050 | Behavioral Modeling Leads to Deeper Customer Insights in HealthTech Marketing | Nicole Williams of RRD | Studio CMO

Podcast by | April 30, 2021 Automation and Lead Flow, Content Marketing, Marketing Strategy

About Our Guest

Nicole Williams is the Vice President of Healthcare Sales and Business Development for RR Donnelley or RRD. She’s a sales executive through and through with long stints at Pitney Bowes and other companies before coming to RRD in 2015. She’s an expert in Medicare- and Medicaid-mandated communications and has dedicated the last few years to understanding both the payer and provider worlds. She built the go-to-market strategy for RRD’s healthcare arm.

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Show Notes

Nicole Williams outlines several aspects of targeting the healthcare provider.

“We must walk a mile in the patient’s shoes.” — Nicole Williams

Remote or virtual healthcare has been adopted by less than 20% of Americans. RRD has created “Care Kits” to address the wide gap in digital adoption and the problems of many Americans who don’t have a smartphone, high-speed internet access, and a webcam.

RRD Diabetes Care Kit

As a HealthTech solution provider, your solution likely hits one major issue in the life of a patient. How do you address all of the peripheral issues your end-user will face? How do you help your customers meet the needs of their patients?

Social determinants of health have become the largest indicator of how well providers can serve their patients, the success of wellness, and to what extent the patient will recover when sick. Those include (in no particular order):

  • Economic Stability
  • Neighborhood and Built Environment
  • Access to Digital Tools
  • Race
  • Healthcare Access and Quality
  • Education Access and Quality
  • Social and Community Context

“The ZIP code a person lives in has a greater impact on their health outcome more than anything else.” — Nicole Williams

The “60 Minutes” episode which aired April 18, 2021 addressed these factors.

Screen Capture of 60 Minutes card

Nicole believes the three most important marketing tools in HealthTech are:

  1. Addressing the outcomes of your solution. What is the ROI? How did you improve patient outcomes?
  2. Gaining provider and/or payer testimonials.
  3. Real-life testimonials from endusers

Nicole and RRD have developing thought leadership materials and built a strong content engine for their work. Content is essential to digital marketing, education, and more.

Books Mentioned on Today’s Episode


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John Farkas (00:00):

Back in 1864, Richard and his son Ruben started a company that, among other things, has as a part of its resume: Encyclopedia Britannica, Time Magazine, Life Magazine, and the Sears Catalog. And if you’re trying to connect the dots and figure out what would possibly bring all those under one roof. It’s a company that has a storied history in of all things, the printing business. And we’re talking about RR Donnelley. It’s an institution in our country. They have done amazing work over centuries and have built quite an enterprise. But what I think is remarkable is one of the things that they’ve done effectively in this last short period of time is convert from what has been a traditional printing enterprise into answering the question, “What does it mean to engage in the context of the market?” Crossing that bridge has killed a number of companies and RR Donnelley is still here and telling the story well, which is a testimony to some really smart and savvy leadership. And we’re going to be talking today about what it means for a company that has a long history like that to move into a vertical like healthcare. What does it mean to bring something forward out of a story context, into a new generation? That’s what we’re going to be talking about today on Studio CMO.

Mark Whitlock (01:32):

Welcome to Studio CMO. You’re listening to the podcast where HealthTech marketing executives can find the answers to their questions about market positioning and demand generation. And so much more. This podcast is brought to you by Golden Spiral. And our CEO is the host of our podcast. John Farkas, John, uh, what book are you reading right now?

John Farkas (01:51):

Mark, I am in the middle of The 99% Invisible City, which is a really wonderfully created book by the makers of a really wonderful podcast that I liste to pretty frequently so I can highly recommend it.

Mark Whitlock (02:11):

And I’m in the middle of a book and I’m listening to the audiobook as well, but there’s enough components I actually bought the paper book because I wanted to highlight and underline some things, especially at the end of every chapter. And there’s a list that’s incredible. It’s called Unhindered Abundance by Ken Baugh. That’s the book I’m in the middle of and Anna Grimes, my fellow co-host, is on board with us again today. And Anna, are you reading anything?

