Business growth typically starts with the C-suite. From new product launches to mergers and acquisitions, executives drive the strategies that enable growth-oriented performance across the enterprise.
That’s why every executive leader needs to be familiar with and supportive of the full scope of the company’s marketing efforts. Marketing is a crucial function that drives growth by drawing in qualified leads that can be funneled to your sales teams. More leads equal more sales, which equal a better bottom line.
A recent survey showed that on average, companies have increased their marketing budgets by 88 percent to adapt to the current unpredictability of the marketplace with an increased emphasis on digital channels. High-profit businesses reported gaining 45 percent of their sales leads from digital sources today.
In the highly competitive B2B healthcare space, marketing is particularly important. A sales cycle might stretch out over a year with more deals lost than won. Without a front-loaded, comprehensive marketing strategy, your sales pipeline is likely to dry up.
Consider how much involvement you have in your company’s marketing strategy. Are you completely hands-off? Or do you work alongside the team, supporting their day-to-day efforts with big-picture insight so they can effectively communicate the value of your products and services?
If you’re rethinking how your healthcare enterprise might capture growth opportunities through marketing, consider these five principles.
1. Marketing starts with who you are, what you do, and why it matters
Every company has a story to tell, and every product or service is a component of that story. By laying out the reason for your existence in a written document — whether it’s a mission and vision statement, a go-to-market strategy plan, an elevator pitch, or some other structure — you can articulate your place in the healthcare market and why what you do matters.
It’s in this narrative where many leaders would like to claim emphatically that their solutions can be everything to everyone. However, something that sounds good on paper might not translate into the real world of healthcare sales and marketing. Instead, focus your overarching narrative on the practicalities of your value proposition for your target customers, defining exactly how you help them. The value proposition will guide your marketing strategy.
And it’s not just your customer segments that you should examine. Every executive knows that differentiation in the market is a chronic challenge, especially now with so many nontraditional players entering the healthcare space. Provide your marketing team the time and the budget required to conduct deep competitive research, paying attention to the messaging of similar companies and how they communicate their value propositions.
2. Your brand is more than a logo
Your company brand as well as the brands you create for specific products or lines of business represent your identity in the market. It’s not a logo, colors, or fonts. It’s an experience. Think of your brand as what people say about you when you’re not listening.
That’s why for many companies, branding — including subsequent rebranding — is the most challenging aspect of their strategic marketing plans. It’s worth the investment to research your market before making any decisions about your brand.
Work through answering these questions:
- How does our brand experience reflect our company’s purpose?
- What is the promise we’re making? What experiences can our customers always count on when they engage with our brand?
- What is our brand’s value?
- What sort of voice and tone does our brand have? Are we authoritative? Friendly? Passionate? Something else?
And remember that not every product or service needs to carry a brand name. Too many brands can dilute your identity and confuse potential customers. Consistency is the best way to grow your brand’s equity.
3. Your website requires ongoing investment
In today’s digital world, your website is often a customer’s first exposure to your company, and because of its high-value role in growth, your website should be an investment priority. Don’t be surprised if your marketing team requests a sizeable portion of the budget for site design and user experience so your site can do its job well.
Costs to build a new B2B site run the gamut from a few thousand dollars to $100,000 or more. Consider how much you might pay a full-time salesperson and budget from there.
Knowing that the website’s job is to constantly funnel leads to your sales team, plan for additional monthly investments in fresh content. Examples of content include blogs, videos, white papers, infographics, case studies, product demos, and other information-based offerings that will engage your site visitors as they become educated buyers — thanks to you and your website.
Over time, your site will also need upgrades and redesigns to take advantage of new technologies and to keep prospects coming back. Budget accordingly. Most site redesigns take several months of work and usually involve several phases until the whole site is redeployed.
Remember your website shouldn’t be a place where you exclusively talk up your solutions. That rarely results in business growth. Instead, put the focus on meeting customers’ needs and solving their pain points. Make sure your site has modern capabilities to actively bring potential customers along on a journey toward a sale.
4. Social media serves a purpose in B2B
You might consider social media a channel for consumer products, but research shows that more than half of businesses look to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube for B2B solutions. And just like your website, your social channels can prompt viewers to interact with your company and begin a buyer’s journey.
Social channels also build communities of likeminded professionals. Every healthcare executive should have a social presence beyond the company’s business accounts. Even if you don’t have time to write your own posts, work closely with your marketing team to craft a few initial examples of posts that you’re comfortable with, then have the team write up a selection of weekly posts for your consideration. At that point, it’s a quick cut and paste.
As a rule of thumb, promote messages about your own company only about 50 percent of the time on your social channels. To build credibility, be willing to post news, announcements, and industry issues that come from other sources.
5. Thought leadership is a long game
All too often, healthcare leaders believe so passionately in their businesses that they want to tell the world how terrific they are. Passion like that is the ideal motivator, and it’s great for a positive corporate culture. However, to establish yourself as a thought leader, you need to build trust with the market over time.
Here are some techniques that will enhance your reputation as a thought leader:
- Get to know select healthcare journalists and offer to contribute insight or comments about the market, even if your products or services won’t be mentioned. Your marketing team can design a strategy to create and maintain those relationships, connecting you with timely opportunities to contribute.
- Be authentic and stick to your areas of expertise. Resist the temptation to promote yourself at the expense of your credibility. For example, you might need to turn down some media interviews or answer questions by saying, “I don’t have that information, but here’s what I can tell you…”
- Consider paid media placements, such as advertising, sponsored content, or sponsored events. Again, rely on your marketing team to manage these media budgets and monitor results to ensure you get the most return on your investment.
- Connect with key opinion leaders in healthcare on social media and make thoughtful comments on their posts. Join an industry group and keep an eye on their discussions, contributing where you can.
Remember that the market decides whether you’re a thought leader or not. It takes determination and a strategic marketing and media relations approach to break through the noise in healthcare.
If you need more muscle in your marketing, reach out to Canton & Company. We’ll do the heavy lifting and build a growth strategy that aligns with your business goals. Start a conversation today!
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