055 | HealthTech Marketing Insights | Golden Spiral | Studio CMO

Podcast by | June 25, 2021 HealthTech, Positioning and Messaging

Why Studio CMO Exists

HealthTech marketers are on a rare pilgrimage. The overall industry is one of the most robust economic forces in our society and HealthTech solutions are leading the way in innovation, patient connection, and much more.

We created Studio CMO so that you could:

  • learn ways to refine your market positioning
  • build better and more successful demand generation programs
  • understand your audience more deeply
  • see the healthcare ecosystem more clearly
  • meet some of the greatest experts in marketing theory and technology

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Our Hosts

On this special episode, we also want to introduce you to our team.

John Farkas

John Farkas CEO Golden SpiralJohn has always worked to bring creative projects together. After working nearly two decades as a creative director for two large organizations, he turned his focus toward leading Golden Spiral. John reflects: “Great stories cut through our defenses and imprint us at our core. Tell someone a great story—at the least it will leave an impression—but it could change the course of their lives.”

John enjoys creative writing, exploring the outdoors, building and remodeling houses, spending time with his family, and riding his bicycle. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in Theatre and English.

Anna Grimes

Anna Grimes Studio CMO Golden Spiral Account DirectorAnna serves as an account director at Golden Spiral helping shepherd our clients through their demand generation programs. Anna is a public relations expert with stints at some of our nation’s most prestigious PR firms: Atkinson and Paine Pomeroy. She grew up with healthcare conversations around the dinner table because her father was one of the architects of Nashville’s robust healthcare industry.

Anna is a graduate of Kenyon College, tells the greatest stories from her career, enjoys watching the journeys of her adult children, and enjoys being a part of the Nashville community.

Mark Whitlock

Mark produces Studio CMO and serves as marketing manager for Golden Spiral writing content and helping run the agency’s demand generation program. Mark has produced for terrestrial and talk radio and worked as an acquisitions editor in traditional publishing. He is the author or co-author of eight books including one that reached Amazon’s overall top 25 in 2003.

Mark graduated from the University of Georgia. He is striving to overcome a 2019 injury to run his fifth marathon. He volunteers in a community for men and enjoys a full calendar of events for his children and step-children.

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Transcript

Mark Whitlock:

Welcome to Studio CMO. Hi, my name is Mark Whitlock and you’re listening to the podcast produced by Golden Spiral where we help HealthTech marketing executives understand their market position and create demand generation programs that will change the courses of their companies and the lives of the patients that they serve. I’m joined as co-host by my friend, Anna Grimes, one of the account executives at Golden Spiral. Anna, thanks for being on the special edition of Studio CMO.

Anna Grimes:

Glad to be here on this special edition of Studio CMO.

Mark Whitlock:

And we are both alongside the CEO and chief storyteller of Golden Spiral and the host of Studio CMO, John Farkas, and John, why are we here? What makes this podcast tick?

John Farkas:

It’s an interesting moment in the history of healthcare. There is a lot of transformation going on. A lot of it’s been hastened by what we’ve experienced in the context of the pandemic, but much of it is what’s becoming possible when you mix a deep understanding of what technology can do with some of the advances that are happening right now. So there’s a lot of conversation happening. And the folks that we’re talking to in the context of this broadcast, the marketing leaders for HealthTech organizations are on a rare pilgrimage. It is a challenging journey because first of all, healthcare obviously is one of the most robust economic centers in our economy. And the opportunities that exist there are plenty when we’re looking at just revenue opportunities. But when we’re talking about getting traction in the context of the market, it’s really important that there’s a clear match between the solutions that are being brought and the problems that exist in the market.

John Farkas:

Yesterday, we were in a conversation with a client of ours, and this is a client that I couldn’t be much more excited about. They have a solution focused on health systems, that is truly transformational in how they handle a big part of their IT equation. And we’re staring, literally staring, at their marketing budget and they’re trying to resolve how this pretty early-stage organization can warrant a spend that was 2X what they thought they were going to need to spend to make stuff happens. Twice what they were anticipating, and that’s not easy. That’s not easy for any organization. But part of the challenge right now is that there’s not many louder marketplaces than healthcare. And I believe some of the best change, some of the most important solutions in healthcare are coming out of some of these very innovative companies that don’t necessarily have the war chest to compete with some of these bigger entities that are crowding the market right now.

John Farkas:

And so doing a great job of taking the resources you have, optimizing that, and making sure that your efforts in engaging the market are extraordinarily well-targeted, and really honed into the critical needs that people have so that when they come across what it is you’re putting out there, even though the ad that’s sitting next to it on the screen that you’re looking at is bigger and louder, the words that you’re using and the ideas that you’re bringing across are what catches attention, because you’ve done your work, because you’ve understood your buyer, because you understand what the problems are that they’re facing, and you’re tailoring your message in a way that gets noticed.

