Thursday, October 15, 2009

Healthcare Marketing Leadership

A short while ago, a very good friend of mine who is the Chief Marketing Officer for an international company was interviewed by The Sterling Report for CMO Spotlight. Ed gave a great interview on marketing leadership. It did give me pause to think about what marketing leadership should be in healthcare. As a service to my readers, here is the link to the article:

The Sterling Report
CMO Spotlight: Interview with Edward Vesely

Though there are many great examples of healthcare meaning hospital, health system and physician marketing across the country, it seems that these are far and few in-between. This is a shame really because of all the talented marketers that are in the industry. More often than not, we let well meaning individuals who in the end have not formal training or clear understanding of marketing to hold sway over the direction.

Now let me be perfectly clear so there is no misunderstanding, I do understand the sway that CEOs, docs and VPs hold over marketing. At the end of the day, he or she that signs the check wins, right or wrong. And there is way too much of that in healthcare marketing. Been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt.

So how do you exercise marketing leadership in that kind of environment? It takes a willingness to be brave. To exercise leadership. Not in the sense of throwing yourself into the fire, but by understanding the needs, politics and marketing understanding of the key decision makers.

Here are some questions for your consideration and thoughtful reflection:

As healthcare marketers we need to look in the mirror and ask have I done everything possible to create an understanding of marketing?

Have I ensured that the marketing plan is in full alignment with the strategic and business plan of the organization?

When I suggest a strategy or tactic have I communicated as best one can what the return on investment is?

Do in engage leadership in a discussion of the why of a strategy?

Have I been thinking strategically and not confusing tactics with strategy?

Have I reached out to key leaders and department heads when building the annual marketing plan for their input?

Do I understand the goals and objectives of key departments?

Have I been visible in the organization as the “go-to” marketing expert?

Have I allowed myself to be an order taker producing lots of “stuff”?

Am I the organizational brand champion?

Am I willing to change and exercise leadership?

Am I willing to try new methods, learn about new marketing developments and tools as well as as apply them?

Am I willing to stop doing things the same old way with the same old result?

Does your organization respect what you do?

The list can go on of course, but you get the idea. In a world of immediate gratification, lack of focus and favor of the day, a marketing executive’s tenure has dropped from 3 years to 12 to 18 months. With such a short time horizon, you might as well lead and know no matter what the outcome is you gave it your best effort. Otherwise it’s a disservice to you, the company and those that depend on you for leadership.