As a consultant for a healthcare vendor, a good amount of my time is spent discovering what hospitals across the country are doing with regard to marketing their hospitals, physicians and services. A former colleague of mine and I reconnected recently. He was interested in knowing what is happening with the role of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) in hospitals across the country.
Over the last 5-10 years, few senior leaders have had to change more than those running hospital marketing departments. The internet has changed the landscape. Managing brands, PR activities and market research are still in the mix, but all have shifted significantly. Managing brand is no longer limited to print, TV and event marketing. Branding needs to align across both online and offline environments. PR is no longer only TV and newspapers. The ability for anyone to generate content online in the form of social posts, blogs and online reviews means the CMO must guide the management of and response to these authors – whether they be within the organization or not. Market research has become business intelligence and narrows to individual consumer intelligence as the expectation is that organization will speak uniquely to each individual consumer rather than the masses.
CMOs today have to have a very clear understanding of how consumers buy as they increasingly ignore push marketing, preferring instead to research almost all products and services online. Selecting healthcare services and providers is now akin to purchasing electronics, financial services and other consumer products. Without an understanding of multichannel strategies including search, social and mobile marketing, CMOs will flounder. Fluency in digital media is now a job requirement.
Much like what online retailers have been doing for many, many years, data must be leveraged as well to access the patient at the very moment they are interested in services or treatments. Hospital CMOs must understand the value of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool that provides encounter data as well as predictive modeling. This data should drive both online and offline marketing activities in a cohesive fashion.
Taken a step further, CRM data should be supplemented from other sources including behavioral and lifestyle data. Marketing leadership must understand tools like Marketing Automation platforms that allow for the incorporation of various sources of data in automated campaigns, creating narrow targeting, efficiency and reducing cost per touch point.
So who are hospitals looking for to fill the role of CMO? I’ve observed very recently some larger hospitals bringing in digital expertise without a healthcare background. It appears hospitals are looking to get up to digital speed as quickly as possible by hiring employees from well-known digital retail companies like Microsoft and Amazon. Is it hard to find both healthcare and digital experience in one person? Maybe. Could having a very firm understanding of the digital space be more important than years of hospital experience? It appears some hospitals think so.