Centralized Marketing: Building an Effective Structure
by Nancy Vessell
Marketing functions within hospital systems have run the spectrum from fully centralized at the corporate level to mostly autonomous at the local level. But as more hospitals fold themselves into systems, marketing is increasingly shifting toward centralization.
“A lot of it is being driven by this crazy world of mergers and acquisitions,” states Maria Stearns, director of health care marketing for Aloysius Butler & Clark, a marketing communications firm headquartered in Wilmington, DE.
That centralized shift is not always easy to swallow; in fact, it’s often emotional. But brand and marketing specialists maintain that directing marketing strategy from the system level eventually strengthens everyone – as long as a marketing presence is maintained within the hallways and communities of the local hospitals.
Marketing must be closely aligned with the goals and mission of the system as a whole, points out Patti Winegar, co-owner and managing partner of SPM Marketing & Communications in La Grange, IL. “If the goal is clinical integration, then wherever you see that system brand, you will see some commonality of quality, and marketing must be centralized to accomplish that. The more it’s centralized, the tighter the brand will be,” she says.