Hear From The Marketing Powerhouse Behind LifeStance’s Explosive Growth

Hosted By:

Lauren Leone, SVP of Healthcare Marketing, Cardinal Digital Marketing
Joleen Sheuh, Director of Growth, LifeStance Health
Ashley Anderson, SVP of Marketing, LifeStance Health

Watch the Recording:

Quotes From the Webinar:

Joleen: ” To have a great landing page experience, you need to number one, have great content. Then two, you need to have a clear action that you want the person to take. Also, clear out any barriers of a conversion.”

Ashley: “Make sure that your national brand is always the focus and then you’re plugging in local underneath. You never want your local branches to go rogue on their own to the point where they’re doing their own thing. The national brand should always be overarching everything at all times. Otherwise, you end up with many minor mini brands within.”

 

Read The Transcript:

Lauren Leone: Hey there everybody. Thank you all so much for joining us on our webinar today. We’re going to kick things off. As you guys can see I’m going to do some intros here in a minute but thanks for joining us on our webinar How LifeStance Health Grew to 450, now 500+ locations. We can’t even keep up our marketing materials with how fast LifeStance is growing which is really exciting.

Really excited for you guys to be joined today by Ashley and Joleen. I’m going to do some formal intros of both of these individuals as well as the organization if you’re just learning about LifeStance [inaudible 00:00:44]. We’ve got a real treat for you guys today. This is going to be all about growth, so if you’re in health care, if you are not in health care but you’re in a group that’s PE-backed and growing quickly what we want to talk about today is some of the pillars of success. What does the recipe look like to have my brand grow as quickly as LifeStance has?

Let’s go ahead and dive in. A few quick housekeeping items, the chat is open so please, please, please feel free to utilize that chat. Although you guys aren’t able to speak because we’ll be doing most of the speaking, I’m going to field all of your questions so you guys can go ahead and send those my way, and then I’ll kick them out to Joleen and Ashley. Then, the recording for this webinar will be sent out at the end. You’ll probably have it within 24 hours.

For anyone who can’t stay the full duration, don’t worry you will not miss a thing. Let me just dive in. We’re going to break this into a few blocks because there’s a lot of pillars that go into managing and growing and marketing a brand as large as LifeStance or one that hopes to be as large as LifeStance one day. After I do introductions, I’m going to flip it over to just our faces and we’re going to do a round table structure talking about building an in-house marketing team.

LifeStance has added a significant number of team members to their in-house capability. How do you do that? Where’s the right place to start? Integration best practices as you make acquisitions or set out to open de novos. How do you go about determining the right strategies there? Then we’re going to have the treat of diving in with Joleen on digital collaboration, marketing strategies, and the future of mental health care.

Let’s dive in. Like I said, I’ll do a quick intro on LifeStance Health. If you all don’t know LifeStance, founded in 2017 with a goal of reimagining mental health. So, all about virtual and in-person outpatient mental health care treating everyone from children all the way up to adults and seniors. The goal is to help people live healthier more fulfilling lives, and the way that they’re doing that is through a massive footprint over 500 locations in 31 states. Like you saw in my intro slide growing so quickly we can’t even keep up.

Over 4,300 providers working for the organization. This is a large scale and it requires large-scale marketing and we’re going to dive into exactly what that looks like. Joining us today we have Ashley Anderson. She’s the Senior Vice President of marketing. If you guys don’t follow Ashley on LinkedIn or you haven’t seen her there, she was recently named one of Ad Age’s 2021 40 under 40 honorees, so you guys are in for a real treat here. Both Ashley and Joleen spent quite some time in agency world as well as in consumer, so what they bring to the table is a lot of new thoughts and ideas to how to market consumer health care. We’re going to get to hear from Ashley here in just a second.

Then we’ve got Joleen Shueh. She’s the Director of Growth. Joleen, growth means a lot of things and a lot of different things to different people, but what I’ve noticed about Joleen and working with her over the past year is she is the epitome of a data-driven marketer. Wants to find meaning in every bit of data. How do we see both big picture but also understand what each data point means? Like I mentioned she’s run a number of complex multi-channel, multi-location media buys, so when we get to talking about numbers and actual tactics Joleen is going to be the best person to talk to.

Let’s go ahead and dive in. I’m going to start by kicking off an overarching question and then I’ll turn off these slides and we can get a full look at all of our faces. Ashley, I’m going to start this one for you, and this is just the origin story of LifeStance and most importantly LifeStance’s journey since the COVID-19 pandemic came into play and that trajectory really changed. Give us the two to three-sentence overview just of that origin.

Ashley Anderson: Yes, sure. LifeStance came to be by our three co-founders. Mike Lester, who’s our current CEO, Danish Qureshi, who is Chief of Growth, and Gwen who’s our Chief Operating Officer, so there are three co-founders. They found it really based on the fact that there clearly is a huge opportunity to destigmatize mental health. People are still not talking about it enough. There’s still so many people without care that need care and they found a problem and they really were out there to solve it.

Their whole goal with finding this company is they are not going to stop and they’re not going to leave the industry until they know that they can leave it better than they found it. In terms of how COVID affected us as a company, this is a little bit before my time because I joined in December of last year, so coming up on a year, but the big change was that we did all in-person health visits and then we also added virtual at the time.

We launched that in 10 days. Lauren, I believe you and the Cardinal team were part of that, so in 10 days they launched virtual and now I believe we have a little bit over I think about– I might be butchering these numbers slightly but I think we’re about 60% of people seek in-person treatment and 40% seek virtual treatment. Then there’s a lot of people that do a mix of the two. It’s nice that we have both options and as you saw with growing centers over 500 now we’re continuing to move forward with that with an aggressive growth plan.

