Growth Marketing and the Healthcare sector, let’s make it work — THOMcast E16
In this episode of the THOMcast, Bert Van Eeckhoudt, Senior Manager Pharma Collective joins us to share some insights about a very specific sector: Healthcare. He explains to us the challenges but also the new marketing opportunities for this sector, as for example : growth marketing.
In the studio
01:08 – Our guest today: Bert Van Eeckhoudt, senior manager of Pharma Collective
02:47 – Healthcare: its specific marketing needs and challenges
04:24 – Healthcare: how do you innovate in the healthcare sector
05:55 – Growth marketing: brief explanation of this methodology
06:52 – Growth marketing: KPI’s of digital strategy
08:47 – Healthcare & Growth marketing: what is the main driver for such projects
11:00 – Healthcare & Growth marketing: changing companies towards a growth marketing mindset
12:22 – Healthcare & Growth marketing: the specific process
14:17 – Healthcare & Growth marketing: actionable tips
16:16 – Healthcare growth marketing whitepaper
Jean-Marc Santolin: Hello everyone and welcome to this new episode of the podcast. My name is Jean-Marc – with a bit of a voice full of allergies for this episode, sorry for that – and I’m here today with Emilie. Hello, Emilie.
Emilie Krick: Hi Jean-Marc! I hope I will catch up with the voice, we’ll do the best we can today. Today we have a specific topic on the THOMcast. We always focus on a specific part of marketing tactic or strategy. But today we will focus on a sector and an industry. And of course, we asked an expert to come and meet us today in the studio. And that’s Bert. Hi, Bert!
Bert Van Eeckoud: Hello Emilie, hello Jean-Marc!
Our guest today is Bert Van Eeckhoudt, senior manager of Pharma Collective (01:08)
Emilie: We’re really happy to having you here today. So can you introduce yourself a little bit to us and to the followers?
Bert: Yes, so my name is Bert and I’m working I think for 13 years as a marketing professional. I joined The House of Marketing nine years ago, worked in several industries: consumer electronics, fast moving consumer goods. But of course, also a lot of my time was spent in the healthcare industry. So actually how I rolled into it is just by joining The House of Marketing and changing industry. And then one experience became two, three, and so on. And so now, I’m being called a “healthcare expert”.
Emilie: And why do you like this sector, compared to the other one? What made you feel like it will match your profile more? What do you like about healthcare sector?
Bert: Well I will answer with the big cliché, I’m really sorry for that. I think the main reason why I love working for healthcare industry is because of the biggest purpose, there’s actually only one sector in which you can find so much purpose and that’s in healthcare industry, because you make a true difference in people’s lives. And that’s different when selling chocolates or mobile phones. So it’s different not to blame any other categories. But the healthcare industry offers you a real sense of purpose.
Jean-Marc: So in this episode, as Emily said, we are going to focus on healthcare and growth marketing in healthcare. But of course, many people listening now are not working in this industry. And maybe it’s not clear how is it working. Can you explain a bit maybe what are the specific challenges or needs from a marketing point of view in the in the healthcare industry?
The specific marketing needs and challenges in healthcare (02:47)
Bert: Well, yeah, good question. There are many. I’ll be honest, I think the healthcare industry is a very highly regulated one, which makes it that marketeers working in a healthcare environment are a bit risk averse, and they try to always stick to what they know already. I think that’s one of their biggest challenges is a lack of innovation, which is also human.
And because they are always a bit scared, it’s sometimes difficult to start a new idea, new process, because it will take so much work to convince everyone in the company to do the lobbying. So that’s I think one of the main observations that we make is that marketeers working in healthcare are a bit risk averse.
On the other hand, there are other challenges in the healthcare industry, meaning like, COVID has changed a lot. Visiting healthcare professionals cannot just happen like that. They need to reinvent themselves, they need to start digital tactics they need to recreate their customer journeys.
The second challenge, the third one is, yeah, reaching out to patients to consumers cannot just happen like that. They need to find a good balance in regulations between what they can say and what they can’t.
So yeah, actually, I can talk for four hours about challenges faced in healthcare marketing. But it’s definitely also what makes it so much fun to work in because you need to be really creative in how to solve these challenges.
How do you innovate in the healthcare sector (4:24)
Emilie: It’s true when you mention challenges, regulations and maybe less attraction for risk. And it’s maybe more complicated to innovate — As a marketeer you always look for innovation, right. So how can you still continue to innovate?