John Farkas:

And if we’re looking at transforming healthcare, it’s going to take innovative solutions. It’s going to take things that are unconventional and outside of the normal bounds and the well-worn paths. And so it’s our job, it’s our passion, it’s our desire to help bring those ideas forward so that we can see real change, because that’s the opportunity. And so when we’re looking at marketing, it’s not just about getting ideas out there, it’s about getting ideas that are going to change the way things are happening and help people get better and ultimately help save lives. And that’s why we’re here. That’s a big piece of what we’re looking to do is help these companies that are truly making things happen, that are allowing healthcare providers to do more time providing healthcare and less time wrestling with systems and processes that drown them in administration. There’s opportunities. There are people that are doing that right now, and it’s an exciting time, but we have to give these innovative organizations much of the audience that we’re talking to right now, the chance to carve a clear channel, to get their message forward.

Anna Grimes:

Absolutely.

John Farkas:

And that’s what marketing has the opportunity to do.

Anna Grimes:

And I would just concur with that, John. Just ran across an article that was quoting a former public health official, who was talking about how her phone was ringing off the hook during the height of the pandemic, with all of these HealthTech companies coming at her with all these ideas to help them make the public health response to the pandemic improve. And she was like, “Great. None of what you just told me in your phone call is going to solve this problem.” So it was, I’ve got this great technology and boy, I think you could use it. Don’t you think you could use it? Without asking what’s the problem that you’re trying to solve. And one of the things that we do at Golden Spiral really well is we don’t go anywhere until we know what problem you’re solving, and until we know you have product market fit.

Mark Whitlock:

And that’s why we resonated so well with Samantha Bergin, the CMO of 98point6. They are an on demand, text-based alternative to primary care. And we spoke with her, we talked about the crowded market, and we talked about the need to address the issues and problems that the market is facing and that their clients are facing.

Samantha Bergin:

At the end of the day, we’re solving a different problem. You talked about how are you competing? You’re meeting obstacles. We absolutely are, but we are solving a different problem than others in our space. What we are setting out to do is we are applying technology to the practice of medicine in order to lower the cost of care delivery. And then we’re passing on those savings to everyone that we serve.

John Farkas:

So knowing that you have a strong value to bring and knowing that there was all of a sudden this open door. Looking at how you took that open door from a marketing perspective, knowing that people were more open than they had been, and more accepting of the story, what were some of the things that you were able to do in that kind of magic window?

Samantha Bergin:

We wanted to be a source of truth, and not only for our current customers and partners, but also for the community. And so we wanted to provide ongoing education and the latest information in the most convenient way, both through our employers and health plan customers, ultimately to their employees, dependents members. And so we provided a whole lot of education and content.

Mark Whitlock:

Samantha Bergin of 98point6, talking about how they differentiate themselves in the marketplace and strive to meet the needs of their customers. And John, when we talk to our guests on Studio CMO, a common theme that comes out is it’s not always the latest trends and FUDs and marketing, that marketing has some fundamentals to it.

John Farkas:

Absolutely. What we’re talking about here is the clear need to understand your market and to speak directly to the problems that the people that you’re talking to have. And that’s not contingent on some latest automation framework. If you get in front of them with the wrong message, you’ve squandered an opportunity. And if anything, you’ve created a bad impression. It has to start with a well-formed message at the beginning. It has to start with a really keen understanding of the problems that your buyer has. And that’s a challenge, especially for organizations that are focused on creating great technology solutions. The gravity that we often talk about is the challenge of not throwing your product out there first.

John Farkas:

It’s not about the product, it’s about the problem. You doing a great job of communicating your understanding of that and helping people into different ways of thinking about the problem is the opportunity. And so demonstrating your knowledge and your understanding and the fact that you get it, and using that anchor, using that understanding to begin a conversation that can be truly transformational.

Mark Whitlock:

And Bethany Hale gets it. Bethany is the CMO of Cedar, and they have revolutionized the way providers receive payments. And she talked a little bit about that on a recent episode.

Bethany Hale:

I see a lot of companies in the B2B space in particular, trying to dive into popular trends around demand generation and account based marketing and individualized messaging to different buyers and things like that. But they’ll focus on that before they really have a brand that’s strong and differentiated and consistent, and all of those things aren’t going to be as optimized if you don’t have a brand. Who are you? What are you trying to say? What do you stand for? Your message starts to become real fragmented when you’re talking to all these different audiences if you don’t have a strong position on your brand first

Mark Whitlock:

And brand is at the heart of Golden Spiral, right, John?

John Farkas:

It is. We’re talking about it all over the place in this. There’s got to be a heartbeat. There has to be a why behind what you’re putting forward. And that really is the soul of the brand. It has to come from the core of who an organization is. What we know is buying decisions are largely emotional. When you’re looking at a forest of competitors, the tree that’s going to stand out is the one that is the fullest. It’s the one that has the most substance to it. And so when you’re coming forward, if you’re looking like all you’re doing is throwing a solution out there, that’s going to ring. Anytime we’re looking at a HealthTech solution, you’re dealing with organizations who are staking a chunk of their reputation in one form or another to what they are investing in, in your solution. It has some component that’s related to their care delivery.

