Stephanie Burton

Three “quick wins” for healthcare marketers

By Stephanie Burton on December 20, 2016

Allow me to state the obvious: Health system marketing departments are absolutely essential to the well-being of our organizations and, ultimately, the people we care for. But, the healthcare buying cycle is a long one. In fact, market researcher, Cheryl Stone of Cheryl Stone & Associates suggests it can take 18-24 months to start to see the awareness and preference needles move for health system brand campaigns.

That requires patience. Patience many of those to whom you’re accountable likely don’t have. The pressure’s on. You’ve got to deliver quickly.

So, what should you do? Here are three quick ways to start proving your worth, even in the wake of demanding department leaders and that temperamental surgeon who just won’t leave you alone.


Develop your own dashboard aligned with strategic priorities

If you haven’t already established an accountability dashboard, do it this week. This shows the key metrics you’re chasing, and demonstrates that you’re willing to hold your department accountable. A couple of tips to ensure your success:

  • Align your metrics with the health system’s strategic priorities. This positions you as a strategic visionary, not as an order taker. Additionally, it gives you an excuse to turn down the projects that aren’t aligned with your priorities.
  • Place a special emphasis on measuring outcomes – a change in behavior, awareness, opinion or support. Outputs – things like unique visitors to your website – can be helpful in measuring your impact, but aren’t a true measure of what you’re really trying to achieve.
  • Communicate the results of your work to the organization’s senior leadership team at least monthly.
  • Keep it simple. The dashboard does not need to account for everything your department touches.


Invest in pay-per-click campaigns

For most of our profitable service lines, we’re in the business of being found by the people who want to find us. Julie isn’t interested in your GI department today, because she doesn’t have any GI issues. But, next month, when she starts to experience the effects of acid reflux, she’s going to start her web search to direct her to someone who can help as quickly as possible.

These pay-per-click campaigns are easy to set up, inexpensive and yield real results (that is, patients requesting appointments). If you can create a direct correlation between your department’s work in driving patient volumes, you will make friends and reduce skepticism.


Share everything

Time to blow the trumpet. Expose yourself. Maintain your relevancy. As marketers, we tend to be great at promoting the brands we support, but often struggle to promote our own successes.

Stop it. This is hurting your standing in your organization.

I once heard a CMO of a large health system based on the west coast say that every time there was positive news her team pitched or was otherwise involved in, an email went out to the entire health system. Every time. Sometimes, this would mean 3-5 different emails a week. This made it difficult for anyone in the health system to argue her department’s worth.

These are a few quick ideas to get you started, but there are so many more. We’d love to hear from you. What are you doing to push the value of healthcare in your organization?


Stephanie (Hungerford) Burton, APR, is the Director of Healthcare Marketing at Core Creative. Follow her on Twitter @shungerford.