039 | The Best HealthTech Products Never Win with Kat McDavitt of PointClickCare | Studio CMO

Podcast by | January 29, 2021 HealthTech, Positioning and Messaging

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The Episode in 60 Seconds

Kat McDavitt of PointClickCare has seen the ugly side of HealthTech marketing. On this edition of Studio CMO, we discuss:

  • The reasons some companies do well and why some fail
  • What is missing from most marketing plans, especially of start-ups
  • The most important factor for marketing success
  • The anatomy of a modern PR program

Do you need someone to vent to? Do you need an objective third party who can play “bad cop” about marketing to leaders who just don’t get it?  Schedule a no-obligation meeting with John Farkas today. Gain the clarity you need to press into your year.

Our Guest

Kat McDavitt - edited

Kat McDavitt is Chief of External Affairs for the Acute and Payer Segment at PointClickCare, who recently acquired her previous company, Collective Medical. Kat has been deeply involved in marketing leadership there for more than two years. She has consulted with more than 70 healthcare technology companies on go-to-market, communications, and corporate strategy.

She’s a fireball who has helped position healthcare companies from small angel-funded start-ups to multi-vertical publicly-traded corporations.

Before joining Collective, she started and ran Innsena Communications, a boutique integrated communications agency that served the healthcare technology sector.

She spent more than seven years with Dodge Communications, now known as MERGEAtlanta. She led the agency’s strategic services division working with blockbuster healthtech brands including Change Healthcare, Surescripts, NextGen Healthcare, and Kareo.

Show Notes

We anchor much of our discussion to “When is the best time to plant a tree?” That question is asked in many places including the Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Overstory.The novel about activism, resistance, and trees (yes, trees) that indie booksellers want you to know about. | by W. W. Norton & Company | Medium


Find out more about PointClickCare’s acquisition of Collective Medical.

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John Farkas (00:00):

We talk often and frequently about the increasing importance and the increasing prominence of the self-serve sale. As we’re thinking about business to business health tech, marketing, I mean, people are doing their own online research. People are figuring out much about the decision process and the criteria and the qualifications about solutions before real live conversations are happening. That was going on before a global pandemic entered our world. And that’s only accelerated in the last year as we’ve really transformed the shape of business interaction. And it’s changed how people discover, uncover research and engage with solutions. As we’re talking about marketing, as we’re talking about the sales marketing mix and how we get our message to the market, moving into that space, figuring out what it means to fully resource feed and nurture the sales cycle is an essential part of what we do in the context of marketing. And it’s remarkable how slow smart organizations are to adopt and fully embrace what it is means, and look like to live in and thrive in that world. It’s something that can be done. It’s something that has to be done in order for organizations to survive now. And it’s unfortunately uncommon. We’re going to talk about that dynamic today. And we’ve got an expert joining us that has lived this scenario in many forms and shapes throughout her career and live to tell the story. That’s what we’re going to dive in today on Studio CMO.

Mark Whitlock (01:59):

Welcome to Studio CMO. Hi, I’m Mark Whitlock and you’re listening to the podcast where we help health tech, marketing leaders establish and communicate their unique message to the right decision-makers. You can realize your marketing potential studio CMO is brought to you by golden spiral, which our CEO, John Farkas is on board with us today. You just heard from him. John, welcome.

John Farkas (02:21):

Good day, everyone.

Mark Whitlock (02:23):

And my sidekick, cohost, and fellow Atlanta Braves fan Anna Grimes is with us today. Anna. Good morning.

Anna Grimes (02:27):

Proud to be here,

Mark Whitlock (02:28):

I guess I should say good morning. Good afternoon. Or good night wherever you are listening to this podcast on the interwebs.

John Farkas (02:34):

It is a beautiful morning here.

Anna Grimes (02:38):

Yes. Well, we are so glad to have Kat McDavitt here. She is the Chief of External Affairs for the Acute and Payer segment at PointClickCare who recently acquired her previous company, Collective Medical. So Kat comes to these jobs with a deep background, primarily in public relations, right?

Kat McDavitt (03:00):

That’s correct.

Anna Grimes (03:02):

She’s a real fireball she’s I dropped in and listened to one of your previous podcasts, Kat, and really enjoyed and could relate to a lot of what you were saying in that discussion was really helpful, but she has helped position healthcare companies from small angel-funded startups to multi-vertical, publicly-traded companies. So before she was at Collective, she started and ran Innsena Communications and which was a boutique integrated communications agency that served the healthcare technology sector. She spent more than seven years with Dodge Communications now known as MERGEAtlanta. So she’s coming to us today from Fulton County. So go Braves and, uh, we’ll kind of take it from there. So really glad you’re here.

Kat McDavitt (03:48):

Yeah. Thanks Anna. And thanks everyone for having me excited to be here.

John Farkas (03:51):

Kat welcome. We’re glad to have you. I am really interested in the context of your tenure. If you were to underscore a theme, something you’ve seen kind of a repeat pattern with HealthTech companies in their, as they consider their market awareness, how would you characterize that? What is a pattern that you’ve seen exist that you wish you could wave a wand and correct?

