Marketing Blog – Lori And Catherine

Lori I’ve been working within healthcare and marketing since 2006. Started off as a marketing director for several hospitals down in South Florida. At that point, was responsible for four hospitals, so a lot of multitasking, sharing best practices, really learning how to strategize across all boards and sharing dollars, stretching those dollars, to maximize all parties involved. Over eight years did that. Moved up into a VP of marketing role that covered 14 hospitals, 17 freestanding ERs, six urgent cares, over a hundred employed providers, overseeing, strategizing and managing the marketing budgets and plans for those asset points. And then moved into more of an account manager role, again, for healthcare clients, not necessarily hospital and health systems, but more in the financial payment solution space, healthcare SaaS, and the payer space. So pretty well versed, I would say. Primarily B2C physician marketing.

Lori Modafferi

Managing Director, SCALE Marketing

Catherine Acosta

Vice President of Digital Marketing


I’ve been working within healthcare and marketing since 2006. Started off as a marketing director for several hospitals down in South Florida. At that point, was responsible for four hospitals, so a lot of multitasking, sharing best practices, really learning how to strategize across all boards and sharing dollars, stretching those dollars, to maximize all parties involved. Over eight years did that. Moved up into a VP of marketing role that covered 14 hospitals, 17 freestanding ERs, six urgent cares, over a hundred employed providers, overseeing, strategizing and managing the marketing budgets and plans for those asset points. And then moved into more of an account manager role, again, for healthcare clients, not necessarily hospital and health systems, but more in the financial payment solution space, healthcare SaaS, and the payer space. So pretty well versed, I would say. Primarily B2C physician marketing.


I’ve been in specifically healthcare marketing for about 10 years. And I started out in a digital agency, also B2C, and our clients were dentists, doctors, podiatrists. I was there as senior digital marketing manager. And then I moved on to pharma and I worked for Teva Pharmaceuticals for a time, also in digital marketing. And then I moved on to medical devices where I was the marketing director for a healthcare PPE company where they did the face masks, the medical gowns. And then I moved on to doing more digital agency marketing, also B2C for clients where my role was gaining more clients in the medical field to join the agency and give them marketing services. And then that brought me to Scale.

Why does the world need Scale Marketing? There’s plenty of marketing vendors, there’s even healthcare focused marketing vendors. What is scale marketing trying to do that’s special, different and needed in the marketplace?


Well, I think, how we have approached the situation and really have grown to be a well-rounded consulting firm/marketing firm, it’s more of a one stop shop. There are very few firms that really offer marketing, consulting, education from a business standpoint. It really helps the client save money and time when you can go to essentially a one-stop shop. There’s no managing of multiple vendors. It clogs up the message, it delays the time of getting tasks complete. So being able to really offer everything under the sun that a client within the healthcare space would need is extremely beneficial.

What are some of the issues in healthcare marketing today that clients struggle with the most?


I think a big part is “How can we be better online in digital marketing?” And that’s their struggle, whether it’s with their website, or getting conversions on their website, or actually just needing a new website. A lot of them have archaic websites. And I think that is their main problem. And then they also don’t understand digital, so they don’t know paid search. They don’t know paid social. And that’s where we come in.


Everyone says they offer digital marketing. Everyone says they offer website development. So it is a very competitive market. They can all say they offer this, but really the measurement and the tracking seems to be very poor. In order to stand out we will continue to focus on KPIs and tracking that really stands above and beyond what other firms can do.

One challenge that we as marketers face in healthcare, kind of goes back to the tracking and the outcomes. Attribution tracking is not really new, but it’s gaining popularity within the marketing space, within the healthcare space. Not a lot of organizations offer that. They don’t really understand it and they’re not really promoting it. So that’s definitely something that we have an advantage of because we are currently doing that with our clients. We just really need to take it full scope. But that will come in time. Some of the other challenges that we’re seeing too, is targeting. So how do we target patients? How can we help our clients target patients? And we know that through consumer segmentation, we can get pretty close to identifying someone’s health behaviors or indicators. But due to HIPAA compliance and privacy regulations, it makes it a little bit challenging. So, when we say, well, we can do X, Y, and Z, and the agency down the street says we can do the same, I think we need to continue to be very creative in how we can bypass some of these challenges.

