January 3, 2017

Health Care Marketers: Quit Your Job On Friday

This is a story about hospitals. But strangely, it began in Iraq and my living room.

The fight there holds deep emotional significance for me. When your friends fall on a patch of this earth, you want it to mean something.

I flipped through the channels looking for details but found nothing but talking heads behind desks.

Nobody cares…I thought sadly to myself.

Then I heard my favorite reporter’s voice on the television.

Arwa Damon is a reporter’s reporter. Born to an American father and a Syrian mother, Damon is renown for getting the goods from the ground. She embeds herself into conflicts and brings the people of these war zones to life.

In this segment, she was embedded with the Iraqi Golden Division as the special operations unit fought fanatical ISIS suicide bombers and snipers in the outlying burbs of Mosul.

Rounds pinged off of her armored vehicle. Their gunner blazed away at oncoming suicide car bombers. Soon their convoy was shot from underneath them and they barely escaped. Finally, I was there. I could see it. I could hear it. I could feel what was happening on the ground. None of it was possible until Damon raised her hand and volunteered (once again) to get down into the dirt for us.

Healthcare marketing has a similar problem.

We simply don’t tell enough stories from the ground. We curate content. We read graphs. We go to meetings. We review reports.

This is our job.

We’re not on the ground enough getting the real feel for the stories in our hallways that are shaping our brand.

This Friday (or one in the near future), I invite you to quit your job.

Quit the meetings. Quit the PowerPoint. Quit copying others.

Walk around and ask questions. Observe. Talk to patients. Make rounds like a nurse trying to win the Nurse of the Year award.

Embed yourself into the walls of your hospital. Find the people who make your brand special. From inspiring patients to funny doctors and go-getter associates, people make stories and your hospitals are filled with intriguing people.

But they don’t live in charts and graphs.

I invite you to do so, because I’ve seen it work. We’ve worked with dozens of health system Chief Marketing Officers over the years and the best of the bunch have a finger on the pulse of the stories that make their hospital special. They embed themselves into their system.

So what’s the difference? When we ask for patient stories from many marketers, it’s akin to pulling teeth. We often get few stories with scant details. They’re passed on from doctors with a fixation on the clinical. It’s not like these aren’t smart CMO’s. It’s simply that they are not close enough to the stories to reveal the compelling details.

They’re reporting from the desk and not the field.

What do we get when a CMO imbeds themselves into their system? We get loads of stories. We get heaps of characters. Many aren’t even clinically amazing. But the people are. The ultimate prize that we get is that our firm and our client partners have more angles to work our campaigns and tell our brand’s story.

We have more opportunity for our patient prospects to say, “That sounds just like me” or “I want to be treated like that.”

Ultimately, conjuring those emotional moments in the living room is our real job. We have our own tools and strategies to help our clients embed themselves into the system but really it starts with getting on the ground and getting a little dirty. That’s all you need to do.

Friday’s are days where people are a little less guarded. People are a little raw from a long week. They are more retrospective as the weekend approaches and they look forward to reclaiming their true selves as known away from work or hospital visits.

It’s the perfect time to quit your job. Doing so just may be the best way to reclaim it.