Tag Archives: marketing management

Five big trends, five key roles, five bold moves for healthcare marketers

neshco logoNext week, long-time colleague Candace Quinn (Brand Equals Experience) and I will present a keynote address at the New England Society for Healthcare Communications Spring Conference in Newport, Rhode Island.

Our session – Preparing for a New Era of Healthcare Marketing – kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, May 20.  Here’s a sneak preview of the talk:

Five Forces Changing Healthcare Marketing

  1. The new economics of health care reform – the industry is transitioning from ‘pay for volume’ to ‘pay for value’ through accountable care systems and risk reimbursement models.
  2. Market restructuring and emerging delivery models – consolidation and alignment through mergers, acquisitions and strategic partnerships will change competitive dynamics in local markets.
  3. Evolution of brands in physical and virtual environments – healthcare is getting smart about brands as competitive assets that drive business performance, and the importance of brand experience.
  4. Technologies that disrupt and transform – digital technologies are revolutionizing business processes everywhere, and profoundly changing the way patients and providers interact.
  5. Growing, changing, graying, connected consumers – aging baby boomers will be a driving force for healthcare services in the coming decades – not just for ‘what’ is delivered, but ‘how’ it will be delivered.

Five Critical Roles for Healthcare Marketers

  1. Growth strategist – revenue generation is the priority; adopt a strong P&L mindset, drive clear alignment of brand, marketing and sales investments to the health system’s growth strategy.
  2. Brand advocate – invest in the brand; create a powerful, differentiated, competitive brand position, and lead organizational change to deliver brand value, not just promote it.
  3. Digital change agent – web, social networking, search marketing and mobile capabilities – integrated with clinical IT systems, are no longer optional for providers that want to remain relevant.
  4. Experience champion – advocate for customer-centered decision-making and design systems and services that transform customer experience.
  5. Innovation catalyst – bring creative thinking and fresh solutions to systems, programs, services and products that attract, serve and retain customers.

Five Bold Moves to Transform Healthcare Marketing

  1. Change the marketing culture – this requires an organizational shift in thinking about marketing as tactical communications to a discipline that is strategic, cross-functional and bottom line oriented.
  2. Reconfigure the marketing organization – establish a vision, role and scope for marketing as a revenue-generating capability, then restructure marketing operations to support growth goals.
  3. Acquire new competencies, capabilities and skills – acquire expertise in business analytics, R & D, brand building, customer acquisition/retention, CRM/PRM, digital, search and social marketing.
  4. Create a compelling case for change and bias for action – focus marketing investments on strategies that grow revenue and improve business performance.
  5. Communicate new roles, new rules, new expectations – create co-ownership and co-accountability for marketing outcomes across administrative, clinical and business operations.

We hope to see you there.  If you can’t make it and would like a copy of the slide deck, just let me know.

5 Roles for Healthcare Marketers to Adopt Now

things to doAcross the US, healthcare marketers are moving quickly to transform the role, capabilities and functions of their marketing departments. Powerful forces are converging to change the underlying basis for competition in the healthcare industry, and health systems are experiencing more intense competitive activity in anticipation of reform and other industry pressures. For the foreseeable future, providers will be operating with competing and somewhat conflicting objectives as they attempt to optimize volumes for core clinical programs, while simultaneously building accountable care delivery models.

Marketing executives can help health systems successfully navigate the new competitive landscape by adopting five key roles:

  1. Growth strategist – Revenue generation is the priority. In nearly every other industry, marketing is valued as a revenue-generating business competency critical to driving growth, brand loyalty and better financial performance. Health systems that hold on to a narrow view of healthcare marketing as simply promotions sub-optimize marketing performance and waste marketing investments. It is essential for chief marketing executives to adopt a strong P&L mindset, drive clear alignment of brand, marketing and sales investments to the health system’s growth strategy, and create co-accountability for outcomes across the entire executive team. Success demands a marketing culture, not just a marketing department.
  2. Brand advocate Marketers must lead the change to create organizations that deliver brand value, not just promote it. Powerful brands drive growth, profitability, market leverage, staff commitment and customer loyalty. To date, however, brand investments have been largely focused on brand communications, including brand identity systems, advertising and promotions. Today’s approach to brand building must be focused on delivering brand-differentiated value, and address the complexities of newly developing accountable care models, mergers, acquisitions, employed medical practices, ambulatory, post acute and retail health services.
  3. Digital change agent – Digital technologies are revolutionizing business processes everywhere. More than ever, consumers are seeking healthcare information, sharing experiences, selecting treatments and interacting with providers online. Leading health systems are accelerating efforts to move from static websites to integrated, multi-platforms that reach and engage consumers, support patients and families with care management, facilitate workplace communications and promote clinical decision-making. Web, social networking, search marketing and mobile capabilities – integrated with clinical IT systems such as EMR and patient portals – are no longer optional for providers that want to remain relevant.
  4. Experience champion – Customer experience is more than HCAHPS scores. It’s about meeting customer expectations every day in every interaction by hard-wiring administrative systems, appointment scheduling, meeting and greeting, clinical processes, customer engagement, billing, follow-up and other critical touch points to deliver on your brand’s value proposition. Rich, meaningful, loyalty-building experiences don’t happen by accident, they happen through experience design, training and establishing direct accountability for customer experience. Marketers can champion customer-centered decision-making and innovations that transform customer experience.
  5. Innovation catalyst – Transformation of care delivery systems, business processes, and market-driving strategies are top priorities for health systems. Marketers can help by creating a focused customer-centered approach to innovation. Opportunities to take the hassle out of healthcare are vast. Consumers are frustrated and most of the industry is woefully behind in providing on-line conveniences such as scheduling and customer communications. Success stems from creative thinking, fresh solutions, and relevance to customers – and that puts marketing front and center as the curator of customer intelligence.

Where to start? Establish a transformative agenda for change.

The CMO mandate is transformation of marketing practice. It’s a challenge that will require a purposeful, comprehensive and integrated approach to evolve healthcare marketing. But it will deliver substantial and long-lasting benefits – profitable growth, brand loyalty and better business performance.

This post is number two in a 3-part series. Click here to read the first – Five Forces that will Change Healthcare Marketing. In an upcoming post, I’ll address Five Bold Moves to Transform Healthcare Marketing.

 

Greetings from the 17th National Summit – Healthcare Marketing Strategies

The 17th National Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit kicked off yesterday at the Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes here in Orlando, Florida.  I need a clone to take advantage of the many great sessions, speakers and networking opportunities. 

What’s up today?  Here are just a few of the sessions and speakers worth checking out:

  • Aligning brands across digital channels – Jessica Carlson (Sentara) and Carla Bryant (Corrigan Partners)
  • Integrating new media into physician marketing – Lyle Green (MD Anderson Cancer Center), Jill Lawlor (Cooper University Hospital) and Dan Dunlop (Jennings Health)
  • Improving patient experience: a marketing and clinical partnership – Suzanne Hendrey (Baystate)
  • Driving results with marketing analytics – Marc Beaumont (UAB Health System), Danny Fell (Neathawk Dubuque & Packett), and Linda MacCracken (Thomson Reuters)
  • Breaking the rules of website design – Chris Boyer (Inova) and Chris Bevolo (Interval)
  • Digital marketing – focus on conversations – Suzanne Sawyer (Penn Medicine) and Rob Grant (eVariant)
  • Physician trends: the impact on marketers – Peter Brumleve, C. Josef Ghosn (Florida Hospital) and Steve Sloate (Cirra)

Hope to run into you – if you’re here, stop by the Brains on Demand booth in the exhibition hall and say hello.

Want to Improve Your Marketing Department? Seven Questions to Get Started.

Across the US, healthcare marketing executives are looking hard at their marketing department structures, capabilities and practices, and asking if they have what it takes to transcend the ‘pay for volume’ to ‘pay for value’ economic model.  It’s my belief that we’ll be living in both worlds for some time to come. 

Nonetheless, it’s important for marketers to re-evaluate their marketing operations in this new environment, do a thorough assessment of capabilities and skills gaps, and move purposefully and quickly to reinvent the role of the marketing department.  Building a high performing and accountable marketing team is job one. 