If you’re a CEO of a healthcare company and you have a lot of providers and you want to reach out to an even larger pool of patients, and you are looking at a whole menu of potential strategies that all of whom cost money. Events, traditional direct mail, traditional PR, influencers, social media campaigns, spending more on your CRM and direct mail capabilities, purchasing content, fine-tuning your contacts, website performance, the data analytics to support all of the above. How do you make decisions about budget? What to build, where to build, where to spend your time. Which of those strategies generates the highest return on dollar invested, generally? Is it all of the above?


So, I think at some point, most, if not all, of those tactics that you mentioned should happen, not all at once. Marketing, I think in any industry, takes time, which as a CEO and a CFO, they don’t want to hear that. They want to see immediate results, and we get that. But with marketing, there’s a lot of testing that needs to happen. We need to see how a specific campaign and the specific medium is actually working. And if it’s not great, we move on to the next. If it is, maybe we just need to adjust dollars to really give us more of an impact. So, depending on the budget and depending on how easy it is to target specific patients, doing a few tactics at one time, I think, makes sense, versus just going all in and having minimal dollars to target a lot.

I think first looking at what you can do to help your organic marketing or grassroots marketing. Looking at your content, updating content, looking what you know could do from a keyword search standpoint before really investing in large dollars, whether it’s programmatic, digital marketing, billboards, if we even ended up doing that. But really honing in on the website, again, kind of going back to what everyone says they can offer, but looking at that, looking to see what kind of call to actions you have. So if we are doing any organic or grassroots marketing, do we have an immediate call to action versus just us wondering how they got there? Did they take an action? So small steps like that, I think, are a good first step.


So if a potential client comes up to us and says, “We want to do everything we can for marketing, we have X amount of budget,” we can cherry-pick for them and make recommendations based on their budget. Obviously, we would first start with the website, but also see their pain points and if online presence is their main thing, or if they want to go out and do direct mail, which is also effective, although it might sound archaic, but it is very effective for patient marketing. It pretty much depends on the structure of the practice and what it is and where they want to put their dollars and how much money they have. Because they will come to us and say, “At $20,000, I want everything.” “Well, no.” So then it’s kind of cherry-picking what would work and then growing from there on. But the main things would probably be the website, like Laurie said, and organic traffic because you don’t have to pay money for that.

Do we provide a recommendation, a holistic evaluation of all the different strategies that are out there, the dollars that are required in the anticipated return on those dollars invested against every one of those strategies? Is that a service that we offer?

So, typically when we do a strategic assessment, we will put in recommendations if a tactic is not currently being done, or if it is, but we conclude that there needs to be some more investment, time and attention to it to make it better. So we do that. If we have a consultation with a client and they’re truly not interested in the assessment and they think they know what they want, and let’s just say it’s a website redesign, and it’s content, and it’s social media because they just don’t have it and they’re not going to be able to get it done, then they essentially will tell us what they would like and we’ll assist as needed. But I really do believe that the strategic assessment is the key for us to truly understand who they are, what they’ve done, what hasn’t worked and why, for us to start off and put them in a better position marketing wise, not only just spend, but overall marketing goals.

A lot of time and effort is, especially for younger or smaller groups, is spent on this concept of web design. What do most groups don’t appreciate when you use the term “optimal website versus archaic website”? Most of us think that great websites simply means great design, and that’s it. One person imagining and executing on a beautiful site, when in fact, we’re talking at least about different people with completely different skillsets, and that’s a huge disconnect; expertise in content, design, video production, coding, backlinks, seo optimization, etc.


