On this episode of Scrubbing In, a medical podcast powered by SpecialtyCare, SpecialtyCare’s Marketing Manager, Christopher Foust interviews Zander Jones, a sought after a healthcare marketer. In this conversation, Chris and Zander discussed the changes in the landscape of healthcare marketing, the fear of social media marketing, and the benefits of giving the creative team creative freedom. Enjoy the conversation.


Chris Foust: Here we are Scrubbing In: Innovation in OR podcast and we are so lucky and honored to have the wonderful Zander Jones, digital marketing, extraordinary specialist professional. All of the above.

Zander Jones: I’ll take it.

Chris Foust: Thanks for joining us today. And the main reason I brought you here today was to really, really talk about PPC and talk about how that landscape is changing in healthcare. And then maybe we can talk a little bit more about how those play into bigger marketing strategies like branding and social, talking about paid social. Before we get into all that, I’ve known you for seven-ish years?

Zander Jones: Yeah.

Chris Foust: As our listeners have not known you for that, maybe some of them have, but for those of them that don’t know the Zander Jones, give us a little bit about your expertise and your background and how you ended up where you are.

Zander Jones: Totally. Well, I think one of the things that I have in common with you, Chris, is I originally came to Nashville like so many with aspirations, musically and quickly learned that what you need to turn this town into a home first before your dreams and aspirations materialize. I came to Nashville a little over a decade ago and first marketing opportunity I got was with Lee Pepper and he was needing someone in the behavioral healthcare sector. Sort of the substance abuse side of things to help with social media. “Can we just get our accounts organized? Can we optimize our local search and directories, getting those optimized?”

That was my first opportunity. A few months into that, Lee scratched his head and was like, “I think there’s another arena that as an industry we’ve believed that doesn’t really provide a great ROI and maybe we don’t fully understand it and maybe we’re a little scared of it because it seems you spend a lot of money and you don’t get a lot back and that would be paid search.”

Chris Foust: What is your process for picking the right mixture of PPC?

Zander Jones: Yeah. I kind of think of a lead or a customer as sort as a gift that gets dropped off on your front doorstep and it would make sense if you knew where it came from. But if it doesn’t have a label, if you don’t know where it came from you can’t attribute or thank the person who brought it to you. It works a lot at the same ways in our marketing channels. Let’s figure out a way to diversify our portfolios. It might be social. It might be paid search with Google ads and it might be some YouTube video advertisements that pre-roll stuff. Really, I think it’s going to vary business to business, but it’s always worth testing. And if you go back and listen to your earlier podcasts, Chris, that you did for Scrubbing In, you talked about tracking and making sure that when a visitor or user comes to your website you have the right tracking setup. And you can connect your audience probably used to connect with your developers or your marketing team to get that set up properly.

But to know that, X dollars was spent with Facebook Ads or Google Ads. Really, you can’t solve that until you have the right tracking setup first. From there you can decide on the mix that makes sense. I was working at a company where the business development team just seemed to be doing a lot better than web. So let’s scale back a little bit on the paid search. Let’s keep SEO going.

The mix is always going to vary, but it’s up to you to at least be willing to set aside a little bit of your marketing budget to just test it because everything is worth testing and if after you’ve tried it and you did your due diligence, pull back on that, it just doesn’t work for us, or we’ll, we’ll pause it and we’ll come back to it later. But I really think it’s every marketing departments and their leaders, their duty to just do their due diligence and figure out, “Hey, can this work?”

Chris Foust: Social media is playing a huge part in digital marketing and I think healthcare, in general, has always been kind of slow to adopt new digital marketing tactics. And I’ve seen that more so with social media. I think social media scares the hell out of the C-Suite. And that can be a lot of reasons. I know a lot of people talk about HIPAA and they think that there’s a huge issue there, but the ROI can really, really … It can be fantastic. So what are some opportunities that are out there for people that want to kind of dabble in paid social?

Zander Jones: Yeah, I think paid social is a fantastic, not just alternative, but true counterpart, and I think it’s actually growing beyond just traditional search because Google Ads, Bing Ads, Yahoo, Gemini these other platforms that are more of a user-intent. They’ve typed in a search word in the search bar and you’re meeting them right where they’re pain point is with the solution. That’s awesome and I think we should all be kind of investing some in that. But with social marketing, take Facebook for example, and Instagram because you know they own the property. There is such granularity that you can get into that I think in about 10 years or so, I can’t predict, but in the future, we’re going to be going more and more away from keywords or search queries people are typing in and more into understanding the audience as a whole.

