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6 ways hospital CEOs can succeed in marketing their brand

As healthcare business models evolve more quickly than ever to keep pace with sweeping reforms and emerging competitors, CEOs who support their hospitals' marketing goals are in the best position to gain a competitive edge, says brand strategy firm Smith & Jones.

“The (healthcare) competition keeps growing, and marketing the organization becomes more and more important the more competition there is,” said Mark Shipley, Smith & Jones’ president and chief strategic officer. 

Among the competitors Shipley notes are traditional hospitals and health systems, freestanding physicians practices, enhanced urgent care centers and Wal-Mart.

“About a month and a half ago, Wal-Mart announced they are getting into the primary care business,” said Shipley. “The competition just keeps growing.” 

The most recent edition of Smith & Jones’ online marketing report Protocol features the article, “The CEO’s Role in Hospital Marketing,” which points to the role of the CEO in shaping and defining a successful healthcare brand.

The CEO who champions the mission statement and translates core values from the top down to every level of staff enables an effective marketing strategy to thrive, says the article.

The article cites six ways hospital CEOs can have a powerful and positive effect on marketing their organization:

  • Understand, believe and be passionate about the hospital’s competitive position.
Clarify the mission statement and learn to articulate it.
Engage counselors, managers and staff to define how they can deliver the desired customer experience. 

  • Make the brand story part of everyday conversations with the board, managers and at public-facing functions.
Be resilient. Resist the temptation to go off strategy to appease outside forces and stay true to the hospital mission. 

  • Know when to take a back seat. Understand that a CEO can be a brand steward without becoming the brand spokesperson.

“With so many employees, doctors, patients and service lines, it’s hard to imagine that any hospital could create a cohesive and unified brand association,” said the company in a press release promoting the article. “There are literally thousands of ways to deliver the customer experience – and as many ways to mess it up. Yet, top hospitals have succeeded in building strong, differentiated competitive positions.”

Building a successful brand is critical to succeeding amidst the ever-growing amount of competition, according to Shipley. 

“Branding is important because you have a number of different audiences that you have to speak to” such as older patients, younger patients, referring physicians and potential donors, said Shipley.

“The most important audience is your staff and physicians,” he added. “You have to get them on board so you can deliver the healthcare experience that is in line with your brand.”


Follow HFN Editor Rene Letourneau on Twitter @ReneLetourneau