Bert: Well, indeed, it’s not because it’s highly regulated that it’s impossible to innovate, of course, but I think it’s very important to look outside the healthcare environment. And that’s what I tried to do as well. I mentioned that I worked in several industries working for The House of Marketing. So my advice to healthcare marketers would definitely be taking a look towards other industries. Take a look at what they are doing, how they are innovating, what type of tactics they are, they’re using, because you can definitely find some inspiration there. So that’s one of my main advices.
Emilie: So meaning that even if it’s challenging, it’s not impossible to apply external tactics in the healthcare industry.
Bert: Indeed, actually, it’s also a nice catchphrase: think possible in terms of think of not what is impossible, what can’t be done? But try to think in possibilities and opportunities rather than in restrictions.
Brief explanation of growth marketing (5:55)
Jean-Marc: Okay, so thank you back to work for the explanation. How is healthcare? How is it working? What are the specificities also the nice advices for the people listening and working in healthcare. And this episode is also about growth marketing. And this is a bit buzzword ish for some people. Not always so clear. So could you explain a little bit what growth marketing is?
Bert: Well, in a traditional marketing approach, you define an objective, you create a creative idea. And you choose the channel mix to launch your creative idea with a certain message to the audience.
In growth marketing, you actually do that a bit different. Instead of generating one central idea, you define an objective, but you generate a lot of different ideas, messages that might work, channels that could be used, where you’re not sure “will it work? Yes or No”, but you just try it, and you try it on a very small scale.
And those little experiments, you track them very closely. And based on the results you decide which experiments are really generating good results, then you continue with it, the experiments that do not work at all, you stop them, and you kill them. And so based on that, you will always work with experiments where you’re sure, okay, they bring results, they do something, and then you can always increase the budget, and so on. And make sure that you can enlarge actually the scope and the results of your campaigns.
Jean-Marc: So actually, growth marketing is not necessarily something for startup like people might imagine. But maybe more a methodology.
Bert: Yeah, definitely. It’s a bit of a misunderstanding, because growth marketing found its origin in startups and scale ups because they had to work with limited resources. And they had to be creative and test small things before they put large budgets in it. So it’s not at all associated with with large corporates. But also large corporates can apply a growth Marketing methodology, but because it’s just a way of working a way of working methodology and marketing.
Jean-Marc: …in a way to make sure that what you do is actually achieving your objectives effectively.
KPI’s of Digital Strategy (6:52)
Emilie: In this kind of project, what are the healthcare KPIs that you would have, for example? Because it’s easy when you’re in another sector to define kind of KPIs that we marketeer are used to define. But in healthcare, how would you define KPIs?
Bert: Yeah, good question. Well, actually, that’s also an important one to mention here, growth marketing, tries to we try to strive to one central KPI we call it the one metric that matters that your central objective. So you don’t measure 10 KPIs, but you try to focus on the one that brings focus, and that brings all the faces in into the same direction. But next to that you can apply growth marking for multiple purposes, of course.
What is the main driver for growth projects in the healthcare industry (8:47)
Jean-Marc: So when you started all the growth project that you’re doing in the healthcare sector, what is the main driver? What what companies come to you with? And how did you come out? Yeah, growth marketing could help on this kind of demand.
Bert: Today, the main challenge healthcare companies are facing is that they do not really know which channels they can use to be effective. They know omni channel marketing, they try multiple channels, but they do not really experiment with new channels. Because they are a bit scared maybe and that it’s not allowed to do it, that it takes them too much time to test out. So it’s a bit of going back to your comfort zone of just doing what you did last year or your colleagues it from another department.
So you know, okay, they did it, it’s allowed, we can just experiment with that. So it’s a bit of an absence of experimentation mindset. But I think the main reason why growth marketing can be used today in healthcare industry is to find it out to launch experiments to find out which channels convert best How can we create this awareness? How can we generate leads into a certain target group? So that’s actually yeah, practice what we preach is launch experiments and discover it while doing it.
Emilie: Can we say that it’s a way of renewing or giving a second life to the marketing plan that they usually do, like feeling a bit more the reality of the moment?
Bert: Definitely. Because actually, a marketing plan is not something static. It’s not something you can just define at the beginning of the year, of course, you define objectives, you define main events. But it just the way how you communicate about these events that can be different. And there you can approach. Or you can use a mindset apply a mindset, that, that starts while we don’t know anything, we just define experiments, and we find out what works best, instead of defining the channel mix upfront, and just moving ahead like that.
How do you lead the company towards a growth marketing mindset (11:00)
Emilie: I had an extra question based on just what you said: how do you then convince when you’re in a sector where marketeers or teams are used to do things a certain way? How do you convince them to change the way of doing in something that is challenging their actions?
Bert: it is definitely challenging, it’s not always easy to convince marketeers of applying a growth marketing mindset, because of the elements that I mentioned already. It takes a lot of time, a lot of lobbying. But we try to support them in that.