Their behavior, the context, their interests, and that’s kind of where you present a solution to a need that they didn’t even have. They didn’t even know they, “I needed this,” because of sophisticated tools we have at our disposal on the data that is provided to us through these platforms were able to kind of reverse engineer, “This persona needs this particular solution for this particular pain point,” and I think social is a great way. And then to your point, Chris, the ROI, the cost per click, you know when we talked about what PPC is it really stands for pay-per-click and the healthcare industry with Google Ads and Bing Ads a cost per click depending on what particular niche you’re in can cost upwards of $18, $30, 50, maybe even over 100. It’s that competitive because we’re all kind of competing against each other there.

Well, with Facebook it’s a lot of people aren’t dipping into it, but for healthcare, because we’re kind of behind on that, it’s an absolutely necessary place to start venturing in. Just put your toe into it a little bit and start with some small tests to see if maybe you’re not necessarily throwing the product right in their face because they’re like, “I’m not ready to buy.” That’s another thing we need to understand. The social environment with social media platforms, where are they in the social funnel? Do they need an ER? Do they need to look at a surgeon right now? Maybe not. Maybe they’re just researching.

In fact, maybe they’re just browsing and they’re just engaging with their friends there. But instead of coming at them with the product right away, create a feeling. Create sort of a lifestyle projection for them that, “Hey, we know you probably need this later down the road, but right now we’re just going to paint a picture of what life can be.” Maybe that’s sort of the angle you take as a company and as a hospital or as a physician is that, “I’m not selling my product that will come, but in social advertising on I’m sort of painting a life free of this condition or just a better state of life.”

Chris Foust: So worrying less about the immediate conversion and more maybe about brand awareness. So when that decision, when that issue and that question arises you’re the name that pops UP?

Zander Jones: Exactly.

Chris Foust: So how important is video now with advertising? Not just advertising, but over your digital marketing strategy. How important is video?

Zander Jones: If you look at how advertising has evolved since the early 2000s, when everything got, we have become a more sophisticated audio online audience. We need a multisensory experience. That’s what we’re looking for now. Gone are the days where a three line text ad with a little URL that’s going to drive all the business. I really think storytelling through video and creating a connection between service provider and your target audience is so critical because video is all around us. YouTube is the second largest search engine still owned by Google, but it’s not just about the platforms, it’s about what how a story can be communicated. You’re able to engage the sort of auditory senses and create emotion that you may not be able to do through just a landing page and an image ad.

I think video is some someplace that every hospital, every physician, every clinician needs to be thinking about how do I … I’m not saying you need to be inauthentic. I actually think you should be true. But just tell your true story and if it’s not fit for customer A, it will be for customer B. Don’t worry about that. Just be true to yourself and connect with some collaborators, and some creatives who can really extrapolate that story into something beautiful.

Chris Foust: Let’s talk a little bit about SEO content and branding. These can most definitely assist PPC, right?

Zander Jones: Yeah.

Chris Foust: What strategies can some of our users take away if they’re already running PPC ads? Typically, I think that’s where a lot of people go first because they can see immediate results, but while you’re running those PPC campaigns, you have to also be producing content and like you
said, engaging content.

Zander Jones: Right.

Chris Foust: Authentic, speaking your brand voice. What are some strategies people can do to get that other side of their digital marking strategy up and running?

Zander Jones: Yeah, I think I agree with that. That paid search is this nice kind of jump in the fast lane and get some immediate results. On the backside, you are also working on the video content and the SEO. What I would encourage folks to do more than just the doing because I think we can get caught up with just, “All right, let’s just make some ads and then throw some, I don’t know, throw some posts on social media. I don’t know if we post something on Instagram.” “Are you doing it weekly? Great.” “I don’t know what kind of results it’s generating.” “And how many blogs that we’ve written?” “I don’t know, 10.” “So keep burning some more,” and without any direction. And I would encourage marketing teams to kind of pause, and pause the doing and go back and to ask two fundamental questions about the being part, which is who are we as a service provider? What skills we bring to the table? What talents do we have in-house and how do we meet needs?” And then, “Who are they, our audience?”