Lauren: Ashley when you think about that big transition from all in-person to the mix and where you all are today, did the marketing tactics to support that have to change significantly too? What does that look like?

Ashley: Yes I think if we were to look at all of our marketing tactics including digital obviously being where the heavy focus is, I think for us coming in we saw a huge opportunity to drive brand awareness so that was really, “How do we establish our brand?” That was putting together the “No Face” campaign this past spring to really try to redo our website, amplify it with new assets, really create these approachable assets that would work really well in paid media.

Joleen can talk more about that, but even down to small tactics of like darker creative versus lighter creative versus zooming in on faces. How many faces are okay et cetera. We do a lot of testing to see what works and doesn’t work with different audiences, but I think for us it’s a cross-channel marketing plan but we’re really a heavy emphasis on all things SEO. SEOs are a really big focus point for us that we partner with Cardinal and then we also have our own SEO team member as well. We just know that for us we’re not going to go look to spend billions and billions of dollars on paid media we’d rather organically build a lot of it on our own.

Lauren: Before we dive into what the nature of some of those tactics and strategies are, you joined the organization about a year ago and at the time it was a tiny little team. You and Joleen joined together as the pillars of building an in-house team. Talk about what the last year has looked like. How you set out to build that. What were some of the most important things you looked for? For organizations and marketers listening that maybe one-woman teams one-man teams how do they– where do they go next?

Ashley: Yes, so for me coming in, I had come from the world of Equinox Fitness Clubs for those who are interested or those who are aware of that brand prior to coming here. I’d come from a pretty solid and sound marketing team and had an idea but we also worked with a lot of agencies so I knew– had a good idea of what I wanted and when I came here. When I came here, I think there was five team members really heavy focused on the creative aspect of things, but what I set out to build was I put disciplines out so I knew that I needed to create a structure where I had brand, growth, website, and analytics, integration, and acquisitions because of our growth and how we’re– it’s how we’re growing from 450 to 500+ locations.

We’re buying, integrating, and then creative. I set out those few different disciplines, hired a lead for each of those, and then hired specific team members with specific skill sets underneath each. Specifically, under growth, Joleen and I have worked together in the past so we already had a little bit of a leg up that we knew how to best approach. We partnered with Cardinal early on realized that they were a great agency and really knew what they were doing.

I’m not just saying that just because we’re on this, they are. They’re doing a really great job. We figured out, “Okay, where are the minor holes there that we need to fill in internally or places that we should amplify internally?” We did that specifically for growth. Then I have a couple of freelancers here and there for some of the creative needs but I think that-

Lauren: It sounds like–

Ashley: -our team’s about 25 people now.

Lauren: Yes, you’ve grown significantly. It sounds like you either identify the gaps on the internal team and look at how agencies may be able to fill those gaps or in your case you came into an agency in place and said, “What do I need to bring in-house to supplement those capabilities,” but at least starting in one of those areas–

Ashley: I think if I was coming in with zero people and didn’t have an agency in place, I think one of the first things I would do would be to hire one person internally that I could really have as a right-hand and a true partner. Then from there, figure out, “Okay, how big of an agency could we hire, or do we need to do a small agency?” I’m not saying bigger is better. It’s probably phrased wrong, but do we need to hire a big agency?

Do we need to hire a small agency? What’s our budget? Where can our money go? How can we make our money work the best possible way for us? I would figure out what channels are really the focus point. I do think that SEO is something that people talk more and more about. I think that is really important because it’ll just tell you how well your website’s working, how organically people are finding you, and then you can pay to have people find you.

Lauren: If you had to give any tips on anything that you think absolutely should be an in-house function. What is most important for the brand to own that no agency is going to do better than an in-house team. What would your tips be there if anything?

Ashley: That’s a good question. I think it’s really helpful to own your own website. I think that that is really helpful because if you need website changes made quickly to try to outsource them, whether it be to a freelancer or to an agency or anything else, it just makes it take that much longer and some of those things need to happen really quickly. I think that’s probably the main thing that I can think of off the top of my head. I’m doing a lot of the brand work internally but with a freelance partner, versus hiring a creative agency.

I’ve worked with creative agencies a lot in the past. We did a little work with a creative agency when I first started. I have a great partner in that. That’s been a great way for me to save a lot of dollars, but at the same time, get some really great work done. I can always talk to people offline about that if anyone was curious, but I’d say those would be probably the main functions. If you can get someone internal for some SEO help, I think that’s also really helpful.

Lauren: I think the tip I always give is just have a solid understanding of what your brand is, who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to say to them. I don’t think any outside resource is going to determine that for you. The people running the business need to know what those pillars are. I think that’s spot on. Then get people to help you execute that vision. I want to move into the growth category of some of our questioning.

I think you set the landscape really well. We understand how your team is structured. Joleen, thinking about you came in at the same time as Ashley when the team was quite small and you had to then build out this team that was all around how do we grow this thing. What have been the pillars for you in looking at growth? Whether that’s marketing, whether that’s team, anything that you have seen as the most important functions?

Joleen Shueh: Coming in, I think I was lucky to have a very well-established foundation with the new Cardinal team. It was really just me and then, obviously, everyone on the team on Cardinal. I think it was coming in and just looking at what makes the most sense, what do we need optimizations on. I think my personal philosophy is just always continuous improvement. The things I normally look at first and foremost is efficiency, because we’re being held on CPA goals, I basically look at that as a foundation.

Then what are the different levers I can pull to improve that key metric? A lot of it has to do with three core pillars that I look at is audience, creative, and then your landing page experience. Some of the work that we have been doing with the Cardinal team with conversion rate optimizations on the website had been really instrumental in terms of helping us bring our costs down and achieving our goals, happily to say for all the times I guess Ashley and I have been here, which is good because we’re both very data and performance-driven.

