The 7 pillars of a healthy marketing organization, according to the CMO of GE Healthcare Digital
CMO Justin Steinman shares how he hires and organizes his team — along with his take on the most revealing interview question you can ask prospective new hires — in this Q&A with contributors Nadine Dietz and Erica Seidel.
In this look into how CMOs are transforming marketing organizations for the challenge of reaching people today, we spoke with Justin Steinman, CMO for GE Healthcare Digital, a $1.8 billion division of GE.
GE Healthcare Digital delivers software solutions for integrated care, which help health care provider organizations of all sizes improve clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Steinman manages a global marketing team of 90 people.
Q. Justin, how has your customer landscape changed, and how are you responding?
Our customers are increasingly looking for solutions, not products. They want software solutions that directly address their business challenges, and bring together software with services and partners in an integrated package.
When I started as CMO, we were managing all of our partners in a haphazard fashion. To help give customers what they want — integrated solutions that fit their workflow, we built a partnership marketing organization, including a VAR (value-added reseller) sales team, a VAR marketing team, and an alliance marketing team.
We also a created a certified partner program that includes market-development funds for certified partners. Today, nearly 20% of our revenue is partner-driven.
Q. Marketing has changed a lot in the past 5-10 years. What changes do you see?
I actually don’t think marketing has changed that much over the past 20 years, but the way we do marketing has changed. I have a philosophy about how marketing should be organized, and I bring it with me as I go from role to role.
For me, the seven categories of marketing, in chronological order, are:
- Market research
- Sales enablement
- Demand generation
- Customer retention
Tactics have evolved in every category. For example, in Awareness, we’ve shifted from outbound print marketing to more sophisticated inbound digital marketing.
Content used to be about “me, me, me” and now it’s “how I can help you solve your challenges through a combination of product, services, and software?”
The seven core concepts are as relevant today as they were 10 years ago — it’s how we execute that has changed.
[pullquote]To demonstrate true marketing leadership, you can’t march into your CEO’s office and say, “I’m strategic!” The moment you start telling people you are strategic, you’re not. Instead, prove it!
— Justin Steinman, CMO for GE Healthcare Digital[/pullquote]
Q. So how do you organize your team?
One of my core beliefs is that for a marketing organization to be successful, marketers must work for marketers. If marketing is dispersed, with product marketing reporting to the product organization, and field marketing and partnerships reporting to sales, that doesn’t lead to long-term results for the organization as a whole.
Marketing is the team looking 12, 18, or 36 months out in an otherwise quarterly-driven business. Marketing can balance short-term and long-term horizons better than a sales-driven organization. When marketers work for marketers, marketing gets established as a profession and as a career path.
So, with that notion, I build my marketing organization out to support the overall company objectives. Members of my field marketing team work alongside sales, and the regional marketing leader reports to both me and the Region Sales Leader.
We’ve built out a partnership team, as I mentioned before. Our product marketing teams focus on identifying and packaging solutions globally that can be tweaked locally to account for regional nuances.
Q. How have you changed the talent profile in your organization in the three years you’ve been there?
I have 13 direct reports, and I have hired 10 of them. Among 90 people in marketing, roughly 30 are new in the past three years. That means we changed out nearly a third of the organization in three years.
A lot of the change was about upgrading the expectations of marketers and raising the bar on deliverables… so a number of people self-selected out. When we replaced them, we focused on building core marketing disciplines.
In the field marketing organization, we looked for folks with killer demand generation ideas — folks who had innovative ideas on how to stand out from the crowd. For product marketing, we looked for people who excelled at business strategy and solution positioning. For marketing communications, we looked for folks with a digital skill set — in fact, we just hired our first content marketer in January.
The results speak for themselves. In 2015, marketing generated 44% of the net-new funnel for our US sales team, up from 36% the year before and 15% when I started as CMO. The industry average is about 22% of net-new funnel generated by marketing, so we’re at double that now.
