Speak Your CFO’s Language: Why Good Communication Between Marketing and the C-Suite is Crucial

by Hannah Stuart, Copywriter - 03/08/17

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Effective communication with your CFO isn’t just a bonus—it’s a necessity.

Marketers, let’s face it: You and your company’s CFO don’t often speak the same language on a day-to-day basis. That’s OK, because your direct daily goals are different. However, because your overarching goals for hospital success align, it’s important for you to get on the same page. 

“The CFO and his or her colleagues spend years understanding the mechanics of a hospital’s business model from a financial perspective, and they focus on understanding how to make their hospital be most successful,” says Eric Silberman, President of True North Custom. “To understand the business model from a marketing perspective, it’s important to know which service lines are successful and why. What is it about the economics of that particular service line model that creates challenges or success at a reasonably detailed level? If you understand those moving parts and pieces, you’re going to be more effective at moving volume that helps produce the best economic results.”

Connecting Marketing to Organizational Goals

One of the main questions CFOs often ask is, “we’re spending money on this—are we getting measurable and meaningful results?”

Similar mindsets apply when creating a business planning model for service line development and creating service line marketing campaigns, and these similarities allow opportunity for communication between the two departments. To do that, however, marketers need to know how to use hard data when talking about marketing success, rather than what you hope to achieve or what you feel you have achieved.

“Many hospital budget processes begin with a consistent set of global stats, including the number of admissions, surgeries, patient days, ER visits, and doctor’s office visits. Then, to some degree, those stats are broken down by service line,” Eric says. “From a marketing perspective, it’s always important to have the numbers and projections tracked back to the same model so everyone has the same reference point and is speaking the same language.”

This allows everyone on the team to look at the data and draw conclusions about cause and effect, which allows you to connect your marketing campaign to the results. You can then use that information to determine the economic impact your marketing campaign is having.

“If the hospital is going to invest resources in a service line marketing campaign, then you want to be clear on the front end about the anticipated results of investment and be able to measure that on the back side of the campaign,” Eric says. “Were the agreed upon results achieved? That’s really where an effective use of something like customer relationship management (CRM) capabilities can be helpful.”

Using CRM to Speak the Same Language

A CRM system allows hospitals to predict volume for certain service lines over time, a useful tool when defining aspects of a budget during the planning process. That same information can be used to drive service line marketing campaigns.

“CRM works as a kind of level-setter across the different disciplines of finance, planning, marketing, and operations,” Eric says. “By utilizing it effectively, you have the potential for everyone to work off the same foundation.”

When everyone is on the same page from the start, success is more likely to follow.

“Over the years, I’ve seen marketing successfully inform decisions about service lines like bariatrics, orthopedics, and emergency room services, in a way that allowed those service lines to communicate effectively with patients,” Eric says. “At the same time, gaining insight into the C-suite allows marketing leaders to effectively communicate with their colleagues and positions marketing professionals to be more effective and more influential within the organization.”

Want more insights that can inform your marketing strategy? Read our State of Healthcare Marketing report. 

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Topics: Professional Development

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