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The Bermuda triangle of healthcare marketing

The Bermuda triangle of healthcare marketing

To most people, the Bermuda Triangle is the watery black hole where ships and planes disappear. At DECODE, we use it to describe the disappearance of information between three key departments — strategy, recruitment, and marketing — in the healthcare space.

Over the years, we’ve noticed a particularly counterproductive trend: weak collaboration between this triangle of departments. It stems from the departments operating in silos — rather than in tandem — which causes information to get lost in the in-between spaces and creates a ripple effect that impacts the entire organization. In other words, unrealized synergies and unnecessary inefficiencies hinder everyone’s progress toward their common goals.

But how do you break free from these information silos and bridge interdepartmental gaps? We’ll tell you.

Connect strategy and marketing.

Recently, DECODE had the opportunity to work side by side with our client’s strategy department as we developed a marketing plan with the strategy team’s input. 

The client provided us with pivotal information that let us see what their expected volume targets were by service line and location. We used those insights to create a marketing plan that pinpointed specific KPIs, and — because we love our digital roots — those KPIs placed a focus on digital leads.

In the first six months following the implementation of our marketing plan, we’ve achieved or exceeded volume targets for 14 of our client’s service lines, and another four are within 5% of our stated goals. 

What does this prove? Close collaboration between strategy and marketing leads to more efficient budget allocation for patient acquisition initiatives. It just goes to show that having regular conversations with your strategy team — not only about service lines and procedure volumes but location as well — is vital to achieving your common goals.

Keep recruitment in the loop.

Despite identifying recruitment opportunities early, strategy departments often wait until the very last minute to bring in the actual recruitment team. This leaves recruiters scrambling to meet tight deadlines and creates feelings of frustration. Not only is this a process that fosters inefficiency, but it can result in qualified candidates potentially being left out in the cold.

While it can seem difficult to bring in team members from other departments, integrating your recruiters into the process from the very beginning allows them to help lay the groundwork for successful talent acquisition. 

Collaboration and high-level conversations about growth and goals during fiscal year planning can help teams understand which areas to focus on and where to allocate their resources for the coming year.

When it’s all said and done, HR and recruitment are there to support the strategy department’s vision. Breaking down the walls between teams and keeping all relevant parties securely in the loop can speed up the necessary processes and keep everyone aligned with the same goals.

Pair brand and recruitment together.

The last major challenge you’ll find in the metaphorical waters of the Bermuda Triangle of Healthcare Marketing is finding the synergy between brand promotion and recruitment practices

It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is (still) facing unprecedented staffing shortages thanks to COVID-19 burnout and a wave of retirements, which has left hospitals scrambling to acquire the next generation of healthcare professionals.

These shifting needs have led to organizations siphoning advertising dollars into recruitment marketing. And while that may seem like a necessary approach, we believe that hospitals can take a unified approach to bolster their brand and recruitment efforts. 

If you can identify the overlap between those two initiatives, you can identify ways to get out of murky waters.

Bring this partnership to life.

When you’re trying to make a brand/recruitment partnership work with shared resources and budget, you have to get creative.

We once undertook a branding campaign — called “Imagine Better Health” — for St. Luke’s Health. We merged employee and community outreach by getting in touch with current staffers and asked them to create short videos where they explained their motivations for entering the healthcare field. 

Not only was it a success in extending our client’s brand outreach, but the campaign acted as reinforcement for the recruitment strategy. 

How? After viewing recruitment materials, potential candidates recognized our brand concept in other materials, driving the brand awareness home.

That example also goes to show that using your existing employees as brand ambassadors is a fantastic way to strengthen your brand and simultaneously appeal to potential candidates. It’s essentially word-of-mouth marketing and has proven very successful in driving organic growth.

Marketing and recruitment

It’s an all too common — and extremely unfortunate — occurrence in marketing: We pull back from a campaign not due to a lack of patient demand, but because of operational challenges. These challenges could be as simple as a lack of employee training, which would lead to an inability of front office staff to follow up with warm leads. Other problems could be caused by staffing shortages in key positions like nurses and anesthesiologists or long wait times that push patients to seek care from your competitors. 

You might be asking yourself how a marketing team can solve those issues. Connecting with recruitment on each service line campaign you run is imperative. You can ask about their needs and determine how you can tie that into your service line campaigns. This is similar to how you would approach a brand and recruitment collaboration, but on a much more specific level that meets those more specific needs.

Ultimately, the best way to create opportunities is by breaking out of the Bermuda Triangle of Healthcare Marketing through collaboration. By bringing the individual pieces together, you can leverage those cross-channel conversations — which will boost your workplace efficiency and bring your organization to the next level.

With these tips for success, an ocean of opportunity awaits you.

Want more tips and tricks on tearing down walls and leveling up your marketing? We’ve got plenty to share.

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