Anna Grimes (02:35):

Well, hello, Mark. And yes, I am. I’m reading Caste by Isabel Wilkerson and I’m also, uh, cracking open The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origin of the Model Minority. Those are the two that I’m delving into these days.

Mark Whitlock (02:53):

Fantastic. Now, for those of you in the audience who don’t know, I used to work for a publisher and I have actually toured the plants, our Donnelley, and I have a bunch of books behind me, and I have a bunch of books around the house that I guarantee many of those are printed at an RR Donnelley facility somewhere in the world. And, in the same way that John’s book and my book are finding their ways into other formats and other ways of experiencing that, uh, the same way as John mentioned in his intro, we’re going to be talking about how HealthTech marketing is also in multiple formats. Anna, tell us about our guest.

Anna Grimes (03:26):

Well, today we have Nicole Williams. She is the vice president of healthcare sales and business development for RR Donnelley or RRD. She’s one of those rare birds. She’s a native Southern Californian, just like they say, native Nashvillians like me are rare. Well, we’re two rare birds here. She’s a sales executive through and through launched right out of college at Loyola Marymount. I think that’s the tigers. I think it’s the tigers.

Nicole Williams (03:52):


All (03:52):

Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my.

John Farkas (03:56):

Since 2015, she’s been on the team at RRD, specifically in healthcare. She’s an expert in Medicare and Medicaid mandated communications and has dedicated the last few years to understanding both the payer and provider world. She built the go-to-market strategy for RRD’s healthcare arm and was recently promoted to vice president. So we are glad to have somebody who knows how to get through the door with the same kind of customers that our audience is working with. So thank you for joining us today, Nicole.

Nicole Williams (04:30):

Thanks for having me.

John Farkas (04:32):

So one of the questions I have is as you look at this, I am interested to know coming into a career with RR Donnelley and looking at what it is you’re looking at in the, in the healthcare world. What are some of the things that you had to overcome initially, as you look to really open this new chapter for the organization, you know, just looking at how you really jump in and engage the healthcare world and lead into and lean into the digital movement of the company. What are, what are some of the things that you had to overcome?

Nicole Williams (05:06):

Certainly on a personal level, uh, was learning all the acronyms, uh, you know, healthcare is, is almost like being in the military. I think my terminology list is up to seven pages long of definitions of acronyms. So having not been in the healthcare space prior to working for RRD, that certainly was a learning curve because you really can’t have that lean in conversation with a business owner, you know, within a health plan or a provider system and not know the nomenclature, uh, and speak their language. So, you know, certainly that was at a very basic level, step one. And then I think really it’s learning their business. I think that’s really been a benefit of being so singularly focused on the healthcare space versus being a generalist, you know, sales and marketing person is I live and breathe it every day. And so it allows me to have that laser focus on what’s driving the business issues within my clients, right, from a legislative perspective, a regulatory perspective, working in such a regulated environment, you know, those can have a huge impact and, and staying up on all of those matters would be challenging for someone if they were doing it for multiple industries.

Nicole Williams (06:29):

So I think that it certainly afforded me that laser focus on what’s critical to my clients to be able to drive the alignment in terms of what we offer and also forward thinking in terms of working with our solutions development team to say, do we have the right solutions in place for the client issues that we’re seeing today and going on in the future?

John Farkas (06:54):

And so that’s an interesting note because you have seen a lot of movement from where you were when you came into where you are now, how would you describe that conversation as you look at, at the development of your solutions, as you look at how you took what you were hearing and listening and the engagement you started within the market and how that was actively informing the direction of your solution set?

