Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians, BI Medical Center
Marketing professionals have always needed vendors to support their work – today they are de facto staff. From photographers and writers to graphic designers and printers, vendors are now an extension of the marketing executives’ office and a lifeline for creating and implementing successful campaigns and programs. Christine Baratta, Chief Communication Officer for Harvard Medical Faculty Physicians, BI Medical Center has worked with many vendors across her successful career, and she has advice for those who would become vendors for healthcare marketing executives today.
Before you walk in the door, be prepared:
- Know healthcare: If you want to become a trusted vendor in the complicated field of healthcare, know the business. Read the organization’s website and understand the difference between a teaching hospital and a community hospital, a clinic and an ambulatory care center.
- Know the terminology: Understand the difference between a practice and a department, an advanced level practitioner and a physician. Know the meaning of HIPAA and other acronyms central to healthcare.
- Give yourself a foundation of knowledge: Understand the clinical area you will be involved in, read the website, research the topic. The marketing executive doesn’t have time to educate you.
Bring a full-service solution to the plate:
When well-meaning, talented individuals approach a busy healthcare executive to pitch services, they may not be promoting the comprehensive services needed. The more successful approach is to promote a suite of services. “Almost always I need more than just one person,” said Christine. “If I am producing a video, I could use a writer and a videographer, so it is advantageous for venders to see themselves less as individuals and more as units.”
Work in symmetry with the healthcare executive:
The best strategy for the vendor is to send a brief, informative email to the marketing executive, promoting services and healthcare experience. An aggressive, noisy sales pitch just is not going to work. “Vendors who are relentless with contacts and outreach aren’t the most successful,” says Christine. “However, I will usually keep an email from someone who offers a service I may need in the future, and I will reach out to them when I need them. Most of us in healthcare keep files of good people.”
Mostly, understand who you are pitching into. Today, the fast paced, complex healthcare marketing department works with:
- Very lean marketing staff
- Farming out increasing amounts of work to vendors and virtual staff
- Multiple, shifting priorities that may delay and/or reschedule work
Marketing executives need vendors experienced in healthcare who bring insight and understanding of the field to the table.
“My word of advice to potential vendors is this,” says Christine. “If you are an individual vendor, find a retired healthcare marcomm professional, or someone who is between jobs. Combine their talent and experience with yours and then pitch your services. It will make you a powerful candidate for the project.”