Podcast #119

B2B2C Strategies in Healthcare: Winning Employer Clients with Lindsey Kratzer

In this episode, Lindsey Kratzer, CEO of Spark Health Advisors, joins Cardinal’s Chief Growth Officer, Lauren Leone, for a conversation about the unique challenges faced by digital health and clinic-based organizations in reaching both B2B and consumer markets. You’ll gain insights into developing and implementing successful “land and expand” strategies, with real-world examples from Spark Health Advisors. This episode is packed with actionable advice on building robust pipelines, crafting targeted messaging, and driving engagement to ultimately deliver better outcomes for your healthcare marketing efforts.

Episode Highlights:

Lauren Leone: “You’ve helped a client understand their messaging, position themselves well, who they need to sell into. You’ve consulted all the right people. They win this deal. Now you have a consumer base that needs to understand what is available to them. What are some of the strategies for expanding that partnership once it’s been landed with the employer?”

Lindsey Kratzer: “I think that the most important thing is really delivering on what you say you’re going to do. Really setting those expectations upfront around the ROI, but also around engagement… The employee and their family, or whoever the ultimate patient may be in your scenario, is SO important.”

Episode Overview

Lauren Leone, Chief Growth Officer at Cardinal, hosts Lindsey Kratzer, CEO of Spark Health Advisors, for a conversation about the nuances of B2B2C marketing in healthcare, focusing on strategies to navigate the complex landscape of employer and consumer engagement.

In this episode, Lindsey highlights the challenges faced by healthcare organizations in reaching both employers and consumers effectively. She emphasizes the importance of tailored go-to-market strategies that address the unique needs of employers and their employees. This includes developing targeted messaging, refining value propositions, and navigating the intricate web of influencers such as brokers and consultants in the employer space.

For healthcare companies looking to expand their footprint in the employer market, timing is crucial. Lindsey explains the seasonality of benefit plan decisions and open enrollments, advising companies to start planning well in advance to capture opportunities for the upcoming year.

Our hosts also reflect on the evolving landscape of healthcare marketing, particularly within the employer space, where innovation and differentiation are increasingly critical. They underscores the importance of standing out amidst competition and delivering tangible value propositions that resonate with employers seeking to enhance their benefits offerings and employee satisfaction.

Related Resources

Announcer: Welcome to the Ignite Podcast, the only healthcare marketing podcast that digs into the digital strategies and tactics that help you accelerate growth. Each week, Cardinal’s experts explore innovative ways to build your digital presence and attract more patients. Buckle up for another episode of Ignite.

Lauren Leone: Hey, everybody, welcome to Ignite Healthcare Marketing Podcast. My name is Lauren Leone. I am the chief growth officer here at Cardinal. Today I have with us an amazing guest. I had the pleasure of meeting Lindsey Kratzer a few weeks ago. We were discussing just healthcare marketing and exchanging passions. Lindsey is the CEO of Spark Health Advisors. Lindsey, your group specializes in B2B2C marketing, which is just an extension of what we do here at Cardinal.

Wanted to bring you on as a guest because I know a lot of our listeners and clients have their direct-to-consumer functions. Then they have other work streams where they may be building direct-to-employer programs, they may be building worksite programs, they might be building provider referral programs. I think bringing some helpful advice to the table for all of our listeners in these other areas is something that we wanted to do. Thanks for joining us.

Lindsey Kratzer: Thanks so much for having me, Lauren, appreciate it.

Lauren: In this episode, I want to make sure we get a chance to touch on the challenges that these organizations, both digital health and clinic-based groups, are facing in reaching businesses in the B2B side, and then also in reaching consumers, and how we can help them to develop and implement these successful land and expand strategies. Lindsey, I think it’s first helpful to just hear direct from you. Tell us about Spark Health Advisors. Tell us about what you do and your experience.

Lindsey: Absolutely. My expertise is in the employer space. As you mentioned, Lauren, really working with a B2B2C audience. With Spark Health Advisors, we are a growth advisory and consulting firm that works with healthcare companies that are looking to win more employer clients. I think that we’re unique in that we can do the advisory work, but we can actually do the tactical down and dirty work as well.

What we’ve found as we’ve been doing this is that many companies need help from a go-to-market strategy development perspective, but they also need somebody to stick around and actually help implement. We offer sales marketing and sales operations implementation services as well. I think that that’s really added a lot of stickiness to our clients over time.

Lauren: Talk about a typical client for you, just what verticals do you work in, size-wise, just to anchor as we get into this discussion on some of your experience and the problems you’re used to solving.