Nicole Williams (07:19):

I think so much of it is that shift to having an understanding of total cost of ownership around communications, that when I started, there was still an emphasis on how much does this printed piece cost me to execute and how can I save money on that printed piece? Now the conversation has shifted towards that total cost of ownership and that understanding that relatively for every dollar in print, our clients spend, they’re spending $6 creating and managing that dollar of print. So would you rather say pennies on the dollar or would you rather save dollars on the $6? So it’s just really fascinating. How so many of my conversations now are rooted in technology versus in any sort of print or email execution. The last mile. The emphasis has, has shifted so much more into what it takes my clients to create and version and translate and 508 tag and do all of those things to the document before they even, you know, hit the press.

John Farkas (08:33):

So as you look at that, starting to embrace the technology, what has that meant for what you bring the market? How has that changed? How you’ve engaged?

Nicole Williams (08:43):

So specifically for our healthcare practice, it’s meant creating purpose-built technology for the healthcare space. Oh, wow. We certainly reached a point where we, that we had some very robust platforms and technology systems that were more generic and unfortunately the healthcare space, uh, have some very specific challenges that they needed to solve for. And it was really about how do we purpose-build certain solutions to deal with the complexities that only exists in the healthcare space. And what’s interesting is that because we built it for healthcare and that was kind of the highest bar, if you will, in terms of regulatory, security, compliance, all of those things, other verticals can use it much more easily, but certainly it has appealed to our clients because it’s not a reskinning or a rebranding of something that was designed for the financial market, right. Or a different vertical, they are truly purpose-built for some of those idiosyncrasies that only exist in the healthcare space. Right.

John Farkas (09:55):

So as you look at some of those purpose-built solutions, I’m curious, first of all, to know what was some of the work that you were doing the listen, what was some of the work that you were doing to get your finger on the pulse of what were some of those problems and how you could transpose the resources that RRD has to leverage in that direction? How did that come about?

Nicole Williams (10:18):

You know, we have these normal cadences with our clients, quarterly business reviews, if you will, right. Where we were reviewing very tactical, this is how much we printed. This is how much you spent with us, you know, wha wha wha wha, right. Um, and then certainly, you know, it was asking my frontline teams, Hey, do you mind if I sit in on that meeting, do you mind if I just listen and it was really starting to inject questions of why, why are you sending that communication? What’s driving the need to send that communication. You know, it’s almost like going back to the Simon Sinek of “starting with why” and, and saying why, what is driving that? And what is the challenge associated with it? And going upstream with our clients. And fortunately, you know, we’ve had some really amazing long-standing relationships with, with some large clients in the healthcare space that they were willing to lean in and say, Oh my gosh, Nicole, we’re struggling with this.

Nicole Williams (11:19):

And we, we wish, and it’s asking that proverbial magic wand question, which I love, right. If you could wave the magic wand, how would you change this process? What would it be in an ideal state? And it was having those conversations where customers were willing to share with me, what were some of the challenges that they were having associated with these critical member or critical patient communications that I was able to go back and ideate with the team to say, look, how do we solve for this? And really have an impact on our clients, much further upstream than we had in the past.

Anna Grimes (12:00):

And as you ascend into that more strategic consultant role, which I think is a great place for anybody selling into healthcare to be, how do you, and we all know how specific each healthcare organization can be. So how do you balance the need to create that specific and particular set of deliverables for hospital system A but also keeping it broad enough and generic enough so that you guys aren’t constantly iterating on a tech stack or a product suite or anything like that. And by the way, what I would say about the military jargon and the medical jargon, it’s sort of like, you don’t know the difference between star ratings and CAPS scores. You’re in a SNAFU that will eventually get FUBARed.

Nicole Williams (12:50):

And make you go AWOL. Right?

Anna Grimes (12:51):

So yes, specific and general, you know, because at the end of the day, you can’t be rebuilding the Taj Mahal. Every time you go into a new hospital.

Nicole Williams (13:06):

And every one of our clients thinks that there are rainbow unicorn, right? They all say, Oh, we’re so unique. We’re so different to a certain extent, but still there’s a lot of baseline issues that exist across organizations. So my response to that is the word configurable, right? It doesn’t mean that we’re rebuilding the platform, but we’ve left enough flexibility in it that if you call something, this and another company calls it something different, we can configure those things to make you happy without having to completely redesign the system.