Lauren: Joleen, I think when you started with the organization our media mix was quite small. It was proportionate to the budget that was available at the time and the size that LifeStance was, but that has evolved significantly. A lot of that was driven by you saying, we need to get out in other places. Talk about when is the right time to diversify your mix? What does it look like to diversify? What’s your general philosophy on that?

Joleen: General philosophy is, always fully fund your branded search and then your remarketing tactics because those are your lowest hanging fruit, the easiest people to target. They’re also going to be the cheapest. Then from there, you build on, like Ashley mentioned, really trying to make a big push on branding. A lot of the work that we did with the on-face campaign has really been helpful in terms of helping us getting that audience incremental reach and audience expansion. That’s how we determine. I think slowly opportunities are where is most scalable and for better or worse, Google and Facebook. Just focusing on those.

Lauren: Our favorite channel, Joleen.

Joleen: My favorite channel is Meta. Then I think just playing in the space where we can get high scale TV equivalent, which in my mind is OTT. That’s a big test that we’re doing with the Cardinal team. I’m personally excited about that.

Lauren: Awesome. There was a question that came through the chat while you were talking what you think– Landing page was one of the pillars that you mentioned, and the question was what do you focus on? What do you think makes for a great landing page experience for users?

Joleen: I think content, number one. Then two, which is very clear on the action that you want the person to take. Then also clear out any barriers of conversion, any barriers for those. One of the things that we did was pretty simple, but we basically was able to locate where the users were from an IP perspective. It’s not the best targeting, but it’s a lot better than adding an extra step. That really helped us just shorten that funnel conversion step by a step. That actually just takes a huge amount of increases to conversion rates. The other thing I think is just something that is very near and dear to Ashley and I’s hearts, just making sure you have a fast website.

Lauren: Yes, it’s not a little thing.

Ashley: I was actually going to say that the CRO thing is huge. I mentioned SEO before, and to Joleen’s point, that’s one of the other reasons to have the web website in houses, because site speed is so important. Every second or portion of a second that your website adds to its site speed is more people lost. We’ve seen that a lot. Our site speed’s the fastest it’s ever been and the fastest site I’ve ever worked on personally, actually, I think. That was a huge effort for us. When we redid the website, that was numero uno.

One thing I will note on CRO too is to say like what are the really important things? Joleen’s right when it comes to CRO because ultimately that is another way to really save costs and make your dollars work more efficiently. If your user journey to click to convert is a much quicker takeaway step, then your CPA are definitely going to go down, assuming you’re still given what they’re offering. That’s hugely important. That’s almost like you reevaluate that before you reevaluate anything else.

Lauren: We usually tell people if you have an account that’s relatively mature, just a search account at least you’ve been spending, you have some historical data. Tinkering with small changes in that account is never going to be as impactful as what you can do on the post-click side once you make the major optimization. I think that’s a great recommendation. We got another question that came in while we’re on this topic of media mix, which is– I’ll put this one out to you, Joleen, challenges with remarketing and healthcare. How you’re solving for that, how you guys remarket with restrictions.

Joleen: I think this is one that’s a little bit unique to the industry that we’re in and it’s personally a bit new to myself. I think the ways around it is just making sure that we are tapping new different channels like I mentioned OTT, and just really focusing on getting people to your site because that is your own first-party data. Then the restrictions are less prohibitive. I know there’s a lot of restrictions in terms of what you’re legally allowed to write in your copy. It’s a lot of testing and iterating, just making sure that you go around it without obviously violating any advertising rules.

Lauren: Although Google’s not a viable network for remarketing, we see successes on channels like Facebook on other DSPs that don’t carry the same restriction. Just some tips for people who have questions.

Joleen: I think the bigger tip that I would say is just, learn your data, get your own insights, because, for me, one of the most frustrating things about a lot of vendors is their black box. I would say don’t rely on the big tech platforms there. The cleaner you have your own data, the better it’s going to help you do your own remarketing.

Ashley: I think building on what Joleen is saying if you are relying on their data, at least as a potential benchmark or something to reference. Even if you’re running your own, know that they’re likely inflating their data.

Lauren: Changing topic a little bit, because I think this is an amazing question and I want to put this one out to Ashley. This is so, so important in all the planning work we’re doing with you guys for next year. They asked how do you spend time, if any, which the answer is there’s definitely time being spent on this, on supporting provider recruitment. How do you ensure that your ability to fulfill is as strong as your ability to drive a new patient?

Ashley: Yes, provider recruitment is a huge area of focus for us. We really started provider recruitment, I would say, toward the second half of this year, and then we’re going to be putting a huge effort toward that next year within our strategic planning that we’re starting now as well as in the next year. Right now, when you think of LifeStance with providers, we have strong retention rates but because of our growth, we’re always looking to add more.

For us, I can let Joleen talk about– maybe Joleen, you want to speak through to the channel mix a little bit more, but we can maybe talk also about the great changes you made to the career site within LifeStance because I think it’s the media mix in general but then it’s also a huge effort that Joleen made in partnership with our recruiting team to make sure that the website was sound and working really well.

We need a place to drive them because if you don’t have a really strong career site to drive them to, then the chance of them clicking and applying is not going to happen as easily. When you’re using channels out of the ordinary and you think about a provider seeing an ad on social, it seems a little bit off from an experience standpoint. Joleen’s done a great job working with the messaging and the media mix. I’ll actually throw it over to her to finish that.

