3 Reasons Your Competitor Is Crushing It (And How You Can Too)

Your competitor probably has a strong messaging platform

If you want to strengthen your healthcare organization’s stance against the competition, think back to the kid in third grade whose hand shot into the air with every question.

“Me, me, me!”

Whether or not you craved the limelight yourself, that kid became a tad annoying.

Fast-forward a few decades and your company’s closest competitor, who seems to grab all the attention in the press, on social media and with investors, might flip a similar switch in your brain:

“Here we go again …”

“How can they be everywhere?”

“What are they doing that we’re not?”

To beat the healthcare competition, give your company something to rally around

As adults, we must give credit where it’s due. Your competitor is working hard to earn that PR gold. According to Gartner’s “Annual CMO Spend Survey,” there’s a good chance they are investing more resources in the marketing/PR function than your organization is.

But there’s something deeper, a fundamental skill they’ve mastered: nailing their message.

No amount of money or people can gain mind- or market-share without a consistent, fits-like-a-glove story to rally around.

Your story, or messaging platform, needs three things:

  • Highest-order truths. Healthcare organizations have many truths. Not all are of highest order. What do you want audiences to hear and believe and internalize every single time you speak? What ideas are most fundamental? What is at your company’s core?
  • Less copycat, more you. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. Where does your healthcare organization shine? How can you forgo the fluff? What conscious claims can you make and back up? Embrace your attributes, not your competitor’s.
  • Fresh and familiar content. Brand-blindness is a real thing. What have you outgrown? How can you eliminate industry jargon and internal bias? You must stay true to yourselves AND keep evolving.

How can you more skillfully battle the healthcare competition?

Your competition is crushing it because they’re digging deeper, staying original and executing beautifully. They’ve likely put in place a strategic messaging platform. Sounds simple, right? Until you sit down to tackle this beast.

Like writing one’s own bio or life story, it’s tough to talk about ourselves. We’re too close to our own story. We lack perspective. And sometimes it’s hard to break free of groupthink.

As a messaging firm, we’ve been there, fought our way through the swirl, and developed a four-step proprietary process to tame the messaging tiger and help client companies do the same.

Why you need a strategic messaging platform to beat the healthcare competition

We’re proponents of something called a messaging platform as the vehicle for capturing the most foundational ideas about your organization, program or issue. Creating this crucial messaging platform is deep, soul-searching work, but the payoff is absolutely worth it in terms of:

  • Clarity of purpose
  • Team unity
  • Articulating your value story to the outside world
  • Organizational momentum
  • Bypassing the competition

The messaging platform becomes your North Star, serving as a guide for spokespersons and sales teams, and ensuring alignment of all other marketing and communications materials, which Forbes calls Strategy 101.  Across the organization, you’ll see an increase in focus and energy, and a drop-off of confusion and rework.

How to convince senior management of the need for a messaging platform

The next time your competitor starts popping up here, there and everywhere, take that opportunity to raise the topic with leadership. Talk about what it takes to stand out from the crowd. Here’s how:

Step one: Do the tough mental work

Messaging must uncover the most powerful, differentiating and universal truths about your organization, program or issue. It isn’t a wordsmithing activity to be handed off to a beleaguered junior staffer. It’s an analytical exercise that must involve your leaders, subject-matter experts and clients.

While staying focused on highest-order ideas relevant to all stakeholders, make sure your messaging platform answers these types of questions to differentiate your organization with clarity and honesty against the healthcare competition:

  • Why should anyone care? Why is this relevant?
  • How do we describe, in simple terms, our position or what we’re doing?
  • What’s our approach; how are we going about it?
  • What about us or our approach is different or better than our competitors?
  • Who will benefit from our efforts, and how?

Finally, pull it into a summary that’s brief and compelling.

Step two: Insist on finding your own secret sauce

One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to gallop off the cliff of worn-out “Us, too!” messaging, alongside the rest of your industry herd. This can be tempting when you see others’ success, but it’s crucial for you to stake out new ground.

Uncovering a corner of the world that you can claim as your own requires honest introspection.

  • Interview your executives and subject-matter experts, looking for common themes.
  • Survey your employees to understand what they really love about your organization.
  • Ask your customers what you’re really good at.

Don’t forget to assess your competition, too, for the express purpose of avoiding their positioning and language.

In the words of author and marketing entrepreneur Crystal Black Davis: “When positioning a brand, aggressively avoid becoming a ‘me too’ by assertively being a ‘who else?’”

Step three: Proactively tell your new story

First, be sure to share the messaging platform with employees and departments that regularly interact with your organization’s stakeholders. This is best accomplished during a live session with a few slides that cover the messaging platform, some examples of how the platform might be implemented in marketing materials, and an explanation of how the platform can be used on a day-to-day basis.

Once your teams are unified around the new messaging, create a plan to push your story outward. Bring all existing channels and materials into alignment. For example, does your website reflect the new messaging? How about your sales presentations?

Think creatively about other opportunities to make your story as pervasive as your culture – in other words, ooze it. Encourage influential outsiders, such as customer spokespersons and industry experts, to share how your company delivers on the differentiated experience you’ve promised to the world.

Summing it up

Messaging platform development is deep work that yields broad organizational rewards, including a fresh interpretation of your value story, message consistency, organizational momentum and, ultimately, an advantage over your healthcare competition.

Margie McCarthy is founder of McCarthy Messaging, a strategic messaging firm based in Denver, Colorado. She’s fond of messy challenges, brave clients and vintage jewelry.

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