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Why Hospital Marketing Decisions by Committee Rarely Work

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Hospital Marketing is Changing

>Hand flipping a coinIn the 21st Century, hospital marketers have been exploring a new sales approach for today’s consumer/patient. There has been an explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed patient, forcing all hospitals to navigate a much more complicated marketing, advertising and sales environment.

There are many tactics that create an immediate buzz, while others need time to build and grow. And timing is an important concept in the new healthcare marketing and advertising landscape. If you wait too long to implement your hospital marketing plans, your competitors will beat you to those valuable patients you’re trying to attract to your facility.

Ed Bennett, Healthcare Web Expert and Founder of the Hospital Social Network List, said recently, “…our world is rapidly changing due to a number of factors including healthcare reform, economic uncertainty, and empowered consumers carrying more of the financial load for their care. It is in this context that healthcare marketers are being asked to deliver something new: measurable value to their organizations. To accomplish that objective we must reinvent the ways in which we market our hospitals and health systems…”

For healthcare organizations and hospitals, marketing trends abound. Hospitals must think outside the box and come to grip with many marketing tactics they never used before—tactics like social and mobile media, blogging and content marketing. Marketing departments have had to devise a solid hospital marketing plan to build their brand, keep employees and patients engaged, and develop relationships that will help them attract new patients and their families to the hospital and its services. They have to cultivate budgets and goals, work on directions and agendas, and get the buy-in of their administrators, physicians and employees.

Competing ideas, too many opinions and the committee conundrum.

With so many people making their opinions known, these marketing plans can become a potpourri of competing ideas and interests. Projects become delayed, or even postponed indefinitely, due to too many people having a say in those projects, how they are carried out and the who, what, why and how of deployment. Although it is often a goal of the hospital to brainstorm with its physicians, staff, administrators and sometimes even patients, spouses and friends to get their ideas on how the hospital can best sell its products and services, allowing this huge group to have final say or achieve complete agreement is not possible, and even detrimental, to the forward movement of the hospital.

There is an old adage that says, “Too many chefs spoil the broth,” and a more recent saying that goes, “If one person can produce ineffective marketing, imagine what a committee can do.”

Many organizations have a marketing committee to help brainstorm and provide input to the marketing department. Management feels that this allows various voices to be heard and “involved” in marketing. If you want everyone to sit around feeling good about themselves while complaining about things they don’t like, a marketing committee is a fantastic idea.

What about having a wardrobe committee to choose the outfits that your nurses, doctors and even patients will wear? Why don’t you have an office supply committee to pick out the colors of pens you order? How about an accounting committee to help figure out where the credits and debits are posted? Or even better, what about a human resources committee to help decide who is hired and fired?

Even if your committee is full of intelligent, creative people, great ideas are typically lost. Committees, by nature, are full of compromises so solutions from a committee are usually watered down versions of the original. Marketing by committee leads to lots of bad ideas and poorly thought out plans. Instead of bold strokes from the marketing department, you get a sea of blasé.

Get the job done with just a few or outsource.

Hopefully, you have hired the best team for your marketing department who can get the job done right, so let them do it. If you don’t have the in-house talent at your hospital, you could hire a qualified third party marketing company that possesses special skills in various marketing areas to help write (and carry out) a marketing plan for your hospital. Find a marketing company that specializes in healthcare and hospitals and they’ll provide you with the best, most dynamic marketing tactics with proven results for your industry.

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