Greystone Journal

Learn How to Talk to Your CEO

by Sara Foster | Dec 20, 2017

Dan Lavelle, a marketer at Lehigh Valley Health Network, recently faced a question from the hospital’s new CEO that stumped him:

“What’s the value of marketing?”

This simple question shifted how the entire marketing department works. Now, the marketing team sees itself as a revenue generator for the hospital — not a cost center. But this wasn’t something that happened overnight.

During the concurrent session “Proving Marketing’s Worth to Your CEO: Building KPIs That Matter” at the 21st Annual Healthcare Internet Conference in Austin, Lavelle shared the journey his team went on, with the help of Chris Girardi, Vice President, Campaign Center, at Evariant.

Girardi says that even though hospital marketers face pressure, so do CEOs. Average tenure for a hospital CEO is 3.5 years. Turnover rate is at 18 percent. Boards and stakeholders are breathing down their necks.

“A hospital CEO must show progression, evolution and that they are moving the needle,” Girardi says. “As a marketer, you need to think to yourself — what can I do to help the CEO?”

For starters, metrics matter. And the type of metrics you show your CEO matter a lot, too.

Lavelle learned that if his marketing team wanted a “seat at the table,” they’d need to come in with data. To get the kind of data the CEO was looking for, Lehigh Valley Health invested in a CRM. Twice a month, someone on their team pulls in Epic data into their CRM. Armed with data, it was time to talk with the CEO.

But forget a 40-slide PowerPoint presentation of data. Their CEO only wanted two slides, boiled down with the most important information that he could rattle off to stakeholders or board members in an elevator.

Girardi shared some advice on what CEOs are looking for from marketers during a meeting:

  • Make it fast, reliable and transparent. No BS!
  • Anticipate the questions your CEO will ask, before the meeting
  • Use carefully designed data visualizations
  • Provide a schedule for routine updates

Now that the conversation shifted with the CEO, talk in the marketing department changed, too. The team talks about measuring campaigns based on leads, unique patient conversions, total payments, media investment and ROI ratio.

“You won’t hear anybody asking to get a direct piece of mail approved anymore,” Lavelle says, with a chuckle. 

  • metrics
  • Hospital Marketing
  • analytics
  • CRM

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