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How to Make Small Hospital Marketing Budgets Count

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media, September 18, 2013

Organizations that believe marketing campaigns must boil down to ROI may be missing important qualitative data that could help inform leaders. Hearing from real people is invaluable, and inexpensive.

For every academic center with a robust marketing department tracking the value of each patient that touches the system, there is a hospital cobbling together a marketing campaign with nearly non-existent resources.

For these hospitals and health systems, proving the value in marketing to the C-suite can be especially hard because a barely-there budget typically means enough money to execute, but not enough to track results. Marketers fighting to have a bigger voice in hospital strategy are doubly hamstringed: there's not enough money to truly compete and no way to prove if whatever they can execute on is effective.

At Franklin, TN-based Capella Healthcare, which operates hospitals in six states, the marketing department is small but resourceful when it comes to tracking its campaigns. Beth Wright, vice president of corporate communications and strategic marketing, emphasizes the importance of being prepared to give meaningful metrics to the CEO by "going beyond the standard tracking" of patients.

"Fiddle with consumer perception question surveys, with specific questions," says Wright. "Don't be afraid of asking questions that measure softer things."

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