CEOs, whether of start-ups or long-standing companies, share a single focus: growth. But, since healthcare is a world of its own, here is my advice to CEOs who want success in the healthcare sector.

You need a marketing team with clinical experience.

There are a lot of marketing agencies that specialize in healthcare – and these are certainly a step up from those that don’t. Yet they lack that extra knowledge that comes from working within the healthcare system.

I’ve had clients reach out to me because their previous social media “expert” couldn’t write for their audience of medical professionals. It all came out sounding like posts for a wellness magazine. Not so good for their branding.

And I’ve had clients exclaim how delighted they were because I understood the clinical trials process or the basic genetics of what they were working on. That saves them time in bringing me up to speed.

The fact is, my work in public health programs and emergency services gives me a valuable perspective that only comes from direct experience. And, as interest in population health and social determinants of health grows, I can bring something to the table that other consultants and agencies lack.

A clinician without marketing experience won’t cut it.

The other side of the coin is when companies hire a clinician with no marketing experience to do their marketing.

One of my clients could talk your ear off about population health. She knew every statistic, every program, every study – her knowledge and passion were amazing. But she was not a copywriter so, when she needed to sum things up into a bite-size message, she got stuck. Another client of mine is a scientist. He is also a great writer – for other PHDs. But he can struggle when it comes time to talk to his target audience.

Both of these people are tops in their field and great communicators – but that’s different from being great at marketing.

To grow your company, you want someone who understands your world but who also knows how to fine-tune your message. Presenting a peer-reviewed publication is not the same as writing copy for your homepage. You need both skills on your team.

If you are a clinician AND a good marketer, be careful of shiny objects.

Sometimes a company gets lucky and they find someone with a medical background who is also great at marketing. Often this is the owner of the company.

That was the case for one client of mine who had a bad case of “shiny object syndrome.” Every time he saw a new ad or received a sales email, he wanted to do that for his company. That meant, instead of implementing our carefully crafted marketing strategy, we perpetually veered off course. He had a great eye for marketing, but he lacked the experience to know that marketing is less about technology fads and more about human nature. Without experience, he couldn’t tell which ideas had merit and which were just getting lost in the weeds. And, since he loved marketing, he wasn’t open to suggestions. As a result, making any headway became impossible.

Your company needs a mix of expertise.

No one can be an expert in everything but, in healthcare, you really need to know how it works. It’s not enough to have read about it – you need to know how patients move through the system and what their experience is. Just like you need to know how medical professionals work and what their daily life is like.

Yet, by the same token, your company cannot afford to lean so heavily on medical knowledge that you lack essential marketing expertise.

To grow your company, look for the right combination of clinical experience and marketing know-how. That is what will lead you on the path to growth.