Kat McDavitt (04:17):

Well, there are plenty, but I think one that I’ve felt acutely before joining collective going through consulting and working with all these different companies is filtering out the companies that understand marketing and the companies that do not. And I think if you could just slice down those companies who have had amazing exits that are doing really well financially, that are known as market leaders, those companies by far and away have excellent marketing. And the ones that I know you guys would get these calls, right? Where you get a founder or a chief revenue officer or someone it’s typically a chief revenue officer or the chief sales officer or someone like that. He says, we’re a 10 year old company. You know, we’re the number three player in our space. We make, we throw off cash. No one knows who we are, why don’t they know who we are.

Kat McDavitt (05:03):

And, and then you have to wonder, why is the chief sales officer, the chief revenue officer, or the person involved in just sales calling me, where is the marketing person? Right. And, and that’s not a strange thing to experience if it’s a super startup, right? The founder or the sales guy is probably the CEO, right? Like, you know, so, so it makes sense that they don’t have marketing, but the ones that say I’ve been around for a decade and why, why is this company or that company taking over. Right. And, uh, if I could wave a wand at that, I think right now that would be the issue that I would choose.

John Farkas (05:36):

Let’s talk about that because certainly we’re no stranger to that equation. And it is remarkable to me to see the hole that exists and understanding around some of that stuff. But as you look at what it takes to have a successful exit, what it takes to build a successful market presence, what is keeping companies who, you know, those, you know, we’ve been around for 10 years, we’ve been around for 15 years. We are, we’ve got the best solution out there. And nobody knows about us. What is the core understanding that they’re missing, that they need to find a way to embrace.

Kat McDavitt (06:14):

I mean, these companies have done incredible work and they’re just missing this piece. So I don’t want to make this sound like much of a dig, but I think that what those companies are all typically have in common, at least for me, is they do not have a long-term view. Right? Because I just recently read this book, The Overstory, about trees, but great book, whatever. But there’s a quote in there that says what’s the best time to plant a tree. And the response is 20 years ago. Right. And I feel like that’s marketing. And right now in my current role, which is government affairs, it’s the same thing, right. Companies that are willing to invest in long-term views and buy long-term and startup land. Like I’m talking like two to three years. Like it was not that long. Right. But it’s a long time for them.

Kat McDavitt (06:54):

It’s a long time when you’re faced with sales targets that you have to meet, we have to go to a board meeting and present your progress. It’s really hard to plant that tree. And I think that’s typically where we get into things. Some of these companies, they’re newer, they’ve chosen not to invest in the long view of marketing, which as you all know does take time, right? There’s some quick hits you can get, but you really have to keep feeding that, right. I’m selling enough right now. I’m selling by word of mouth. I’m selling by this and that. And rainbows and unicorns that likely is going to stop. And so I think the companies that have chosen to say, I am going to be around, I’m going to invest in this company. I’m going to invest in what it means. Those are the ones that seem to take that viewpoint. And it’s a leadership issue, uh, in my opinion, too, if you can have the most well-meaning, uh, VP of whatever that knows marketing is important, if the person making the decision, whether that’s the CEO, co-founder whoever CFO, if they don’t believe in that investment, then I think that’s where companies go wrong.

John Farkas (07:48):

Yeah, it’s really interesting. And it’s something we see a lot, uh, especially in the Nashville ecosystem because of, uh, the fact that Nashville grew as a healthcare hub in the context of the provider space in the nineties, where, where that whole system just grew and expanded at at an insane rate. And so you have a lot of people who made their fortunes in healthcare and health tech related entities in the day when it was all about selling products, you know, w we have a product, we need a Salesforce. We go out, we, we, uh, have golf meetings. We have lunch meetings, we have dinner meetings and we build relationships. And we, we communicate what we have and we make lots of money. Cause there aren’t a whole lot of options out there right now. And they grew enamored and loved that. And those people now have transposed into the investors and the people who are funding these efforts and they’ll come into it and say, well, this is our playbook and this is how we’ve done it. And they’ll come in and say, this is what the expectation is. You need to hire a head of revenue. You get a sales team that you organize under them and go, go, go

Kat McDavitt (09:00):

Right, add bodies, add bodies, meet numbers. Right? Yeah. I totally get what you’re saying. I think that that also is something that has frustrated me throughout my career. You oftentimes, when you have startup, they get a series, a, they get a bunch of money, right. And the board suggests, Hey, bring in this guy or girl, he or she has done this before in named sector. That is not actually relevant. Right. You know? So like, like God forbid, they’re bringing someone in

John Farkas (09:28):

That was no longer relevant because that was seven years ago and seven years ago now,

Kat McDavitt (09:33):

I mean, in, in healthcare tech rates seven years is like, Holy crap. Like the ACA was barely even like running at that point. This is a totally different universe. And so I really like when, when someone tells me I really don’t care. Right. And it’s, it’s very difficult for me to keep a straight face. Yeah. I was just going to say a bad word, but thank you for saying that, Anna, I was going to say something that you definitely wouldn’t have thought it out, but it’s really hard to accommodate that. Not lose your. How do you, how do you keep that up? Right. And say, you’re actually wrong. Like, you know, that’s cool that you did that with revenue cycle clearing house back in the day. But like no one cares. Right. Um, but aside from that, you know, aside from the, the timeline and all that, the template, the playbook kind of makes me want to vomit, right.