Joleen: Yes, I think, in terms of what we really did was before we made it a focus, it just needed a little bit more love, I think. What we did was we actually went ahead and redesigned our website, going to the back to the point about the importance of having a good landing page. We added a ton of content on it, we streamlined a lot of data with our ATS, and then how we created the opportunity to actually be able to apply on lifestance.com which was a huge one for us.

Our general strategy is to rely less on third-party recruiting sites and just focus more on driving people to our site, positioning it as the number one career source for anybody interested in mental health, behavioral health, career, meaning testimonials, FAQs, how do you do– how does LifeStance help you providers with your own personal career growth, some CEs that we offer as part of the perks. Then a new program where there’s incentive to actually have ownership of some of the company. That was a huge differentiator for LifeStance versus other companies. I think, really focusing on the content on the website and then just again, making sure that the process to apply is super seamless.

Lauren: Joleen, I’ll add a question from myself which is, and I know the answer going into next year, but I think it would help everyone else is I mean, your demand planning, how you all plan on new patient acquisition is entirely based on what you forecast in terms of providers, right? You’re not just saying I’m going to capture as many patients as I can and then figure out how to serve them. You guys have a very clearly aligned parallel plan for provider recruitment and patient acquisition to make sure that those things are equal.

Joleen: Yes, I love these questions. I think trying to strike a good balance between patient demand and provider availability is still something we are working towards getting better at. We come up with some of our own a lot of meetings with the regional teams, a lot on the ground feedback, just figure out, okay, here are some of the regions that need a little bit more help from a patient demand perspective, here’s some of that’s actually not as well known within a local specific market. A lot of regional nuances has been a fun challenge to overcome because that also ladders up to some of our branding awareness efforts.

If you don’t know about LifeStance in your area, there’s no way you’re going to get any patients. If you don’t get any patients, then your providers that you’re recruiting isn’t going to have a client roster. I think it all works interchangeably and together in just figuring out the right balance and honestly just need more and better data.

Lauren: All the data?

Joleen: Yes, all the data. [laughs]

Lauren: Well, you had a nice segue there because I think what a lot of people potentially attending this webinar today are with working with organizations or considering working with organizations that may be in a much more, let’s just call immature place than LifeStance is today in terms of their marketing efforts. What do you see as some of the biggest challenges just so they can feel familiarity in acquiring brands and then having to do things like centralized marketing efforts, centralized technologies? I know that there’s no perfect solution but what are at least the challenges so that other people out there say, “Yes, okay, we all share the same frustrations and I know that we’re all working towards those goals.”

Joleen: Yes, I think centralizing operations and processes is number one. Every region has its own nuances and every region does things a little bit differently. Number one step is to just make sure everyone’s on the same playing field. Then how do you introduce new streamlined processes in terms of centralized marketing efforts? I will say a lot of the local marketing teams will default to digital being the miracle solution for all and that is just not the case, it’s complementary to, and it’s crucial for the local markets to do their own local marketing on the ground.

We actually really, really advocate for each region to have at least a, what we like to call a on the ground, boots marketing lead, because there are just so much from a local marketing perspective that’s not related to digital marketing. Like when you have new providers, putting on the roadshows, referrals, and more like– I know it’s in COVID times a little bit more tough for that but more that face-to-face networking is super important terms of getting referrals.

Lauren: Actually your [crosstalk]–

Ashley: It’s more than, like local, just when we say the boots on the ground, it’s like, “Yes, they need to be responsible for bringing up local races and driving awareness there.” It’s also like Joleen said, where possible, it’s those local conversations with all the PCPs and all the different hospitals in the area et cetera. Every time someone leaves the emergency room, they leave discharge papers that three of the five pages is all about mental health. Well, we want to be right there front and center. Those kinds of conversations need to be happening.

Lauren: When you truly think about the marketing team, and I would consider those individuals part of that at LifeStance, you’ve got your 25 person national marketing team but then you have all of these additional people that are playing field roles to really make sure that the local is still important.

Ashley: Yes, and they are not currently part of the national marketing team, they roll up under operations. I know in my past life at Equinox, we had local marketing within the national marketing team and then it started to taper off, and then it went under operations. I’m not sure if I have the right answer in terms of where I think the local marketing fits because at the end of the day, it gets challenging when you have national efforts and then local efforts are just oftentimes, they’re in the same vein, but they can be very different.

I do think at LifeStance, we have an opportunity to roll those a little bit closer together and it’s something that we’re working on. I know that in the past six months, we’ve definitely made strides in terms of our relationships and building those with the operational teams really led by Joleen, to get all the regional teams to understand like she was saying the importance of– yes, digital, super important and we’re going to make sure that we’re running the right paid media in your regions, making sure that CPAs are optimized and they’re not going to high grade if they’re going lower, but keeping them in certain ranges and sharing your media mix.

At the same time, we do notice right away with every region, if we talk about the number of boots are on the ground, people that they have, if they have someone that’s doing boots on the ground, I can almost tell you– I can actually without even looking at the Excel spreadsheets that we have that show all the different data, there CPAs are always lower. It’s just a given because they have so much more awareness that’s been driven by these local boots on the ground. They don’t have boots on the ground people, there’s always providers that have open schedule opportunities and things like that. It really, like she said, they really work in tandem together.

Lauren: Joleen, as my data junkie, when you think about, we run these media campaigns and you do buys at various levels, you have national buys, you have regional buys, you have state, city, whatever it may be, there’s so many layers that you can play at. When you think about that data, there’s so much so you can’t look at every data point every day, what data points are most important to you? Is it the national portfolio performance? Is it how regions are performing? Do look at certain locations? How do you think about it?