John Farkas:

And so they’re not just looking for a checkbox solution, they’re looking for a partner, they’re looking for somebody who’s going to share in that responsibility with them. And that ends up being a really important understanding. And so taking the time to clearly understand who you are as an organization, what your heartbeat is and how you can communicate that to an organization, to a potential buyer in a way that will help build affinity and in a way that will help foster trust and in a way that will help them feel great about aligning with you.

Mark Whitlock:

One of the things that is common between our customers at Golden Spiral and our listeners at Studio CMO, Anna, is that they’re passionate about marketing’s role in bringing about that change. What are you seeing on the front lines of our customers every day when it comes to their passion for their end users?

Anna Grimes:

Well, the translation I see from passion is that the successful ones understand who they’re talking to, and that’s where their passion comes through. And a lot of times it’s not because they’ve sat in the same chair, but they’ve sat across the desk from that person many, many times. So if it’s a health system, population health officer, or maybe it’s a CIO, they’ve heard the concerns and they’ve really listened. There’s the famous thing; you’ve been given two years and one mouth, use them proportionally. And the successful clients translate the passion they have for their product or their own company, and they channel that through how they really deeply listen to what their customers are saying. And those are the clients where we can be the most successful with them because they also know they’ve got a platform, they know that this is fitting a market problem, but their job is to make the product good or great, it’s not to market it. That’s where we come in.

Anna Grimes:

And increasingly in the digital marketing sphere, it’s getting very complicated. And some of this expertise is not necessarily within the purview of an internal marketing department. And I know there’s lots of conversations about internal marketing versus agency and all of that good stuff. That’s a whole other podcast or three or four. But there’s an understanding that there’s a complexity to digital marketing, that they may be in the digital space, but that doesn’t mean they’re in the digital marketing space. And what we do is we free them up to focus on sharpening that product market fit while we make sure that their presence is known.

Mark Whitlock:

And in addition to peers in the HealthTech marketing space, we’re also going to introduce you over the course of episodes of Studio CMO to great marketing leaders at some of the great marketing tools available to us like Nicholas Holland, who is the VP of the Marketing Hub for HubSpot, and Nicholas gets it.

Nicholas Holland:

Marketing is timeless, in that it’s trying to get the right message to the right people at the right time. You’re the promise maker in a company; you make the promise for the company. So when you’re trying to do that, we kind of look it through the lens of breadth, depth, and then how in the world do you orchestrate all of that, those kind of three lenses. So the breadth of, what are the channels that your customers are in and are you meeting them where they are? The depth of the data you’re leveraging to make sure that it is a message that’s on point and relevant and being delivered at the right time, et cetera. And then the orchestration, which is, marketing departments aren’t exploding at the seam with CEOs giving them tons of budgets saying, “Please, please spend my money.”

Nicholas Holland:

So since that’s not happening, you have this constraint. What you have is an ever-increasing amount of customer diversity in the breadth of channels, an ever increasing amount of data. And so it’s becoming more and more important for you to have a set of tools that help you orchestrate that, and that’s timeless.

Mark Whitlock:

John, at the end of the day, you have seen time and time again how in the world of a self-service sale, marketing executives end up leading a lot of the discussion and are becoming the point of the spear for so many of our HealthTech companies.

John Farkas:

Yeah. The way we talk about it often is that marketing really is the translation layer. We’ve got complex solutions that have a lot of facets to them, and we have to start the conversation. We can’t jump in and bring all of the complexities and all of the pieces of the solution aside. We have to find the entry point. And that’s where marketing really does serve as the translation layer. It’s saying, “Okay, what do we know about the market? What do we know about the currents that are going on? And what does it mean to do a meaningful job in starting the conversation?”

John Farkas:

We are increasingly in a self service sales world where people are going out and doing their investigation, independent of any sales conversations. They’re not being forced into it. They know that they have to solve her problem, but what they don’t know is exactly how to solve for it. And they’re turning to their own research methods, they’re turning to Google, they’re doing the searches and building their own consensus before they talk to anybody. They’re sourcing a number of different inputs and getting to some sort of understanding of how they want to move forward. It’s our job to make sure that we’re positioned to be a part of that conversation at the right time. And that’s a huge component of marketing’s role in today’s self-service sale.

Mark Whitlock:

So if you’re looking for the place to be introduced to your peers, to hear from some of the best in the market on what makes marketing successful in this B2B self-service world, if you’re looking for a place to hang out and just be yourself, you’ve found it. You’re listening to Studio CMO, to the podcast produced by Golden Spiral, and we’re here to help HealthTech marketing executives understand their market position and build demand generation programs that not only are going to change their companies, but change the patient’s lives as well.

Mark Whitlock:

Thanks for listening, and we hope you’ll subscribe on your favorite podcasting platform so that you don’t miss an episode of Studio CMO. And with every episode, you’re going to hear us talk about the three core tenets of our thought processes. Understand your buyer’s problems.

Anna Grimes:

Lead with an empathetic understanding.

John Farkas:

And always work to make your buyer the hero.

Mark Whitlock:

We’ll see you on Studio CMO.

Mark Whitlock:

Studio CMO is produced by Golden Spiral: Market Positioning & 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