Kat McDavitt (10:15):

The playbook does not apply in all cases, especially in our industry. Right. Uh, as an example, collective, um, very, very interesting space, relatively uninformed category. If we had to pick one, we would have to pick care coordination, but we are, you know, we’re kind of on the fringe of that, right? So how do you define a category or not, blah, blah, blah, separate story. Probably an entirely separate podcast. Um, but we’re serving also all points of care. Our buyers, our health plans, hospitals, Eco’s right. State governments, HAES. Right. And each one of those is a very different persona and they buy in such different ways and their incentive to buy is different. So some of the come in and tell the, tell us like, Hey, I got this playbook. It totally worked. And I was doing, you know, patient messaging, like what, what go, go do something else, go somewhere else. Like use your brain. I I’m glad that worked for you like six years ago when you were doing something, it didn’t matter. Um, but I think, I think that’s one of the keys, right? You, you have to find the advisors who are staying in the market, right. You need to find investors and advisors who understand this. Like, nobody’s it now, right. And God forbid, you go out and get an investor who doesn’t understand healthcare right. In our quasi regulated, like not the free market type thing. Right.

John Farkas (11:29):

Let’s talk about, um, you know, Collective is your, the, the recent story. You’re building a new story now in the context of your role, but in, in the context of Collective, you came in at a really critical crossroads. When the company had just kind of come over the horizon, there was a lot of momentum and a lot of, uh, you know, as we think the market presence, it was underdeveloped, it was misunderstood, not clearly seen. And you took that story from a bit of confusion, to a nice exit. Talk us through how you approached navigating that world from where you came into, when the, the sale occurred, how did you prioritize, what things did you put in the front of the leadership of the organization to help them focus on the story that needed to be told? And how did you tell the story?

Kat McDavitt (12:27):

Obviously, it was all me, it was all marketing that brought us through with successful. Like obviously everybody knows that. Right. So, so just start out with the Collective story. Uh, I think it’s a good one. And I think it’s one of those unicorn stories, right. Um, I had the very fortunate beginning with collective and that they were my clients at incentive prior to me joining them, which is a whole nother story for a whole other podcast, but you’ve got to start training them. I had the world’s longest interview. Right. I got to consult with these guys for a long time. I got to really understand. I had also the time before joining them to convince them that marketing was valuable. Right. And so in that sense, I was in a good position. They had, I started consulting when their series a was announced. That was, that was really one of my first big things that I did for the company was, was handled that announcement.

Kat McDavitt (13:13):

Uh, and, and because of that, they were able to see by having someone who understood PR frankly, uh, that you could get a lot out of it now, but we also saw, uh, at least I felt very acutely at the time was I was PR in a company with, uh, an amazing series, a $50 million, amazing investors, all the right ingredients. But they had, they maybe did like a few press releases over the FreeWire, right? Like there was no marketing, the website was trash who even knows if it worked the day that we announced, I don’t even know. Um, but you know, and, and it was interesting to see how, uh, uh, series A’s and other series that have announced that were much lower, uh, with much lower profile investors outperformed that press release because they had not invested previously marketing. So I’ll start out with that.

Kat McDavitt (13:57):

Right. I think, uh, you know, we, we made up for it, right. We, we had to do a lot on the backend. It was a lot of work, but we didn’t make up for it. And we had all the right ingredients. Uh, and I think the issue that finally, um, turned collective to wanting to work with me, to begin with, and then, and then eventually hiring me as, as the chief marketing officer. And honestly, the first marketing person they had was they had lived in a world, like I mentioned before, where, um, they were spreading just through word of mouth. They were spreading because they did an incredible job and their product really worked. And they, all of a sudden, we’re at a point where other companies notice that, right. They, there were some other competitors that had joined the market that had raised money earlier that are, were investing in marketing earlier. And all of a sudden they found out the age old, uh, or, or they, they answered the age old question, which is, does the best product always win? And no, it does not. It does not. And so they were feeling that our product is better. We have a better, it does more stuff. It has better outcomes. Providers love it. Uh, and it didn’t matter anymore. I mean, it matters obviously, but it wasn’t enough. I should say it was not enough, uh, for them to, uh, effectively compete like they needed to.

John Farkas (15:07):

So that’s an interesting underscore the best product doesn’t always win. Now that that’s a fair, you know, everybody knows that we’ve experienced it and in my mind, there’s no good excuse for it. What does it take to help the best product win in today’s world from your perspective?