Lindsey: We tend to work with companies that are backed by venture capital or private equity. Typically, anything from early-stage, seed-stage companies, all the way towards larger growth-stage companies that are actively perhaps revising their employer strategy. Most of the work we do is with digital health businesses, but we also do a ton with clinic-based businesses. I have a background in primary care. My partner has a background working largely in digital health as well. It’s really a nice complement that we bring together. We work with businesses of all sizes, but generally those that are looking to actively grow within the employer space.

Lauren: Let’s dive right into that. Talk about that space specifically. What are some of the nuances and challenges that are coming up that you’re solving for? Your typical, hey, let’s have a discovery call. I want to talk to you about this challenge. I see you advise there. What are you hearing? What are people up against?

Lindsey: A lot of companies that we work with are looking really to win more employer clients to start with. They are looking to build a robust pipeline. They’re looking to move deals through the pipeline a little bit faster, oftentimes to close opportunities ideally for the next calendar year, but then they also need a longer-term strategy as well. When we get into the marketing piece and the B2C piece, I think a lot of times companies may have been successful working with health plans or other audiences.

When you start working with employers, it’s really a totally different group, and trying to get to employers. Then ultimately the employees and their families who are the actual people who are consuming the healthcare can be really challenging. It’s really a nuanced audience that we really specialize in. We find that there’s a lot of value in helping companies really figure out how to best go to market within the employer space.

Lauren: What are some of the pillars? Let’s talk employer first. You’ve got to land that before you’re obviously going to get those consumers. That relationship is the leading piece. What are some of those pillars? Are you guys building messaging strategies? Are you helping with CRM and nurture sequences? What are some of the big pieces that you find that you can most help with?

Lindsey: A lot of times we come in first and we do an assessment so we understand where we are from a current state perspective. Taking a look at existing pitch decks and materials, understanding the product, things along those lines. Then we typically build a specific strategy for the client. A lot of time it starts with the messaging and the value prop, so making sure that they really have a targeted dialed-in value proposition that speaks to the problem, not only for the employer, but also for the patient or the employee as well, and tThat they’re really addressing that.

I think another thing within the employer space is that it’s just a very matrixed complex space to sell into anymore, and there’s a lot of influencers. I think that it’s important to help companies understand, the roles of brokers and consultants, or the roles of TPAs or some of these other groups that are playing in this space. There’s also been the an explosion of a lot of aggregators in the space who are really consolidating a lot of these benefits for the employers as well. We do a lot of work with helping companies navigate and figure out what’s going to be the most effective way to go to a market to actually reach the ultimate employer.

Lauren: Do you have, this is just a question I have, seasonality in all of this? What is the timing? If someone is looking at adding or landing a new employer contract for next year, when should they be thinking about this? Now? Three months ago? [crosstalk] a deadline. How late is too late to help them with that? Do you hear a lot people coming down to the wire?

Lindsey: We do. We certainly hear about people coming down to the wire, but then they’re also starting to think about the following year. Seasonality is absolutely a big deal within, especially the large self-insured employer space. Many of them like to have benefits decisions ready to go live on one-one. If you back up from there, then they’re typically going to have open enrollment that’s going to be happening in the fall. Those decisions for the benefits they’re going to be offering for that calendar year would normally get made in the summertime so that they’re prepared for open enrollment and a one-one go live.

Now, certainly decisions get made outside of that benefits buying window, and it really depends on the individual product or service that you’re offering and also how you’re going to market. There are options to turn things on mid-year for different populations. That certainly happens as well, but the ideal selling season for a one-one go live would probably be Q1 of the previous year. Again, at this point in the year, we’re working with some clients who are, actively trying to capture, some of those dollars for one-one, and then also working with them to put together the plan and put together a strategy so that they’re ready for the following year.

Lauren: You’ve helped a client understand their messaging, position themselves well, who they need to sell into. You’ve consulted all the right people. They win this deal. Now one starts and you now have a consumer base that needs to understand that this is available to them. What are some of the strategies on expanding that partnership once it’s been landed with the employer?

Lindsey: I think that the most important thing is really delivering on what you say you’re going to do. Really setting those expectations upfront around the ROI, but also engagement. Engagement and driving that engagement with the ultimate patient. The employee and their family or whoever the ultimate patient may be in your scenario is so important. If you are unable to do that, then you’re not going to be able to deliver outcomes for the service. Making sure that patient experience is in mind when you are developing the product and really as you’re going through the sales process is really important.

