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What healthcare marketing can learn from tech startups (Part 2)

Here’s the second installment of our blog post on what healthcare marketing can learn from tech startups. In the first post we talked about:

  1. Applauding failure
  2. Having pitch contests
  3. Getting out of the building

Here are 3 more tips on how healthcare marketers can be more productive and attract more of their market by doing things the new way:

4) Bring in subject matter experts

Now, on small teams and at very early stage startups, all the team members have to be able to do everything. But as the team grows, startup founders are focused on hiring people with specific skills for  specific roles, like sales or visual designer or web developer.

But I’ve seen healthcare marketing leaders continue to hire generalists with little consideration for hard skills.

Healthcare marketing team members are expected to be content creators, project managers, strategic planners, event coordinators and budget specialists.

Even our ancestors—the newspapers—knew specialized skills were the way to go. The reporter researched and wrote the story, then she wouldn’t see it again until it was published. The editor took a turn at it. The page designer laid it out. The copy editor fiddled with it. Then, the printer did his thing.

The same should go for healthcare web projects as much as possible. If the project manager or strategic planner are also expected to write the content, expect problems.  If you ask the writers to be their own editors, there’ll be problems. Bring in people who can own certain chunks of the workload.

5) Focus on design

If I put a bunch of laptops in front of you with no branding and no company names, you’d still know which one was the Mac. If I put a bunch of glass pop bottles in front of you, you’d know which one was the Coke. (Yes, we still call it pop, not soda, in Chicago.)

Why? Because of the design.

Apple not only has a logo design, but they infuse design into their actual product.

That’s why your toddler can use your iPhone better than you can. Instead of just putting the word calendar, they designed the button to look like an actual calendar—a perfect marriage of form and function.

(Then there’s other more obsessive details like the sleep-mode light on Apple laptops that blinks at the rate of a real resting pulse. And remember the neon-colored desktops? I loved those…)

Healthcare marketing teams can incorporate differentiating design into their web projects as well.

If you’re sending out a letter from the president or posting a blog, get appropriately fancy with fonts and images, instead of settling for a stock photo.

Even the littlest stroke of design can make every point of communication a more engaging experience.

6) Go a little ROWE

ROWE = Results Only Work Environment.

ROWE is a management strategy that focuses on deadlines and deliverables, not why so-and-so came in late again.

ROWE says if So-and-So is doing her job and kicking butt, then who cares if she actually comes into the office.

For example, if you’ve told your team you want to see mockups of a new design by Friday, they could go on vacation until Thursday night if they wanted. As long as they have those mockups to you by Friday.

The burden is completely on them to collaborate when needed, give you updates and let you know of any challenges before Friday.

“When we judge our employees’ work by the time they spend at the office, we impede the development of productive habits,” wrote Robert Pozen, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, on the ROWE blog.

“By focusing on hours worked (hello, corporate summer hours) instead of results produced, we avoid answering the most critical question: ‘Am I currently using my time in the best possible way?’ As a result, professionals often use their time inefficiently,” he adds.

These suggestions may not fit every healthcare marketing team, but some of them may actually help everyone stay focused and productive. And maybe even be out by 5.

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