Kat McDavitt (15:24):

I had two very amazing things that a lot of marketers don’t have, right. And a lot of agencies and consultancies don’t have. And, uh, I had have still a product that works really well. Like I said, it is the best product. It is. I, I am very fortunate that I’m working with, with the product leader in our, in our category. Uh, and second, because this company had spread by word of mouth and, and just really focused on being product first for a long time. Uh, and still does very much have that mindset. Uh, we had have a customer base that is massively engaged, loves the thing, and just wants to talk about it like nobody’s business, right. Uh, so when, um, you know, you ask how both we, we made collected into what it, what it has become as well as, uh, you know, how we, how we got out of this, uh, you know, the best product doesn’t win, scary place, right.

Kat McDavitt (16:15):

Is, uh, we, we leveraged that amazing base. We didn’t have to do any repair on our product sucking, right? This is amazing. It does all the things, right. Uh, and then we were able to use the voice of our customer, uh, which is if you have that ingredient at your company, like, God bless you like that. That’s in many cases, all you need and engaged and active customer base that can talk about results. Like you do not need anything else. You, you maybe need a few dollars once in a while to, uh, you know, throw something on the wire, but you, you have a lot of what you need, you know, and even at collective, you know, we, we did raise a, an amazing series eight, but we had a lot of, a lot of growing to do. This was, this was not all marketing money, as you can imagine.

Kat McDavitt (16:54):

I mean, budgets, you can do a lot with a small budget. Um, and, and so that’s what we did. We started with the voice of the customer, which in, in many cases you can do, uh, without much expense if you already have it. Right. And, um, we focus heavily because of my background, uh, and our budget on, on PR, right. We have an amazing customer base that wants to talk about us. Like, let’s get that placed everywhere. Let’s have people talk to all of our trades, the business media, and just tell these amazing stories. And the other benefit of working at a company like collective that’s working with the underserved, frankly, a large Medicaid population is you have these amazing stories about how providers could not help these patients before they had our platform. Right. So, you know, we’re telling these extremely emotional stories, uh, via our customers, uh, which is always impactful, right.

Kat McDavitt (17:43):

When you’re on that two by two and you get up in the upper, right. And you’re talking in the emotional practical quadrant, like what a freaking, um, so, you know, I’m, I’m making this sound like I really didn’t do that much. Probably didn’t, you know, I was very lucky, right. There was, there was a lot there that, uh, that was good ingredients, but we focused on credibility first. Right. So, and we unfortunately didn’t have the money right away to do big brand. Right. I mean, if you look at the evolution of that brand, um, I, uh, I tried to keep that brand as long as the visual identity, as long as I could, so that I could focus on building, building the credibility of the, of the company in the market and their arguments before and against that. Right. We arguably could have made a bigger, uh, awareness in a splash if I had invested the other way around.

Kat McDavitt (18:26):

But, um, again, we were, we were planning our tree and hoping that we had, you know, years and years for it to grow. Uh, and, and I think, I think it still did pay a lot of dividends doing that. Um, we are, our PR and comms program was on autopilot after a little while we had an amazing team. Right. But, um, you know, we, we had a system and we had people who wanted to talk about us and we use that. It sounds like, and you lead with customer stories, which is absolutely. Oh yeah. There’s, there’s no other way to go. If you have that ingredient in a you’re neglecting it, you, you are a fool.

John Farkas (18:59):

You want to take a moment because I know that how you see PR and how some people, when they hear the idea of PR how they categorize it and think about it are likely two different things. So let’s take a minute and talk about the anatomy of a modern quote unquote PR program, because it’s much different than throwing out press releases. So what is, what does it mean? And I think we’re going to end up talking about earned media here.

Kat McDavitt (19:28):

Maybe you’re speaking my love language also, how unfortunate is that, uh, that public relations and press release have had the same two letters, right. That, you know, whenever I say, I used to say, Hey, I’m a PR consultant for health tech, and they’d be like, Oh, you write, press releases. I’m like, well, we do, we do that sometimes. Yes. Sometimes I do that

John Farkas (19:49):

Quick table stakes that we do just to check the box.

Kat McDavitt (19:54):

Yeah. You kind of have to have it. It’s, it’s a thing. But, um, you know, it’s, I wouldn’t call it an integral part of your, your communications program. So when I say PR, uh, again, and I am biased here, and I know John, you kind of share, you share my sentiment. Um, I’m PR a little bit here, but I do approach it very differently. And I think that’s one of the reasons that, um, that my consultancy was successful. Right. It’s kind of a unique flavor. Um, and I’m probably a, a unique cup of coffee, but, um, I think that when, when I say PR, what I’m really talking about is how are you positioning your company in the environment you’re presented with, to our point earlier, how do you succeed in the environment you’re presented with? Um, there’s another side of that, which is kind of government affairs and policy.

Kat McDavitt (20:33):

How do you, how do you change the environment around yourself? Right. There’s there’s ways you can do that as well. Um, but I think to start, and in most cases, most, most startups to, um, uh, even honestly, even a late-stage company, uh, it really is focusing how to succeed in your environment, right? And, and that to me is public relations in this market. Uh, and so it means a lot of different things. It starts with positioning, which is this exercise that I know John, you’ve your YouTube focused on heavily. And again, this is another, when’s the best time to plant a tree questions, right? So many companies skip this and then you end up and collectively, our CEO would tell you, our founders will tell you, uh, when I started, like our messaging was everything and nothing all at the same time, right. Because the platform could do so much and they wanted everyone to know that.

