3 ways to optimize healthcare marketing and brand operations as industry pressures intensify

3 ways to optimize healthcare marketing and brand operations as industry pressures intensify


Philip Guiliano

The healthcare sector is under enormous pressure on all sides. Staff shortages and burnout are making it difficult to provide the level of care patients and stakeholders expect. Shifts in the payer mix threaten providers’ financial models. And frequent regulatory changes keep organizations in a constant state of reactivity.

If you’re a marketing leader at a healthcare organization, the pressure is intense for you, too.

Your time to market is shorter than ever as you promote new service offerings that are continually emerging. Your team is doing more of their usual marketing activities while also learning how to harness the power of new digital channels and technologies. Meanwhile, you always have to be ready for an M&A deal or partnership that could require you to implement a rebrand or launch a thoughtful co-branding strategy.

That’s why now is the optimal time to get your operational house in order.

Optimizing your brand and marketing operations will allow your team to focus on the activities that drive acquisition, retention, growth, and revenue. Here’s how to create an efficient and predictable operating model that will free your team to meet the demands of the moment.

1. Refine your marketing team’s roles, responsibilities, and processes

Streamlining your marketing operations begins with taking a close look at what people are doing every day and how they’re doing it.

However, it’s undeniably challenging for marketing leaders to carve out time to analyze exactly how their organization operates. It’s even more challenging in decentralized, complex health systems with multiple locations and service lines, some of which overlap due to previous acquisitions. It’s also common for every business unit to handle their marketing needs their own way—which is one of the primary causes of an inconsistent brand experience.

How do your company’s marketing and brand operations measure up

Now more than ever, marketers are expected to do more with less. Efficient brand and marketing operations are essential to achieving this mandate. Download a cheat sheet of the five characteristics of an effective brand and marketing operations function.

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How an expert partner can help

That’s why it’s beneficial to engage a specialist like BrandActive to assess your roles, responsibilities, and marketing processes. By conducting a thorough assessment, we can identify meaningful opportunities to improve efficiency.

To accomplish this, we’ll ask your team questions like:

  • How would you describe your role? What are your primary areas of responsibility?
  • Are you ever confused about what you should be working on or how to approach the work?
  • What is your process for creating new branded assets? Do you commonly create new variations on your own?
  • Who approves or signs off on the branded assets you create? Where do you store the files once they’re complete?
  • Can you access existing templates when creating new documents, forms, and other collateral?
  • Has your organization invested in modern technology to help you streamline and organize your work? Do you know how to use the technology available to you?
  • What challenges do you face daily, and what do you wish your work processes looked like?

Once we understand your current state, we’ll help you clarify your teams’ roles and responsibilities. Then, we’ll work with you to document repeatable processes for everyone to follow. Finally, we’ll help you create a thorough brand training program so employees understand your brand governance expectations and how to fulfill them.

2. Rationalize and standardize your branded assets

Asset variability across your health system is one of the biggest threats to your ability to deliver a consistent brand experience. Why? Every time your organization acquires a new hospital or clinic, you inherit dozens — perhaps even hundreds — of branded asset types. Often, it may seem more economical to apply your brand to the existing mold rather than completely replace costly assets, especially signage.

This can quickly spiral out of control.

Reduce your asset types through rationalization

BrandActive can take the lead in evaluating your asset types and rationalizing them down to a more manageable number. At a minimum, we’ll evaluate and streamline:

  • Signage. We recommend capping your number of available sign types to 20. This value-engineered approach enables you to easily implement brand change anytime you acquire, build, or otherwise expand your brand’s footprint.
  • Badges. Many healthcare employees travel to multiple locations to carry out their duties. Often, they’re given a separate ID badge for each location. We’ve seen doctors and nurses with seven or more badges on their lanyard. By rolling out connected badging systems, you can provide every employee with the customized access they need via a single badge.
  • Marketing collateral, forms, and documents. This is another area where bloat commonly occurs. We’ve helped health systems reduce their marketing collateral from 4,000 pieces to approximately 500 and their documents and forms from 5,000 down to 1,000.

Rationalizing your assets is not overly complicated, but it is time consuming. An expert partner lessens the burden on your internal team and helps you see results more quickly than you can on your own.

Standardize the process of creating branded assets

While rationalization cuts down on the number of assets you currently manage, standardization spells out the correct way to create future assets. Many hospitals and health systems have never taken the time to specify precisely how to apply their brand everywhere it appears.

One way to get everyone on the same page is to create a library of branded templates that your team members and stakeholders can use to develop the assets they need. This provides flexibility for users to select and populate pre-approved imagery, brand colors, consistent messaging, and other elements to create on-brand assets. There are proprietary tools and technologies to simplify this process, but you can also use Google Drive or SharePoint.

It’s difficult to carve out time to effect real operational change in an always shifting environment, but optimizing your operations is critical to keeping up with the industry.

It’s also important to think through and document the specifications for applying your brand to assets such as fleet vehicles, signage, branded environments, and workwear. These assets directly affect your patient’s experience with, and understanding of, your brand.

So, you’ll need to make sure your employees and vendors alike know how to produce a consistent, high-quality outcome every time.

3. Maximize the value of vendor and agency relationships

When was the last time you took a close look at the vendors and agencies you regularly work with? If you haven’t evaluated these relationships recently, you could realize significant cost savings by:

  • Reducing your number of vendors and agency partners
  • Taking advantage of economies of scale
  • Negotiating new contracts and competitive pricing

This will require you to ask stakeholders across your organization questions like:

  • How many vendors and agencies are we working with and what exactly do they do for us?
  • What is each vendor and agency charging us? Are they doing a good job? Are we tracking the right data to evaluate their performance effectively?
  • Do agency partners adapt their processes to our model, or do we adapt our process to theirs? Is this adding unnecessary complexity to our daily work?
  • Are work units placing orders with their own preferred vendors rather than taking advantage of economies of scale?

Again, BrandActive can facilitate this process and help you gather the data you need to make the most of your vendor and agency partnerships.

Be proactive to position your healthcare brand for success

Healthcare marketers are frequently, by necessity, more reactive than proactive. And in an always shifting environment, it’s difficult to carve out time to effect real operational change.

But optimizing your marketing and brand operations is absolutely critical to keeping up with the pace that the healthcare industry demands. And if you don’t do it now, it will only become harder as additional complexities arise.

BrandActive can help you eliminate redundancies, speed up your time to market, and significantly reduce operational costs — all while creating an environment in which your team can thrive.

There’s no time to waste. So, when you’re ready to get started, let’s talk.