Healthcare CMOs have a valuable ally when seeking to justify their marketing budgets.  In a word, their brands.

According to a recent article in Modern Healthcare,  revenue shortfalls in regional health systems are acute due to COVID-19.  One of the recommended remedies to this financial illness is to diversify sources of revenue.  There is no better place to start than to strengthen and maximize the power of your brands.

For years, it has been known that the intangible assets of companies have a higher book value than tangible assets.  Intangible assets are comprised of numerous things, such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents.  The cumulative sum of all of these is consumer goodwill – otherwise known as brand equity.  When a CMO and her team make identifying and securing intellectual assets a priority, then additional revenue opportunities will follow.

Where to begin.   Great health systems know that the responsibility for their brands lie not within the marketing department alone.  Instead, brand strategy must be embraced and implemented across the entire organization, including human resources, medical staff and administration, finance, legal, and PR and communications.  This include outside partners.  Here’s how you can get started to harnessing the power of your organization’s brand assets.

1.   Start a Brand Assets Group.  A Brand Assets Group “(BAG”) is a cross-departmental team tasked with four responsibilities:

  • identify brand assets on an on-going basis;
  • create a process to secure ownership or seek permission to use third-party assets;
  • monitor and mitigate brand risks; and
  •  seek out opportunities to monetize brand assets through regional partnerships and licensing

Further information on how to start a Brand Assets Group and its objectives was discussed in our previous article here.

2.   Educate your team.  To gain a better understanding of the role your brand’s assets play in supporting your mission, education and training is key.   An effective education and training program should include the following components:

  • brand terminology, including trademarks, copyrights, patents, and goodwill
  • how to Identify and capture brand assets
  • how and when to seek registration of brand assets
  • how to create a brand ambassador program
  • trademark and copyright clearance
  • brand risk management
  • HIPAA marketing rules
  • vendor and third-party partners agreements

3.   Seek out brand monetization opportunities.   Many regional health brands have tremendous name recognition and goodwill.  This can translate into alternative, non-traditional ways to monetize the popularity of their brands.   The most common ways are through trademark licensing and certification mark programs.  Both are tactics for the health system to lend the popularity of its brands to non-competing, yet complimentary products and services.   This can result in not only incremental revenue streams, but for a way to increase new customer acquisition, increase loyalty, and increase referrals.   This can be done without dedicating more money to these necessary, yet expensive marketing cost areas.

Conclusion:   Your brand and its various components can provide marketing teams with the leverage they need to play a more important role in health system planning and strategy.  Instead of looking at the health marketing budget as a cost-center, an effective brand protection and monetization program can translate the perception of the marketing department in the eyes of their stakeholders and board members.