Joleen: Yes, I think sometimes I can get into a rabbit hole of data and go into a little bit of an analysis paralysis personally. I think first and foremost you look at volume, so we have clear, quarterly, and monthly goals that we have to hit. That’s number one, I look at volumes and then how efficient we are being, and then what I typically do is look at leading indicators that help showcase what is really affecting those two main KPI, so is it conversion rates has gotten lower? Is it that the market costs have increased and we’re paying a premium and leading to an increase in CPC? So, that stuff. Then what I do is I dive into the state level. We actually, along with our analytics director, came up with a unique metric that I think is helpful for us because we’re such a fast-paced growing company, so we actually look at the cost per provider support in terms of marketing dollars spent.

That’s a new metric that we use, just to make sure that for each state we are reaching a good balance in terms of the number of providers that we have by state and the proportionate number of marketing dollar that we’re providing for them. Obviously, that has its own nuances depending on waitlists, availability, and all that good stuff, but that’s another data point I look at. Then I think also really importantly is looking at the split between paid and organic and then also mobile and desktop. Those are, I think, the key ones that I typically look on.

Lauren: Starting at a portfolio level and then the ability to drill down as locally as you need to go to identify what’s working, what’s not.

Joleen: Yes.

Lauren: Awesome. Then while we’re on this topic one more I’ll bounce back to Ashley really quickly that just came through, but when you have these boots on the ground team and I know they’re not part of your marketing team but I know messaging is part of your team. How do all of those people who are boots on the ground across 31 states share a common vision, a common message? Do you all put out, whether it’s scripts or through training, help them to all be sharing the same message about LifeStance when they’re in hospitals, in PCP offices?

Ashley: It’s a great question. When I was talking earlier about the structure of the teams, so one of those I think it was five or six core disciplines is the integration and acquisitions marketing team. They’re responsible for being the conduit and the person that communicates directly with all the regional teams. Joleen communicates with the regional teams that I’m very specifically on growth and it’s not every single day. Albeit it might feel like that’s a [unintelligible 00:32:08] but it’s not like every single day nonstop versus our integrations and acquisition teams they’re bringing on these new acquisitions.

They’re providing them with all new collateral, all new branding, all new message points, they’re helping to update their website that’ll say something like whatever their old website was formally and now LifeStance Health, so they’re providing them with all of those materials. Then they’re also giving obviously information from the operations team, but we are responsible for all collateral and everything else that comes from our team.

I’m sure that things get slipped in from old habits or old pieces of material that we cannot police but we do our best to make sure that they at least have all new materials. We’re constantly revising those with new assets that we’re creating.

Lauren: Peter asked in the chat to bounce off of that. Do the providers and clinicians that are part of LifeStance, do they contribute to that in any way whether it’s through opportunities that you’ll have to bring them together and get their ideas, understand what’s going on in the field or contribute from a content perspective. How does the clinician role play into marketing?

Ashley: 100% so everything that we put out there whether it be any content on our website from a conditions and services standpoint, any marketing collateral materials that go out, those are all vetted by Anisha who’s our chief medical officer, or someone on her direct team. We would never put anything out there about couples therapy or TMS or depression or anything else without their eye on it to make sure that we’re speaking about it correctly. I’m doing a photoshoot next week and I made sure that we have about 25 different shots as well as clinician shots.

We are shooting real clinicians, so I have people from Anisha’s team that will be shooting. Then I also am making sure that for example, we’re seeing an influx in youth ages 13 to 18 seeking services. We’re making sure that we are photographing youth, whether it be in group therapy which is also something that’s rising, or by themselves. I would never even do a photoshoot without having Anisha or someone on her team weigh in and be like, “Actually make sure to capture this, make sure to capture that.” We’re constantly talking with them. I’m talking with Anisha multiple times a week.

Lauren: I’m sure Anisha is in touch with so many clinicians and providers in the field to actually be the voice on behalf of them.

Ashley: We also speak with, I know that Jason on our team, he handles all things social media so he’s constantly working with different clinicians on podcasts and blog posts and from PR effort, we always are having clinicians comment. It’s not just Anisha, we have other clinicians that are also commenting because there’s too many inbound requests which is a great problem to have, but we’re able to have many different clinicians come and take that opportunity.

Lauren: Awesome. Great question, Peter, thank you. I want to spend a few minutes on technology because this is extremely important and while we’ve still got time with you guys. Taking a little bit of a detour over to that topic, I’ll push this question to Joleen. Technologies that you think are extremely important to scaling growth in the marketing capacity. What is most important to you whether that’s CRM, scheduling capabilities, call tracking, call centers, anything that you would recommend be a focus or a pillar?

Joleen: I think having very robust and seamless online booking and patient experience tool is super important. I think that goes back to my initial suggestion in terms of what makes the best enhancement in terms of growth that would be number one. I know our digital team is creating something that will help make the most seamless online booking and intake experience just to take some of the time off of the clinicians time like the administrative staffs. Then just honestly going back to data this way that if it’s our own proprietary onboarding tool or booking tool it actually allows us to have just that much more visibility into where the drop-offs and whatnots are. That’s probably number one.

Lauren: I know the ROI calculation isn’t perfect right now, that’s what that tool is hopefully there to help us do. How do you look at cost per new patient and ROI right now, any technologies or reporting structures that help you figure out where the next best dollar could be spent?

Joleen: That is still something we’re probably working through because our goal as the marketing team is just get people onto our website and then to ensure that they have the intent, the ability to start that process. Then it’s really on our digital team to ensure that they finish that conversion booking process, and making sure their information is surfaced there where it’s necessary.

Lauren: If we take it a step back then and we think about let’s call it like new patient opportunities because that’s just bringing at least a potential new patient to the table and then letting the digital team improve that conversion. When you think about optimizing for that, how do you assess across all of your channels where those opportunities are most viable, if you’re going to inject more spend next month, what do you look at to determine where that’s going to be?

