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#BehindtheBrand – Meet Madelein Barkhuizen, Executive Manager: Marketing And Sales For Bestmed

#BehindtheBrand – Meet Madelein Barkhuizen, Executive Manager: Marketing and Sales for Bestmed

Bestmed is South Africa’s largest self-administered medical scheme; a brand which promises to deliver healthcare that is ‘Personally Yours’. This promise has never been more important than during the national and global health pandemic we are facing and throughout these challenging and uncertain times, Bestmed has stayed true to their brand essence of being “by members, for members”.

The Scheme remains committed to being large enough to create value for their beneficiaries, personal enough to provide care for each one of them, and that humble enough to listen and respond with agility to realign their service to their mutual vision of helping their clients live their best life today, tomorrow and beyond.
We chatted to Madelein Barkhuizen, Executive Manager: Marketing and Sales for Bestmed Medical Scheme to understand what drives the brand.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your career journey before your current role at Bestmed?

I am currently the Executive Manager: Marketing and Sales for Bestmed Medical Scheme, the largest self-administered medical scheme in South Africa and fourth largest open medical scheme. My areas of responsibility include corporate marketing, corporate communication, sponsorships and corporate social investment (CSI), two sales distribution channels and business development.
During my career, I have gained extensive experience in marketing, sales and business development, as well as other operational functions, mainly in the financial services and healthcare industries. I have been fortunate to hold positions on executive level for the past 20 years and, therefore, my experience also extends to risk management, corporate governance, integrated reporting, human resources management, etc.
I believe that a healthy body and mind are two very important ingredients for a successful career. I try to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and healthy eating, but also building positive, constructive relationships with my peers and teams, and enough laughter.
My academic qualifications include BCom (Marketing Management), BCom Honours (Business Management), Post-graduate diploma (Integrated Reporting) and an MBA.

2. What do you love most about working for Bestmed and the team you work with today?

Prior to my employment at Bestmed, I had a relationship with the Scheme via my mother, who had to fight cancer for a period of eight years. She was a Bestmed member, and the service and care that we received during all those years were exceptional. When I was offered the opportunity to work for Bestmed, I did not hesitate to accept the challenge.
I work with an incredible team of talented individuals, and I am very proud of them. They are skilled, committed and positive, and we share a high work ethic. We engage constructively and regularly.
I also enjoy working with the wider Bestmed team. We have a very special organisational culture. We believe that we are in the business of saving lives, and we take our responsibility very seriously. The team is also very committed to live our brand promise which is “Personally Yours,” and we recently received external validation that members experience our service and products as “Personally Yours”, via the 2021 South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi). Bestmed was rated number one among a number of large South African medical schemes.

As the brand custodian, you put your personal reputation on the line when you market and sell your brand. Thanks to my incredible team and our committed group of employees, I am exceptionally proud to market and sell Bestmed.

3. Are there any unique challenges/highlights that come with marketing a brand like Bestmed?

For me, personally, it is very important to truly believe in the brand that you represent. Your personal values should align with the values of the brand. This results in an authentic and honest approach to brand management.
A brand is not a logo – it is the people, service and the values that members come to expect from the organisation, and whether these are consistent. At Bestmed, we call our employees our Heartbeats and I truly believe that they are the heartbeat of our brand.
It is important that our stakeholders know and trust our brand and, therefore, we work hard at achieving and maintaining solid levels of brand awareness. If potential members and financial advisors do not know about the brand, they will approach a competitor. You also have to understand your target market, as well as your existing membership base because you have to acquire new members, but also retain your existing membership.

4. In your opinion, what skills and qualities are key to being a successful brand custodian?

You must know your brand very well and, as I mentioned above, the brand values should resonate with you to ensure an authentic approach to the management of the brand. You also need to be consistent. Through their customer journey, members engage with the brand via different channels, and it is important that their experiences via the various touch points are consistent throughout. To achieve this, you need to make sure that your team is aligned at all times with regard to the brand philosophy and brand management objectives.

I have also learnt that it is very important to focus not only on a few metrics, but to identify and manage various important metrics as part of your brand management strategy. If, for example, you only focus on acquisition and sales targets, you might neglect your loyal existing membership. You have to ensure that you monitor and manage the right metrics.

You need a committed and passionate team. A leader is only as good as their team, and everybody should be aligned.
Lastly, you must remain involved, driven and committed. You can never be complacent. The marketplace is competitive and ever-changing. You have to remain very involved with your brand and your team, and make sure that you adapt the strategies and approaches, where necessary, and again refine and improve them. Brand management is a continuous and iterative process. If you become complacent and do not nurture your brand, the brand image will erode.

5. What makes you a good fit for this role?

I have the skills, experience and qualifications to execute my responsibilities. However, I think that I truly enjoy my role because I am passionate about the brand and our people. I also take my leadership role very seriously and do my best to lead by example to foster an environment that is conducive to speaking openly and giving feedback, where diversity is valued and where we respect each other.


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