The American Marketing Association has created a new healthcare division to replace the Academy for Health Services Marketing, which effectively split from the association earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the president of the academy, renamed the Alliance for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing, wants to make amends with the association despite pending litigation over the breakup.
"I continue to be amazed that we wound up in court," said Cynthia Sucher, the alliance's president. "We certainly hope we're going to sit down around a table and chat about this together."
The American Marketing Association's spokesman on the dispute is its chief operating officer, Dennis Jorgensen, who was out of town last week and could not be reached for a response.
It's a confusing time for members, who will belong to both groups until their terms expire on a staggered, quarterly schedule. Beyond legal and fiscal issues, the rift reflects a dichotomy in the definition of healthcare marketing.
Bill Broderick, director of marketing for HMSS/Coram, a Houston-based infusion therapy and home healthcare company, was named vice president of the new American Marketing Association division, called the Health Services Marketing Council.
Mr. Broderick said the council will work closely with the association's 100 local chapters and stress tactics, such as ad campaigns, rather than the alliance's focus of business strategy.
The American Marketing Association lowered its dues for healthcare professionals to $100, but only 65% to 70% of those whose terms expired Sept. 1 chose to renew, Mr. Broderick said (See chart, p. 14). "Obviously, this is going to be a rebuilding year for us," he said.
Carla Windhorst, the alliance's executive director, reported steady enrollment. She expects an increase once a membership campaign begins in late fall.
Dues are at the crux of the disagreement. The academy-an American Marketing Association subsidiary with its own bylaws, governing board and budgeting authority-dropped a requirement that its members join the association and one of the association's local chapters. Typically, academy members were paying $205 a year, of which $50 went to the academy, Ms. Windhorst said. The high cost hindered recruitment, she said.
Also, she said, the academy drew professionals in customer relations, business development and managed care, who did not identify with the marketing moniker.
The American Marketing Association sued, citing unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract (June 20, p. 4). Court orders restrain either side from using the academy's name. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 21 in the Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court.
Both groups are busy at work. The alliance held two conferences over the summer and has a third starting Oct. 23. The council scripted a video seminar for local chapters, Mr. Broderick said.
Both sides also have expressed a desire for harmony.
"We both serve a good purpose, I think," Mr. Broderick said. The split "wasn't pretty. Some feelings were hurt. But you need to look forward."
Ms. Sucher said at least one American Marketing Association chapter approached the alliance and asked it to continue providing healthcare programming. She said the alliance would still consider being the association's healthcare arm. "We certainly would promote (American Marketing Association) membership," she said.
Yet the council and the alliance have very different outlooks.
Mr. Broderick sees a future with fewer jobs for healthcare marketers. He said the council will offer "a broader base of knowledge" that marketers can transfer to other industries.
Ms. Windhorst said she does not believe reform and integration will decrease the need for marketing. Rather, she said, "what has happened and will continue to happen is the people responsible for that relationship will not have marketing titles."