Think Like a Health Care CEO and Elevate the Role of Marketing

May 22, 2015

By Mike Milligan

Eighty percent of CEOs don’t really trust marketers, according to a recent Fournaise Marketing Group survey of high-level decisions-makers. Eighty percent!

This is painful for me to say because I’ve been on both sides of the health care marketing table. But I’ve also learned that before you can overcome a challenge, you have to know what you’re up against.

Why don’t these CEOs trust marketers? Because most (78 percent) “think marketers lose sight of what their real job is: to generate more customer demand for their services in a business-quantifiable and business-measurable way.”

Ouch, that stings—at least on the surface. But let’s peel back the layers of the onion. First, I’m sure we’re all in agreement that many health systems’ CEOs have a firm understanding and appreciation of what marketing does for their organization. But “many” isn’t “all.” Even if a CEO is fully on board with the functions of the Marketing Department, there’s often a disconnect between the two.

So What’s the Answer?

Marketers need to start thinking—and speaking—like CEOs. Think about it: C-suite staff is analytical; summary-oriented; focused on profitability, patient volume, quality scores, ROI. If Marketing wants to gain buy-in, backing, and trust from executives, it’s going to take both sides of the brain.

That doesn’t mean creativity no longer has value. It’s as important as ever. It simply means that Marketing also needs to understand the vision, goals, and concerns of C-suite executives—and speak directly to them. Here’s how.


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