Important tips for healthcare branding and marketing in the midst of M&A’s

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Hospital merger and acquisition activity remains robust. In 2012, the number of deals was more than twice that of 2009 (Irving Levin Associates).

Regardless of the reasons for the transaction, being able to position the new entity for success, attract and retain patients and drive new growth requires coordinating the three related activities of Brand, Buy-In & Marketing.

Without this planning and oversight, hospitals and healthcare systems in the midst of transitioning through a merger or acquisition (regardless of which side of the M&A an organization is on) will encounter:

• a brand that struggles to support the newly-formed organization’s vision, promises, values and goals
• a fractured internal audience that must be relied on to deliver unified messages and experiences
• external marketing promises that aren’t synchronized with delivery of care
• inefficiencies resulting in sub-optimal return on marketing investment

At Trajectory, we’ve guided many healthcare organizations through these transitions, and understand the unique challenges they face. Here’s a checklist of 10 activities to consider as your healthcare systems, hospitals and physician groups transition from pre-merger competitors to post-merger partners:

BRAND

1. M&A brand team: created across your organization’s to proactively act on and communicate leadership decisions and to navigate the range of tangibles and intangibles on the table, e.g. logistics, preparation, training.

2. Brand compatibility: short-term financial and market share strength will not overcome the need to develop a singular brand vision, positioning, key messaging framework and set of values.

3. Portfolio efficiency: how will the merger or acquisition impact your brand portfolio in terms of overlapping organizational, facility and service line capabilities? You can check here to begin to determine if your portfolio is delivering maximum ROI.

BUY-IN

4. Cultural fit: what’s the process of integrating medical staff and employees, across all functions, and all initiatives, on both sides of the M&A table. And whose culture leads?

5. Open communication: have you established feedback mechanisms (both offline and online) for both internal and external audiences to share their perspectives about the impact the M&A will have on their lives.

6. Engagement & Alignment: are your organization’s really on the same page? You don’t know, and can’t act upon, until you measure.

MARKETING

7. Marketing philosophy and approach: is marketing considered an investment or expense? Does it tend to be brand or service line-driven? How will you align your two organizations relative to each one’s key revenue generating, strategic and mission-driven service lines?

8. Social media practices: it’s not likely that each of your organization’s have the exact same philosophy, goals, strategies and tactics as it relates to social media. How will you best harness the power of your “social currency”, i.e. the value you’ve created and the conversations, communities and advocacy you’ve worked so hard to cultivate?

9. Local community commitment: do your organizations have the same commitment to your local communities; does bigger now mean less touch in order to serve the health needs of the larger region?

10. From follower to leader: how will you adjust your approach from being the #2 or #3 player to becoming a stronger market share leader?

Have you experienced these issues as a healthcare marketer in the midst of a merger or acquisition?

Eric Brody

Eric Brody is President of Trajectory, a brand consulting and marketing agency specializing in creating momentum for customers, brands and businesses across the related categories of health, wellness and beauty.

One thought on “Important tips for healthcare branding and marketing in the midst of M&A’s

  1. Very practical yet crucial considerations for healthcare mergers which will only increase as we move forward in this increasingly competitive healthcare market.

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