Why Hospital Marketing Must Drive the Website Development Train (Not IT)

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

Hospital Marketing Teamwork

Hospital Website Team

We wanted to share a valuable hospital marketing lesson that came from a client conversation the other day. We are developing a new website for this facility as one facet of their hospital branding. Actually, the website serves many purposes under the hospital marketing umbrella…advertising, public relations, publicity and community, patient and physician relations.

Plus, of course, there are all the needs and wants of various medical departments, healthcare initiatives and administrative functions. (Whew!)

It seemed appropriate for the client to also call in their staff “Information Technology” (IT) person. It turns out that the IT guy was great at programming, but quickly admitted that he didn’t know much about marketing. And although a technology skill set is a valuable resource, developing a hospital website is, first, a marketing issue, not a technical issue.

In many cases, a website will require a team approach. Depending on the complexity of the project (many are complex), the resource team will include:

STRATEGIST: This person directs the message to be presented. They work with the client to define and shape the core message that is based on an understanding of the competition, strengths, weaknesses, demographics, target audience and other strategic factors.

ACCOUNT MANAGER: This is the overall manager who oversees and orchestrates all the many moving parts and brings them together. They drive the train and run it on time (and on budget).

WRITER: The often-unrecognized creative hero is the wordsmith. Most people don’t give writing a second thought. But this is the talented individual who will create an emotional and compelling message. Usually the writer leads the project as well as creates the words, edits, proofreads, fact-checks and a dozen oversees a dozen other details.

DESIGNER: On the visual side, the designer understands eye flow, the user experience, emotion and navigation. This is not simply about drawing a “pretty” website. A good designer brings both artistic skills and marketing smarts to the table.

PROGRAMMER: There’s much about a complicated website that is invisible to the user. And, done well, the technical side will provide an effortless user experience and intuitive navigation that never gets in the way of the message.

SEO EXPERT: Sometimes a skilled Search Engine Optimization person is needed to assure that the website is easily found and reaches the desired audience. The search engine “friendliness” can be lead by the writer, and in larger projects, with an SEO specialist on the team.

So the top-line take away here—for hospitals and healthcare marketing—is that website development is a marketing-driven project, not a technical one. And it’s a team effort.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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