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Why is Healthcare Digital Strategy Setting Marketing Strategy?

Several of our healthcare clients have confided that they have a rather large challenge within their organizations. Digital strategists are setting overall marketing and content strategy. That might be problematic, for a lot of reasons.

Why is this happening? And how can we fix it? (And, it is happening to you?)

Fix This Foundational Problem

Why is digital strategy setting overall marketing strategy inside so many healthcare organizations? The reason comes from the most massive disruption in marketing since the invention of the printing press: the internet.

As we began to realize the power of the web, marketing departments started to think about digital as a chance to embrace a new medium. But digital is just one of many channels—do you have a separate direct mail department? Or a phone department? Probably not. And yet so many healthcare marketing departments divide marketing and digital into two distinct core areas. Why on earth?

A lot of it has to do with marketers who are reluctant to fully embrace digital, or worse, who are pushing off learning about it at all. They can more easily hide from digital when it’s shoved into a separate department. “Let the digital team deal with it,” is a common refrain, along with “It’s just a fad,” “It won’t last,” and “It doesn’t matter.” Sound familiar?

But you can’t hide anymore. Every single person in the marketing department must be trained about digital—the different channels, how to operate the channels, how ROI is measured and how to use content successfully on each of those channels.

Marketing should be setting the overall strategy, and digital strategists within the organization should execute on those tactics. But if digital is dictating what happens next, then the focus narrows to what digital can accomplish.

While I’ve argued (passionately) for years that the majority of budget dollars should be spent on digital efforts, there still needs to be room for traditional marketing. If digital calls all the shots, those tactics may get lost.

I believe that digital should disappear as a separate department and get absorbed by marketing. But there has to be an organizational change at the executive level to make that happen. There also needs to be a commitment to teaching every person on staff how to use all of this new media effectively.

Make good choices about how you create strategy. And after you are done with your strategy, move on to your healthcare content development.

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About Ahava Leibtag

Ahava Leibtag, MA

Ahava R. Leibtag has more than 20 years of experience in writing, messaging and marketing. She is a well-recognized content expert and writes thought leadership about content strategy and content marketing. Ahava is the President and owner of Aha Media Group, a content strategy and content marketing consultancy founded in October 2005. She... More >