Anna Grimes (13:44):

Well, and that’s a good thing for, I think our audience too, they wrestle with it all the time. You know, “we’re so unique,” you know, of course you’re like, Hey, Mr. Health system, you, you do know so unique is redundant, but nevermind, nevermind.

Mark Whitlock (13:57):

Yeah. The writer and Anna comes forth.

John Farkas (14:03):

So right now, in the context of conversations that you’re in the midst of with the market, you’re talking about engagement solutions, you’re, you’re bringing ideas forward. What are some of the strategies, the tactics that you’re using to start those conversations what’s being effective. As you look at the leading edge of your marketing and how you’re trying to get attention in the market, what are some of the things that are working? What are you seeing happen that is generating momentum?

Nicole Williams (14:32):

I would say first and foremost would be thought leadership. I think certainly the way that I sell and the way that I market RRD has fundamentally changed. I feel like back in the day, you know, it was always feature, function, benefit, right? That’s what we were, we were trained and led with, you know, how great your company is and all of the things that you can do for clients. And then it migrated to leading with some sort of a stat in terms of how you helped another customer. That was kind of the next iteration of, you know, we helped another company reduce their overall expenditure by 20%. And we’d like to do the same for you. And now the next evolution is leading with thought leadership where I find myself from a content marketing perspective, which is certainly another trend, right? In terms of how much content prospects consume before they’re willing to even have a conversation with someone like me, uh, has gone up dramatically.

Nicole Williams (15:37):

And so how do you feed the content monster if you will, so that your prospects and your clients can consume the kind of content that they want at their leisure and get to the point quicker in terms of when they’re ready to have a conversation with me. And I have found that in addition to, you know, kind of the, the good old standards of case studies and white papers, that it’s really about thought leadership and blogs and insights that, you know, business owners, like all of us in the healthcare space are pressed for time and we’re being inundated with content. Right. And so how can you send the size that for your clients in a meaningful way? And I know, you know, me personally, I’m known for putting together trends, you know, for my clients where they’ve really come to appreciate where I sit there for hours and hours of reading all the different Accenture, Deloitte, you know, Ernst and Young, you know, all of those different studies, right.

Nicole Williams (16:40):

And really have said, okay, let me boil it down into, these are the top three, four or five trends that you as a health insurance company, or you as an IDN need to be aware of, and more importantly, making the connection between that trend and how does it impact them operationally. Right. Because I think sometimes that’s the big challenge is you can read all these trends and you’re like, okay, that’s great. But what does that mean for me? And so being able to synthesize that down for our clients, I think has been really critical in being able to get business owners and C-level executives within these healthcare organizations to want to talk to us because when I present them, it’s almost as if myself and the executive are the only ones in the room and we’re just having a conversation and they’re sitting there going, “Yep. Yep. That’s on the money. That’s what I read. That’s exactly what I’m seeing.” And so it’s providing value and validation if you will, to those business owners and those D level executives that not only we get it, but we’re seeing the same things that they are, has been really powerful. Yeah.

John Farkas (17:50):

So as you look at those resources and the things that you’re looking at, cause that’s, obviously anytime we can provide that level of insight in the context of the market, that’s a great magnet. Are there any particular strains or directions that you’ve taken that you’ve seen really catch fire?

Nicole Williams (18:07):

Pretty much every conversation I have with my healthcare clients is now anchored in social determinants of health. I think I can’t have a conversation with my clients in this space without hitting on that. I think everybody has reached the epiphany of, you know, the ZIP code a person lives in has a greater impact on their health outcome. More than anything else. I mean, there was the segment on “60 Minutes” last night, if you caught it. And so I think everybody is realizing the importance of understanding the whole person and how that impacts their health and their health outcomes. You know, it’s really difficult to expect a health plan member to stay adherent with their diabetes medication. For example, when they don’t know where their next meal’s coming from or they’re couch surfing. Right. So it’s having that context that I think the healthcare companies are now really trying to make efforts to build that 360 degree view of a member. And what’s their life outside of their interaction with the health plan or with the hospital.