Kat McDavitt (21:17):

And so our messaging was all the things. Um, but investing in that exercise upfront, some of the most successful companies I’ve seen and the ones that have exited, um, w with, with, with extreme flare and well are the ones that went very early in the company’s history. They sat down and they worked on messaging and positioning. Uh, and, and those can be boring exercises, right? I mean, they’re not boring for marketing people, but they’re, they’re boring for, for, um, people on the corporate side, because you don’t feel like you’re doing anything, right. You’re not popping out a Presley’s in the wire and getting, getting all your Google alerts to say you did something that day. Right. Um, you’re not putting something up on social media. You’re not making a sell sheet, right. You’re, it’s this intangible ephemeral thing, um, that, that no one really understands, but you’re planting a tree.

Kat McDavitt (22:04):

I approach it from that, right. What is our position in the market and how do we achieve that? And very often it’s changing mindsets, right? At the end of the day, we can talk about all this BS, all, you know, blah, blah, blah, earned, media, owned, whatever you are influencing a person to think in a different way with PR at least the way I think of PR. And there are a lot of ways you have to do that. Right. And, and in some cases, you know, you are bringing in someone to contact someone directly and, and share that message. It’s, it’s stuff like this, it’s a podcast, right? It’s how many different forms of media do you have to have out there that have credibility and can influence someone to think a different way. Uh, and that, that to me is how I’ve always approached it.

Kat McDavitt (22:44):

And so, um, you know, I, I may have gotten a client that said, you know, I want you to write two articles a month. Like, okay. Like, you know, if they pay you enough, cool. Right. All we can go left to the bank, but, um, are you actually doing anything? And so I think what’s most interesting is when you, when you find a prospect or a client that is like, Hey, I understand, I need to influence the market. I need to move the market. Uh, and I don’t have a lot of money, but can you help me do that? Right. And I think that’s where it gets interesting. We have to have a lot of money. That’s cool too. But, um, in some cases, the ones that don’t have a big budget are actually more exciting. Uh, and you can do a lot more and move a lot more with a client like that. Uh, then you can, with one that says, you know, I want to buy six billboards outside of the hospitals and the CEO buys my thing, right? Like,

John Farkas (23:27):

And I’ve really thought that PR as an discipline needs to rebrand, really, because it is at this point, it’s such a misnomer because what we’re talking about essentially is thought leadership. And it is the elements of thought leadership. It is about how you populate the, with the right kind of ideas, to help people with their, from, to help people from where they sit in an understanding to where you want them to go in an understanding. And that happens through things that you’re talking about, like hearing from actual customers who have seen some transformational experience that people didn’t realize was that possible, where they overcame some blocking factor that they had lived with for way too long, that you were somehow able to eliminate through the engagement with this product or this platform or this company, you know, that that is the kind of ideas that you want to inject in the market.

John Farkas (24:22):

That is what modern public relations is and is helping tell stories of from two that are market relevant and putting those stories in the path of people that have those problems. And that is a key framework, your leading thought at that point, and it’s not just about throwing a PR. Now it is press release. I mean, we call them in our world, we call it the color cloud. Do you want to put your company’s color cloud around the market, right. Where, where no matter where they’re turn, they’re catching little pieces and snips and things that say, okay, this is, these guys are apparently relevant. You know, what they’re doing is apparently relevant. I apparently need to spend some time effort and energy understanding what they’re apparently doing. Um, because it’s so apparent.

Kat McDavitt (25:08):

Have you tried Mark that kind of like put that in my pocket for later?

John Farkas (25:14):

No, I think that, that’s it. I mean, I, I think that that’s where we’re, you know, making things apparent, um, is, is the key. And that’s what you’re talking about. Right. I mean, and, and that’s a lot of what I saw you do with collective is, is create that color cloud around the market where people were beginning to understand, okay, this, this is different. There is a clear from, to here. And I mean, that is the co the category creation idea that we’re, we’re bingeing into, which is, you know, anytime we’re talking about technology, anytime we’re talking about a transformational solution, we’re talking about redefining how people think and not putting things in different categories. So it’s all perfect.

Kat McDavitt (25:56):

Well, and John, to your point, uh, your initial point about the self-service self-service marketing, self-service sales, um, your color cloud, uh, to use to the term I plan on, I definitely am going to steal, I’m sorry, in advance. Uh, I like, I like that [inaudible] yeah, I will, for sure. But, but that’s part of it, right? You’re, you’re, you’re getting, you’re capturing awareness and you’re making people think, Oh, allegedly, this is a thing, right. I should go check this out because a lot of times now, um, you may be getting someone you may be able to with this PR color cloud, amazing thing you just described, get people to, to say, this is something I need, but oftentimes they’re already in a consideration cycle. Right. Um, and how do you capture that? And maybe, you know, they have a problem. They think this is a solution, but now you’re up to like, Oh, way over here.

