Q&A: Your Promotion is Waiting – Skills Needed to Successfully Transform Your Marketing Department

To continue working toward perfecting the customer experience and contributing to the health system’s growth and acquisition goals, highly functioning healthcare marketing teams need to shift to a dynamic, digital mindset that requires new skills and resources. Traditional marketing approaches still have a place in a multichannel marketing strategy, but in an increasingly competitive world, traditional marketing alone won’t cut it. This starts with the right individuals and team structure. Health systems need individuals who understand how to optimize marketing efforts and interpret data not only to show the revenue impact of programs, but to continue to innovate on what works.

In a recent webinar, Gary Druckenmiller, VP, Marketing Practice Lead at Evariant discussed how to restructure your marketing department by identifying individuals’ strengths and weaknesses and assigning them to applicable tasks. In doing so, marketing can start proving the value of programs and create holistic, lifelong patient experiences.

In case you missed the webinar, here’s a quick summary of the key takeaways along with answers to audience questions:

 

In healthcare, we aren’t very transparent about wanting more customers. “Demand generation” seems like a title we’d shy away from. Have you seen health systems own titles like that, or are they using softer descriptions?

The “demand generation” title is a newer concept that health systems are slowly starting to adopt. We have encountered health systems that shy away from “demand generation” titles and creating a dedicated team, but they shouldn’t. Demand generation isn’t something that’s going away, and to prove marketing’s value, we must be transparent and hire the right people that are focused on implementing measurable marketing strategies that bring in new customers and retain these customers for life.

The sample organization chart shown during the webinar is an actual, real-world example of what one of our client’s marketing department looks like. This client has an entire demand generation marketing function.Marketing Organization Chart

What is the size of the health system the org chart represents?

In this example, the chart represents a mid-sized health system that has approximately six to eight locations and roughly $4-5 billion in revenue. The example system has a strong brand and a leadership team who is heavily invested in marketing. In this blog post, Gary talks more about how change management and new leadership allows hospital marketers to see more efficient and effective marketing departments able to reach and connect with increasingly sophisticated patients and consumers.

This short video highlights how three health systems approached a marketing transformation and how it’s ultimately changed the perception of marketing being a “service bureau” to a revenue-generating department.

What is your opinion about a healthcare organization that has marketing and digital separated?

In the words of Gary exactly, “This is a travesty!” Unfortunately, this is not that uncommon. All marketing – digital, traditional, brand – must fall into one department and cannot be separated. A siloed approach doesn’t work. Each area affects the others. By keeping the groups independent they’re not incentivized towards the same outcomes, or building rich experiences that cross channels.

We’ve heard countless stories from systems who have found that when their brand is strong, their demand generation campaigns perform better. When traditional media is paired with digital tactics, like in this example about subway banner ads, marketing drives more volume. It’s about finding the structure and alignment of people to roles that works for your organization.

What roles were phased out during the transformation?

Prior to this transformation, there was a specific branding team that reported up to the marketing department head. This brand team was phased out and reconsolidated into communications. The head of brand position was eliminated and the team was dispersed into new roles so that the brand responsibilities are shared across many teams.

In the webinar and in other blog posts, we’ve talked about the structure of the modern marketing department and leveraging the Harvard Business Review’s “Think, Feel, Do” philosophy. This article asks an incredible, thought-provoking questions that all marketing leaders must first ask themselves, “What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?” Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.

Where do the physician liaisons fall?

The role of physician liaisons is a sales function, so normally, you wouldn’t see physician liaisons in a marketing department. However, in the case where marketing does “own” sales, then physician liaisons and marketing would both report to the Chief Marketing Officer or Marketing Vice President.

Regardless of whether liaisons are part or “Marketing” or a different department, the two should still work together. Lehigh Valley Health Network has a joint go to marketing approach that you can read more about in their success story.

How can I convince senior leadership that my marketing department needs this type of transformation?

This transformation is needed, but leadership may not realize that at first. You must commit to developing a new structure and have a clear, transparent discussion with your leadership team to set expectations. Healthcare is sensitive to this type of change, so it’s imperative that when having this conversation, you really sell why and the ultimate (positive) impact on the health system. After having the conversation, you, as a marketing leader, must execute and embrace the transformation.

If you had to focus on one thing because it’s just you doing it all, what would you put your time and resources into?

Focus on digital marketing and getting your digital campaigns into market. This includes search engine marketing and your website. To do this, you’ll need a simple healthcare customer relationship management (HCRM) tool to set your campaigns up and start tracking the results of these campaigns to optimize them and show results to your internal leadership. This is a great blog post that provides questions you should ask when deciding on a HCRM vendor to work with.

Your digital marketing efforts should constitute about 70% of your focus, and you’ll see incredible results without even touching public relations or other areas of marketing.

Final Thoughts

Our jobs as marketers aren’t easy, and we can’t expect to stay relevant if we’re only focused on traditional marketing tactics. If health system marketing departments can’t adapt to today’s digital landscape, how can they expect to drive successful patient marketing campaigns that engage, satisfy, and retain patients? The marketing department – stacked with data analysts, demand generators, and strategic content creators – is essential to prove the value of your programs and keep a competitive edge.

Transform Marketing Department

Courtney Smigiel

Courtney Smigiel

Courtney Smigiel manages the Evariant webinar program, tradeshows and other industry conferences and events, as well as content syndication programs. She has worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, retail, non-profit, hospitality, and utilities to create dynamic and strategic results-driven decisions. Prior to joining Evariant, Courtney served on the digital marketing team for online British retailer J.P. Boden. She holds a bachelor of science in marketing from Bentley University.
Courtney Smigiel