Successful healthcare marketing

Successful healthcare marketing revolves around vision and action

The healthcare sector has changed considerably in recent years and that requires healthcare organizations to take a different course with more market orientation, entrepreneurship and agility. But the implementation of health care marketing turns out to be more difficult than expected. It’s about vision and action.

Difficult start in healthcare marketing

The healthcare sector is constantly changing, which requires healthcare organizations to be more market-oriented, customer-oriented and entrepreneurship. That is why healthcare organizations are taking ‘marketing’ more and more seriously. But the introduction of marketing turns out to be more difficult than expected for many healthcare organizations.

Questions that I come across a lot are, for example: what is marketing in healthcare? how do we handle it? How do we organize it? Where do we position marketing in the organization? What will be the role of care managers and teams? How do we arrive at a good strategic marketing policy?

Over the past years I have helped many healthcare organizations with the introduction of marketing and the preparation and implementation of marketing policy. Based on those experiences, I see three important success factors for the introduction of marketing in healthcare that I would like to share with you.

1. Marketing as a vision

There are often different images and experiences circulating about ‘marketing’. Often out of unfamiliarity with the subject and you know the saying: ‘unknown makes unloved’. So try to create a common starting point first. For example, by drawing up a vision document in which questions are answered such as: What exactly is marketing? What can marketing mean for our organization? Who will be involved in this and how will we organize it? Where do we start and what should it actually deliver? A clear vision provides direction, peace of mind and prevents confusion and misunderstandings. This also means that directors and directors must be ‘hooked in’ from the start. A good start is half the work here too.

2. Marketing as a strategic activity

Second, it’s important to view marketing as a business vision and management philosophy rather than a business function, department, or collection of public relations activities. A vision in which the customer is even more central than before and with which the market orientation and customer focus of the organization and employees can be increased. This is a broad interpretation of the concept of marketing in which marketing relates to all aspects of the organization, at strategic, tactical and operational level. From this point of view, it is inevitable that marketing should ‘talk’ about the policy of the organization at a strategic level. Consider marketing also as a specialist field, with its own expertise and laws, just like healthcare, finance, real estate, ICT and HRM.

3. Marketing as a change process

Thirdly, it is important to realize that the introduction of ‘marketing’ is a process of change. If this is underestimated, you will automatically have to deal with the usual obstacles to change, such as uncertainty about the course, miscommunication, misunderstanding and perhaps also opposition. While the business community has fifty years of experience with marketing, the healthcare sector is just getting started. Healthcare organizations have little or no experience with marketing and knowledge about marketing is often fragmented.


The introduction of marketing therefore means investing in knowledge, experience and learning-by-doing. Marketing as a corporate vision has consequences for strategy, structure, culture and behaviour. It is often necessary to adjust the organizational structure and to implement a redistribution of functions, tasks and responsibilities. Important in this respect is a good division of tasks and cooperation between marketing as a staff function and the business units in the line.

Speed ​​up the change process by not talking too much, but above all by doing. For example, by drawing up a strategic marketing plan (then it immediately becomes clear to everyone what this means) or talking to customers together with care managers (this can increase the sense of urgency). Also, don’t forget to cultivate goodwill. Line managers like to think along about strategic issues, but also like to be helped quickly and efficiently with practical matters such as brochures, newsletters and media attention. By handling these kinds of questions quickly and properly, you as ‘marketing’ prove your added value and build up credit.

Action without vision is a nightmare

In short, develop a vision on marketing, position it as a strategic activity and see it as a change process in which you pay attention to the short and long term. Otherwise ‘marketing’ will get stuck with communication, PR and ad hoc firefighting. As the Japanese say, “Vision without action is daydreaming, action without vision is a nightmare.

If you found this information helpful, please consider sharing it with fellow healthcare professionals or leaving a comment below. Together, let’s elevate healthcare marketing practices and make a positive impact on patient care.

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