining consumer value.
Given these forces, I’d suggest that brand and marketing management need to become a team sport. An organization-wide effort where brand and consumer are at the heart of business strategy. Where all are enabled and compelled to foster relationships (internally and between organization and community) and grow total enterprise value. And the marketing department just happens to be the hub of this collective effort. So…
• Tear down the walls (to paraphrase one of our President’s) to move brand and marketing to the center of the organization, and the CMO to the proverbial “table” alongside the other “O”s (Chief Operating, Financial, Nursing, Medical, HR, Quality…).
• Lead with brand as an organizing principle for the organization and as a basis for guiding business forward, beyond simply a brand-building communications function detached from strategy.
• Consider a broader definition of marketing to include the relationship-making or breaking patient experience. So regardless of what door someone enters your healthcare system, there are points of consistency in brand delivery.
• Work as a cross-functional team, with marketing as the linchpin, to create continuous value for the consumer. Value that is beyond marketing communication to marketing that involves, enables, and unifies.
• Align internal audiences around a common purpose (through the lens of your brand), so they make your mission their own.
Just some ideas to think about as you peer out your own “tenth floor” window. Wherever that might be.