Recently, at the Healthcare Marketing & Physician Strategies Summit our Chief Marketing Officer, Gabriel Cohen, hosted a fireside chat with Kate Metzinger, Executive Director of Brand Activation at Piedmont Healthcare. Read the recap below of the insightful session to learn how Kate leveraged her experience from outside healthcare to redefine what marketing looks like at Piedmont Healthcare.

Kate joined Piedmont Healthcare from Georgia Pacific, a CPG firm best known for brands you’d find in your home like Brawny, Angel Soft and Dixie. In her search for a new challenge, she had one thing on her mind: she wanted a challenging workplace that would push the boundaries of her learning. When the CMO of Piedmont, whom she had worked with at GP, invited her to join him,  Kate relished the opportunity to bring her wealth of knowledge of consumer marketing, product innovation, and an understanding of the power of data to the healthcare category.

Learn more: How healthcare leaders can drive change and make an impact


In her discussion with Gabriel, she shared her personal experiences in transitioning from CPG to healthcare, the changes they’ve been able to make, and how they have reset expectations for what good marketing looks like in healthcare. Here are the five takeaways from the discussion:

1. Shift internal mindset to go beyond healthcare: when Piedmont compares themselves, they look beyond local health systems, they look at other powerful brands in the region like Coca-Cola, Delta and UPS. Consumers have expectations of interacting with those brands and Piedmont wants to line up to those rather than pigeon-holing themselves within healthcare. With that mindset, Piedmont Healthcare entered the American Marketing Association awards competition, and did not compete in the healthcare categories, but against the other consumer brands… and won!

“We’d rather try and lose against the best brands in Atlanta across all categories than win in the healthcare category”

– Douwe Bergsma, CMO Piedmont Healthcare

2. Reset KPIs to align with business goals: move beyond traditional marketing goals. Before changing processes or embarking on new workstreams, Piedmont’s marketing team reset their KPIs to align with what the health system is trying to achieve. For them, it was shifting from simply hitting budgets and driving online appointments to being measured and compensated for driving patient volume and revenue. As part of this process, they also found opportunities to streamline their efforts, shifting investments in sponsorships that weren’t driving volume or revenue.

Learn more: Building a more human brand experience


3. Don’t underestimate employee engagement: ensure that your brand means something to internal audiences. Invite them into what you’re doing externally as well. In healthcare, employees are your experience and Piedmont has over 35,000 employees across the state. As we grow our health system, it was important to connect people. We’ve worked on our EVP—employer value proposition—to communicate the benefit of being part of our brand. We focus on how to apply our marketing skills to our employer brand, while driving recruitment and retention. And the last piece of advice for employees: never underestimate the power of swag.

4. Learn and shift: as we all know the world and the people around us are constantly changing. Kate and Gabriel talked about the importance of questions—having an innate sense of curiosity in everything you do. And using that curiosity to drive change. Piedmont used their data and insights to make informed decisions and determine how to spend their limited resources. More specifically, they learned internal teams spent tons of time producing materials that didn’t improve KPIs. Internal efforts were shifted away from social media and display ads to touchpoints that drive usage: ratings and reviews and email campaigns.

5. Build brand as you go: brands shouldn’t be launched and forgotten. It’s important to nurture and grow brand as time goes on. When Kate and the Chief Marketing Officer at Piedmont, Douwe Bergsma, joined it had been a long time (10 years) since the organization invested in a brand campaign. Together, they built a statewide campaign, “Real Change Lives Here,” to strengthen brand metrics across Georgia. In the session, we saw the creative, but also the associated data and outcomes to understand all aspects of the campaign.


If you missed the session at the conference, and want to hear the entire discussion, view the recording below.


Interested in learning more? Reach out to us here.

Elspeth Monigle
May 4, 2023 By Elspeth Monigle