In a perfect world, your marketing and brand operations (MBO) would function like NASA’s mission control. Every moving part — from people and processes to technology and tools — would work in tandem to help deliver your brand promise, meet stakeholder demands, and connect your brand strategy to action. But if you’re a marketing leader at a healthcare organization, reaching that level of efficiency probably sounds more like a lovely fantasy than an achievable goal.
We get it. Healthcare brands in particular face numerous industry challenges — most of which are beyond your control. But there are factors you can control to realize significant cost savings across your organization, improve the ROI on your marketing spend, and further your overarching business goals.
In their recent webinar, BrandActive’s MBO experts and impact multipliers Philip Giuliano, Paige Reilly, and Katie Gordon draw from their extensive experience working with marketing leaders at healthcare organizations and deliver four useful tips to help get your operations humming like the well-oiled machine you need them to be.
1. Survey employees to understand their marketing and brand-related pain points
Your employees are the living, breathing representation of your brand to your external audience. As such, you need them to embrace and internalize your brand messaging so they can appropriately deliver your brand promise in a consistent, positive way.
But it can be difficult for employees to become true brand advocates and champions if their own experience is confusing and inconsistent. And if they have more questions than answers about your brand governance guidelines, you’ll need to address their concerns before you do anything else.
That’s why the first thing you should do to optimize your MBO is survey colleagues and employees to understand their lived experience with your brand. Ask questions like:
- What types of projects are you working on, and how do those projects intersect with marketing and brand?
- Who do you work with on a regular basis, and who do you turn to when you have questions about our brand?
- What pain points and challenges are you experiencing when it comes to applying the brand to branded assets and other touchpoints?
- What technologies do you use to access branded templates and resources?
Sending out a survey is a low-cost and low-effort way to gather information and inform your efforts to improve your marketing function. However, many organizations find it beneficial to engage a neutral third-party like BrandActive to conduct an opportunity analysis and uncover insights they may otherwise overlook.
“One client we worked with had about 47 different opportunities that came up in their opportunity analysis,” Philip says. “This can seem daunting and overwhelming at first, but it’s not as bad as it seems. We help clients prioritize each opportunity based on the level of investment and the level of return they’ll get back. After that, the path forward becomes clear very quickly.”
2. Evaluate your marketing and brand processes to find areas for improvement
Next, it’s time to dig into the ins and outs of your current MBO processes. This involves exploring:
- Who is on your marketing team, and are they centralized or decentralized?
- What are your people’s roles and responsibilities?
- Do they all follow repeatable processes when getting their work done?
- Are processes clear, documented, and easy to follow?
- Do you have too many processes — or not enough?
- How long does it take to bring a project to market?
- When campaigns get to market, is the brand accurately and consistently applied?
“Defining your processes gives structure and support to your marketing team, especially when it comes to dealing with sometimes challenging stakeholders,” Katie explains. “So often, your team will encounter doctors and other influential leaders who want something done yesterday — or who think it can be done in a minute. Having a process mapped out for how much time it takes to launch a new campaign or create a new branded asset sets your team up for greater success and reduced stakeholder friction as well.”
Philip advises, “Take a hard look at where people are spending their time and think about how to reduce the amount of time they’re spending doing things that don’t drive revenue and results. What can you standardize, make repeatable, and systemize so people can focus on the work that drives real impact?”
The vital role of brand governance
It’s also important to create a clear brand governance structure and spell out the processes associated with bringing your brand to life everywhere it appears.
“We’re talking about highly tactical operational brand governance,” Katie explains. “What do you want to centralize? What do you want to decentralize? And how can you empower people that are decentralized to do things the right way every time — while being cost-effective and efficient?”
Answering these questions will require you to:
- Set up a thoroughly documented brand governance organizational model
- Create an ongoing support structure, like a help desk or email address, where people can turn to get answers to their questions
- Clarify roles, responsibilities, and workflows
- Conduct extensive and ongoing brand training with employees
“Brand governance is becoming increasingly important to healthcare brands,” Paige says. “It’s vital that you understand the lifecycle of where your brand’s going to live and make sure that when it goes out to the world, it’s on-point. Getting the messaging right and creating a consistent experience is absolutely key — especially if you’re going through a rebrand and investing significant time and money into launching a new brand identity.”
Gaining a bird’s eye view of all assets across your organizations is essential to identify opportunities for improvement.
“Absolutely,” Philip agrees. “And don’t forget about your agency partners and their impact on brand. It’s common for healthcare marketers to work with dozens of agencies, all of whom are dictating how you’ll work with them. But if you create a standardized data model, asset model, process model, collaboration model, and quality check model around how they should operate with you, suddenly your partnerships become much more beneficial. And once you standardize all of this, you can look at the data that goes along with everything you’re working on and analyze each project’s and partner’s effectiveness.”
3. Assess your technological tools in light of your brand’s business objectives
There’s no shortage of technologies available to streamline your workflows and make your employees’ day-to-day jobs more efficient. And as digital-first options proliferate, your technology solutions can easily spin out of control.
To determine whether or not you have the right tools and technologies in the right places to deliver on the objectives of your business, do a deep dive into your tech stack.
- How many platforms are you working with?
- What tools do employees use to get their job done?
- What solutions are you paying for that aren’t being used — or that are underutilized?
- Are there redundancies?
- Is anything missing?
“Healthcare organizations almost always have too many tools and too many technology platforms — and they’re usually not speaking to each other,” Paige says. “Or they’re simply outdated. Doing an audit of your technology is easy to accomplish, and its impact can be incredible.”
“Especially in decentralized healthcare systems — in which teams across the organization are using different technology platforms and tools — data becomes fragmented and unwieldy,” Katie adds. “Your systems should talk in a way that allows you to leverage integrated data for a better marketing experience for your consumers. So it’s key to assess your tech stack and make sure you’re setting yourself up for success in this area.”
4. Take an inventory of your branded assets and look for opportunities to standardize
“Many marketing leaders are surprised to discover how many redundancies exist within their branded asset inventory,” Paige says. “Therefore, another easy but high impact way to streamline your MBO is to audit your library of branded assets and reduce, rationalize, and templatize as much as you can.”
Assess things like:
- How many assets do you have?
- Are they the right assets for your current and future marketing goals?
- Could you reduce or replace anything?
- Are people accessing the right templates to create new assets?
- Which agency partners are responsible for creating branded assets and are they doing a good job?
“In healthcare, branded assets include everything from signage and marketing collateral to ID badges and workwear,” Katie says. “By conducting a comprehensive audit, you can begin to understand all of the assets that exist across all of your organizations. You may discover discrepancies across state lines or from facility to facility — or you might uncover specialties creating their own rogue marketing collateral. Whatever the case may be, gaining a bird’s eye view is essential to identify opportunities for improvement.”
“We worked with one client that initially had 5,000 pieces of marketing collateral across their health system,” Philip adds. “We helped them rationalize it down to 500 templates. Documents and forms went from 2,000 to 1,000. We worked with another health system that consisted of one single hospital with clinics, but they had 40 uniform vendors. Rationalizing that down to one made a tremendous impact on their budget and saved them time, too.”
Act today to set your healthcare brand up for a brighter tomorrow
No matter where your healthcare organization is headed in the future, optimizing your MBO is an essential part of setting your brand up for ongoing success. And the good news is you don’t have to do it alone. We’d love to help —so let’s talk.