Here are seven questions to help CMOs get started:

  1. What is the current state of marketing in terms of priorities, effectiveness, capabilities, skills, systems, structure and performance?
  2. Are our marketing strategies, activities and investments tightly aligned to the health system’s strategic vision and growth objectives?
  3. What are the marketing opportunities and challenges in regards to changes in the market (e.g., reform economics, market consolidation, competitor activities, etc.), and in the delivery system (e.g., care transformation, multiple geographies, expanding services portfolios, employed physician SBUs, etc.)? 
  4. How are advances in technology (digital, social media marketing, CRM, etc.) changing marketing practice, and what new infrastructure, skills and competencies will this require?
  5. Do we have the infrastructure, decision-support systems and analytic skills to assess and quantify opportunities, drive strategic decisions, monitor and track return on marketing investments? 
  6. How do I strengthen relationships between planning, business develeopment, marketing, PR and sales, as well as with finance, IT and operations, to better inform and support brand building, business development and growth priorities?
  7. What marketing capabilities and controls should be held by the corporate operation; what is optimally administered by major business units?

Now is the time for chief marketing officers to move boldly and transform healthcare marketing from promotions-oriented tactics to growth-oriented strategic leadership.   Embracing change is the first step.

What is Your Health System’s Marketing Philosophy?

Marketing departments differ from health system to health system. Some are expansive, core business functions with strong growth accountabili­ties aligned to strategic planning, business development, clinical operations and financial management initiatives.

In others, marketing is configured more functionally to support the development and deployment of marketing tactics aimed at research, promotions and sales.

And some have not evolved far from those early days when marketing relied on a narrow set of tools (e.g. press releases, health fairs, advertising, newsletters) to promote programs and services,  making it difficult to link marketing expenditures and activities to business outcomes.

Why such a difference? An organization’s approach to marketing is shaped by a variety of factors including strategic focus, growth objectives, culture or even leadership’s understanding of the marketing discipline.

Which of the following describes your health system’s approach to marketing?

  • Product-driven.  A product-driven marketing orientation assumes that as long as a health system has excellent outcomes and a top notch safety record, business will find its way to the front door. Performance improvement, leading edge clinical technologies, physician talent and development of clinical centers of excellence are core areas of focus. Awards and recognitions (such as “Top 100” designations) reinforce the organization’s quality achievements. Physician influ­ence trumps consumer choice. The clichéd expression “build it and they will come” is an entrenched belief, as it the assumption that clinical quality alone will create com­petitive advantage.
  • Sales-driven.  Sales-driven health systems primarily view marketing as a tactical tools to drive volume to clinical programs. Filling beds, getting appointments, and securing contracts are primary goals. Consumer pro­motions, physician referral development and managed care contracting are core capabilities. The focus is on more volume for existing services. These are all good things, but a purely sales-driven organization may miss opportuni­ties to discover new niches, create new products and lines of business, or enhance points of differentiation that grow overall revenue potential.
  • Market-driven.  Market-driven organizations place greater emphasis on market research to better understand customer needs and discover market opportunities that can be addressed in unique ways. Designing and developing services, programs and access points to attract key customer segments are priorities for the marketing operation, making R&D a core competency requirement. Marketing planning is more strategic than in sales-driven organiza­tions, encompassing segmentation and targeting, product positioning and design, pricing, promotion and channel strategies – and is a more integrated process through which value is created. Because growing overall market potential and profitability is as important as growing market share, marketers must have a strong P&L mindset.
  • Relationship-driven. Customer-driven organizations place significant emphasis on mass customization as a competen­cy to create one-to-one relationships, enabled by sophisti­cated, enabling CRM technology that recognizes, supports and delivers customized messages, offerings and solutions for valued customers. Today, some of these capabilities are embedded in call center and CRM systems, but new advancements, such as the widespread implementation of electronic health records and growth in social media communities offer health systems unprecedented opportunity to better understand and predict the needs of patients and customers – and proactively design the marketing strategies, tactics and programs that stimulate and drive demand.
  • Market-DRIVING.  Market-driving companies are those that re-set the rules of competition through value innovation – radical, disruptive moves that create new markets, transform customers into fans, and build such distinct points of competitive advantage that they are dif­ficult to duplicate. Think Apple, which continually breaks its own sales records, most recently having sold over 1 million units in the first 24 hours of the iPhone 4S launch. Innovation is the core competency – and success comes from developing deep insights into core human desires, discovering unmet needs, and bringing creative, profitable ideas to market.  Who are the market-DRIVING health systems?

One approach is not necessarily “right” where another is “wrong” – what is important to understand is that each path requires a specific configuration of core competen­cies, staff capabilities, processes and investments.  Misalignment occurs when management wants to achieve significant improvements in strategic growth, for example, but has a production-orient­ed marketing operation.

With all of the change going on in the industry, this is an ideal time for marketers to assess their marketing department structures, capabilities and investment priorities. 