Let’s get everybody in the room to agree our audiences and who we are. From there, you will be able to create a laboratory of uninhibited calculated creativity with your marketing team. Because what the uninhibited side is, you want to … Facebook won’t be here forever. Google Ads may not be here forever, so you want to be able to pivot to whatever is coming down the pike, but I would love for everyone to just say, “The constant is going to be who we are and who our target audience is and how we meet their needs,” than anything. I don’t care what video you want to record, I don’t care what image or graphic you want to design, what blog you want to create, as long as it filters through those two fundamental questions, you’re going to get it right. And you can figure out in your creatives on your team are going to figure out, “Well, let’s just, I know this baseball team tried this. Let’s try it. The chef tried this. I know it’s not in our industry, but let’s experiment.” It’s calculated, but it’s uninhibited creativity.

Chris Foust: Yeah. Defining your audience is incredibly powerful. It’s amazing what you can derive from saying, “No, we don’t cater to everybody. We cater to this person.” And like you mentioned that everything stems from that. Okay. Let’s focus a little bit on the creative and branding. It’s been my experience that’s really easy to overlook if you’re not in marketing. If you’re in marketing, it’s almost arguably the most important piece of the puzzle, getting your distilled brand aesthetic and in verbiage. But it can be really easy to overlook. It’s really easy to say, “Oh, it’s a logo. Who cares?” What has been your experience and how important is the overall branding of a company in regards to PPC, in regards to SEO and digital marketing in general?

Zander Jones: I think it is definitely critical. I mean, this is something you’re going to be committing to long-term. Ideally, you don’t want to be changing the brand everything from the color palette to the design. I’m talking about graphically what we’re talking about. But honestly, I think you want to have a group discussion with your creatives on your team and figure out, “Okay, these are our core values. We understand that this is our audience.” You’ve answered those two questions. How can we visually, and from a content standpoint, communicate that? Because there is feeling that is communicating, educated in color. The palette, it moves us one way or another and I think you need to trust some creatives on that. Let’s not all profess that we know just because you’re the highest paid in the C-Suite that you know what a good graphic design is.

I think that there needs to be discussion and healthy collaboration on why we are going in this direction. Why the logo seems it seems too simple. Well, here’s why it’s too simple. It’s more simplified than the dove we drew or some crazy graphic that seemed cool in the 1990s but it doesn’t speak to us. What we’re actually looking for is clarity over persuasion. Let’s not fill up too much and convince the audience that we are the one you need. Instead, just be clear, be simple about your brand and messaging. That’s what is refreshing to people is not the clutter but more of a … They’re clear about their message and like you said, Chris, they don’t want to be the next guy. There’s a unique set of talents on their team and services they provide that make them unique and it may actually, this may not be for me now, but it may be for me later maybe for the next guy or the next gal.

It’s just staying true to your art, make sure your brand and all that. That whole branding process it doesn’t have to be fake. Just make sure it’s a collaboration and an open discussion with the creatives who can make that happen. I know in my experience I’m going to be the first to admit I’m not a graphic designer and I’m not a logo designer. I’m not even the best writer, so find who those people are and cast your vision to them and let them interpret it as best they can.

Chris Foust: When you’ve got a company that’s got a good culture, bad culture, it really does affect the outcomes of the marketing department.

Zander Jones: Right. Being the marketing department that you want to generate business for you.

Chris Foust: So how important is it to have positive company culture and how does it affect your marketing?

Zander Jones: I mean it’s the lifeblood of a marketing department, but it is also like any plant growing outside that’s as far as your branches will go depending on the health of that core, that core stem, and the roots that are underneath it. If it’s not healthy on the inside, you cannot expect to reach out as far as you’d like and provide shade for the customers that you’d like to attract. Developing culture that is not … it does start from leadership and developing the right kind of healthy culture. But I have three words that start with C that kind of came to mind with this question. First of all, from a marketing department and I’m speaking to the marketers out there who are listening possibly and the leadership as well, figure out a way to cultivate just a relationship, a starting point because in my experience, especially in the healthcare vertical, a lot of departments become siloed.

The call center does their own thing and finance, man, they’re on a different floor. We don’t know what they’re doing. And administrative is over here. And then marketing, we’re over in our own little corner. Honestly, bridging the gap in cultivating some kind of relationship. What I mean is walking down over there and getting to know them, understanding and maybe leadership you can cultivate a forum where people understand how all the pieces create the whole. It’s a lot like, Chris, I love Sci-Fi movies and there are these movies that come out with these gigantic robots operated by humans on the inside, but you cannot get any forward momentum without being in sync with each other. And that’s a lot like a company that has a lot of moving parts who have decided we’re just going to stay and do our own thing siloed and good luck for everybody else. I’m just going to take care of my own.

