How to Position Your Healthcare Marketing Team as a Strategic Resource to New Leadership

Core How to Position Your Healthcare Marketing Team as a Strategic Resource to New Leadership

How Marketers Gain Buy-In from New Healthcare System CEOs

The past few years have been unbelievably challenging for the healthcare industry. From nursing shortages to the great resignation, nearly every element of running a hospital or healthcare system has been impacted. As a result, many executives and other leaders have reevaluated their careers, accelerating their retirement or transitioning to other, less turbulent industries.

This sudden, widespread leadership upheaval has in turn led to plenty of uncertainty for marketing leaders. Will your new leadership prioritize your department as much as the previous administration? Will you face budget and/or staffing cuts?

There’s no doubt that structural changes are a big obstacle to progress — in your organizational culture and in your department’s planning. But while this turnover can certainly feel precarious, there’s also an opportunity for healthcare marketing leaders to capitalize on this transitional window by positioning yourself and your department as invaluable strategic resources.

How to Move Your Healthcare System Forward During Organizational Change

When a CEO leaves, it sometimes sets off a chain reaction of other executive departures. This can throw a wrench into your marketing plans — especially at the beginning of a new year. But no matter how tumultuous the transition is, don’t let it bring you and your team to a standstill.

During the transition, you’ll find yourself with a couple of choices. On one hand, you can sit idly by and wait for clarity, simply waiting to see how things shake out. That approach may involve less risk, but also less opportunity for your department to create an impact.

On the other hand, you can decide to take action and prove your value. This approach positions you and your department as leaders and valuable strategic assets to the organization. You’ll have the ability to elevate your team and the whole business with your proactivity and expertise, especially as the entire organization wades through the uncertainty that comes with new leadership.

Three Tactics to Position Your Marketing Team as a Strategic Resource

At the beginning of a new year, especially with new leadership, all aspects of running your marketing department will likely be in flux. Every CEO comes with unique fields of expertise, expectations, and new plans and processes. Instead of letting uncertainty stall your plans, here’s how you can start adding value right away:

The first step is simply building rapport with your new leadership. Talk to the new CEO as soon as you can.

Being proactive and getting time on their calendar makes an excellent first impression. This meeting doesn’t have to include a formal presentation, just a conversation to share insights and start building a relationship.

This is a great time to share your ideas for foundational research. After this conversation, consider following up with three important deliverables:

  • Competitive SWOT Analysis
  • In-depth Brand Research Report
  • Voice of Customer (VOC) data compilation

Let’s explore each deliverable in greater detail.

1. Complete a Landscape SWOT Analysis

A traditional SWOT analysis looks at the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the marketplace. But when new leadership comes in, you may want to offer a deeper dive into the competitive landscape, especially if they’re coming from outside the market.

As you think about your position in the market, consider a SWOT focused on what your audience is looking for and where you stack up against the competition. Ask yourself: Where are the gaps in the market? What position do I currently hold? What position should we hold?

The results of this effort will be insightful for new executive leaders. Your analysis provides a solid foundation that can accelerate their own strategic plans as well as their understanding of your marketing efforts.

2. Conduct Thorough Brand Research

A quantitative look into your company should go beyond brand preference and awareness to understand how your brand forms relationships within your target market. Consumers build relationships with brands just like humans build relationships with each other — and in the healthcare industry, trust is paramount to a successful one.

We often work with Rob Klein, of Klein & Partners, whose BRANDengine® model measures attraction and attachment, so you can understand *how* audiences perceive your brand, not just if they are aware of your brand. These two key areas help you listen to and respond to your audience’s needs.

Analyzing metrics like demographics, share of voice, and sentiment analysis will give you visibility into your community’s specific needs. Then, you can use this data to inform your marketing strategies and help your new CEO prioritize the right initiatives that will resonate most with your target audience.

3. Compile VOC Data

Voice of customer (VOC) data is the natural qualitative complement to quantitative brand research. This data uncovers emotional insights from your customers to inform strategies that foster a human connection with your brand.

VOC data can be gathered through surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. In addition, marketers can compile deep customer insights through a digital ethnography research method, such as that offered by Feedback. This method compiles data on sentiment and customer intentions through digital channels to provide insights that pair with focus groups and surveys to provide granular, actionable data.

VOC data needs to contain two important pieces of information for healthcare systems. First, the patient experience, which is important to understand by itself. It’s also valuable data that complements your quantitative brand research and provides a full, meaningful picture of performance.

Next, you need to consider your internal customers. Recruiting and retention is challenging for healthcare systems in the current climate. Any data you can provide that provides insights into both your external brand and your employer brand will be valuable.

When Marketers Succeed, the Entire Healthcare System Succeeds

When your marketing team is seen as a valuable resource for leadership, providing vital information that allows decisions to be thoughtfully made, the whole organization benefits.

The data you share will lead to stronger positioning, deeper customer understanding, and better internal alignment. This sets the stage for you to create collaborative strategies that foster relationships with patients built on trust.

The upheaval the healthcare industry has felt throughout the pandemic is unlikely to resolve anytime soon. Instead of waiting for certainty, take control and make your own path forward.

Your experience and expertise can guide new leadership and position you as a leader in your own right. Taking the steps to gather data and prepare strategic insights while leadership is in transition can create value that helps your department, your organization, and most importantly — the outcomes for your customers and patients.


Laila Waggoner serves as Vice President, Strategic Partnerships for Core Health, Core Creative’s specialized healthcare marketing practice. Laila brings more than 30 years of experience working with regional health systems, community hospitals, academic medical centers, hospices, managed care organizations and B2B healthcare brands in markets across the country. She’s held in-house health system and agency leadership roles, and provides unique insight into how clients can best leverage the strategic branding, marketing and creative resources of an agency partner.


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