So where do we start?

Harnessing the Power of Content Marketing – Part One

If content is king, where are its loyal subjects?

Web, social networking and mobile technologies are transforming customer-business relationships, and revolutionizing business processes.  Consumers have hijacked the entrenched B2C (business to consumer) marketing model, and reversed the formula. The result is an absolute shift in power from marketers to consumers. The bidirectional and real-time nature of web, social and mobile requires marketers to have relevant information in the right place at the exact time consumers are seeking it.

C2B (consumer to business) marketing isn’t the future.  It’s here. Right now. 

Consumers are in control and have the skills and tools to search, collect information, compare, purchase, write reviews, and provide you the data and insights your organization needs to stay relevant.  “Content is king,” decree marketers everywhere – and businesses are churning content like never before. But without strategy, the monarch has no kingdom. Or at least no loyal subjects.

Content marketing is strategy, not just production of information in all its forms. 

Understanding customer needs at different stages in the buying cycle is critical to formulating effective content and channel marketing strategies.  What a customer wants or needs to know, terms she searches on, places she goes, social topics she connects with, inquiries she initiates and the actions she takes, can vary significantly across the purchasing decision process. 

Content marketing success requires a thorough understanding of:

  • Consumer needs at different stages of the buying cycle
  • The role of search and social interaction across the decision cycle
  • What constitutes relevant, valuable information, tools and relationships
  • Where consumers discover, consume and share information
  • Real-time accessibility, engagement and connectivity
  • Listening, learning and adapting services, products and experiences

Harnessing the power of content marketing is vital to patient acquisition and retention. 

More than ever, patients are seeking healthcare information, sharing experiences and selecting treatments and providers online.  And the vast majority of online health related discussions take place without input from healthcare professionals.   Essential tasks for healthcare marketing leaders are:

  • Learning about and helping providers understand how web, social and mobile have changed consumer and patient behaviors;
  • Creating a C2B content marketing strategy, executing  across the right marketing channels and using methods that will have the most impact;
  • Mobilizing marketers, administrators, managers, physicians, clinicians and business partners to execute content strategies that educate, inform and build loyal relationships with patients, families and staff.

Next up:  Part 2 – developing a robust content marketing architecture to guide investments.

Marketing and PR: Partners or Frenemies?

Do your marketing and PR teams play well together? “Not always,” say many CMOs. And, unfortunately, sometimes I hear “not ever.”

So why can’t we all just get along?  It’s a complex issue with root causes ranging from the genesis and evolution of public relations and marketing functions in healthcare organizations, to conflicting and sometimes competing priorities and accountabilities, to misperceptions about the value and return on investment of both disciplines - all dished up with a pinch of territorialism.   And while separate leadership structures can also create roadblocks to productive working relationships, conflicts are just as likely to exist where marketing and PR report up to the same executive.

More recently, the explosive use of Web, social media and mobile technologies by everyone from patients to physicians to business partners and the media, has heightened tensions between the disciplines as to ownership of communications channels, messaging, audience engagement and other aspects of marketing and corporate communications management.

If you’re hearing the team make these kind of comments (pulled from real life – you can’t make this stuff up), then it may be time for an intervention:

  • “Marketers only care about the numbers.”
  • “PR is soft, and the metrics are softer.”
  • “When will marketing understand we do more than write press releases?”
  • “Show me a PR person that read a spread sheet.”
  • “The marketers get all the money.”
  • “The PR people have all the fun.”
  • “Marketing thinks Facebook is a free advertising channel.”
  • “PR wants relationships – I need volume.”

Sound familiar? To change the conversation, we need to follow the examples of organizations where public relations and marketing are united and work together seamlessly to further their health systems’ mission, vision and business agendas. What these high performing teams have in common are shared goals, synergistic capabilities, collaborative work processes, mutual respect and accountability for success.  Sometimes, they work in the same division; sometimes not. But they do work together.

Across all industries, the disciplines of marketing and public relations are increasing viewed as core business competencies critical to driving growth, innovation, customer loyalty and better business performance.  In healthcare, the opportunity for marketing and PR professionals is unprecedented.  Together, they can create collaborative, mutually-accountable disciplines that proactively address the changing basis for competition.  First and foremost, there must be clear alignment to the organization’s strategic vision and goals. 

