We recently fielded a survey of health care marketers to ask three open-ended questions.

  1. What is the most stubborn challenge you face right now?
  2. When you think about the future of health care and your role, what’s one thing that concerns you?
  3. What do you want to be doing better? (Or making better progress.)

As a firm that delivers branding, marketing, digital and consulting services to health care brands, we need to know what our clients and colleagues care most about.

The results of the survey were surprising … and expected.

The survey is still open. So we’ll be reporting more on the results in future posts and resources. (By the way, here’s a link to take the 3-minute survey now.)


The Four Areas: Greatest Challenges Facing Health Care Marketers


Challenge #1: Time to Plan

Marketers don’t feel they have time to plan and think ahead. They’re constantly running from meeting to meeting, putting out fires and managing an overflowing inbox.

Respondents shared:

“Small team and many demands across our enterprise requiring tactical responses on a daily basis, with minimal time for strategic planning, market research, campaign development or an innovative approach.”

“Time. There are so many different marketing mediums and responsibilities. Trying to balance time to serve everyone.”

“Am I challenging the questionable things enough, am I accepting and appreciating the good things enough, and am I wise enough to know the difference?

One respondent quite succinctly stated: “Not enough time.”


Challenge #2: The Need for Internal Culture Change

Perhaps because marketers represent the hearts and minds of patients and people their organizations serve, they have their finger on the pulse of what people want, need and expect from health care brands. Unfortunately, many marketers feel that their colleagues and internal stakeholders don’t share this same vision.

Respondents shared:

“Culture change required to embrace consumerism on clinical operations side.”

“Our health system’s ability to move fast enough to meet consumer expectations in the digital landscape.”

“External brand promise and internal alignment.”

Marketers also expressed challenges with building consensus for marketing strategy within the organization.

Respondents shared:

“Keeping up with the evolving manner of how decisions are made internally.”

“Consensus for marketing direction from my Board members, C-Suite colleagues and physician group.”

Challenge #3: Standing Out in a Competitive Environment

Health care organizations face increased competition. These days, rival organizations are chasing after the same health care dollar. An added challenge is that marketers are being asked to do more with less, whether that resource is time, staffing or budget.

Respondents shared:

“Rising above the flood of messaging that bombards your target audience.”

“Staying ahead of everyone else.”

“Doing more with less.”

“Budget cuts to marketing and getting in front of the right people.”


Challenge #4: Digital Marketing Innovation

Digital marketing accounts for the vast majority of health care marketing’s annual spend. At some point, we’ll stop talking about digital as a separate marketing initiative. But for purposes of sharing the survey responses, we identified digital marketing as the fourth area of concern for health care marketers.

Respondents shared:

“Engaging patients and clients in high volume through social media.”

“Managing our online reputation.”

“Harnessing digital marketing to be the most compelling path it can be to drive business.”

“Knowing what works: gathering and analyzing data to support various marketing techniques.”

“Keeping up with digital and tele-health trends.”

“Information overload and the inability of patients/consumers to evaluate the legitimacy of the source.”

“Getting in front of the right people at the right time through multiple digital channels.”


Marketers: How to Sleep Better at Night


With all the challenging “3 a.m. thoughts” that our marketing clients and colleagues have, we certainly don’t want to suggest there are easy answers to the tough questions our community is asking themselves.

That’s why we wanted to provide more resources to help you—articles we’ve developed on topics that are top of mind for marketers.

We hope you find these resources helpful.

And please keep making a difference.




Time to Plan & The Need for Internal Culture Change

The #1 Skill of the Best Health Care Chief Marketing Officers

Finding Your Joy in Health Care Marketing

How to Market Your Marketing Department


Standing Out in a Competitive Environment 

How to Get Patients to Take Action With Your Brand

Marketers: How to Think Like a Patient

Discovering Your Brand’s Archetype


Digital Marketing Innovation

How to Combat Health Care Fake News

The Art and Science of Marketing Persona Development

Best Practices for Marketing Health Care on Instagram