Joleen: I think this is where the partnership with the regional teams are super important. I think one example that we’ve been working closely with our Texas team knowing that they are having some need for additional patients. We dove deep into what the current booking platform is doing where the pain points are because there’s obviously a lot of different ways someone can actually make an appointment or find a provider. We realize that by injecting some additional dollars and changing up the CTAs a little bit we actually were able to improve some of the call volumes.

I think one of the key initiatives we’re going to try and do for next year is that call tracking piece that you mentioned because just knowing that there are still some people who like to call. How do we make sure we can optimize based off of some key data points there? Whether it be number of– the length of time on the phone or whatever else we decide to be a key optimizing metric.

Lauren: I think that’s really important. There’s how we want patients to engage with us, but there’s just the inherent way that someone prefers to get in touch, and although you all are building this awesome online scheduling tool and that’s the preferred method, making that available to the patient is really important not stifling that experience. I think it’s great that you all are going that direction.

Joleen: I think just to add to that, the end goal of our leadership team is to ensure that we are able and we are there to facilitate any method that the clinician or the patient chooses, whether it be online or a call or at some point even texting. I think just making sure that however they prefer because especially with people with mental health, there might be different ways that it’s a little bit easier based off of how they’re feeling for the day.

Lauren: Staying on this technology topic for a little bit longer and then I have some final questions I want to put out to you guys. Loyalty of patient retention. How does that fit into your global marketing? I’ll put this out to both of you because I know you both have some thoughts on this. Where does that fit into your marketing mix? Any tools, tips, tactics that you would put out to teams to help them implement this now, before they scale, so it’s there when they’re 500 locations.

Ashley: Yes, it’s a loaded question, right? Because retention in the world of mental health is very different. I’ll give another example or a comparison in the world of Equinox Fitness Clubs, retention was paramount. You wanted everyone to want to come to the gym or to the club nonstop. You didn’t want them to ever not come. For us, theoretically we want you to get better so you don’t have to come to us. Then you maybe go from going to us once a week to once every six months as a check-in.

Retention is always a weird topic, just before we dive into strategies around it, I just want to flag that because it’s something that we do talk about and focus on. We’re not looking to have you come to us if you don’t need to see us anymore, but we do hope that you’re going to come back for a check-in six months from now because that’s something to just maintain. In terms of our retention efforts, I’m trying to think what– Joleen, what we suffices what [crosstalk]–

Lauren: Perhaps loyalty is a good substitute there. Because if someone feels better, doesn’t have the need like they used to someone else that they know may have that need, so you can make yourselves available to their network, help them share their story. Maybe the question is more about that. Generating reviews, generating the stories, the testimonials, the positive outcomes.

Ashley: Yes, we can talk about reviews a little because loyalty is another thing that’s a little weird, right? We don’t have a loyalty program or anything of that sort and for us compared to certain other players in this space, like 93% of our patients are covered by insurance. Insurance is a huge piece of the puzzle for us. There’s no subscription, there’s no pay to play in that regard. I’m sorry. I lost my train of thought so where was I–

Lauren: Talk about what y’all do for reviews because it’s important.

Ashley: Yes, reviews are really important for us, and because we have brick and mortar locations, it allows us to have all of our therapists and clinicians and psychiatrists, psychologists, they all can be reviewed. They don’t always necessarily like that when you’re not getting a great review, but you by and large we have high review numbers and positive numbers, so the sentiment is always is pretty good.

I think that when you put yourself in the shoes of a patient, when you’re going to search for a doctor or a therapist, you want to read about them a little bit. You read their bio, you look at their picture, you see if you think that they’re going to jive with you, where they went to school, what have you, what they specialize in, and you want to read reviews and see what people are saying about them.

It’s the same thing for finding a regular PCP or a pulmonologist or whatever. You’re going to research that doctor a little bit first, beyond them being covered by your insurance, what else about them? Joleen, maybe you want to chime in a little more on that too?

Joleen: I think you covered most of it. I think the only thing I would add on to that is just patient experience is really important to us. With a lot of the new locations we’re creating that are owned and operated by LifeStance, we’re actually making them, the designs a little bit different. Our first location was in Chicago, so super excited about that and we have a lot of growth plans for that, but I think just making sure that we’re soliciting reviews from patients just to understand what they liked about it, what they didn’t like about it, and then how we can use that as a feedback loop to improve the current processes.

Lauren: You guys do that at scale through text message with MPS too, right? MPS is super common in the healthcare space and you guys are active participants in collecting that feedback, then deploying it out operationally at the field level.

Ashley: Lauren, there’s a couple of questions in the chat, if you want we can address those if you want them. Some of them are related, some are different.

Lauren: Yes some are related. Let’s talk about the related ones and then I’m going to sum up some we didn’t get to yet, but too, I think that jumped off on this. I know, Joleen, if you’re willing to share best actual tactical method to collecting reviews technology that can help you guys do that at scale?

Joleen: Yes, for sure. We work with a vendor called Podium, and they are the ones that help us in terms of soliciting reviews from patients. I believe the two main methods are through email and text, and we only, obviously, is a rounding sample of I think 10% of people. Then we collect that data and then just track over time with the MPSs like you mentioned, Lauren.

Lauren: Awesome, yes. Podium, for those of you listening, is a great tool. There’s a number of them out there. If you’re going to be the size that LifeStance is, you’ll need a technology. Doing this manually will not be possible. We tried it at one point, didn’t we? A couple of years ago, so that was fun. Then Zocdoc, how important is that part of how you all acquire patients, how patients interact with you right now, and if so, do you think that that’s here to stay and if not, do you think[unintelligible 00:45:52] should be looking at Zocdoc?