I don’t think they understand the work that goes in the back end of web maintenance. Whether it’s updating plugins and SEO changes all the time, going in the backend, changing the tags on the backend, or tweaking the content, things like that. They think it’s just one and done. They don’t realize that there’s a lot of work going in the back end of the website versus just what they see in the front, but they don’t know the wheels are turning in the back and that’s where bulk of the work goes.

If they have a high functioning social media campaign and their website’s not great, the only plus would be, forgiving what the analytics show, would be if they actually get conversions after all, even if the website’s slow or it all boils down to form fills and conversions. But if the website’s slow and the bounce rate and you’re looking at those analytics, yes, they’re negative because if the website’s not functional or not great, but the social media campaign is wonderful, as long as the forms are working they are still doable.

And how does backlink strategies and that flow between your social media campaigns and your website come into play when you think about a high functioning website?


Well, backlink strategies are important. If you do not have a high functioning website, but you have the backlinks from other sources coming to your website, that helps. But it all boils down to analytics in the end of the day. So it’s like having a great car engine going into an old 1984, if I’m explaining it properly. You have this great tool, the backlinks, but coming into something that’s old and not working great, and then it’s kind of not effective.

Thinking about YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter? What are some of the unknowns there? Just the breadth of different channels that exist alone, throw in Google too. What tends to surprise clients when execution actually takes place.


What surprises them before it even is executed, is just the time that it takes to create content and to manage that content. I think it’s overwhelming for marketing departments, small departments that are already within one of our clients. So a lot of them don’t really focus on social because the content is extremely time-consuming. They can certainly use a firm such as Scale for that. But to that, as we’re talking about the breadth and depth of having a successful web development department, I think content is another department that should be pretty robust, not only from a copywriting standpoint, but from a calendaring standpoint to a posting to a management.

Typically, when a consumer searches a client site, they’re looking for, they’ve already made a decision on who they need to see, or what kind of doctor, or what they need to treat. All they really want to do when they go to the client’s site is to book an appointment. So sometimes less is more when it comes to a, let’s just say a physician practice site, but being able to have some kind of form fill some kind of online scheduling tool is very important. And sometimes we see that clients come to us and they don’t have that as an option on their site, and that’s one of the first things that we’ll recommend. So I just wanted to add that to the website discussion.

And moving on, what if most clients fail to appreciate about traditional media channels, print, radio, television, and billboards? What’s the big aha there?


It’s probably all very challenging to track. Billboards are hard to track. All you have is impressions. Newspapers the same thing, unless, again, there’s some kind of call to action. Direct mail, there is still some direct mail, I would say out of all of the traditional, direct mail is probably the one that you can get some kind of return, but we’ll have more eyeballs on it. And again, you can become creative with the type of direct mail. Do you attach some kind of magnet for the refrigerator? So it’s always top of mind. I get a lot of junk mail and I take one look at it and I throw it out. However, if you’re targeting the right people, there’s specific lists that you can purchase to target, again, based upon consumer segmentation. So really, I think out of all of them, direct mail is the way to go. But we do actually have a client still that does direct mail, so it’s not dead yet.

And are you suggesting that print, radio and billboards and television are dead? Maybe, I know Catherine, you spent time pharma industry. I think 70 plus percent of all advertising revenues on television in America are sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. So they’re obviously seeing some benefits there.


It’s also expensive. So pharmaceutical companies are huge and they have the money to spend on it. If we’re talking smaller companies, like our clients, they don’t have those tens of thousands just on one campaign on TV. So it differs. But just to quickly go back to direct mail, they’re still using it too because we are able to track it adding QR codes. So, although we put the website link or whatever on the direct mail piece, we are able to track the effectiveness with QR codes. And one of our clients has now started putting posters in their offices, and we have QR codes on there as well, which we can also track.

Regarding CRM. Steven, feel free to comment here as well. What are most of our clients don’t appreciate about having a high functioning CRM?


