subtitled: and takes a few well deserved jabs a comment I made on a healthcare marketing site. Chris and the gang at Interval Marketing produced a great podcast this week.
Of the topics discussed, one that really resonates with me are some of the complications surrounding the reimbursement challenges of our third party payor system. For those of us who work in that part of the industry it can be easy to be lulled into forgetting how complicated the system is. Ask any patient who has been denied after seeing a doctor and they can remind you about the challenges.
The Interval crew also delved into a question posted on Health Leaders Media: "If You Could Tell the CEO One Thing About Marketing, What Would it Be?" My comment on that post was, "marketing is dead". As ambiguous and inflammatory as that comment sounds, the Interval team did a great job of interpreting my meaning. One of my favorite concepts is the idea of the "experience economy". The term comes right from the title of a book by Pine and Glilmore. The essence is that we live in a time when ubiquitous connectivity and real time communication (IE social media) enable consumer to discuss products and experiences in real time. To put that in context, I do not need to see a billboard about a hospital in town, I can see what people are saying about that hospital right now online. Those experiences will have a much greater impact that marketing.
Chris makes an eloquent counter point about marketing. When applied as the "art and science of [retaining and growing a customer base]" it is not far afield from the experience economy. I would argue that under that definition the onus (and effort) moves off of traditional marketing and is placed on operations, customer service and clinical outcomes. In that sense, the need for billboards and print ads becomes superfluous - marketing, at least in that sense, is dead.
I have had the recent pleasure of some deep conversations with a friend who knows a lot more about these concepts than I do. Without a doubt those who "get it" understand that the future of healthcare marketing is not about a bigger watermelon truck. Business development has to be strategic and tied to the proverbial bottom line. When service and the patient experience are approached with the same attention, the results are surprisingly affirmative in advancing that bottom line number.