And we have a lot of cases that show the success of growth marketing campaigns. We know in what type of context it can work or not. And we have a lot of experiences in similar contexts. So we know how to approach for example, a compliance department how to explain what we are doing. And that definitely helps to make healthcare marketers feel at ease and to support them in let’s try it out.
Emilie: Yeah, so it’s not jumping in something you don’t know we have something, some experience to share best practices, or results that we can already share on front. Indeed.
How does the process look like in the healthcare sector (12:22)
Jean-Marc: Well, I have a question also. On episode 9 of the THOMcast we talked about Luminus, in the energy sector, who was launching a product and used this methodology of growth marketing. Of course, healthcare is very different, it’s very regulated etc. So can you explain a little bit like, okay, I’m a healthcare company and I would like to do that, I would like to start growth marketing. What is the process? How does it work? How do I start really? Also knowing all the compliance, regulations, etc?
Bert: Yeah, I can agree, it’s totally different to launch a growth marketing project in a healthcare environment. But as I mentioned, we have quite some experience in it. We always start with a workshop, where we define potential experiments, we have several exercises to facilitate that.
We also list the do’s and don’ts, for example, that are industry linked or that are maybe compelling because there are guidelines existing in a certain environment or in a company. So then we know already, these are the do’s and don’ts, then we filter experiments. So we have like a long list of things that we would like to do, then we organize a meeting with the compliance department to really explain them, okay, what is what are our plans? What are we, that we plan to do? What will it mean for you, instead of in terms of workload, and the compliance department actually already is a filter for us, they help us filter in experiments that can or cannot happen, or maybe are a bit in the gray zone. And of course, I do not need to explain what’s in a gray zone, we try to support it, and that it can still be realized. But that’s a bit our process. What we do and that’s different than in other industries is that we, we use the do’s and don’ts and we involve compliance as of the beginning of the project.
Tips & Tricks (14:17)
Emilie: So we almost coming to the end of the episode already, we could have talked about healthcare, and growth marketing for much longer. But usually, we always finished Comcast with some tips and tricks for the listeners. And here I guess it will be more focused on healthcare marketers, but I guess tips and tricks can apply also to any company with high regulations or maybe less open to new tech tactics. So what are the tips and tricks that you can share with us today?
Bert: Well, I can definitely recommend healthcare marketers to not to stick too much in their day to day routine and to focus on okay, what needs to happen by next month, but to also take the time regularly to zoom out to reflect what is our objective? What is our purpose? Is the tactical plan that we use last year, is it still so much relevant, relevant? Is it still so relevant? Or do I need to apply new methodologies? Do I need to try out new things, new channels and so on? That’s one thing.
A second recommendation that I or tip that I could give is make your decisions based on on data and don’t make them purely on gut feeling because some times it can happen that you get the market research that comes from global and where to healthcare professionals took part in in your region. And then actually you make your decision based on Yeah, and it’s too. And that’s yeah, that’s not an ideal way. So our idea would really be launch it. And yeah, collect data from in the market, from the market itself, and then make your decision to continue yes or no, based on those real life data.
Emilie: It’s a topic that comes in every THOMcast episode here, I fear, base your decision on data and not on gut feelings. And that’s coming all the time. So it’s great to remember that and remind ourselves to do that.
Jean-Marc: And still an important one! Because I hear everyday “yeah, that won’t work”, but based on what can we say that?
Bert: Indeed, and in that case, yeah, it’s often the one with biggest voice or the one who shouts the loudest who wins. And that’s a pity.
The Healthcare growth marketing whitepaper (16:16)
Jean-Marc: So we’re coming to the end of this episode, thank you very much for your time. I still would like to mention that all the information that you shared today with us, is also I believe, in a white paper that you’re working on. Can you say a bit about it?
Bert: Yes, absolutely. We are very proud of that we launch a white paper that is fully focused on growth marketing within the healthcare industry. So it explains a lot more in detail, what our barriers, how to deal with it, a bit of theoretical framework, and also three concrete cases of how we applied growth marketing in several aspects of the healthcare industry. So definitely have a look at it.
Jean-Marc: Great. So yeah, usually, listeners, you have the landing page where you can find more information. In this case, it will be there but the white paper will be also very interesting. So thank you very much Bert, thank you Emily.
And thank you guys for listening. As always, if you liked it, don’t hesitate to rate us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. And also, don’t hesitate to give us feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, especially if you’d like this kind of episode, maybe more focused on an industry and which industry you’re interested in. So that’s it for today, see you soon in next one. Bye!