What’s Possible: Educating Your Healthcare Organization About Marketing’s Capabilities

In a recent post about measuring marketing success…

I talked about how healthcare marketers have to eat their own dog food (what a terrible saying!) and essentially market themselves within their organization. It’s a point worth exploring in more detail.

As much as we’re trying to educate the consumers – the patients and their caregivers – about what our healthcare organizations offer and what we want them to do, we can’t forget to educate our colleagues about what’s possible and what marketing means.

There are a couple of risks to missing the boat on educating our colleagues about marketing. One is the grand illusion that “Digital” can do anything. We measure anything. We can do anything. We can reach anybody. To some degree that’s probably true. But we have to tamp down expectations and be realistic about how quickly and how deep can we go.

Digital fatigue is also setting in. We’ve all seen vendors who have over-promised and under-delivered. We’ve been promised technology that was going to be the silver bullet. Take the CRM (customer relationship management system), for instance. A lot of people were sold the idea that a solid CRM was going to fix all their problems, and they’d be able to measure anything. A few years in, we’ve come to the realization that this thing is not only expensive, it requires more people to manage if we’re really going to realize its full value. So much for easy efficiency. At the same time, we have to worry about whether something is real or the next fad. How much should we invest in a tool or platform that we don’t wholly own? There are thousands of health tech vendors out there. What happens to their customers when, inevitably, some of them fail? All of those concerns have led to fatigue around digital tools.

On the plus side, careful, ongoing education about healthcare marketing analytics will lead to more effective campaigns across the organization.

It starts with the terminology. You know the difference between “digital” and “digital media” and “digital transformation.” Do your colleagues? Do they know how each of those concepts apply to your organization?

Then it’s about fitting those terms into real examples of what you have done or can do. Take online reputation management. Your organization needs to understand why it’s important in a concrete – not just conceptual – way. There are real financial implications to reputation management, not just fuzzy feel-good stories. So, context comes first, then tools. Explain the tools for managing your reputation and specifically how each of them will move your organization to its goal. Put another way, you need to connect the tools to actual outcomes, setting expectations rather than just presenting another shiny object.

Education can also come in real-time. Running a campaign will surface issues that weren’t considered upfront. People will ask for something different, they’ll ask for something that isn’t possible, or they’ll ask for something that is possible but you shouldn’t do. Each of those conversations is an opportunity to educate about the role of marketing. Just remember that these conversations will be a lot easier if the main goals were identified before you got started.

Real-time education doesn’t have to be complex. Build it into your weekly or monthly updates. It could be as simple as providing a legend in your reports – don’t take for granted that somebody understands what click through rate is, or what a good click through rate is.

Your colleagues may also have misconceptions about the power or feature set of different tools, too. For example, targeting a message online varies based on the platform. So, where you may be able to, target based on where someone works or their seniority or their degree on LinkedIn, you can’t do that quite the same way on Twitter. Never assume that your non-marketing peers know these nuances.

As marketers we can’t solve every problem or predict every future outcome. But we can lessen the frustration through careful education across our organization.

Are you working on integrating marketing and digital tools across your organization?

Reed Smith