For a company to really move forward together there needs to be some kind of in sync momentum. Let’s all agree that the right leg is going to move forward at the same time. And let’s all be on board and step-by-step, you’re going to create that. But the second word is celebrate. I think that once you get to know each other, what a marketing department does really well is it celebrates. It kind of takes the gems, dust off some things that people wouldn’t know and celebrates the talents that you have on your team. We don’t talk about enough, but you have people on your staff who are probably overqualified, who have degrees up the wazoo who do things above and beyond it that don’t get highlighted and the general public and your target audience don’t know about. And the marketing department comes in there and they celebrate that because, hey, let’s be honest, the marketing department, they need content too. What are you going to write about?

We want to highlight staff members, but who are they? So by collaborating in that way, it’s a win-win for everybody. And then finally it’s communication. It’s communicating your identity as a whole company to the public and to your target audience. So cultivate, celebrate and communicate.

Look, your marketers, your marketing department, they are your storyteller, so your true storytellers and they’re not going to deviate and tell a story that’s not true because that will come back to bite you and your business when you put on sort of that fake output. But what they’re going to do is they are going to uncover all the amazing things if you let them in. If you become a little bit more human, a little bit more transparent. If you’re willing to put a staff member’s face on Instagram or highlight the chef over here or highlight your administrative assistant who does a 100,000 things for you that day but doesn’t get the credit. When the outside audience sees how synergetic you are and how togetherness of your company that is going to do more than any ad you put out there. It is truly is your humanity as a company shining through. But your marketers, they are storytellers and they want to tell that story, but they can’t if there are hidden chapters and there’re things kind of being tucked away that we’d rather not. We err on the safe side.

We’re in a day and age where transparency is the currency of conversion. You can’t get around that. And this millennial generation and beyond, they’re going to sniff it out really fast. They’ll go with the hospital that has a thriving Instagram account and a Facebook page and are engaging in all that kind of stuff.

Chris Foust: So I know that sounds cheesy, but that’s really important because what that does for the user is it gives them a window inside and they can see what goes on. Gone are the days of the business telling the consumer what they want. Now, it’s the consumer telling the business what they want and we have to accommodate.

Zander Jones: “I want to know doctor so and so who’s going to perform surgery on me. He cares about his wife and kids. He loves golfing, but he’s also, he graduated from Auburn,” or something. That kind of personal insight into … “This isn’t just a human, not a sort of a humanized machine who’s going to operate on me. That makes me feel a little bit more connected as a customer, I will choose this hospital because I love how they celebrate each other and I know that I will be taking care of in a tender and compassionate way.”

Chris Foust: And to take it a little bit different direction. I mean millennials and the following generations, we’ll spend more money if the experience is right if the experience is authentic. That needs to sink in. I know from a business perspective, you can have the exact same product or in some cases an arguably less desirable product, but if the experience around the product is authentic and engaging and positive, then you’re going to lean towards that.

Zander Jones: This is where actually marketing can begin to give you indications of what needs to change from an operational standpoint. Marketers, we get frustrated when we feel like, “Man, I am ready to market the heck out of this product, but the product really sucks. It really fails in every aspect.” Having an open line of communication with leadership about that can start creating change on the operational side where we’re like, “You’re right, this is not good enough. This quality of beds that we have, they’re just not good enough. The rooms don’t look warm enough for people to come in and feel like they’re at home.” You start making those changes because they feed into each other. The products we market needs to be at a high standard.

I encourage all C-Suite officers and as well as the marketing team to get together and have those discussions about like, “We want competitor A, B, and C over here. They’re rocking it and we’re, we’re not.” And that’s just even just to get at their level. Can we improve some things at our facility or with our processes that could make our … It’s not just to make the marketing job easier, but it’s to where they feed into each other. You’ll see all ships get lifted at the same time.

Chris Foust: Well, Zander Jones, thank you so much for joining us on Scrubbing In. You are a wonderful man. I’m glad to know you PPC professional marketing savant if you will. Thank you. Zander Jones.

Zander Jones: Thanks, Chris. Thanks for having me.

Todd Schlosser: Thanks for listening to Scrubbing In. Please take a second to give us a rating on your podcast App and subscribe so you won’t miss out on what we have coming up. See you next time.