Healthcare Marketing Plans of the Future

An update here from PUGTATO-LAND.  What’s keeping me busy?  I’ve been working on some exciting marketing campaigns for Breast Care for Washington, I finished the first segment of a three part course given by the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Market Development on Healthcare Marketing and Communications Strategies, and Angelina Jolie’s announcement of having tested positive for a BRCA mutation has pretty much caused my day job activities at Myriad Genetics to explode.

Today’s post discusses some of my key takeaways from the first half of the Healthcare Marketing Plans that Work class that just wrapped up.

PUGTATO’S Healthcare Marketing Plans that Work Key Takeaways:

You need a marketing plan.   This might sound obvious enough, but in reality, having a tight marketing plan that lays down quantifiable objectives, actions and assignments is harder to do than you might think.  Creating a marketing plan doesn’t mean crafting War & Peace and designing the best looking document the world has ever seen.  (Save that design for your next ad campaign.)  A marketing plan acts as a type of blueprint and should be shorter term in focus.  You can save the 5 year plan for the strategic planning committee.

The marketing plan should involve your entire organization, because after all, you are marketing for an organization, not just the marketing department. This does not mean your CEO and CFO should be involved in creating the objectives in the plan, however.  You in marketing must own that piece.  What it does mean thought, is that C-Level support of  marketing initiatives is crucial, and I would argue, necessary to help with the success of the plan.  Marketing initiatives must be seen in the eyes of leadership as having strategic value, and it is your job to make that happen using the marketing plan.

The plan should include specific strategies for proactive marketing strategy- this is not a list of the number of collaterals you want to design this year.  The actions in the plan must derive measurable results and must be fluid.  Things change quickly in healthcare, and the goal of this plan is to help you be on the right side of the change.  The bottom line is, if you think you can wing your 12-18 month marketing initiatives and that creative just “happens,” you are in for a big surprise.

Market Position and Strategy is difficult.  The role of marketing in health care is set to change dramatically over the next couple of years as the major elements of the Affordable Care Act roll out in 2014.  The ACA elements will change perspective and roles of health care providers and marketers, and no one can really be sure how exactly we will all be impacted.  Will we be marketing insurance plans for hospitals? Marketing new metrics? Will health exchanges be adopted across all hospitals and specialties? Hard to say. Interestingly enough, if you google ‘Affordable Care Act pros and cons’ you will see many publications from 2012 that claim to know all the facts, repercussions and results of ACA.  I guess I should have those bloggers and reporters pick my lottery numbers next time. If you want to work in health care marketing I hope you are agile and friendly with change.

Market positioning and strategy is increasingly becoming more difficult. Consumers are increasingly more cost conscious and have realized they want to be included in their health care decision-making process.  No longer do we exist in a world where “I’ll just do what my doctor says” or “I’ll go here just because my insurance/doctors said to” are the norm.  Consumers are researching, and they are shopping around.

Things are not just changing on the consumer side either.  The structure by which physician practices exists is changing. Many practices are now employed by hospitals or are part of gigantic conglomerates.  The supply of physicians in the U.S. is also not increasing fast enough to meet population demands, and just think about when near universal coverage exists.  Where will these patients go? These market conditions are driving the demand for practice extenders like Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners.

It’s great you have the first nano-laser surgery tool in the area.  In 10 years that also means it is probably the oldest.

So how do you craft a market position?  You might not do the crafting necessarily.  Market positions are built over time and your job as a marketer is to ensure the position is credible, unique and defensible.  The way the public thinks of your organization can be difficult to change or mold.  My key takeaway here was that market position should be culture driven vs. asset driven.  It’s great you have the first nano-laser surgery tool in the area.  In 10 years that also means it is probably the oldest. Basing your market position on the internal culture of your organization makes that position very hard to steal and easy to maintain.  No one can buy off your culture.  You can create it, cultivate it and share it with the public.


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