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How to Protect Your Hospital Marketing Job and Career

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Re-org sticky note chartOne “certainty” about healthcare reform, and the continuing effects of the Affordable Care Act, is that there is no certainty…except that change is universal and it will continue.

The big picture can appear—justifiably—frightening for the individual. You fear that your hard-earned career in hospital marketing is in peril, a potential casualty of a hospital roll-up, consolidation, acquisition, merger, downsize—or complete closure of the facility (and the job) that you know and love.

Nothing personal about this, but… “Hospitals across the nation are being swept up in the biggest wave of mergers since the 1990s,” reports The New York Times. “In fact, Booz & Company, a consulting firm, predicts that 1,000 of the nation’s roughly 5,000 hospitals could seek out mergers in the next five to seven years.” For many, that already happened.

So…where does that leave your marketing job?

Industry economics—and the forces behind the grand transformation—are ultimately personal to the employee. Operating costs are increasing, income and profitability are shrinking, staff functions are consolidated, and everyone is challenged to do more with less.

A nearly universal consideration is that nobody is standing on solid ground. With that in mind, here are nine tips to help protect your job and your hospital marketing career:

Politics are real. Periods of change (even the prospect of change) foster uncertainty and constant evaluation. Educate and persuade others about what you do using solid facts and specific figures. Quantifiable and measurable results are more meaningful than intangible activities that "feel good."

Don’t lay low and hold your breath. Quietly keeping a low profile sends the wrong message. If the organization isn’t taking notice of you and the work you do, it's good reason to eliminate what they think doesn’t have value.

Only A-players survive and prosper. The sobering fact is that there will be fewer desirable jobs in the future. As hospitals consolidate, individuals and departments that demonstrate the greatest value, efficiency and effectiveness will continue.

Be on the same page as the boss. Sometimes, what CEOs really think about marketing folks isn’t pretty. Support corporate objectives. Generating meaningful results—measurable demand and Return-on-Investment--are vital.

Focus on ROI, Metrics and Results. If you're selling an idea, championing an accomplishment, or communicating value, frame it in meaningful and specific numbers. Hospital administrators and physicians are science oriented, and they understand quantified results. Put marketing ideas in clear Return-on-Investment numbers or measurable results and metrics. Justify marketing results in concrete terms. Proven returns on marketing investments is a high priority for hospitals and health systems.

Attitude counts. Corporate employment firms often counsel individuals about career development with this advice: “If you want to move up to manager (or the next level), start acting like a manager.” Demonstrating self-confidence and self-assurance—even if storm clouds are gathering—benefits yourself and the organization. It can contribute to survival as well as upward mobility.

Polish and (gracefully) advance your “personal brand.” Your own accomplishments can live big in your mind, but remain invisible, or are quickly forgotten by others. With tact and sensitivity, track your achievements and promote your successes. (And be honest about any missteps.)

Continually refine your craft. Continuing education is never lost; you own it forever, in this job or the next. Our newsletter is one professional resource for example. Plus, there are many other self-improvement and training opportunities that add value to your job and to your own core competencies.

Seek out best practices. Stay on top of what works for other hospitals, health systems and even non-health corporations. Competitors and non-competitors often face the same or similar marketing challenges.

Raise your hand. Be willing to volunteer or take on new assignments or special projects. Consider that a climate of change often presents completely different opportunities. Demonstrating your capabilities in new areas is often valuable to personal and professional growth, and valuable to job performance.

There’s also a positive side…

Regardless of how change impacts an organization, positive consequences are part of the package. While layoffs or changes can occur on one end of the scale, reorganization or restructuring often presents new opportunities. New positions are created, bosses leave or get promoted, and qualified people are needed throughout the organization to complete the new structure and goals.

The best protection for your healthcare marketing career is to continually produce measurable results that demonstrate value to the organization. All of the tips we listed provide value to you, the individual. You can’t go wrong with that…plus they go with you, no matter what’s next in your hospital marketing career.

Author: Stewart Gandolf, MBA


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