Tag Archives: health system marketing

Evidence-based Healthcare Marketing: Rethinking Measurement

Save the dateHealthcare marketers face increasing pressure to make the most of their marketing investments.  The C-suite wants accountability for outcomes – volume, revenue, greater customer loyalty – and assurance that the health system is strengthening its competitive position.

The bottom line is that marketing is becoming more science than art.  Today, sophisticated tools and marketing analytics provide great insights into customer needs, values, drivers and behaviors.  They inform our decision-making, shape strategy, focus investments.  When actionable information is combined with rigorous planning, innovative ideas and disciplined tracking, marketing executives quickly close the accountability gap.

Welcome to evidence-based marketing.

On July 10, 2014, I’ll join Marian Dezelan, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chris Boyer, AVP Digital Marketing Strategy, for North Shore–LIJ Health System (Great Neck, NY) on a webinar to discuss how an evidence-based approach to healthcare marketing can better focus your strategy and produce measureable results.  Marian and Chris will share how North Shore-LIJ’s marketing department applies evidence-based marketing techniques for personalized targeted marketing, patient engagement and making the most of marketing data.

Sponsored by the Forum for Healthcare Strategists, the webinar is scheduled from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm CDT.  The session is complimentary for Forum members; non-members can participate for $125.

I hope you’ll join us.  In fact, gather your team, order in lunch and make time to learn together.

Click here to learn more about the webinar and register for the program.

Part 2. Focus healthcare marketing investments to improve business performance.

questions3How do healthcare marketing executives decide where to allocate scarce marketing resources – both people and dollars? 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 by line of business (e.g., inpatient, ambulatory, physician services, etc.), service lines and clinical programs (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, 60% of marketing resources are allocated to tier one projects and the remaining 40% 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?

Read Part One:  The Secret to Healthcare Marketing ROI? Focus. Focus. Focus.

The secret to healthcare marketing ROI? Focus. Focus. Focus.

focusPART ONE

Someone once asked me about the difference between ‘focusing’ and ‘prioritizing’ – focusing is knowing what to do; prioritizing is knowing what to do first.  These are the decision points faced by marketers every day. And especially when it comes to marketing planning and budgeting.

Most CMOs are trying to conjure up ways to achieve more with less.  Too many times, unfortunately, they end up spreading scarce dollars over too many projects which can significantly diminish the impact and desired outcomes.

When stuck between a rock (the health system’s need for profitable growth) and a hard place (the drive to cut costs), how do marketers prioritize marketing investments and gain organizational commitment to those investment decisions?

First, clean house.  Use this opportunity as a time to take a stand and stop funding activities that have no or minimal impact on strategic growth, customer acquisition, customer retention and financial performance.  Specifically look at non-marketing activities that sap resources and work with your colleagues across the health system to eliminate or move those deeds elsewhere.  Make sure your team is performing at its best; when you are being asked to do more with fewer FTEs, each has to be a stellar performer.

Second, use a marketing resource allocation methodology to prioritize limited marketing resources (dollars and FTEs) to those growth and marketing initiatives that have the best potential for improving business performance and positioning the organization for long-term success.

In prioritizing marketing resource investments, there are three basic decision points:

  1. What businesses, clinical programs or market expansion initiatives offer the best opportunity for growth and profitability?
  2. Within priority programs and service lines, what strategies and tactical initiatives will best achieve marketing goals?
  3. What infrastructure investments will be required to support effective growth and marketing management?

In other words, what will you choose to invest in to drive growth and improve profitability, and what activities and support systems will contribute most to those objectives? Both top-down and bottom-up approaches to resource allocation are necessary; top down for strategic planning across a health system’s portfolio of service lines and market initiatives; bottom up to develop individual marketing budgets within each priority program.

I know that some of the toughest issues marketers face are cutting others’ pet projects, sunsetting outdated communications tactics, navigating the politics of competing priorities, and so on and so on.  Just saying ‘no’ has not been an option for some;  a marketing resource allocation method can better arm the CMO with data-driven rationale for investment decisions.

In upcoming posts, I’ll explore the components and key questions to delve into for each of the three decision points listed above.  In the meantime, let me know some of your toughest budget challenges — together let’s find a way to stop doing more and focus on achieving more

Sponsorships. To do or not to do?

Every marketer I know struggles with the issue of spending marketing dollars to sponsor not-for-profit community agencies and events such as charity balls or actions, little league games and others.  This post by my colleague, Brian Whitman, describes how some evaluate and approach sponsorships.

3 tips to maximize community sponsorship dollars
by Brian Whitman

Brian CMOWhen I was a VP of Marketing for a hospital system in the midwest it seemed everyone wanted our sponsorship support.  Every employee and every physician had their own pet project, activity or child’s sport team they wished to have the hospital system sponsor. While everyone claims their sponsorship offers “good PR” – the reality is that many of these efforts have little PR value, and likely no marketing value. Yet often, politically it seemed we were in a tight spot to say yes.   Read more . . .

Read the full post and others by Brian at CorriganPartners.com.

Straight talk about the state of healthcare marketing

chief revenue officerEarlier this week, I sent an email to a group of long-time and much respected healthcare marketing colleagues with a rather innocent request:  one of our health system clients is recruiting a director of marketing and seeking candidates for the position.  What followed was a firestorm of comments – about the lack of qualified candidates, murky state of healthcare marketing, unattractiveness of healthcare to people that want to practice “real” marketing – countered by a few expositions on the societal flaws that brought us to this state.

So here are my two cents.  By and large, healthcare executives do not really understand the marketing discipline. And I’m not just pointing fingers at the C-suite; as marketers, we’ve made our own beds, so to speak.  In nearly every other industry, marketing is considered a strategy-critical, revenue-generating core business capability.  But if we’re honest, in healthcare, marketing is still very much structured and primarily resourced around communications activities that are not designed nor hardwired to significantly impact customer acquisition and retention.

