Strategy-first – it’s the bedrock of our brand promise in healthcare marketing, branding and advertising. Why? Because when it comes to growth and success as a healthcare organization, strategy is essential. It is also complex and often misunderstood.
What is strategy?
First, let’s talk about what strategy is not. Despite some common misconceptions, strategy is not a plan, perspective or vision. It is not a function of one singular department, nor a task for one person or team. To reduce it to the purview of anything other than your entire organization is to diminish its impact on your vision and what it takes to get there. In other words, strategy is foundational. While its development may rest with a core team, its reach should span the entire enterprise.
For us, strategy is part of our company ethos. It is a practice embedded in everything we do, the way we think and the actions we take. As the framework for making better business decisions for ourselves and our clients, it is a deliberate, data-driven process by which we jointly define business goals and develop the road map for achieving them. A strategy-first approach requires:
- Data: For many, it can be tempting to lean on personal opinions and speculation about what consumers need and want, but the right answers come from data. From consumer research and market studies to internal surveys and in-depth interviews, data-driven insights should inform the current situation, identify new opportunities and predict competitor responses.
- Debates: When deep in defining strategy, expect hearty debates to ensue with executive leaders and managers about the organization’s future and the systematic way to pursue growth.
- Decisions: Strategy yields a clear framework for business decisions, helping leaders make and enforce clear strategic choices every day. Without clearly communicated, data-driven decisions packaged in a well-defined marketing strategy, you find the organization running in different directions, using resources unwisely and potentially generating market confusion.
For our clients, we engage in what we call these “3 Ds” of strategy-first marketing. With data in hand, we listen, we probe and when necessary, we challenge – we encourage thoughtful debates. We engage at a deeper level than most because we want our clients to uncover new market opportunities and make smart, strategic decisions that unleash the true potential of their brands.
And, for that reason, we always advise our clients to share their strategic marketing plans across the organization because it defines the strategy everyone adopts to pursue market share. Similarly, when we develop a new brand strategy, we stress the importance of using a summary of the brand strategy as a filter for business decisions. We recommend posting it on conference room walls and referencing it frequently to ensure everyone in the company makes decisions and takes actions aligned with the brand strategy, because that is the promise you have made to your customer.
Which brings me back to the beginning, and our firmly held belief that a marketing strategy is not a media plan, nor a tactical plan, nor is it about the organization’s creative advertising. These can only be derived effectively after the marketing strategy is defined. While other health marketing companies may jump straight to creative execution, we will first define the strategy and work diligently to ensure alignment in all marketing, branding and communications. From C-suite leadership to the marketing team and those on the frontlines with your customers, your company grows when everyone embraces strategy first.
About the Author
Carol Dobies, MBA, is the CEO and Founder of Dobies Healthcare Group, where she has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 35+ years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.