Joleen: Yes, I think Zocdoc is a technology platform that fits some companies depending on your size. I think going back to where we are and where we aspire to be, this is why we want to book our own online intake and booking process just to get access to that data and be able to see where drop-offs are. Because if you don’t know where people are dropping off in the conversion path, you can’t really optimize. Unfortunately, as of right now, Zocdoc doesn’t allow us that visibility, so that’s definitely one of the pain points that we have in terms of our current booking process.

Ashley: Then just one build on that, the matching system was within Zocdoc also isn’t probably where it could be, where we want it to be future state, so it totally suffices right now and Zocdoc is the best system that we could possibly use right now without building our own, but once we finalize the building of our own, we will move over to our own system.

Lauren: Ashley, I didn’t get a chance to call this out, but someone was very, Jessica, was very grateful for what you said about, it’s not about retaining patients, it’s about helping them get better and move on their way. I’ll give you a chance to shout out your executive team, because they’ve had this philosophy from day one, but it sounds like not every organization has that. Any tips for how to get that across to a C-suite that may not feel that way?

Ashley: Yes, it’s funny, in my very first interview with Donna who’s one of our co-founders and is my boss, having come from my past and running retention and loyalty programs, I asked her, I was like, “So what do we do about retention?” He was like, “That’s not a focus point because we want them to get better, so then they only have to come every once in a while.” I was like, “That’s fair.”

In terms of escalating that answer to the C-suite is they’re trying to get more patients. Strategically, I would say your goal should be to get more patients, so you would spend, it’s not spend more money, it’s spending whatever money you have and spending it smarter to get more patients. How do you lower your CPA? What are the CRO efforts you’re putting into place? I don’t know if we didn’t define CRO for those who don’t know, Conversion Rate Optimization.

How are we fixing the path that the person is or that the patient is going on? So they go from five steps to four to three or whatever it is. Then they convert more. All of a sudden you’re getting more patients and you’re less worried about retention because you have more patients. That said, you don’t want patients going to a competitor. I’m not suggesting you just bring in a bunch of patients and then they come in once and then leave.

I think the retention problem. Depending on what they’re coming in for, you should know if someone’s coming in for a certain type of depression, they’re likely going to need X number of visits, versus someone suffering from schizophrenia, likely needs X number of visits and probably more lifetime and [unintelligible 00:48:46] plan. It depends on what they’re coming in for, and this is where you get a little bit nerdy on the data.

I would say that depending on what they’re coming in for, you should have a general idea of how many visits they’re going to need, and then you should be sharing with your C-suite. Okay. If we have them for this and this, this is how long they should be in for here. Look, we’re meeting our numbers, where they’re coming in, making this up 10 times for this they’re coming in for a lifetime here, and they’re coming in five times here.

If you start to see drop-off and they’re only coming in twice, then that’s on, okay, let’s go talk to our clinicians, let’s see, do we have a clinician problem? Is that actually the issue? All of a sudden you dig into reviews, oh wait, they have really bad reviews. I think that there’s actually strategy and data that needs to prove out how you explained everything to the C-suite, but I would go in with a strategy and a plan against it.

Lauren: The data, I love it.

Ashley: If you don’t, you could probably look at general numbers, you could look at the average number of time. You could Google it. The average number of times, someone within suffering from what condition goes in, seeks help, and then you could even use that as your baseline. That could be helpful.

Lauren: Awesome. I know we’ve got 10 minutes left here and I have a couple of forward-thinking, we’ve been talking about what y’all have done to get to this point, but I know there’s a new year upon us, lots of planning, lots of future ideas. As you guys think about inspiration, where to go next, any industries or businesses you have your eye on? I know you both came from the health and fitness space, have some experience in consumer goods, and also have marketing or agency backgrounds. Who do you look at, if anyone, outside of healthcare to see what they’re doing? I’ll start with Joleen on that one.

Joleen: I think, for me, I look at Airbnb. I really like what they’ve been doing from what they’re doing for their employees and I think leadership and just a lot of the stances that they’ve been taking. I think that is personally something I look at for just what they’ve been able to accomplish. I think they are best in class in terms of SEO as well. I think they actually outrank a lot of the major hotel chains combined. However they established that just coming in and being so new to the space compared to all their legacy competitors, I think that’s actually, from a media tactic perspective, I think, it’s something that I look up to.

Ashley: Joleen took mine. They’ve also reported insane revenues that they’re really back in a really powerful company at this point. I think other brands that I look at from I’d say a branding perspective, less in terms of what they’re doing, channelize. I obviously look at all of our competitors to see what they’re doing, to see if we should mimic or we shouldn’t mimic or what they’re doing that we don’t want to do. I’ll spare you all of my opinions on all of those different things.

I think Yeti is an interesting brand to follow. I think they do some pretty cool stuff. I’d to also look at a lot of the fashion brands. I’ll never forget, I guess was two years ago now, but I think that Gucci was a brand, this is also because I think I come from luxury, so we looked at luxury for six or so years when I was in that side that Gucci did. They were always a staple brand, but then all of a sudden, about two years ago, they came out with a killer spring brand and they really invested a lot in the campaign.

They just became a major brand on the luxury map again. Within this space specifically, like I said, I really follow all of our competitors. I’m not sure there’s one that I can think of. When we look at Oak Street and other ones as well, they’re not necessarily in our space. I’m thinking more with my brand hat, no one’s really doing anything that I find to be extremely novel and exciting, which is why I tend to go to other spaces because that’s where I tend to draw inspiration from. I will say that all of the work that we did was done with Mark Seliger. He was our photographer for our spring campaign.