One of our challenges is that there aren’t a ton of health care IT marketers just sitting around. It’s a hot field and highly competitive. So we look for people who are extremely competent in at least two of the three domains: health care, software, or marketing.
When I am hiring a senior marketing executive, I look for a marketer to complement the skill set of the general manager whom he or she will support.
For instance, I had a GM who knew health care inside and out but had a limited marketing background. So I hired a marketer with health care knowledge who could go deep with that GM on health care industry trends, and also teach the GM how to best use the marketing function. That new hire doesn’t have a software background, so I can teach that part.
In another case, the GM is a big health care idea guy, so I hired someone with strong software commercialization skills to help organize and package those great ideas into new solutions.
Q. What other factors do you consider when you hire?
I look for aptitude and attitude.
For aptitude, I determine whether the candidate is a clear thinker. Can he come up with clear, differentiated, defensible positioning? Can she present that positioning well both in writing and in front of a room?
For attitude, I look for people who take ownership of an idea and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo. For instance, if I ask you to give me a complete document on Friday, will you just deliver that, or will you come to me on Wednesday and say, “I’ve been thinking about this and you may want to consider doing this slightly differently.”
Successful marketers are able to do something I like to call management by inception, like the movie Inception. Can you put an idea into someone else’s head and make them think it is their own? The best marketers can synthesize masses of data, come up with the right solution, and get it adopted by giving the idea to someone else. They are egoless and get satisfaction just from seeing their idea implemented.
Q. What is your favorite interview question?
I ask people to pick a product that they think is marketed well and tell me why — and it can’t be Apple!
It’s a completely unstructured question that requires them to come up with a structured answer and demonstrate their grasp of the marketing funnel. A good marketer will incorporate into their answer at least five of the seven categories I mentioned earlier: market research, content, sales enablement, awareness, demand generation, partnerships, and customer retention. An excellent marketer will hit all seven.
Q. How do you measure success?
First, I always keep in mind my customers, who are the health care providers that pay us. If we continue to grow our business because the customers are happy, then that’s success.
I make sure that marketing is aligned to all the goals of the business. So at a business leadership team meeting, I never talk about my marketing budget; I talk instead about our marketing budget. I am the steward of that budget, but we as a leadership team need to decide which products and markets to bet on. Then marketing will go and get the leadership team the best value for their dollar.
To help communicate goals and demonstrate results, I use a dashboard that incorporates all seven categories of marketing. Since we live in a data-driven world, it’s imperative to communicate results with data. We track every prospect, lead, opportunity and win. We measure costs at every customer phase. We measure awareness metrics — unaided, aided, and purchase consideration. We also measure conversion percentages compared to the industry. And we are starting to show the sales results of trained versus untrained reps.
I also measure my team on whether our internal customers are satisfied. But if I ONLY did that, my team members would lose the ability to be independent. I need marketers with backbone. They need to be able to tell the head of the business line that we shouldn’t go after a particular market if there is no market growth, for instance.
To demonstrate true marketing leadership, you can’t march into your CEO’s office and say, “I’m strategic!” The moment you start telling people you are strategic, you’re not. Instead, prove it!
- Own marketing across the organization. Don’t be afraid to integrate marketers into other parts of the organization, but always have at least a dotted line back to marketing.
- When marketers report to marketers, this elevates the overall marketing career path. A marketing chain of command is also linked with helping the overall company achieve its longer-term goals in an environment that can otherwise be driven by the need to achieve quarterly financial results.
- Measure, measure, measure and demonstrate results to your leadership team.
- Enroll the leadership team into marketing decisions by jointly deciding company objectives that marketing will support.
- Look for attitude and aptitude in your candidates.
- Don’t look for every person on your team to have the same domain expertise. Rather, leverage unique strengths for unique roles.
- Don’t overcomplicate marketing. At the end of the day, it’s still marketing: Market Research, Content, Sales enablement, Awareness, Demand generation, Partnerships, Customer retention.