Want to Survive Hard Times? Learn from Morgan and McCracken

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There is a tendency by those working in any profession, whether it is accounting, the law, or healthcare, to gather information from familiar sources. In medical imaging, we read the books, visit the websites and attend the conferences that are steeped in medical jargon and are created by people whose backgrounds qualify them to offer that particular information.

There’s nothing wrong with that, for ongoing education and continuous improvement should be part of our daily routine.

The challenge arises when we fail to recognize the sources outside of medical imaging that may have as much or more impact on our businesses as those within.

Fresh Inspiration For Imaging Providers

In the past year, I have read two outstanding books on medical imaging marketing, though neither has anything directly to do with healthcare. Morgan: American Financier, is the biography of J.P. Morgan, one of America’s first investment bankers. Of an impending recession in 1895, author Jean Strauss wrote, “In recent economic downturns, corporate giants had generally trimmed their sails and pulled through, often buying up competitors at bargain prices.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because it may be happening in your facility. Decision makers often determine that the best way to trim their sails is to reduce their marketing budget, which they consider an expense instead of an investment, its true purpose. The occasional consequence of this decision is not the ability to ride out any turbulent economic storm but to set oneself up for being purchased at a bargain price.

A Surprising Must-Read Marketing Book

Moneyball, by Michael Lewis, is the bestseller that most people assume to be about baseball, but it’s not. As proof, I am going to cite a passage from the book where Lewis quotes a baseball analyst named Voros McCracken, substituting the words “medical imaging” where McCracken wrote “baseball.”

"The problem with medical imaging,” he said, “is that it is a self-populating institution. Knowledge is institutionalized. The people involved with medical imaging who aren’t players are ex-players. In their defense, their structure is not set up along corporate lines. They aren’t equipped to evaluate their own systems. They don’t have the mechanism to let in the good and get rid of the bad. They either keep everything or get rid of everything and they rarely do the latter.”

Moneyball is actually an outstanding medical imaging marketing book that reminds us of three important principles.

  1. There are no sacred cows. Anything that is not working or anyone who is not performing can be altered or terminated at any time.
  2. Marketing decisions must be made on a rational, not emotional basis. Simply sounding, looking, or feeling good is not enough – quantifiable data must be provided to support any significant marketing investment. Subjective decision-making results in unpredictable and costly results. Objective choices increase the chances of success.
  3. Most importantly, someone in your organization must have a vision and must be allowed to see it through. No vision, no growth.

This is the first of what I hope and expect will be many columns designed to help you improve your marketing efforts. Sometimes, I will present the best practices of others, sometimes I will draw from my own years of experience and other times, I will cite sources outside of medical imaging.

In any or all of those instances, my goal will be to help you look at your situation in a new light. If there is a topic you would like to see me cover, please let me know by commenting below.


With over 25 years of marketing experience — nine years as a former Vice President of Marketing for a leading healthcare marketing company — Steve Smith has consistently developed effective strategies to help fuel the growth of countless healthcare enterprises. Since 2007, he has specialized as a marketing and business development consultant to medical imaging facilities nationwide. Mr. Smith has been a featured speaker at imaging conferences and is a former member of the marketing subcommittee of the Radiology Business Management Association (RBMA). He has contributed marketing articles to numerous healthcare publications, including Physician's Money Digest, Radiology Business Journal and more. Mr. Smith is the creator of "Ten Seconds to Great Customer Service™," a medical imaging training program that provides easy-to-use tactical customer service support to staff.