How to Create a Future-Facing Health Care Marketing Organization

April 2, 2019

// By Paul Szablowski //

Paul SzablowskiThe health care ecosystem is experiencing a period of rapid change and there’s no finish line in sight. This disruption is creating pressure on hospital systems and caregivers, and upending well-established health care business models. Employers are seeking value-based payment models and consumers are demanding affordable, convenient care choices — on their terms.

In the article that follows, Paul Szablowski, an independent consultant and former senior vice president of brand experience at Texas Health Resources, explores five imperatives for health care marketing leaders.

Today’s health care marketing executive has a dual mandate to enhance brand relevance and drive business growth. A future-facing marketing structure requires new competencies as executive leaders and internal management consultants demand a clear connection between investment and ROMI (return on marketing investment). The real innovators are going beyond asking for larger budgets to fund campaigns. They are campaigning for better collaboration with finance, data and analytics, strategy, case management, IT, product development, and pricing.

Recent research highlights the disconnect between marketers and organizational leaders, and the result is a revolving door: 57 percent of chief marketing officers (CMOs) have been in their jobs for three years or less.

In 2017, Harvard Business Review devoted an entire issue to “The Trouble with CMOs.” In the issue, writers Kimberly Whitler and Neil Morgan cite a 2012 global survey by the Fournaise Marketing Group that revealed a startling statistic: 80 percent of CEOs don’t trust or are unimpressed with their chief marketing officers. In their own research, Whitler and Morgan found that 74 percent of CMOs believe their jobs don’t allow them to maximize their impact on business.

The Fournaise report also showed that 80 percent of CEOs believe marketers are not connected to the financial realities of their organizations and the real objective of their role, which is to generate measurable demand.

In a 2017 Allocadia Marketing Performance Management Benchmark Maturity Study, the research revealed major challenges for organizations to effectively align their marketing investments to revenue: Only 21 percent of companies can measure marketing’s contribution to revenue. In addition, only 6 percent of companies felt that their metrics helped determine the next best marketing action.

Too often, hospital marketers focus on campaign development and not business development. This has reduced their perceived value in the C-suite. More than ever, CEOs question the value of marketing as it relates to achieving growth and revenue targets and attracting new patients.

The economics of health care and marketing are changing, and business strategies need to adapt. To succeed as a health care marketer, you must:

  • Clearly define and articulate your role
  • Engage your leadership
  • Understand your organization’s financial realities
  • Differentiate and improve the relevance of your brand
  • Think like a C-suite buyer

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