I would say probably from a CR perspective, things that are really overlooked is the amount of automation that needs to be built out and established beforehand. So for example, defining and setting up certain properties and creating workflows to where everything is flowing continuously to where it’s fully automated. A lot of people kind of assume that, from a native perspective, that all these fields are already going to be pre-populated.

And when thinking about the healthcare industry with the several clients that I’ve worked with previously, that’s not really necessarily a case, especially when you’re dealing with more of HIPAA information or information that needs to be considered more locked and classified From that perspective, a lot of that time that information isn’t, there isn’t an option natively that you can input and actually have that information in a database. So really, having those fields that you need to build out from a custom perspective aren’t really included.

How does the field of data analytics fit into the marketing eco-system?

I would say the big reveal for data analytics from my perspective is there’s lots of vendors in marketing, very few of them commit to actually providing real analytics. And so they do exist even if you have to build them yourself. And so those vendors that don’t provide it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

And there are many different metrics that point to progress, momentum, and it doesn’t just have to be documented conversions. It can be clicks, it can be subscriptions, followers. There’s many different ways to measure progress across few different marketing strategies. And so it’s important to measure them all and study them carefully. And I think over time, a very robust analytics program will guide you towards fine-tuning your strategies. It does obviously take some time.

But settling for nothing or settling for inadequate information is not a foregone conclusion.

Last question for me, is key scaling milestones for these healthcare groups. How do you think about what are appropriate amount of spend is on marketing vis-à-vis your clients? Given that you work with both small practices and very large MSOs that have hundreds of sites in multiple states that are national.

So what type of platforms do you typically see or would you recommend as far as best practices for healthcare providers, for digital marketing? So for example, would it be Hootsuite or WordPress as far as from a website build perspective, and why would we make that recommendation compared to other services?


We always recommend WordPress because, in my opinion, and it was recommended before I even started, that is the best website platform, and it’s also very user-friendly. So versus other platforms, like Drupal or Sitecore, they’re more intricate to use, whereas WordPress is one and done and plug and play. So it’s just easier to use and is more effective. And when you have staff working on it, you don’t have to have intricate developers in another country trying to help you with it. Everyone can understand it.


One thing we didn’t touch on that is another vendor from a communication standpoint that we recommend, is reputation management. So a tool around that, whether it’s BirdEye,, or Reiterate, we’ve talked on this call about digital and social, and yes, reputation management is digital in a sense, it’s online, but it’s also another way to really respond to patients for them to see that you are willing and able, quality control if there’s any kind of negative comments or press.

I think we need to also maintain a really good reputation online and using a third party or some kind of service to assist with that. Very similar to social media. Comments are posted all the time, very rapidly, typically more negative than positive. And how is an organization responding to that? Are they responding in real time or not? So that’s again, another recommendation in order to communicate to their patients.

Can you go into some of our patient market research capabilities, performing surveys?


So we have the option to survey anyone out there. It could be patience, respective patients, physicians, really anyone in the medical field, stakeholders, whatever the case is. If a client comes to us and they’re truly just not sure how, you know, what their brand equity is, or what the perception is in the community other than what they’re just hearing through reputation management and their Google reviews. So we can design surveys, they could be quantitative, qualitative, online surveys, phone calls with designated folks, and really create a survey based upon what some of their concerns are, what we think we want to hear from the community to help state the case of what the client wants to hear. We can send it out, spend as much time as we want in the field. It could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. And then when we get the report, we’ll then share it with the client and then we can move on to the next step, which would be whatever the outcome is. Is there a lot of work that needs to be done based upon the survey and the perception, we can help kind of correct that? Are they looking to rebrand? Well, now that we know what the community thinks of them, then we can then take that approach. Research is an option that we have, but it’s one step in a long-term campaign or project that we can help a client with. And it’s not necessarily just from a marketing standpoint. We can do research and surveys for some of the other subsidiaries within Scale Healthcare. So consulting just had a client they needed help with, they reached out to us and we were able to generate this report that really wowed the client, and really wowed ourselves, because the intel that we have from several members out in the community, it really tells us whether we’re right or wrong.

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