John Farkas (19:17):

What kind of interactions are you seeing around some of those, like how has that pulled people in and what are the interactions that you’re having when they grab on to some of what you’re putting out there.

Nicole Williams (19:27):

I use the term, you got to walk a mile in the member’s shoes or that patient’s shoes, right? It’s almost as if healthcare is catching up to other vertical markets. You know, I think if you look at retail, for example, they do so much work around the appending of data of demographic data around their customers, right? Significant investment to get somebody to buy a pair of shoes, right. Or buy something that has an up-to-date been done in the healthcare space, which is somewhat mind blowing. And so now I feel like healthcare is finally realizing, look, we need to append all this outside demographic data that’s been available, you know, for other verticals for a long time, to get a better understanding and to understand that somebody is, um, are they registered to vote? Do they subscribe to a newspaper? Are they married? Are they divorced?

Nicole Williams (20:22):

Do they own a pet? What kind of car do they drive? All of these things have an impact on your potential level of engagement with the health plan and with your health. And so being able to model these folks to really understand who’s more likely to close their gaps in care, for instance, than somebody that’s never going to do it, no matter what you for them is really valuable for health plans in terms of really targeting their communications and not just the targeting piece, but the messaging piece, right. It’s creating cohorts the way, you know, retail marketers have been doing for the last, you know, 20 years, they have all these personas and they built marketing campaigns to speak to those different personas. I think healthcare’s finally realizing they have the same situation and that they need to use the same behavioral economics and modeling, uh, and creation of personas, uh, to, to be able to effectively create target segments and ultimately target messaging that will inspire people to take a greater engagement in their health, for example, and close their gaps in care.

John Farkas (21:38):

So as you look at engagement as a big topic, and as you look at the awareness of healthcare organizations and how they’re engaging with RRD, for instance, how has it changed in the context of COVID? We have this conversation with and have had this conversation in nearly every interview, because a lot has changed, right? I mean, there’s been a lot of acceleration happen around a number of different things, but as you look at your interaction with the market, and as you look at how you’re bringing solutions forward, what are you doing differently than you were doing a year and a half ago?

Nicole Williams (22:15):

Yeah, we can’t talk about it without talking about the explosion of telemedicine, for example, or virtual care. Right. Certainly we would all agree that the new care setting is a person’s home. And so much of that care is now being conducted at home. And that’s really what prompted us in, in many respects to create the care kit program that we did in the sense that people needed tools in order to effectively engage with virtual care. So for example, you know, pre-COVID, uh, I think the statistic was that over 75% of primary care visits, baseline data points like your weight and your blood pressure and things like that were always captured during a primary care visit. We just kind of took it for granted and now in a virtual care setting that number has dropped to below 10%. And so part of that is because quite frankly, I don’t know about you all, but you know, most people don’t have a blood oximeter, you know, at home.

Nicole Williams (23:18):

And, you know, some people may not have a digital thermometer or a digital scale, all of those things. And so that’s really what’s prompted many of our clients to say, look, we, we really need to enable and provide our members with the digital tools that they need to be able to have more effective virtual care visits and to be able to close those critical gaps in care. And that’s, what’s really a lot of health plans to look at things a little differently and say, okay, we know our members are essentially somewhat forced to medically distance. In addition to socially distancing, they’re medically distancing, right? That’s a good term. You know, what can we do, um, to close that distance, if you will.

Anna Grimes (24:06):

Let’s just say, you’re a HealthTech marketer and you do have a digital product. And, you know, you’ve got to change how you’re going to be talking to your customer, i.e., the population health management officer, or the chief patient engagement officer, whoever it is at the health system. So what should HealthTech marketers be doing to sort of reflect that empathetic understanding of, Hey, we know things are migrating to tele medicine, and we know there are certain things that we can, but th their product may or may not be able to surface up physical manifestation to drive the point home. But let’s just say they, you know, they have a piece of software that makes some process more economical for the health system. So within this sort of COVID fueled environment of telemedicine, what can HealthTech marketers be doing to make their value proposition more, you know, just as tangible, maybe not physically, but just as tangible as y’all’s kits, which I thought by the way, were an awesome idea

