Monday, July 28, 2014

What can fastpitch softball teach healthcare marketers?

As I sit in the hotel waiting for the start of the USSSA 16U A Fastpitch Softball World Series to begin, with my thoughts that this is the last tournament for my daughter after 10 years of playing, I wondered what lessons are there for healthcare marketers if any?

As a left -handed pitcher Alex has had to learn how to handle success and failure. Endure her fielding or pitching errors and the errors of others that affected the outcomes of games.  Transition from one team to another and all along, building new team relationships and chemistry regardless if it was an intact returning team or a new one.  Plus learning new pitches and becoming a pitcher during the off-season work.

The older you get as you move up the age brackets the harder the game becomes because everyone is good. So it’s just not about throwing fast; the game becomes about  learning and having command the off speed pitches and hitting locations to keep really good batters with $500 composite bats off balance. It’s becoming a pitcher not a thrower.  Oh and handle extreme in-game stress of a one run game with bases loaded in the bottom of the 7th inning with two outs, the No. 4 hitter and a 3-2 count.

So here are my ten lessons for healthcare marketers from fastpitch softball:

1.       Keep calm. Healthcare is changing in ways that has turned the market upside down.  That doesn’t mean the game is over. It just means your strategy needs to change because the market is rushing ahead of you.
2.       Change it up! If you keep doing what one has always done, this market will just pound the daylights out of the organization. Stop doing the same things the same way like one has always done.
3.       Fail Fast. Mistakes happen as a result of errors and that is just a fact of life. Plans don’t work always as intended. When things go awry stop and change to get a better result.
4.       Hit your locations. Delivering the same message the same way every time is a prescription for disaster. People stop paying attention so one has to move the messages around and use all of the channels available.
5.       Build the marketing team capability and chemistry.  That may mean new players. Change is good and everyone needs to learn new marketing skills and to play nice in the sandbox.  One cannot be successful if there is no team chemistry and the team members can’t fill in for another. New skills breed new ideas and capabilities.
6.       Listen to your coaches i.e., leadership. It may seem like an oxymoron sometimes especially with marketing because anyone can do it, but you need to be at the leadership table and understand the business strategy, operational plans and financial challenges. Only then can one make a positive contribution.
7.       Do the unexpected.  That keeps your competition off balance. One can build the organizational marketing story and meet the healthcare consumer’s needs before anyone else has the chance. When someone is expecting a fastball throw a change or a curve.
8.       Know the strengths and weaknesses of the team and competitors. Put team members in positions and situation to win. Go after competitors at their weakest point. If they can’t cover a bunt keep doing it until they learn how, then hit away.
9.       You win some; you lose some. No organization is perfect so put the loss behind you and learn from it.  Enjoy the wins for a brief moment but move in to the next game. Best marketing team effort will have you winning more than losing.
10.   Have fun and play with passion. I think that is the biggest lesson from all of this. Life is about passion, friendships, success and learning from failure. No one remembers who pitched the no-hitter or who hit the grand slam in any particular game. Work is the same. Have fun and play with passion. Life is too short.

Thanks for reading. It’s time for the first pitch.

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