Greetings from New Orleans where we’re just wrapping up The 2017 OPEN MINDS Strategy and Innovation Institute! Throughout the week, we’ve touched on some big themes – the need for innovation for competitive advantage and sustainability; the push to partner with health plans, accountable care organizations (ACOs), and other integrated delivery networks that now control the majority of health care spending; and the growing importance of “convenience” in access and service delivery to attract consumers.
But the big question for many executive teams – how can you translate these larger market trends into an actionable strategy? How do you position your organization to compete in your market? How do you operationalize the need to meet the preferences of your consumers and the needs of your payers? How do you ensure that you have the capital and financing you need to implement the innovations that your customers want?
The answers to these questions all revolve around marketing and business development, which OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Joseph Naughton-Travers and I discussed during our Marketing and Business Development Planning Summit. Key market-related decisions should be made during the strategic planning process – e.g., which markets to pursue, which services lines to offer, and the revenue and return required for each service line to be sustainable. Market research is essential to building your strategy at this stage because provider organizations need to know what payers and consumers want in order to build a plan that makes sense. It’s also important to remember that competitors are not just those organizations around the corner, but also national conglomerates who may be looking to enter your market or may be brought in by a payer. (For more on that, see yesterday’s piece by my colleague, Monica E. Oss, Rethinking Your Strategic Competitive Landscape.)
Execution of market strategy is the role of business development, which seeks to create long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships. Business development touches everyone within and outside the organization.
Recognizing that business development is about relationships and the creation of long-term value, important strategies are tied to meaningful engagement. Strong campaigns use tools that inform and engage consumers in a way that leads them to “buy” what we are “selling”; essentially services and programs that will improve their lives. Marketing campaigns and messaging that form a value-chain through engagement leads to high pull through of persons seeking care.
Once you have set your strategic objectives, marketing and business development are really your organization’s tactical approach to achieving them. The marketing plan is the document that shows the detailed tactics, timelines, and budgets for achieving these goals. And, before you say you can’t afford marketing, remember that marketing is not an expense – it is an investment with a return that is part of any competitive strategy.
When creating your marketing plan, start with the revenue number you are looking for and then develop the tactics to meet those numbers. From those tactics, come the budget. And, when you add it all up, the marketing budget should have a measurable return that tracks back to the overall marketing objectives and strategy goals.
My key takeaway from our workshop is that marketing is strategy in action – strategy that requires new skills and competencies for many health and human service organizations. Strategy and marketing cannot be implemented separately. When done correctly, marketing should be a tool used to implement the organization’s strategic goal. If not, you may have business and feel busy, but you are probably not getting the business you want or moving your organization towards long-term sustainability. The key to moving forward with your marketing and business development strategies is to set clear strategic goals – because without them, marketing has no real purpose.
For more from New Orleans, follow our live coverage of The 2017 OPEN MINDS Strategy & Innovation Institute on Twitter @openmindscircle – #OMInnovation. And for more from our team on building your marketing strategy, check out: We’re Losing The Consumers That We Have Always Served! and Best Practice Online Marketing On A Budget!.