Nicole Williams (25:12):

Personalize, personalize, personalize. I mean, I think if you’re saying that it’s, it’s going to be digital only, and that’s the only channel, you know, that certainly raises some alarm bells for me only because I’m pretty passionate in the fact that I think the newest social determinant of health out there is the digital divide, right. That, you know, if you don’t have a smartphone and high-speed internet and a webcam, you really can’t participate in this new, you know, healthcare, digital evolution and revolution. And I think that’s kind of sad. So I think it’s important for, you know, these digital health companies. That’s great. Awesome. You know, we’re still seeing high teen utilization levels around digital health. It is not fabulous. And then when you talk about, you know, certain demographics, like the Medicaid population, you could be missing some really critical at-risk segments. If you go with just a digital-only strategy.

Nicole Williams (26:15):

So certainly, um, if that’s the case, then you’ve really got to make sure that your outreach is highly personalized and highly relevant to those folks. Right. Are you investing in things like translations and, you know, writing it in a voice? I mean, to think that, you know, we write Medicaid content in essentially all 50 States and most States are at a fourth grade or fifth grade reading level. I mean, you can imagine trying to explain to a fourth grader, you know, COPD and you know, how do you manage a complex chronic condition to a fourth grader? And so I think it’s really, again, that, that, that saying I used earlier of walking a mile in the member’s shoes and really making sure that the digital communication is relevant and that I would certainly argue that it needs to be complemented with physical items. There’s still a need for that. You know, and if anything, we’ve seen somewhat of things come full circle where members do want things at home, if it’s highly personalized and highly relevant.

Mark Whitlock (27:22):

So Nicole, in order to walk a mile in the shoes of someone that we’re serving, you really have to get to know that person. You have to understand where they’re coming from. And sometimes we’ve seen over the years that marketing folks who are the ones responsible for the words on the screen or on the printed piece or the video or the audio, or the process graphics that explain something, those people somehow or another, are not always in touch with the patient, but sometimes sales professionals are, they’ve actually been there, sat down shared coffee or been in a Zoom conversation in the last 15 months with some of those folks, what are the tools that you’d recommend? Uh, what are the places you’d recommend, uh, marketers to go, if a marketer said, “Hey, help me walk a mile in their shoes, but maybe I don’t actually get to go and meet that person.” Where would you have them dig? Where would you have them find the best information they could to help them get

Nicole Williams (28:15):

Yeah. A great places for them to start with their own customers. Um, you know, so even at a baseline level, having focus groups with your own members, you know, that’s kind of a running joke we have in the healthcare space. I was, um, sitting at a big Medicare conference and there was a health plan presenting some of their marketing materials. And there was another health plan sitting in front of me and their marketing materials came up and they go, “Oh my gosh,” I could hear them. And they said, “they use the same stock photography as we do.” Right. They had an, a retro moment. And, and so certainly that’s where I said, gosh, guys use your members, right? Why are you, you know, paying models that are, you know, have the sweater tied around their neck, pushing a, you know, a bike down the beach with the basket in front of it, you know, versus real life people.

Nicole Williams (29:08):

You know, I think that’s one thing that all of us as consumers are looking for these days is authenticity. And so I certainly encourage my clients to spend time with their own members, even sitting in on the call center calls, which is something that can be done remotely. Right? One of the first things that I talk about when a customer comes to me with an issue is I said, “Well, have you sat in on customer calls into your own call center? “Have you talked to your call center leaders? And have you tracked, you know, what are the top 10 issues that members are calling in for?” Where is the friction? And, you know, people have, Oh my gosh, I never thought of that. So, you know, starting with the members, I think makes a lot of sense. And then I think beyond that, um, most of our healthcare clients have established really great partnerships with community organizations, you know, that it really does take a community to, to create a true safety net. And so those folks are often, you know, in the trenches, very close to members. And so, you know, certainly working with the established community partnerships, they already have to get a pulse of, you know, what’s going on, you know, within those constituencies.