The bottom line is that the traditional roles of marketing and PR are blurring somewhat, in large part due to the game-changing capabilities of web, social networking and mobile technologies.  And when borders get fuzzy, skirmishes sometimes erupt.  But opportunities also open up – new, blended competencies will better leverage those platforms for communications and marketing success.

It’s a challenge that will require a purposeful, comprehensive and collaborative approach.  And the timing couldn’t be better.

Download PDF.  “Can’t We All Just Get Along”  by Karen Corrigan, Terri Goren and Phyllis Marino. SHSMD Spectrum.  Jan/Feb 2012.

Five Forces Healthcare Marketers Must Watch

I got together with our Brains on Demand partners* recently and did a little brainstorming about trends shaping the future of healthcare.  We came up with five key forces that we believe marketers should pay attention to, as these will impact future demand and delivery models, and require ever greater levels of strategic thinking, planning and execution by marketing executives.

One – the new economics of health care reform. 

While it is difficult to predict with certainty the future of legislated mandates for reform, the wheels of change have been set in motion.  Reimbursement models featuring bundled payments and warranties to deny payment for errors, rework and readmissions are being developed and implemented.  If health insurance exchanges survive legislative challenges, they are set to roll out at the state level in 2014.  Insurance mandates could result in many more insured individuals and providers worry whether they have capacity for the newly insured, particularly at primary care access points.   

Marketers can play a critical role in how health systems better understand and relate to consumers under these new structures.  And must know not only the top line revenue implications of customer acquisition, but also the bottom line impact of key segments.

Two – market restructuring and emerging delivery models. 

Consolidation and alignment among health systems, hospitals, physician groups and post acute care providers, among others, will continue as organizations move to create the critical mass, economies of scale and geographic coverage to improve market leverage.  Competition for physician alignment remains fierce in many markets and employment is the primary model for integration.  These strategies are core to creation of ‘accountable’ delivery models where financial performance hinges on care coordination, quality outcomes and cost effectiveness, and will dominate executive suites for some time to come. 

When it comes to market restructuring and emerging delivery models, marketers will be challenged on many levels, including brand building across a diverse portfolio and in multiple markets, and developing marketing systems to support multiple SBUs. 

Three – evolution of brand in physical and virtual environments. 

As in other industries, healthcare is seeing a rise in brand driven competition. Brands that align core elements of competitive positioning, operational design, brand architecture, and service experience, will begin to establish value that ultimately equates to brand loyalty, growth and expansion.  Other critical aspects of brand evolution for healthcare marketers will be brand building and brand management for multi-facility, multi-market and multi-service health systems and standardizing brand experience across health system-branded, employed physician groups. 

Additionally, as organizations invest in clinical information systems such as electronic health records, and embrace web, social and mobile technologies, marketers will find that the complexity of building and managing brands in the digital space also increasing. 

Four – technologies that disrupt and transform. 

We’re witnessing an amazing shift in terms of how people are relying on web, social networking and mobile technologies, and that’s changing everything for how providers engage with customers.  The rise of smart phones and tablets such as the iPhone and iPad have put information, communications and commerce just a click or voice command away.  Digital strategies have to move beyond the hospital website and Facebook page to a fully integrated approach for reaching and engaging consumers, supporting patients with care management, facilitating workplace communications and promoting clinical decision-making. 

A comprehensive web, social and mobile capability, integrated with clinical IT systems such as EMR and patient portals, and embedded in physical environments, is no longer optional for organizations that want to remain relevant. 

Five – growing, changing, graying, connected consumers. 

The United States is experiencing a dramatic increase in the numbers of people who live to old age, challenging Americans of all ages as they cope with retirement funding, health care, lifestyle and other issues that are important to an aging population. People 65 and older numbered 39.6 million in 2009, representing 12.9% of the U.S. population – or about one in every eight Americans. By 2030, there will be about 72.1 million older persons, more than twice their number in 2000 and will count for nearly 20% of the population (Administration on Aging, DHHS). 

For demographers, 2011 was significant in that it marked the first year that baby-boomers began turning 65; and for the next 15 to 20 years, more than 7,000 people will turn 65 years old every single day. They will be a driving force for healthcare services in the coming decades – not just for ‘what’ is delivered, but ‘how’ it will be delivered.

So, what’s a marketer to do?

In the short term, one of the most important roles chief marketing officers can play is helping organizations understand and address the competitive dynamics of restructuring markets and intensifying competitor activities.   Longer term, the over-arching objective is to create a future-ready, high-performing marketing capability that can address the changing basis for competition and drive growth, innovation and better business performance.   

