by Wendy O’Donovan Phillips


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A friend of mine was once “allergic” to marketers. She hired the best of them, let them loose on the marketing, then panicked when she didn’t see the expected results. As CEO of a large healthcare entity, she inadvertently created a revolving door of talented marketers and agencies over the years. “Why won’t marketing work?” she asked time and again. In the end, she discovered the problem wasn’t her people.

Here are five ways to use strategies and processes to fix the seemingly broken marketing team at last:

1. Listen to your marketers.

Get everyone together in front of a blank SWOT matrix: “Strengths” at the top of the upper left quadrant, “Weaknesses” on the upper right, “Opportunities” on the lower left and “Threats” at the lower right. Ask the team to call out collective strengths, and list them on the matrix. This aligns the team in positive thinking. Next, ask: “What are the sharks closest to our team’s boat? What’s killing us the fastest?” List all their answers — which may include “overwhelm” or communications breakdowns — under weaknesses.

Third, ask what outside forces negatively impact their work, like competition or the inability to get timely approvals, and list them under threats. Last, discuss with them how to write the positive opposite of each weakness and threat most in their control to improve. Add these under opportunities. Prioritize and execute initiatives under opportunities. Simply by giving the marketing team a voice, you can uncover new perspectives and invite buy-in into lasting solutions.

2. Draw a road map.

Ask the team to agree on one quantifiable goal, such as: “We will increase revenue generated through marketing from X monthly to XY monthly by this date.”

The executive team might inform this high-level goal, too. From there, ask the marketing team to set three destinations they will need to reach to achieve the goal. These should be places the team has never gone. Examples include: “We are a best place to work,” “We have a world-class sales and marketing team” and “We are the experts in our industry.” Ladder up all marketing strategies and tactics to these destinations. If a strategy isn’t a priority in getting you all to a destination, table it or scratch it.
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Big Buzz is a marketing agency delivering a steady stream of move-in-ready leads to teams serving the senior living industry. For more than 15 years, Big Buzz has helped senior living marketing and sales teams nurture leads to increase occupancy, grow and scale. CEO Wendy O’Donovan Phillips is the author of the book Flourish!: The Method Used by Aging Services Organizations for the Ultimate Marketing Results, has been published in McKnight’s, has been a regular contributor to Forbes, and has been quoted in The Washington Post, ABC News and Chicago Tribune. The Big Buzz leadership team regularly lectures in front of audiences ranging from 25 to 3,000 attendees, including at Argentum and various LeadingAge chapters. Agency awards and accolades include recognition for excellence by the American Marketing Association, Gold Key Award Winner by the Business Marketing Association, HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification, and Top Advertising and Marketing Agency by Clutch. 

by Wendy O’Donovan Phillips



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