Kat McDavitt (26:44):

There’s actually it, this is a new thing. So I think, I think that all plays in, especially in today’s world. And, you know, even when we all go back to the way things were, which, you know, I’m sure will be exactly the same. Um, it won’t be right. Like, we’re, we’re not gonna th the likelihood that we’re all going to get on planes all the time and not see our families for two weeks is unlikely. I, at least I hope for my case, that that’s true. Uh, so these things I think are going to be even more important.

Mark Whitlock (27:07):

So Kat. We’ve been talking about how men and women with legacy ideas about marketing come into a job or in a job. And they realize, wow, seven years is a century. I’ve got to do more. You know, the, the great thing about your planet tree analogy is the rest of that quote is, uh, when is the second best time to plant a tree? It’s today,

Kat McDavitt (27:29):

Today, [inaudible]

Mark Whitlock (27:31):

People who were stuck in these jobs who don’t know what to do. They’ve got to, they’ve got to figure out how to move their company. What would you tell the marketing leader who’s awakened and realize they’ve got to plant the tree today. What are the first couple of three things they’ve got to do today in order to move their company in the right direction?

Kat McDavitt (27:48):

Right. Well, I, that, that is a little bit of a tricky question because I’m not going to launch directly into, you need to send press releases and you need to have a blog. I think that what I would advise, anyone who has, has, has had an awakening, uh, you know, whether that’s CEO deciding to hire their first CMO or something, or, or does that marketing person is taking inventory of what you currently have. If you are brand new and fresh, and your company started approximately at midnight, two days ago, when you and your co-founder were drinking coffee or whatever else you felt like drinking, cool. What do you have now? But if you’re also that marketer who has a ten-year legacy company who has never done marketing, which has never done marketing, like your website’s like two pages, and, you know, you’re, you got your local fiber, right?

Kat McDavitt (28:30):

Like, what do you have right now? Right. And then the, we all know we’ve met this week. Yes. And you know, some of those locals are not that bad. Some of them really are, but you’d be surprised right there. And a healthy embrace of healthcare blue. Oh yeah. Healthcare, um, you know, lots of crosses out of band-aids like that, but like take an inventory of what you have, uh, like, like I did a collective and, and, and, you know, I D I do have a unique flavor for what we’ll call PR, but, and I do strongly lean in that way when, when I’m working with a company. But I think that if you don’t have voice of the customer, if your product is second or third or fourth to market, right. If that’s where you are, your approach is so much different, right. You probably will lean more on brand.

Kat McDavitt (29:14):

You will need more on owned media. Right. Um, paid media and things like that. But I think if you’re in a position, like I was a collective, I think that right. Approaches to use those things that you have listen, like, well, we can all say we’ve met that one marketer who had like a $7 million budget, you know, out of a $20 million revenue company. Like, like, it just, isn’t a thing. Right. We all have bad budgets. We all want more, we never have enough. And in most cases, that is true. Right. Um, there’s an amazing physician in Alaska. She’s a social media superstar right now. Her name’s Ann zinc, Dr. Anthony, she is currently the COO of the state of Alaska. Uh, and she, uh, is, is really leading that state through the COVID crisis.

John Farkas (29:55):

And you were talking about not the chief marketing officer of Alaska, but the chief medical officer, just to get

Kat McDavitt (30:00):

She’s medical. I apologize. Yes. There are other CMOs out there. It is true. Um, but she always says, uh, to us, you know, go the way that the log is rolling, like do not try to roll it back up Hill. Right. Uh, and I think that’s, that’s what you have to do in a case like that, where you’re evaluating ground up markets.

Mark Whitlock (30:17):

And if you are in that scenario and looking at what am I going to do? And if you’re an entity looking to plant a tree in a market, and that market is full of Maples, you better not plan a maple. You need to find something that’s going to set you apart. And so in that inventory that you’re talking about, as you figure out what it is that you have, what is it that you have that will help you differentiate? Know what is it that you have that you can land and expand on to help build into a defining presence that will give people something to talk about that will give you something to talk about and camp on, where people will raise their eyebrows and say, I should check them out. It’s super important and super good.

Kat McDavitt (31:01):

Yep. Why you, why now? Right. Answer those questions.

Mark Whitlock (31:04):

If you’re coming, if you’re a challenger in the market, that’s been asleep at the wheel for a little while and you’re coming in and needing to change it up, you can’t change it up by saying the same thing everybody else is doing. Because at that point you have to, you can, I suppose, if you,

Kat McDavitt (31:19):

You can double triple the budget. Absolutely. You can outspend

Mark Whitlock (31:24):

It louder and you can win most of the time. That’s not the case. So you have to come in with different, you have to come in with something that you can own that, that gets people to raise their eyebrows and say, I should at least check them out.

Kat McDavitt (31:36):

Absolutely. Yeah. I’ve seen a number of companies in that environment, right. Where, where you’re, you know, very late to market, uh, they, you know, they ended up in a race to the bottom, right? You just, you tank the whole, the whole sector. Right. Um, a lot of that happened in the eighties.

