Marketing 101 + Your Board

Feb. 24, 2022

Educating Your Best Advocates

Legato Healthcare Marketing - BoardMemberBlog

By Mike Milligan, president, Legato Healthcare Marketing

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest
- Ben Franklin

Aside from our famous friend Ben offering insights about education, have you ever heard the one about how marketing takes a day to learn, but a lifetime to master (according to renowned marketing professor Phil Kotler)?

Are you wondering how I’m going to tie all this together? 

If the headline didn’t give it away, I’m focusing on merging marketing, learning and your organization’s board of directors. Why? Because an educated board – one that understands and believes not just in your mission, but also how to accomplish it – is one of your biggest assets.

Being involved with rural healthcare organizations around the country has given me the opportunity to work with many types of boards. One thing they have in common is their commitment to the hospital and community they serve – and without their countless hours of volunteerism, your organization (and community) would surely feel the lack of their presence!

But while they hold a genuine passion for your organization, board members may not fully appreciate the nuances of healthcare, especially when it comes to marketing. Thankfully, they don't need to be advertising experts, but they do need to support your organization’s marketing efforts in a competitive marketplace.

When your board understands the impact marketing has on growth – how it enables the strategic approaches you’re all working together to achieve – you’ll have a group of powerful advocates behind you.

There are a couple of essential ways to keep your board on board with your marketing tactics; for starters, make sure they’re involved and educated! Here are some key guidelines for turning your board members into the strongest marketing advocates in your organization:

  • Involve them in the marketing planning process
  • Show successful techniques used by others
  • Provide updates on progress
  • Identify barriers
  • Encourage them to continue learning

Here’s a brief overview of these ideas:

Involve Them in the Marketing Planning Process
One of the best steps to educate board members about marketing is to include them in the planning process. Make the time to regularly review your organization’s marketing priorities with your members and keep them up to date on the latest recommendations.

Be sure that they understand that your organization’s primary marketing concerns are defined by criteria such as revenue, reimbursement, service line prioritization, downstream revenue, community goodwill, competitive advantage and contribution margin.

While it’s not necessary to present specific marketing techniques – or ask for approval about messaging – the planning process is not only a great time to educate your board, but also to hear their feedback on your marketing direction.

At this session, present potential ways to grow existing service lines – and to introduce new ones. Together, establish specific and measurable goals in terms of volumes and market share.

Show Successful Techniques Used by Others

All educators recognize this simple truth: Examples are an excellent way to teach. Showing your board how another organization used marketing to accomplish a goal is a great way to get their buy-in.

Demonstrating another organization’s marketing success could even include unique alliances or partnerships. Joint ventures or other partnerships are often creative ways to explore market share growth with other organizations – and even if your organization plans to remain independent, examples of other successful marketing campaigns only serve to further educate your board about the importance of marketing for your organization.

Provide Updates on Progress

Present a simple summary structure of what you’ve accomplished toward your goals and strategy – this can be in the form of specific results and feedback.

Be transparent about what went well, and what efforts fell short of your expectations – but don’t think that you have to show every marketing activity that you’ve done in the last year. And it’s okay to keep the details for you and your team – remember that less is often more, especially when it comes to educating a novice audience.

Also remember that whatever success you show, your board is now going to expect to see it consistently – so choose your stories with that in mind!

Identify Barriers

When your organization encounters barriers to its marketing plans, let your board know about it – and what you're doing to overcome them. It’s also a great opportunity for your board to provide input or suggestions on how to tackle these concerns (common examples could be insurance or provider issues).

Encourage Them to Continue Learning

While you’ll continue to educate your board members on successful trends in marketing – sharing key articles on industry trends and successful efforts of similar organizations are easy ways to keep the board learning – you can also encourage them to attend conferences and webinars that focus on marketing or governance.

The role of your board is to provide the appropriate level of strategic oversight. They must understand the vision and the direction, and then help break down any barriers that may be impeding your hospital's success.

Sharing – and learning – marketing dos and don’ts with your board is a great way to gain the board’s confidence – and to grow your members’ understanding about what marketing can do for your healthcare organization (and patient volumes).

An engaged, informed and educated board member is your advocate and cheerleader. Provide board members with the tools and knowledge to support you in your efforts, and you'll further strengthen the trust and rapport essential for effective leadership.

Would you like to learn more? 

Please send me a quick message with your interest and we’ll set up a time to chat. I can share how other organizations have empowered their boards when developing a results-driven marketing plan for their rural health organizations.

Email me at, or call me directly at 920-544-8102, ext. 101. Let’s get it done.