Want To Escape The Commodity Trap? Follow These 3 Tips

Over the past several years, I’ve participated in a few conversations with health marketers who are confused and bewildered by the rapid changes sweeping the industry. They’ve struggled to be taken seriously by physicians, hospital leaders, pharmaceutical executives and others grappling with major challenges caused by mobile, social and other technologies. They’re viewed as order takers, delivering a highly commoditized product that’s difficult to measure, much less prove its impact on the bottom line

How can health marketers escape the commodity trap? A simple answer is to deliver value in unique and high-impact ways. Yet, this is easier said than done. 

Here are three tips for marketers seeking to become trusted advisors (or linchpins) within their teams, organizations and the industry. 

  • Know Your Stuff: I’m constantly surprised by how little some health marketers know about the industry they work in. One example is the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. There are parts of the law focusing on the employer mandate and health insurance exchanges that have attracted significant attention. However, there are other elements related to hospital readmissions, corporate wellness programs and more that are not only important, but relevant to marketers. It’s hard to be taken seriously if you can’t participate in conversations about industry critical issues and apply what you know to your organization’s situation. 
  • Be Curious: Marketing is tough. There are so many demands on executives’ time that keeping up is a full-time job. These pressures have had the unfortunate side effect of deadening some people’s curiosity. When presented with information, concepts or resources that aren’t exactly relevant to the day-to-day, some people respond “I don’t need to know that.” My friend, and best-selling author Rohit Bhargava thinks this is a terrible strategy. He advises marketers to “read useless information.” Why? He believes that “when marketers are more knowledgeable about the world, they understand people better and become better influencers.”
  • Learn How to Improvise: Some marketers find it hard to embrace a new way of thinking, resource or technology if everyone else is not on the same page. Unfortunately, things are moving so fast that having the ability to improvise is critical. But, it’s hard to think flexibly if domain knowledge is lacking or one is incurious. 



Tomorrow is here, and things are only going to get harder, not easier. If marketers want to escape the commodity trap, they’re going to have to think (and be) different.

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