“Party Like It’s 1499” When a Next-Gen Healthcare Marketing Dashboard Becomes Your Action Plan

I swear, this is about a healthcare marketing dashboard, 2019, so bear with me:

There were about 50 years after the invention of the printing press in the 1440s when unfamiliar information was in flood. Suddenly people, farms, palaces and churches were awash in strange, sometimes surprising thoughts, ideas, dreams, views, lies, truths and more. In the strange intellectual chaos, many – most! –  of Europe’s institutions were destabilized. Markets, monarchies, armies, churches, jobs and schools, among others, all began to shake and wobble.

The explosion in “input” (which is what we might call the eye-popping influx of information today) has never really stopped. It has only gained in volume and velocity. But where it took its first turn toward being “disruptive” (which is what we’d call the serial destruction and replacement of business models today) was in about 1499, when all the unfamiliar began to be shaped into different understandings.

That was about the time the humble “index” was born. It was the medieval answer to: “I’ve got all this data. Now what?”

And it supplied a lot of answers. We, in short, learned to organize knowledge. Before the index and the table of contents, information was organized in no formal order – not always chronological or even alphabetical. Looking up what you needed was something of a crapshoot and, quite frequently, a failure. Comparing and referring one observation to another (we’d call it “science” today) was nearly impossible. Knowing what it all meant was beyond our ability. Creating something new out of it – synthesizing and adding to it – couldn’t happen.

This, we’d argue, is where strategic healthcare marketing is today.

We find ourselves 50-some years into the market-shattering explosion in business and personal computing. Once again, we have more data than we know what to do with.

Marketers now have preference numbers, costs per thousand, attrition rates, Yelp scores, wallet shares, event outcomes, volumes, likes, content marketing responses, hold times, hashtag counts and among literally scores of others, experience ratings. Each offers insight.

But there are few ways to relate them to each other, much less synthesize and add to them to create new, better, faster, cheaper routes through what is, in truth, a shaken, rapidly changing market.

Any old observer can tell you the industry has changed. It has split into thousands of competitive patient, payer and provider organizations and networks. Should you market differently in the markets with merged or recently expanded systems or with payer oligopolies? How about when consumers can choose from scores of powerful independent storefront providers? Should you market differently when most patients have high-deductible plans? When a local employer downsizes?

The answer is “yes.” But we still often repeat the same old strategies, tactics and messages.

We need a modern-day, interactive index, a way to organize all 360 degrees of the markets we navigate for our organizations.

There are expert, inventive indices (In today’s Latin, “dashboards”) that, when well-designed, track some of the data we have.

The first generation let us inch closer to verifying marketing investments’ returns. We can evaluate the performance of certain tactics and media, and maybe compare certain scores with competitors’ scores.

But just as the index grew in sophistication and usefulness in the years after it was invented, we can do better now.

The best next-generation dashboards provide a wide, 360-degree view and organize data not just for insight, but for action.

Party like it’s 1499. I recently got a tutorial on The Marketing360 Dashboard, which was first developed in 2014 (and since enhanced), that opens all sorts of opportunities.

Like others, it can track all our varied media. Unlike others, it relates results to the stages of the sales funnel (or funnels) and the organization’s strategy. It reveals which ones work better (or best or worse) for demand creation, reputation, preference and, ultimately, transactions. It can also segment results by service lines, specific target populations and revenue attached to them.

Most importantly, it offers a way to marshal evidence to support (or switch) tactics, boost returns, sharpen targeting, adjust messaging, guide media buying, track referral outreach, content marketing and the results of presentations. Not least, it provides the proofs and business cases for the budgets that go along with them.

And now, as our industry morphs, coughs, experiments and flirts with disruption, there is new opportunity to gain more control over the terrific new levers and technologies we have to manage volumes, expectations, experience, reputation, preference and to harvest demand for our organizations’ services and information.

Not least, organizing and using all our new data enhances marketing’s ever-changing science (comparing observations!) and, if the past is any guide, lead to whole new kinds of market logic, reason and possibility. Who knows what we’d find beyond.

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Bill Sonn

Marketing, Communication, Physician Relations Strategist

Bill is an experienced senior marcom and business development executive. Before affiliated with Gelb, he was Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at University of Colorado Health. There he led and worked on teams that re-positioned component hospitals and physician groups, organized…