Speaker 3 (31:51):

You once said that sell sheets are not step one in sales. Tell us about what a winning sales strategy includes. And what is your recommendation for how marketing should be working with sales.

Kat McDavitt (32:04):

Yeah. Again, you get these investors and advisors coming in and saying, well, you know, I had this huge Salesforce that was a commoditized product. And you know, it, this is what happened. This is what we did go do this here. I think you really need to understand your buyer and back to product marketing one Oh one, right? What is the problem? Is it urgent? Is it pervasive and has their willingness to buy? And the fourth one, there is their willingness to buy incentive to bike should guide your entire sales strategy. And it is not, I would probably bet at least a hundred dollars that your company is going to fail. Right. Um, if you, uh, you know, you get a lot of, uh, you know, I, I do think, I do think product marketing is key and it’s, I hate much like PR is PR I hate their product marketing is called product marketing, because what it really is, is it’s your entire strategy should be centered on your product.

Kat McDavitt (32:53):

Right. Uh, and, and what are the market influences? What, what, what forced you to make it the way it is? And, and what do your, not just your users want, because unfortunately the buyer of times the users are not the buyer. Um, but what is your buyer one? Right. And so I think that companies much like messaging and positioning, and these can be done in tandem or as one exercise. And I know John that you do this, um, where you’re really looking at buyer incentive, who is the buyer journey maps, you know, all of that, those are so important. And again, they don’t feel as good because you’re not doing the thing. Uh, but they’re critical, critical, critical, critical. If you’re doing this core positioning exercise so much comes out of it. And, um, that’s the holistic approach to marketing or whatever else. Right? How does it, how does it suck in your whole company?

Kat McDavitt (33:38):

And to that point in, uh, answering your question about how sales and marketing should work together. Um, first of all, I strongly and firmly believe they should be separate disciplines and they should report up, uh, to a CEO. Um, they, I do not think that they perform well when marketing is sucked into sales. Um, and I’ve actually seen it the other way around where sales is, is sucked into marketing a few times. And again, I think they are separate disciplines. They work together, they very complimentary, but very separate. Um, but I think that if you have done that core work and your sales leader and your marketing leader understand product marketing and how your product and your solution set fits into that, uh, it can be a harmonious experience. I think what you often see in, especially in, in, in the, in the companies that have chosen not to plant the tree, uh, is they get, you know, they get one marketing person, maybe two, they probably pay them $32,000 a year and they pump out sell sheets and make PowerPoint decks for their sales team. Right. And they have, maybe they read a blog sometimes and it’s like, okay, cool. Uh, I think, um, marketing is a separate discipline. And like I said, the companies that succeed at good marketing, it is rare to see a good a company that has exited well have shipment.

Mark Whitlock (34:52):

And, and especially when we’re dealing with technology companies, we have people in the product cycle that are really excited about this new capability that they’ve uncovered. And so they make it an emphasis because it’s something that can happen. And so they’ll spend a lot of time, effort and energy developing something that can happen. That’s a tangential element partially related to a problem without a really good disconnect. Then somehow that will migrate to a marketing initiative to sell something. And it wasn’t born out of the market. It wasn’t born out of a real need. It wasn’t born out of somebody’s actual problem. It was born out of the technological capability and then sales is expected to sell it somehow magically, I think with companies

Kat McDavitt (35:38):

Who are founded by product and engineering people, right? Yeah. The true like technologists, founders, I think that’s a, that’s a thing. Um, if they, if they haven’t reached a point of their company yet where they’re able to bring in someone who’s more business minded or understands the market or, or even, you know, a sales function, um, I think that that’s often the case and, um, a lot of companies fall into that, right. They’re like, Oh, this typical thing it’s amazing. And, um, you know, then we see them, the marketing team get directed into spending, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars marketing, a thing that no one even knows if anyone wants. Right. Um, and, and, you know, again, back to back to the two by two, I love, I love a good two by two, um, you know, there’s features and functionality marketing, for sure. I mean, that’s definitely an approach, but I think that if you’re doing that, you better be in a commoditized sector, right. You better be in revenue cycle or something that is heavily regulated. Right. I mean,

Mark Whitlock (36:34):

Well, I’ll just say this. If, if, if you’re sitting in a marketing seat in an organization under a technical founder that you are, and you’re struggling with this issue, I will be happy to jump on a phone call with you and, and your, your CEO, founder, whoever, whatever position there, and, and you, and I’ll be the enemy, um, I’ll be the bad guy and help them into an understanding of why they’re going to sink before they have the opportunity to swim. If they keep that up. Because you know, the market right now is too crowded with too many solutions saying too many things. And in a market, you know, in healthcare, which right now is in the middle of a raging fire trying to survive. And, and if you’ve got some obscure solution that doesn’t have a clear tie to a known problem that people are experiencing right now and have fun and have budget allocated to try and solve in a hurry, then you’re not going to get it.