We’ll be publishing and speaking on this topic throughout the year, as well as on how marketers can make these critical changes.  Please let us know if you have ideas and examples that you’d like to share.

* Brains on Demand is a unique partnership of leading healthcare consultants offering seamless access to a full menu of research, brand, marketing, communications and social media expertise – served á la carte.  Its partners are Karen Corrigan and Carla Bryant from Corrigan Partners; Rob Klein with Klein & Partners; JK Lloyd with Eruptr; and Candace Quinn with Brand=Experience.

Marketing Executives: Are You Ready for the Future?

I’m looking forward to the 17th National Healthcare Marketing Strategies Summit, April 29 – May 1, 2012 at the Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida.  It’s a great forum for staying on top of trends and leading edge practices in the health industry, and for connecting with friends and colleagues.  And, hey, it’s at the Ritz-Carlton.  What’s not to like??

I’m also excited to be presenting with three top-notch marketing executives – Suzanne Sawyer (Penn Medicine), Ellen Barron (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and Phyllis Marino (MetroHealth) – on the changing role of the chief marketing officer in healthcare institutions.  Here’s our session description.  Hope to see you there!

Marketing Executives:  Are You Ready for the Future!
Sunday, April 29; 1:00 pm – 3:45 pm

More than ever, marketing executives are being held to a higher standard of accountability for driving growth, innovation, customer loyalty and better business performance in health systems.  This workshop will focus on the changing role of the marketing executive in establishing the discipline of marketing as a core business competency, and in creating high performing, future-ready marketing teams and operations.  Learn how three health systems are redesigning marketing to proactively address new competitive dynamics, drive alignment to health system growth agendas and master new media fluency.  Participants will also learn key methods for assessing their own marketing operations and establishing a road map for change.

Investing in the Marketing Management Infrastructure

Part 4 of Prioritizing Marketing Resources Key to Return on Investment Goals.

Marketing resource allocation planning is critical to assuring that limited marketing resources (dollars and FTEs) are focused on growth and marketing initiatives that have the best potential for improving business performance and positioning health systems for long-term success.  Parts 2 and 3 of this series described the first two primary decision points in resource allocation modeling:

  • First, what businesses, clinical programs or market expansion initiatives offer the best opportunity for growth and profitability?
  • Second, within priority programs and service lines, what strategies and tactical initiatives will best achieve marketing goals?

The third decision point is “what infrastructure investments will be required to support effective growth and marketing management?”  In other words, what are the capabilities, technologies, skill sets, business partners, processes and tools necessary for the marketing team to execute marketing strategy and achieve growth objectives?  Building a high- performing marketing team and the systems to support that team are strategy-critical investments that will generate far greater returns over the long term.

What should you consider? 

  • Structure, staffing and skill set of the marketing team.  Is the team optimally organized and staffed to execute and manage against strategic priorities?  Do they possess the skills required in today’s complex and competitive world – including business analytics, strategy and critical thinking skills?  Can they mobilize and align clinical, administrative and other functions to effect marketing strategy?   Are they fluent in new media and skilled in web, social networking and mobile technology platforms? 
  • CRM and call centers.  Next, evaluate the capabilities, systems and processes to capture and respond to customer inquiries (both consumer and physician), and to capture, analyze and manage customer level data.  Today, marketers are moving toward integrated customer contact centers that better leverage call center, web inquiry and CRM capabilities in order to connect customers with services,  capture data to improve marketing decision-making, and measure the effectiveness of marketing investments.
  • Digital marketing capabilities and systems. One of the biggest challenges facing marketers today is the pace of change and shift in investments required to ramp up digital marketing strategies.  Web, search, social media and mobile marketing are no longer optional – nor should they be secondary priorities.  There is no better time to stop funding tactics with marginal returns (among my favorites are billboards) and plow those dollars into the staffing, training and systems to become digital marketing experts.
  • Decision support systems.  The key question here for marketers is “do we have the information needed to inform our decisions about strategy, investments and outcomes?”  Competitive intelligence, market research, trended performance data (e.g. volume growth, revenue, margin, etc.), market projections, industry trends, segmentation studies and other robust information sources are vital to effective marketing management.
  • Business partners and outsourced support.  What to build in-house versus what to outsource is often a tough question.  The rule of thumb is that if it’s not critical to core operations or a core competency in which you’re willing to invest and nurture, then outsourcing is probably the best alternative.  Business or outsourced partners include advertising agencies, digital marketing firms, call center operations and research firms, among others.  A periodic review of contract terms and performance is always a good idea.
  • Shorten your “to do” list.  One of the more difficult tasks for marketers is to eliminate activities and tasks that do not contribute to growth and improved competitive performance.  But in today’s environment, “squeaky wheels” must give way to an evidence-based approach to marketing investment.  The key to success is focusing your time – and dollars – on fewer, more impactful activities.