Holding on to a narrow view of healthcare marketing as simply promotions wastes marketing investments and sub-optimizes performance.

Changing these dynamics requires straight talk from the chief marketing executive, CEO and other C-suite leaders about what it really takes for marketing to drive revenue growth, build brand equity and improve financial performance.

Let’s get that conversation started:

  • How is competition changing and what will be required of the health system to compete effectively? Is a plan in place and are actions underway to effect those changes? If not, why not?
  • Is the marketing department structured, staffed and resourced to achieve revenue targets, build brand equity and improve the organization’s competitive leverage? If not, why not?
  • Are financial, business and market analytics driving marketing planning, and the decisions for where you focus marketing activities and investments?  If not, why not?
  • Do you have the right people with the right skills sets and the right tools in place to execute marketing strategies that drive patient acquisition?  If not, why not?
  • Are you investing full speed ahead in web, social, search, mobile, CRM/PRM and other marketing systems and capabilities required both now and in the future? If not, why not?
  • Do marketing and operations work collaboratively, and are they held mutually-accountable for customer acquisition, customer experience, and customer retention outcomes? If not, why not?
  • Are you measuring marketing performance?  If not, why not?

I’m sure there are other questions, but you’ll probably need to order in lunch just to get through these.  Tell me what you think.  And, if you know a good candidate for that director of marketing position, please give me a call.

Five essential moves to transform healthcare marketing

Across the U.S., healthcare marketers are feeling the pressure to deliver greater returns on marketing investments. Changing economics are front and center, and make a compelling case for the role that marketers must play in an increasingly competitive environment.

Holding on to a narrow view of healthcare marketing as simply promotions sub-optimizes marketing performance and wastes marketing investments.  Best practice performers understand marketing as a business discipline aimed at achieving revenue growth and better business performance.

Success requires a purposeful, comprehensive and integrated approach to better understand markets, develop and deliver quality healthcare services, build effective business models, and create loyal customers.

Five essential moves

Creating a marketing or growth-oriented culture may seem formidable in organizations that are operations versus market driven – and many health systems are just that. However, with increasing recognition by healthcare executives that significant change is required for success under new reform mandates, marketers play a key role in helping organizations understand competitive dynamics, discover new growth opportunities, create new lines of business, and enhance points of competitive differentiation .

Here are five essential moves to effect the change:

  1. Transform the marketing culture – David Packard (of the Hewlett-Packard’s) is credited with saying that “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” His point is that marketing, like HR, finance and other core business functions, is a strategy-critical competency for organizations that want to grow, thrive and succeed. This requires an organizational shift in thinking about marketing as tactical communications to a discipline that is strategic (focused on stuff that matters), cross-functional (orchestrated across the value chain), and bottom line oriented (delivers on revenue targets).
  2. Reconfigure the marketing organization – today, many (far too many) health system marketing organizations are structured strictly along functional lines (advertising, PR, events, sales, etc.) and operate primarily as communications service bureaus rather than revenue-generating strategists. Health systems must establish a vision, role and scope for marketing as a revenue-generating capability, then restructure marketing operations to support growth imperatives. Building a unified, high performance marketing operation is job one – investing in the marketing management infrastructure, elevating skills, adopting data-driven planning methods, laser-focusing marketing resources, establishing performance metrics.
  3. Acquire new competencies, capabilities and skills – Historically, healthcare marketing departments have over-invested in communications activities and under-resourced other aspects of marketing practice that drive customer acquisition and revenue growth. Today’s healthcare marketers must demonstrate expertise in market intelligence, business analytics, new product/program R & D, brand building (not just brand promotion), market and customer creation, relationship sales, social commerce, community management, cross-channel content marketing, and more. Customer relationship management (CRM), provider relationship management (PRM) and customer contact or call centers are essential marketing systems.
  4. Create a compelling case for change and bias for action – Data builds the case for focusing marketing investments on strategies that grow revenue, improve business performance, increase brand loyalty and build sustainable competitive advantage. For healthcare marketers, the strategy-critical short list includes brand building, volume building, channel management, new models of care and customer engagement that optimize profitability under reform economics, and leveraging web, social, search and mobile technologies for patient acquisition and retention.
  5. Communicate new roles, new rules, new expectations – The first step for marketers is to forge a robust partnership with administrative, clinical and business operations, and create co-ownership and co-accountability for marketing outcomes. Establish new ground rules, such as: marketing resources will be prioritized to strategic planning, business development, growth and financial performance imperatives. Or that data and analysis will inform strategic marketing thinking and planning, and provide an evidence-based approach to marketing investment. And, my favorite: time – and dollars – will be focused on fewer, more impactful activities; and tasks that do not contribute to growth and improved competitive performance will be transitioned or eliminated.

Now is the time

For health systems, growth and profitability are imperative. New reimbursement methods and emerging business models necessitate a different approach to customer acquisition, a fresh focus on customer retention, and a greater emphasis on customer engagement. And the transformation of marketing practice driven by social networking, search and mobile technologies can no longer be ignored.

Now is the time for marketers to assess the role, functions and performance of marketing departments, and move aggressively to transform marketing from promotions-oriented tactics to growth-oriented strategic leadership.  To build powerful, differentiated brands that drive growth, innovation and better business performance.  To lead organizations in mainstreaming social, search and mobile technologies that engage customers, build commerce and improve business functions.

Change can be difficult. Yet, will deliver substantial and long-lasting benefits.

This post is number three in a 3-part series.  Click here to read parts 1 and 2:

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.