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  • Writer's pictureAlan Shoebridge

Disrupt your marketing with one simple question

Disruption has been the buzzword in healthcare – and healthcare marketing – for the past five years or so. Yet, we tend to think of that disruption only at a super-high, macro level. There is a real opportunity to apply it to everything we do. One question can help get you there. It’s asking “what happens if we don’t do this?” when evaluating existing work, requests from partners and future opportunities.

There is another way of approaching your questioning. You could use “why do we do this?” instead and that seems like a fine approach on the surface. However, it leaves you open to a lot of justifications – especially for existing work – that can be hard to counter. Often, actual results can be far down the list of responses, trailing many other given reasons.

What happens if we don’t do this?

When you approach a situation this way it removes some of the onus to justify or defend the status quo. Questioning what would happen if you stopped - or never even started - doing something is disruptive, but can be risky as some people will feel put on the defensive. Yet, it cuts to the heart of the matter more quickly than any other approach. There are fewer potential answers when you use the question “what happens if we don’t do this?” as your filter. I think these are the three most common responses:

  1. “Someone (partner, customer, vendor, leadership, etc.) will get upset.”

  2. “We’ll lose business.”

  3. “We’re not sure what will happen.”

The first situation takes some political deftness to navigate, but I think most of us would agree that an emotional response is not the best justification to provide marketing support. That’s especially true when the accompanying budget and time demands are significant. One approach to handling this situation is to not just say “no” to the work, but to sit down with those involved and explore how to define goals and better measure outcomes. Proposing trade-offs for where you could spend your time instead is another strategy. The most important consideration is to simply open a dialogue before you shut something down.

The second response on its surface would seem to be a green light for marketers to get something in market ASAP. However, you can’t afford to skip the due diligence phase just because someone has told you that business will be lost. Push your partners for the right data to make sure the business opportunity is truly there and develop a plan to measure response.

The last answer on the list would give you permission to hit the brakes and maybe not do something. For a lot of work, that’s probably the best course of action. For things that might be a true opportunity follow the general approach described in the paragraph above.

Like healthcare in general, marketers must support disruption to survive and thrive in today's environment. Getting creative with your questioning is a good way to get started.

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