Conclusion

More than ever, chief marketing executives are being held to a higher standard of accountability for return on marketing investments.   A disciplined approach to marketing resource allocation planning is required to understand what programs, services or segments will best drive growth and improve business performance, and what activities and support systems will contribute most to those growth initiatives.  

Both top-down and bottom-up approaches to marketing resource allocation are necessary; top down for strategic marketing planning across a health system’s portfolio of service lines and market initiatives – and bottom up to develop specific marketing plans and budgets within each priority program. 

Most important, perhaps, is to use this data-informed approach to gain organizational commitment to investment decisions and staying on strategy. 

Read the series:

The Healthcare Marketer’s Dilemma? Too Many Projects. Too Few Resources.

Part 2 of Prioritizing Marketing Resources Key to Return on Investment Goals.

How do healthcare marketing executives allocate marketing resources? In today’s complex environment, determining what gets funded and what doesn’t, how much to invest and what your team should be spending time on can be a daunting task.

Marketing resource allocation decisions must be made across multiple dimensions. What services offer the best opportunity for growth, profitability and improved competitive performance? Within those programs, what specific marketing strategies and tactics should be used to achieve goals? What staffing and infrastructure investments are needed to improve marketing performance?

While it’s not an exact science, the process of marketing resource allocation modeling will help CMOs better invest limited marketing resources in initiatives that improve business performance, build brand equity and position the organization for success.

The first decision point is determining what lines of business, clinical programs, market expansion initiatives and customer segments offer the best opportunity for growth, profitability and competitive advantage.

ESTABLISHING TARGETS AND OBJECTIVES

Effectiveness of the marketing resource allocation model is supported by the discipline to target and select the FEWEST, MOST IMPACTFUL programs in which to concentrate resources. Priority growth program investments are derived from the analysis of key elements such as:

  • Volume, revenue and profitability contributions of by lines of business (e.g., inpatient, ambulatory, physician services, etc.), service lines (e.g. cardiovascular, orthopedics, etc.), new market initiatives (e.g. joint venture partnerships, facility development, etc.) or customer segments (e.g., geographic, demographic, psychographic, etc.)
  • Overall utilization, volume and demand projections
  • Rate of market growth for encounters and procedures
  • Reimbursement and profitability rates and trends
  • Organizational capacity for new growth
  • Physician supply, access, capacity and alignment
  • Health system competencies, technologies, facilities
  • Patient experience and satisfaction
  • Quality indicators and rankings
  • Competitive positioning, brand strength and market distinctiveness

This will require some work but the outcome will be well worth the effort. By comparing this information across major business initiatives and service lines, it becomes obvious that a focused subset should be targeted.

The following is a simple framework for ranking business lines, services or segments in accordance with their potential for contribution. Tier one programs are those with the greatest potential for financial or strategic returns on investment. Tier two and tier three programs are supported at lower investment levels. In this example, the health system allocates 60% of marketing resource investments to tier one projects and the remaining 40% is spread across tiers two and three, with three receiving a minimal amount.

These percentages can be adjusted up and down – keeping in mind that the objective is to adequately resource those projects most important to organizational performance.

I’ve found this process to be particularly helpful in arming the marketing team with an effective, data-driven platform to ward off requests that that seem to fly in from left field on an all too frequent basis. You know the ones I’m talking about. It also helps the CMO build agreement with his or her peer executives on a focused growth agenda.

In the next post, I’ll discuss decision point two: within priority programs and service lines, what strategies and tactical initiatives will best achieve marketing goals?

The Future of Healthcare Marketing

I had a chance to talk with Bill Moschella Co-founder & CEO of eVariant about the future of healthcare marketing at the SHSMD conference this past September.  Here’s that interview.  What advice do you have for marketers seeking to improve marketing performance and build future ready marketing operations?