Updated: October 6, 2022
Coca-Cola employs about 700,000 people across the world. If you were to ask all 700,000 employees if marketing and branding was important to Coca-Cola’s business, you’d probably get 700,000 “Heck yeah!” responses.
But what about in your organization? Do you have 100% buy-in among teammates and stakeholders that marketing and branding is essential to the bottom line?
I’ll go out on a limb and say … probably not.
It’s not for a lack of trying. You’re doing everything you can every day to help your health care organization to grow and prosper by marketing and branding.
But without full support and endorsement of colleagues and stakeholders, you might feel some days like you’re swimming upstream.
That’s why I wanted to share five strategies for marketing your marketing department.
Far from boasting or beating your chest, these strategies are designed to help foster a deeper understanding of your gifts and contributions to your organization. After all, consumerism is radically changing how people evaluate and buy health care brands. The more people within the organization that embrace the critical role of marketing and branding in your organization, the more traction you’ll gain in your work.
So, consider these five strategies for marketing your marketing department a win-win-win: for you, your colleagues and the audiences you all serve.
1. Narrate the movie your stakeholders are watching
Great movies let you know immediately what kind of movie you’re watching. Is it a romantic comedy? Science fiction? Dystopian?
As the voice and advocate of the consumer, you serve as the narrator of the movie of your consumer’s life. Let your stakeholders know about trends in health care consumerism … how audiences are using social media platforms and review sites to choose providers … … and .
Paint a picture of today’s health care consumerism landscape in your communications. This will help your stakeholders see the movie that’s playing out across the country. And further reinforce why marketing and branding matter.
Which leads us to the second strategy for marketing your marketing department.
2. Communicate both the what and the why behind your strategies
It’s almost impossible for us to remember what it’s like to not know something. That’s why when we seek to educate and influence audiences, it’s important to return to the “why” of what we are doing and recommending.
The “why” is the key insight that helps your stakeholders fully appreciate your marketing and branding strategies. “Why” is shorthand for “Why should you care.”
Why brings context. Why brings a sense of urgency. Why answers the questions in your stakeholders’ heads. And answering the why can help you enroll your stakeholders in thinking differently about marketing and branding.
3. Align marketing KPIs with the business goals your stakeholders know and care about
I’ve been in meetings where digital campaign results are presented. Half the room is ecstatic with the click thru rates and conversion results. The other half of the room is checking their phones, likely wondering when the meeting is going to end.
Marketing KPIs are often a bridge to business results in health care. In other words, you often need a prospective patient to request more information on the website before the prospective patient decides to have orthopedic surgery.
It’s often a challenge to align marketing data points with downstream revenue, but that doesn’t mean we can’t align marketing KPIs with business goals. A compelling way to do this is by aligning the patient journey with marketing KPIs. For example, demonstrating how a trigger event like joint pain can lead to a person searching the web for health resources, clicking on a search ad for your organization (marketing KPI), filling out a form to learn more about treatment options (marketing KPI), scheduling an appointment with a physician (marketing KPI), and having treatment (business goal).
4. Share the challenges along with the opportunities
I think marketers are, by nature, optimistic. We see opportunities everywhere. But it’s also important to acknowledge the challenges, such as: budget cuts, increased competition, or the increased distrust Americans have with health care as a whole.
We’re not complaining when we acknowledge the challenges. We’re simply addressing what’s in our way from achieving our goals. Sharing the challenges and the opportunities helps internal stakeholders to appreciate everything that we have going for—and against—us. That way, they can better appreciate our work, role and what’s in our way. Who knows? You might find advocates internally that can clear some of the boulders from your path.
And that leads us to our last strategy for marketing the marketing department.
5. Co-create better outcomes
Fulfilling our organization’s mission means working together. This is especially true for marketing professionals. So many of the marketing challenges we face today are aligned with patient experience, access, education, behavior change, and internal communication. To fulfill our deeper purpose as health care marketing leaders, we need to work with stakeholders on all these issues, every day.
Instead of presenting a marketing plan, start by collaborating with stakeholders to solve the biggest challenges facing your organization. Your marketing and branding contribution will be that much more effective—and embraced by stakeholders—when you co-create for a better outcome.
Have a tip to share with your colleagues on marketing the marketing department? Share your insights in the comments below.
As Hailey Sault’s Senior Vice President of Growth, Stephen bangs the drum of what’s possible in health care and cause marketing— guiding growth, educating and rewriting limiting rules. By night he’s the drummer in a band called Spider Kelly, named after a minor character in a Hemingway novel.
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