Several years ago, I spent a day at the National WWI Museum and Memorial with 11 other Kansas City-based CEOs from my Vistage group. We were there to explore the science/art of planning and directing large military movements and operations. In short, we studied strategy.
Taking the opportunity to interpret the history of World War I and then applying that understanding to the context of informed decision making in businesses was an eye-opening experience. As the CEO for a healthcare marketing and branding firm that has always had an operating philosophy of strategy-first, I fundamentally understand that strategy differs from tactics. However, the term “strategy” has become ubiquitous among companies like ours, so much so that its meaning has been somewhat diluted by advertising hyperbole. I spent much of that day with my Vistage group reflecting on the value of strategy and why it should matter to clients seeking healthcare marketing and branding support.
Clearly, strategy and tactics are closely related, but strategy endures through the years – it is the higher level, larger scale plan that governs all the little tactics that support it. From a war planning perspective, it answers the question, “How will we win this war?” Tactical execution, on the other hand, is more about the methods, equipment and technology used during the fight.
From a marketing and branding perspective, strategy tells us what we should be doing and why. For example, a well-defined brand strategy sets forth guiding principles that should generate more informed decision making about what direction the organization takes, not just the marketing or advertising it deploys. It should spur necessary operational changes and cultural shifts to ensure what you’re doing meets your customers’ needs.Strategy demands answers before a single dollar is spent on advertising. Find out what questions you should be asking for smart #healthcaremarketing. Click To Tweet
Consider a community hospital where brand strategists and hospital leadership set a course to be the community’s catalyst for health – not just health care. Strategy demands answers to a number of questions before a single dollar is spent on advertising in the external market. For example:
- What is happening in our community and region that supports us or becomes barriers for us?
- How does the brand strategy support our growth and profitability goals?
- What do we do differently today to align with the new promise?
- What operational changes need to occur to ensure alignment?
- How do we bring along the staff as we move forward – how do we ensure they adopt these new guiding principles?
- How will we collaborate with community partners to ensure health becomes pervasive throughout our region?
- Will we create new services or change the way we deliver existing services to demonstrate our promise?
- How will we position in the market to give us a competitive advantage?
True strategists bring expertise to not only know the right questions to ask, but to facilitate the process of answering them. Addressing strategy first assures there is a roadmap your organization will take in parallel with in-market advertising and marketing. It is what helps our clients win the battle for market share.
About the Author
Carol Dobies is the CEO and Founder of Dobies Health Marketing, where she has been bringing healthcare brands to life for 35+ years. Share your thoughts with her by tweeting @DobiesGroup, connecting with us on LinkedIn, or by commenting on our Facebook page.