purpose WHYQuite often, we see outdoor advertising for hospitals that is giant-sized evidence of a marketing department’s silent scream.

Internal politics—more than any clear business purpose—dictated that the billboards prominently display a doctor’s picture. Or we see a stunning portrait of the hospital’s shiny “light speed” CT hardware. (Maybe both.)

Yes, doctors are the soul of service lines, and their best tools are innovative technology. The billboard leaves us guessing about the consumer benefit and the reason for them to respond.

For other facilities, social media is an example of uncertain ROI. Virtually all American hospitals have one or more social platforms in play, but surveys reveal that very few believe their efforts are highly effective.

Somewhere, there’s a marketing professional who knows the Return-on-Investment (ROI) calculation will require extremely creative accounting. And you can bet that top hospital administrators will question budget items when the marketing team can’t find the gold.

Creating a purpose-driven marketing plan…

There is no prescription or instant cure for organizational pressures or competing internal interests. In hospital marketing, it’s an impossible challenge to be “all things” and answer all demands and expectations without an infinite budget.

But in our experience, there are some helpful tactics to help stay the course of purpose over politics:

Build a plan that supports quantifiable, board-level goals. Top-level hospital management has greater confidence in marketing plans, projects and related expenses that clearly contribute to the “big picture” objectives of the facility. Many, if not most, business objectives are financially defined, so build a plan that points to quantifiable results, using the same top-line metrics.

Get administration sign-off on budget and priorities. You can be certain that top hospital management knows a lot about competing and conflicting pressures. Executive approval comes with the understanding that redirection of resources will also change results and ROI. Accordingly, priority items are mutually understood to be cast in stone, while others…maybe not so much.

Stick to the marketing plan, the schedule and the goals. As any year unfolds, there will be surprises, new competitive challenges and opportunities, and—generally—the need to be flexible and inventive. But a solid secret to success is to keep your main objectives clearly in sight and (as appropriate to the circumstances) protect the goals, even in the face of headwinds.

Qualified outside marketing help is a professional ally. Hospitals that utilize an experienced marketing and advertising agency have an independent resource to help plan, execute and achieve the intended goals.

The primary test of “purpose over politics” is in the ability to measure and report quantifiable results. Admittedly, it’s a continuing challenge for most hospital marketing executives. If you would like some well-founded assistance in producing measurable results (and contending with the predictable headwinds), reach out to us today. We’re ready to help.

Lauren Henss

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Lauren Henss

Lauren Henss

With an extensive background in marketing communications, branding and public relations, Lauren is a seasoned business executive with experience in building relationships with clients including hospitals, biotech’s and biopharmaceutical companies. She has worked with clients such as USC Norris Cancer Center, CHOC, Beckman Coulter, Thoratec, and Edwards Lifesciences. Lauren has a Bachelors degree in Communication from the University of the Pacific, in Stockton, CA. She also is a member, and past Director with PRSA.


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