By modernizing and consolidating more than 100 marketing systems across the globe, Stephanie Meyer, head of marketing operations at GE Healthcare, and her team enabled the company to touch a total of $2 billion in potential revenue and yielded $600 million in new revenue last year.
This initiative was part of a big renovation in marketing processes, role clarity, and organization improvements at GE Healthcare. Previously, the company had over 100 marketing tools across its seven regions: USCAN (U.S. and Canada), EU, China, Asia-Pacific, India, EAGM (the Eastern and Africa growth markets) and LATAM (Latin America). Such variety led to many challenges, including fragmentation and confusing hand-offs.
"How the job was getting done required many processes, with each requiring different efforts. This led to redundancies, dropped balls, and inefficiency," Meyer says.
According to Meyer, the modernization of marketing tools consists of three pillars:
In mid-2013, Meyer and her team started integrating GE Healthcare's marketing tools around the globe, consolidating more than 100 systems into just three: Zinc Ahead, Salesforce, and Marketo. Previously, it took a few months for GE Healthcare to get approval on content. Now the company uses the medical compliance software, Zinc Ahead, to review and approve content, curtailing the process by 70 percent. GE Healthcare also uses marketing automation software from Salesforce and Marketo for consumer communication and consumer engagement. These platforms have helped GE Healthcare save time and resources, according to Meyer.Meyer and her team completed the integration in approximately 18 months. "I didn't sleep or have any social life. Project managing something of this size is the biggest challenge, next to getting people to accept the changes. You need very detail oriented leaders to run the cutover, and it's critical that they work to help gain acceptance for the change and [prove] the benefits," Meyer explains.She admits that her team made a few mistakes in the integration process. During the global roll-out of Marketo, her team focused too much on regional deployment instead of products. While GE Healthcare's region marketers are aligned to specific regions and oversee the commercialization of all products relating to their consumers, product marketers are responsible for the development of product-specific content that spans across all regions. When Meyer's team rolled out Marketo, they considered commercialization to be of primary importance, so put lots of effort into training and improving the skills of region marketers."In hindsight, we should have paralleled this training with the product marketers, because great content in this new ecosystem is of equal importance," Meyer notes.
While she is very focused on advanced digital marketing tools, Meyers believes that people are more important than platforms. In her words, "Marketing is not B2B or BC2 anymore, it's B2Human."
Marketers have to think about how to promote their products and services in a more human way and have control over their marketing platforms. For instance, when a brand has an email marketing tool, it can send a promotional email to a consumer a few times a day, but there's a fine line between connecting with consumers via email and spamming them."An organization should have a control mechanism in the process and say, 'We should not contact this consumer for more than X times in a week.' Don't be tempted by the platform's shininess - good governance will be a big win for you," Meyer says.
Looking forward, good content is Meyer's next big push at GE Healthcare. In 2016, her team plans to train the company's marketers to think more holistically around consumers' buying cycles and ensure that GE Healthcare's content is based on insights.
"It's really about looking at consumers' behavior and engaging in different ways. My marketers now have fabulous tools, but they don't have experience as content strategists. So for 2016, I need to work on making sure our marketers understand the difference between creating content and selling something," Meyer says.
Marketing in the healthcare industry is more difficult than other industries, because some of the common marketing practices that have proven to be effective are strictly prohibited. Since marketing for healthcare products and services falls under a series of laws and regulations from a variety of enforcement agencies, GE Healthcare's digital channel strategy will remain less focused on social media. Instead, it will take advantage of email and other content distribution channels.
By integrating and consolidating marketing automation systems, GE Healthcare is able to minimize its content cycle and has gained a great ROI. Given that GE Healthcare is an $18 billion revenue business, Meyer's team may still have a long way to go, but they are definitely headed in the right direction.
The takeaways from GE Healthcare's marketing automation initiative are:
Yuyu Chen is a reporter at ClickZ. Her work has appeared in Local East Village, New York Daily News and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce website. Yuyu received her M.A. in Business and Economic Reporting from New York University in May, 2013.