Mark Whitlock (37:32):

You’re not going to get a hearing. There’s not going to be a path for you. You have to be relevant. And so if you’re in that situation, being asked to sell something that is, you know, has a made up market, uh, happy, I’m happy to be the fall guy and help them into an understanding of why that’s a hard thing. And you can sign up for that black hat@studiocmo.com slash zero three nine, seriously, come on, over, sign up for a strategic consultation with John, no obligation for that. I’m also happy to, to jump on a zoom and just listen, and just listen to your problem and give you a place to vent. Um, that’s really important. It is. His perspective is

Kat McDavitt (38:14):

No, you’re not crazy. Right. I think that that’s, sometimes it’s easy to sit there and think, well, maybe I’m not doing this right. But then, you know, to keep reminding yourself, no, I’m good at my job. I know what this is. I know what I’m doing. It’s nice to have someone.

Mark Whitlock (38:27):

So Kat, as we close out here, as you are looking at the horizon right now and understanding the way the market is shaping and framing, what’s on your front burner, what’s got you excited. What’s some of your thinking currently about how to engage.

Kat McDavitt (38:43):

Yeah. So I think, um, what’s really exciting about, uh, right now for me is that, um, I am a part of PointClickCare now and PointClickCare is a much bigger company than collective, right? Uh, together we’re 1800 people. Collective was about 200 when we were acquired. Um, PointClickCare has a very sophisticated method team, uh, right. They’ve been at this for a long time. I think they just celebrated, or we just celebrated our 20th anniversary, uh, and, uh, a good team that does a lot of stuff. Right. A lot, you know, it, it appears to be a team. You know, I’ve only officially been part of the company for about three weeks. Uh, but that, that is respected and, and gets the resources it needs. And, uh, it has a voice that’s heard, which I think is awesome. Uh, and, and now as I’m, you know, working with the government affairs team, I think what’s going to be really interesting is to see how, um, how long marketing team like that coupled with, um, you know, public affairs, government relations, things like that can really make an impact together, uh, with, with, with what I hope will be a decent resourcing, right.

Kat McDavitt (39:46):

Uh, and, and attention to the market. Uh, the interesting thing about, um, PointClickCare and collective is we are from very different market segments, right? PointClickCare is absolute market leader in long-term and post-acute care. You’ve got like 70% market share. And collective is, uh, I, this is my title says acute and payer, right? Where hospitals health plans, we do serve the inventory community, but very different market segment. And so I’m interested to see how we can leverage this amazing marketing machine that PointClickCare has built, uh, to accelerate, uh, the, the collective market. Right? How do we make that happen in a way that, um, that really works because to my earlier point, you know, the buyers are different. Uh, how do we make sure that the needs of those, uh, the market is met, uh, in two very different places, three different places, maybe more, um, I think that’s going to be a really interesting thing.

Kat McDavitt (40:34):

The other thing, John, to your point is that we are still in the middle of the pandemic with a public health emergency that won’t be over for another year, at the least. Right. Um, and I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how, um, our combined company can serve that market. Right. Very focused on healthcare providers, the post acute market has been getting hammered. Right. Um, and, and to your point, how do you do something relevant that’s meaningful, uh, that, that where you can lead, right? And, and I think by default, that’s going to be your best approach to true marketing is doing the right thing and serving your customers well,

Mark Whitlock (41:08):

Cat, it is always a privilege and it’s been too long since we’ve hung out and talk.

Kat McDavitt (41:12):

I know it’s been awhile, but working my 18 hour days here in startup land. So

Mark Whitlock (41:19):

Super excited about what you’ve got going on. Uh, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule, to talk with us and, uh, look forward to some other opportunities. I’m sure there will be some

Kat McDavitt (41:30):

Well, Anna, John, Mark, you guys are amazing. Thank you for having me his show. I

Kat McDavitt (41:34):

Was looking through the other podcast guests and I was so excited that you thought that I might be, I might be worth being on the show. So thank you. I really appreciate it.

Mark Whitlock (41:43):

And we’re glad to have you with us. And if you want to find out more about cat McDevitt or point click care, or for that matter, collective medical, come on over to studiocmo.com/039. That’s where you’ll find the show notes. We link out to the book about trees. We link out to great resources on positioning, and we want to make sure that, you know, uh, again, that if you are looking for that objective observer, someone to sit down with you, to listen to you with empathy, to hear about your marketing challenges, or if you need somebody to be a black hat, to help those around you, to awaken to the needs of marketing, click on that strategic consultation link in the show notes. And you’ll have a, an appointment set up for John, where you can meet remotely.

Mark Whitlock (42:27):

and anonymously.

Mark Whitlock (42:33):

And we’ll remind you again, of the three tenants that make us not have. Marketing could have real live marketing. And that is to understand your buyer’s problems.

Anna Grimes (42:47):

lead with an empathetic understanding.

John Farkas (42:50):

and to make your buyer the hero.

Mark Whitlock (42:52):

We’ll see you. Next time on studio Studio CMO is shaped by golden spiral and agency providing market positioning and demand generation for HealthTech. We help healthcare technology companies establish and communicate their unique message to the right decision-makers, realize your market potential contact golden spiral. Our music is provided by some of Nashville’s hottest studio musicians who make up Human Music, aBMG production music company. Find out more at humanmusic.com.


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