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Healthcare is Changing and Your Marketing Communications Department Must Change Too

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Alan Shoebridge, Senior Director of Brand Marketing[SHSMD16 Speaker Podcast Series] Stewart Gandolf, CEO of Healthcare Success, talks with Alan Shoebridge, Senior Director of Brand Marketing and Tammy Graves, Senior Director of Marketing from Providence Health and Services, about their upcoming presentation at the 2106 SHSMD Connections Conference on the topic: Evolution or Revolution: Your MarCom Department Must Change.

Healthcare is changing fast, so it’s time for your marketing tactics to change with it. That’s the challenge Providence Health and Services resolved to undertake. In today’s podcast, Stewart Gandolf and guests Alan Shoebridge and Tammy Graves discuss what they learned from their experience and how to build a MarComm department for the future. Tammy Graves, Senior Director of Marketing from Providence Health and Services

Redesigning the marketing communications department was no easy task and required a roadmap that didn’t yet exist. Alan, Tammy and their team had to figure out:

  • How to make the change happen
  • What needed to be in place to move forward
  • What is the case for change

What Does MarComm Mean to You?

The first of many steps was to determine what the term “marketing communications” means and what kinds of activities it involves. In the healthcare industry, definitions of titles and departments can vary, which inevitably causes confusion among industry professionals.

“Everyone defines this a little differently, even within the organization,” said Tammy.

One of the crucial elements to launching a successful rebuild, as Tammy notes, is to have a clear picture of and written definitions for each function. So they identified the roles and functions for each member from the marketing and communications department before they could begin mapping out a blueprint.

Specialists vs. Generalists

In the podcast, Alan and Tammy highlight one important outcome of this process –– the need for more “specialists” instead of “generalists.” They needed researchers, designers and digital media experts instead of “marketing managers.” They needed people with new capabilities that they previously relied on agencies to provide.

They also realized they needed a larger separation between marketing and communications.

“In other industries, marketing and communications are distinct roles,” explained Tammy. “That’s where we’re seeing Healthcare going; to set itself up to run parallel with other industries.”

“You need people who understand the media,” added Alan. “Things are changing so fast; online, digital and social all require a level of specialization.”

Appetite for Change

“There have been a lot of challenges,” said Alan. “But the biggest one we see is the organization’s appetite for the marketing and communications’ structure to change.”

As the department undergoes a redesign, priorities will change, resources will change and strategies will change, which is why it’s important to understand if the organization is ready to make that move.

In the end, Tammy, Alan and their team hope to create a blueprint for future companies.

Building a marketing structure for the future requires efficiency, intelligence, and employing more specialists than generalists.

For listeners attending the 2016 SHSMD conference, Alan and Tammy will be presenting on Wednesday, September 14 at 8:30 a.m. in the Columbus Hall.

Stop by and visit members of our team at the Healthcare Success booth, #612 in the exhibit hall. Our Marketing Strategist, Christine Rizza will be conducting free consultations. Be sure to make an appointment, so you don’t miss your opportunity.

This article and podcast are part of Healthcare Success’ continuing education series featuring speakers at the Society of Healthcare Strategy and Market Development, 2016 SHSMD CONNECTIONS in Chicago, September 11-14.

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