10 Learnings for Hospital Marketers from Loyola University Chicago Men’s Basketball in the NCAA Tournament

It’s been an eye-opener watching the Loyola University Chicago Ramblers men’s basketball team compete in the NCAA Tournament, otherwise known as March Madness.  

And I say eye-opening as this team is no Cinderella. A quaint expression but at this point not true. Loyola has reached this place because of unwavering vision, plan, process, and leadership of Coach Porter Moser. Cinderella’s are great fairy tales but in life an idea that never really happens.

And in thinking about these basketball team building lessons, there are some healthcare marketing learnings that I believe can make you more successful.

As a marketing professional and mentor, one must learn how to handle success and failure. Endure leadership changes, people who don’t know what they are talking about but think they do, or the long-tenured leadership that looks at you and your recommendations with the “I have seen women and men like you to come and go, and I am still here,” attitude.

In the end,  the important lesson here is that it’s all about the vision, plan and process, leadership, accountability, teamwork and hard work.

Here are my ten Loyola Ramblers lessons for hospital marketers: 

1.       Create a sustainable marketing culture. Culture is everything. It’s the basis for organizational performance. A strong marketing culture takes time to develop, but it’s worth the effort. It also takes patience not only on your part but the part of hospital leadership. It takes vision, process, strategy, accountability, leadership and team players to succeed in today’s healthcare market. 

2.       No Finish Line. Another key element in the strategy is the concept of a no finish line. You never reach a destination because it’s a journey. Just because you successfully executed a marketing plan in no way means mission accomplished. What No Finish Line means for you, is that your hospital marketing is a continuous process that builds momentum and adjusts for what is coming next. You can’t just repeat what you have done. There may be elements that move to the next plan, but it’s not just a repeating what’s been successful without change. 

3.       Fail Fast. Mistakes happen because of errors, and that is just a fact of life. Call a timeout and fix it, Plans don’t always work as intended. So like winning sports teams when things go wrong, stop, and change to get a better result. 

4.       Change up your marketing channels. Delivering the same message, the same way every time is a prescription for disaster. People stop paying attention, so one must move the messages around and use all the channels available. Your audience regardless of age is omnichannel. Make one more pass. Look for the open channel. Then stick the shot. 

5.       Build the marketing team capability and chemistry around your marketing culture.  That may mean new players. Change is good, and everyone needs to learn new marketing skills and to play nice in the sandbox.  One cannot be successful if there is no team chemistry and the team members can’t fill in for another. New skills breed new ideas and capabilities. 

6.       Trust your coaches, i.e., leadership. It may seem like an oxymoron sometimes especially with marketing because anyone can do it, but you need to be at the leadership table and understand the business strategy, operational plans, and financial challenges. Only then can one make a positive contribution. 

7.       Play hard and trust the vision.  That keeps your competition off balance. One can build the organizational marketing story and meets the healthcare consumer’s needs before anyone else has the chance. 

8.       Know the strengths and weaknesses of the team and competitors. Put team members in positions and situations to win. Go after competitors at their weakest point. If they can’t figure it out, keep doing it until they learn how then change. 

9.       You win some; you lose some. No organization is perfect, put the loss behind you and learn.  Enjoy the wins for a moment but move on to the next game. Learn from the past and adapt strategically and in your execution. 

10.   Have fun and play with passion. I think that is the biggest lesson from all of this. Life is about passion, friendships, success and learning from failure.

No one remembers who lost. Work is the same. Have fun and play with passion, and always remember that two visions should drive your hospital marketing:

Created by Culture

No Finish Line

Image courtesy of Loyola University Chicago. Best of luck Ramblers. And Coach Porter, thank you for the hospital marketing lessons! #OnwardLU #LUC #NCAA #MarchMadness

Go Ramblers!

Oh, and I am no bandwagon jumper. My daughter is a Junior at LUC. Well done Alex. Well done.

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist and thought-leader.  As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters is read in  52 countries and listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs, and Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives, Professional Certified Marketer, American Marketing Association. As an expert in digital marketing & social media with a Klout score of 64, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide.  Michael is an established influencer and inquires for strategic consulting engagements can be made by calling   815-351-0671. Opinions expressed are my own.

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