He does tons of fashion, but also he’s photographed tons of celebrities as well, but we really worked with him because we didn’t want to go in that healthcare space. We wanted to go into this portraiture and real space and really make this idea of there’s no face to depression. Any one of the three of us could be severely depressed and you might not know it. Just showing that there really is no face to that. We went to the master of portraiture work to do that. I have another shoot next week where we’re working with another very interesting photographer on that, to try to bring that to life again. I don’t think you can just partner with anyone.

Lauren: I love it. People innovating in ways and other verticals can bring you new ideas that in a vertical like healthcare tends to be, sometimes lag behind a little bit in innovation. I think that’s a great tip. I have a closing question for you both, and I want to be mindful of time. I know there’s some meetings at three o’clock, very important for next year’s planning. I’ll put the same question out to each of you. I’ll start with you, Joleen. Any thoughts on where you see this vertical, specifically mental health care, going in the next five years? That could be any point of view. Whether it’s how we interact with patients, how we market to them, how companies are providing care.

Joleen: Yes. I think one of the things there have been murmurings around is just how do we complement it to your PCP care? I think I think it’s either Walgreens or CVS exploring their own mental health vertical or just integrating that because I think mental health is just as important as physical health. I think for me personally, it’s being proactive versus reactive. I think everybody should get mental health at some point in their lives, and not just wait until something really, really bad has happened.

I think it’s nice just as you take care of your physical body with exercise and fitness, I think it’s important for you to do the same for your mental health. I don’t think telehealth is going to go away. I think it’s just going to be an added area of accessibility. Then I would really hope the future of mental health to be less reliant on medication management and prescriptions, but that’s my own personal view and obviously varies differently for a lot of people. I’m hoping that giving the more holistic view, more proactive will help reduce some of those needs for prescription drugs.

Ashley: I think I’ll echo a lot of what Joleen said. For me, number one is I think people are talking about it more and more, and especially the generation really under 30 is more open to talking. People are going to dinner talking about who their therapist is. Parents are much more open to talking about their kids, if they’re struggling, kids are in school now and they’re talking to their friends. They suffer from depression and their friends are lifting them up. I think that there’s a lot more de-stigmatization happening.

It’s not the numbers of people with mental health are growing. It’s just the number of people that are actually talking about it. At one time, it was the secret thing. I think five years from now, we’ll be even further down the road of de-stigmatizing and people being okay talking about it. Then I also think as Joleen mentioned is how do they show up more in PCP offices, more in pediatrician offices, in gynecologist offices. I have two small children and right after I gave birth to I guess both kids, but I really remembered it with my second, they had me fill out paperwork.

The first appointment when I came in with him, he was like five days old, and they’re like, fill out this paperwork just to show that you’re not depressed, is really what the paperwork was. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t suffer from postpartum, but all I could think was if I was suffering from postpartum depression, I’m not just going to fill out a paperwork at my little baby’s checkup. You need someone there to talk to you.

I think that there’s a huge opportunity to have a LifeStance representative in this point, in this case in all of these different locations to speak to people and give them the help because one of the hardest parts with seeking treatment is finding it. If you’re in a space that you’re suffering, the last thing you want to have to do is go try to navigate and find where your insurance is covered, et cetera. It’s a really stressful time.

Lauren: Awesome. I cannot thank you both enough for attending today. Amazing feedback in the chat. People are so grateful for what you’ve shared, the information you’ve been able to devulge. We really appreciate it. For everyone listening, go follow a LifeStance on LinkedIn, a really great brand. They’re posting constantly about what they’re doing, how they’re affecting and changing the mental health care space. Definitely recommend that you check them out. Thank you all so much. We’ll talk to you soon.

Ashley: Hey, one thing, Lauren. [unintelligible 00:58:02] mentioned something earlier about national versus local. [crosstalk] If you’re still here, just one thing, make sure that your national brand is always the focus and then you’re plugging in local underneath, but you never want your local to go rogue on their own to the point where they’re doing their own thing. The national brand should always be overarching everything at all times. Otherwise, you end up with many minor mini brands within.

Joleen: Sorry, one more thing. If anybody wants to talk about details and specifics and share tips with their own different companies, please feel free to reach out because I love hearing new ideas. Just wanted to throw that out there.

Lauren: If you all are comfortable with it, when we send out a recap email, we can drop your LinkedIn profiles and people can find you that way and connect with you.

Joleen: Cool. Awesome. Thank you.

Ashley: Thank you.

Lauren: Awesome.

Joleen: I’ll see you, Lauren.

Lauren: Thanks, guys. Bye.

[00:58:59] [END OF AUDIO]

 

Alex Membrillo

CEO

Alex Membrillo is the CEO of Cardinal, a digital marketing agency focused on growing multi location companies. His work as CEO of Cardinal has recently earned him the honor of being selected as a member of the 2018 Top 40 Under 40 list by Georgia State University as well as 2015 and 2016 Top 20 Entrepreneur of metro Atlanta by TiE Atlanta, Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Small Business Person of the Year,and the Digital Marketer of the Year by Technology Association of Georgia (TAG).

Cardinal has experienced exponential growth under Membrillo’s leadership, being consecutively named on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing privately-held US companies for the last three years. Membrillo’s innovative approach to digital marketing has transformed the industry and delivered remarkable results to clients of all sizes and markets. He has been featured in leading national publications including The Business Journals, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Journal, and The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as an expert speaker for conferences including the American Marketing Association, SouthWired, and Vistage Executive Leaders, where he spoke on his unique approach to Millennial Management to over 400 CEOs.

Alex Membrillo Cardinal CEO