It’s easy to see the summer months as a time to regroup, catch your breath and get set for big push to year-end. But there’s no need to slow your pace as the year winds down. 

The “quieter” summer months are a good time to formulate a plan to keep and/or build momentum with traditional and digital marketing for the remainder of the year and into 2019. 

Below are easy and low-risk, high-reward ways you can set a plan in motion that will allow you to shine this year and beyond. Pick one impactful thing that you can do before year end and have at it. Options to consider: 

  • Reimagine your marketing department as a consultancy. Just like an outside consultancy your departments should aim to: 1) be nimble; 2) add depth to all marketing strategy; 3) provide your key internal stakeholders with a broad base of services tailored to meet their specific needs creatively; and 4) work toward fully understanding your physicians’ pain points, opportunities and aspirations

    In today’s fast-paced environment where marketing has been demystified and external service providers are plentiful, it’s vital for your department to change with the times and respond in more creative ways. Always seeing your department as “having something to prove” will force you to aim higher, take tactical risks and consistently work on enhancements. 
  • Research and gather data on market leader successes. This is an exercise that is bound to reveal leading–edge tactics, ideas and best practices that will spur creative juices. While you don’t want to develop plans based on copy-catting (there is nothing that one institution does that can automatically work for another) most health care marketing departments face the same general challenges and issues.

    Your response—defined by your own unique culture and constituency—is what will set you apart. 
  • Look back before venturing forward. Consider what successful marketing activities has your department provided for key service lines this year?

    Key here is to closely evaluate what has worked and what hasn’t and forge a plan for adjustments as you move forward. It’s also is a great way to plan for future activities, strategy and campaigns by replicating and revising as needed. 

    Find out why your institution is a leader in the areas where it shines and go beyond the anecdotal. Devise a systematic approach to capture this type of information to get a better picture of the possibilities for future marketing activities.
  • Identify a leader who wants help developing a comprehensive practice or marketing plan. Meet their needs and this person will become your department’s champion. To get started, schedule a meeting and show how you can be of help. Assess what they want to do so you can figure out ways you can help bring their goals to fruition.

    Most stakeholders want data, logically presented and in great detail. Meet this expectation and go prepared with ideas on how to translate their reputation and expertise into opportunities. A short list—including articles they can write, speeches they can give, industry-specific seminars to attend and the like—provide accessible talking points. 
  • Investigate new marketing tools. Given the steady pace of innovative enhancements, this should be an annual objective to ensure you’re staying current on advancements in technology.

    Take advantage of industry gatherings (like the upcoming SHSMD conference) to meet with vendors, sit on in demonstrations and learn about the latest options. You’ll likely be surprised to find that many of your indispensable tools are now obsolete, less expensive or even no longer necessary. 
  • Shore up your marketing team. You can start this process by sitting down and having the deep conversations needed to learn what your internal experts can offer to your efforts to improve and refine. It’s a simple exercise that will can yield surprising results; most experienced team members are a treasure trove of insight.

    The key here is to be inclusive by talking to everyone and simply asking, “what do you think?” Give positive recognition for participation and honesty, even when you disagree. “That’s a great idea, what do you think about…?” can go a long way towards securing acceptance and buy-in for these types of conversations. 

    The objective here is to begin and/or continue to develop team spirit within your marketing department, a willingness to share credit, cooperative work habits and the entrepreneurial approach that encourages people to think out of the box and willingly offer the insight marketing efforts need to thrive. 
  • Get your marketing team out of the office. Encourage them to attend events and seminars (you can even find free options online or locally) that allow for year-round professional growth and development.

    In-house brown bag lunches and other informal exchanges are a simple and effective way to get your senior team members on board as mentors to younger staff. Engage your more seasoned experts to provide insights on preparing strategic marketing plans and other activities to get them thinking about and flexing their muscle on the creative process. 
  • Set up stakeholder audits and personal visits. Establish yourself and members of your team as relationship partners by scheduling check-ins bi-monthly to seek feedback on how your marketing department is doing. To make your meetings inclusive and productive, invite a motivated team member and ask them to come up with at least two five–minute ideas that would be of interest to your internal clients.

    The point is that stakeholders get a better understanding of how much their interests and service lines truly matter to your marketing department, so the input you receive from internal clients is more candid; and it increases the prospects for capitalizing on opportunities.