Anna Grimes (30:26):

So if I’m a HealthTech marketer, I may not be selling directly to the patient. It may be a tool that a clinician or a revenue cycle manager or somebody like that might be needing. I know that my product or my solution can really help move the needle for them, but it’s a little esoteric and it may be something that’s really deeply, data-driven, what’s the most effective marketing tool that you see out there that marketers could be deploying to help advance that sort of data-driven argument that then ultimately ends up with a, a nice outcome for a patient?

Nicole Williams (31:02):

Numbers and outcomes are always going to get somebody’s attention. Yeah. That’s probably the number one thing that we get asked and we hear all the time was, you know, what were the outcomes? What were the numbers? What was the ROI, you know, especially when you’re proposing something that does have an impact on a member’s health outcomes, can you point to success metrics? You know, did you close gaps in care? Did you drive engagement? If so, how, what were the measurable outcomes? And then I think too, any time that you can get a testimonial, either from another health plan, you know, another health, healthcare organization, they all want to know what everybody else is doing. Um, so if you can get somebody to go on record saying, look, you know, we implemented this solution and we saw these benefits and it was amazing working with this company. That’s always going to resonate. And then I think too, if you can ever get member, you know, actual user testimonials of, Hey, we used this company solution and they made it so easy for us, they made it so seamless. They, you know, whatever the benefits are. I think those three things are always going to catch somebody’s attention. Yeah.

John Farkas (32:17):

Yeah. It’s interesting how often that’s overlooked or neglected, especially. I mean, if you’re an early stage organization, especially where you haven’t had all the proof texts come through yet, and you’re in the process of framing out that story, knowing that that’s where the hunger is knowing that that’s a priority to try and get in the place and never underestimating the importance of third-party validation and any of these, especially in the healthcare universe, because you’re right, Nicole, it is a herd mentality and people are very interested in knowing, Hey, who’s done. What, and what big logo has seen success with this, because that will help me rest assured that there’s going to be something worth my time here. That’s super important. And I think it’s really critical to do a great job of creating those journeys for people. So they come in, you talk to them about a benefit that you have, and very quickly without having to dig too deep, you’re showing them how that benefit manifests in the real world. You know, how this has been successful for an entity that is just happens to look a lot like you, and a lot of different ways, even though they’re different and they’re, you know, cause everybody’s different. And, but there is some similarities that you can see and, and pull a story through and helping make sure in every step of your journey that you have really good support demonstrating that I think is really important.

Nicole Williams (33:48):

Yeah. Having the end result in mind. I think, you know, if you had asked me five years ago, when we create these programs, many of our clients didn’t include measurement in a lot of these programs. Right. They would just implement a program because they had a gut check and they felt like this makes them feel good. And this looks good. And let’s just do this. Um, nowadays it’s setting up a program with the end results in mind of saying, what does success look like for this program? And more importantly, how do we implement measurement so that we can measure that success? Because again, so many of these programs didn’t have that measurement, you know, or that feedback loop in it. So that at the end of the program, you could point to outcomes,

John Farkas (34:40):

Get real pragmatic with us for a minute. How is your sales team knit together with your marketing efforts?

Nicole Williams (34:48):

We’re closely tied to our partners at corporate marketing. I think from a tech stack perspective, we’re avid Salesforce users and use a lot of the same tech stacks that are widely held, especially for an organization of our size. I’m not the tech stack person on the corporate marketing side to talk to. Um, they’ll probably be much better versed to answer that question. I use my term, which is automagically. They just automagically make things happen for me, which I appreciate. I tell them I need this and then they make it. So, but I think certainly it goes back to my, you know, one of my earlier comments around content marketing and just gosh, the proliferation of content and channels. Thank goodness for my corporate marketing team, because I feel like when I started, you know, you just would pick up the phone and call somebody or some of them an email. And now it’s just gotten so much more complex with LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram. And you need an amazing corporate marketing team to partner with you to make sure that when you create this great thought leadership, you create this great content. You know, it actually gets pushed out into the ether.

John Farkas (36:04):

Looking at the market, looking at engaging right now with the pulse that the health care universe has. If you were to say, what is the single most important? And I think I’ve heard it in here, but I just want to see if this is what pulls through the single most important thing to hold in front of you and make sure you have your game on in this area. What would you say it is?

Nicole Williams (36:27):

I would definitely say the thought leadership that to me is really what’s opening doors and creating conversations. You know, people, so many people put on their LinkedIn profile that they’re consultants, you know, I’m a consultative salesperson and that’s great, right? Sometimes you got to fake it till you make it. Um, but I think it’s really pushing yourself to say, am I really right? Am I really bringing value to my clients? And you know, I say to people, if you invested as much time in doing market research, as you invest in Facebook, you’d be a much more effective a marketer, right? So it’s subscribing to feeds and reading articles so that you have a point of view, you know, certainly you’re not looking to be super polarizing, but you need to have an opinion on some things, you know, and you have to be educated and you have to be informed in order to have, you know, an intelligent conversation with a C-level person.

Nicole Williams (37:28):

Otherwise, they’re going to see right through you in terms of, you’re just here to sell me your stuff versus, you know, having context and having an understanding of, of what’s going on in their world, how that elevates you. And I’m to the point where I have C-level people reaching out to me and saying, Hey, I noticed your LinkedIn profile. Can we connect, would love to get your thoughts on this? I mean, that’s mind blowing, you know, but that takes time. And it takes effort that, you know, you have to create a cadence for yourself, both from a self-education perspective. And from, you know, I don’t want to use the word self-promotion, but you know that you’re putting out thought leadership, you know, into the industry so that you become known for that. And not just known as you know, I’m here to sell you, you know, communications in the healthcare space,

Mark Whitlock (38:22):

Nicole Williams from RR Donnelley. Thank you so much for being on Studio CMO.

Nicole Williams (38:27):

My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Mark Whitlock (38:30):

If you want to find out more about the care kits that were talked about on program or the “60 Minutes” episode, any of the other issues that we talked about on today’s episode, come on over to studiocmo.com/050 that’s studiocmo.com/050. And you’ll be able to find the links out to everything that we’ve got going here. We’ll especially link out to the provider solutions on RRD’s website. So you can see how they’re voicing the needs of the providers. And you may be able to find some interesting angles than what they’re doing for how your HealthTech product can answer those same needs. And while you’re on board here at Studio CMO, take a look at our “Content Strategy Guide for HealthTech companies. We’ve put some thought into how content, SEO, and your product can all be married together in order to attract the type of customers you’re looking for. So you can download that at no cost. When you come to studiocmo.com/050, just look for the link for the content guide for HealthTech companies.

Mark Whitlock (39:40):

And we need you. Let’s, let’s be honest. We want more and more subscribers to studio CMO. And the reason it’s good to be a subscribers because you’ll know first what’s coming down the pike, we bring to you someone with great thought with great insight into the HealthTech world or the healthcare world that you’re going to be selling into every week here on studio CMO. And when you’re a subscriber, you will get first access to those interviews and that content you can subscribe right there from studiocmo.com/050. We talked a lot today about walking a mile in the shoes of your customers,

Speaker 5 (40:19):

And that dovetails perfectly with the three tenets that drive each and every episode of Studio CMO. And that is first of all, you must truly understand your buyer’s problems,

Anna Grimes (40:29):

lead with an empathetic understanding,

John Farkas (40:32):

and always work to make your buyer the hero.

Mark Whitlock (40:34):

We’ll see you next time on Studio CMO.

Mark Whitlock (40:51):

Studio CMO is produced by Golden Spiral: market positioning and demand generation for HealthTech. We are an agency dedicated to help you realize your market potential. Our music is from Bigger Story Music, a BMG music library. Whatever story you’re trying to tell, Bigger Story has the perfect music to make it better. Really. Check them out at biggerstorymusic.com.


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