That’s one of the key things, I’d say, making sure that you’re going to drive engagement, making sure that you’re going to deliver outcomes. Then making sure that you are communicating the value that you are delivering as well. We work with a lot of companies on what a reporting package should look like for employers, how often they should be reporting, what that looks like for them, because it goes much beyond just the cost reporting. Certainly, employers are very, very focused on cost savings, but there’s a lot of other qualitative metrics as well.

I think one of the big things that’s unique about employers is that they very much care about the experience for their populations. They’re using benefits to drive retention and recruitment of new people to new talent, so it’s a talent retention strategy and recruitment strategy. They also just want to have a happy population that’s actively utilizing the products or the benefits that they’re bringing to the table.

Lauren: We get tapped all the time as the digital marketing partners. You think about, Cardinal helps me acquire new patients and we’ll get tapped to help, is there anything we can do in the digital space to be touching those populations? You’ve got an employee population and they’ve got internal emails and components to their communication strategy, their monthly meetings with the company, whatever it may be to push those messages out, the cafeteria, boards. We’ll often be asked, can we have a digital component? Can we reach them on social? Can we help them understand that they have these benefits? Do you hear those needs as well?

Lindsey: I hear that all the time. I really think that there are a lot of things that you should do, that include marketing and beyond marketing as well. I think that it’s important to really think through how you’re going to identify these people. If you can have a targeted outreach strategy, then you can really activate your marketing in a different way with more targeted and personalized messaging. Obviously people respond really well to that. Digital is great for that. A lot of companies that I work with too are always thinking about how we can integrate this into benefit plan design.

When they’re thinking about open enrollment and the benefits they’re offering, are there different financial incentives that they can offer to employees and their families to get them to utilize the service? It’s also important to make sure that it’s integrated into their broader benefits ecosystem and that you’re aware of the other benefits that are being offered, and how this perhaps complements. There are a lot of different ways you can do things.

Then from a marketing perspective, there certainly is direct outreach. A lot of companies, they’ll do mailers to the home and things like that. I think that there’s a lot of opportunities for digital marketing to really do more to push that engagement. Especially a lot of the tech companies, so a lot of the health tech companies that are out there are really looking for more innovative ways to drive that engagement through digital channels.

Lauren: Lindsey, so to take all of these concepts and really just bring them into reality, let’s talk through an example of what you might do or what you have done for helping a client, a healthcare client, who I’ll let you choose who makes the most sense, build a strategy to land some new logos in their employer contracts. Then of course, you’ve got the consumer marketing side. Just give us an example of how this works, what those steps look like.

Lindsey: We have a women’s health client that we are working with, an area that I have a lot of passion for. They are really trying to understand how they can grow within the employer space. There’s a lot of opportunity within employers for women’s health that goes maybe beyond the traditional fertility benefits that you’ve typically seen. For this particular company, we’re really going in and doing an assessment first of, again, where they are currently, where are maybe the gaps, and the easiest, lowest hanging fruit areas of opportunities.

Then as mentioned, we’re building out that plan. If the goal is to close X amount of employer opportunities over the next year and a half, for instance, how do you back into that? One of the first things that this particular company is looking for is really to build the top of funnel. They’re a newer company that hasn’t been out there for as long, and employers are not as aware of them. We are working with this company to develop out the messaging and then campaigns where we would actually be targeting not only employers, but also influencers in the space, so brokers, consultants, potential partners.

Really developing out messaging and setting up a campaign to reach out to those individual buyers and build the pipeline. Then we’re also working with this company on, what does the sales process look like to actually close these deals? Mapping out that sales process and making sure that we have the collateral, the messaging, that we understand the objections and how to handle those.

Then we actually, a lot of time, ride alongside with the customers as well. We will support from a strategic sales support perspective as well, where we will actually get on the phone with their customers, with partners, and support throughout the sales process to hopefully increase the likelihood of those deals closing. We do that typically for more strategic opportunities, but it’s typically a conversation with each client in terms of how deep they want us to go there.

Lauren: Lindsey, it’s been great having you. I want to offer up any closing thoughts. I know that the landscape is changing so much on the consumer side. We’re always looking ahead at what’s going to be the next big focus. I don’t know if there’s anything you want to call out as this is where I see our space going, to leave our listeners with that.

Lindsey: Within the employer space where I typically work, it’s become more and more crowded since there’s more and more digital solutions that have come about with COVID, which makes sense. There’s a lot of different interesting solutions that are out there that can deliver a ton of value for customers. I think that the purchasing processes are actively changing. Employers, I think a large employer might have something like 45 different benefits that they could offer through different vendors to employees.

If you think about a small HR team, how do they manage that? I just think that the way that companies go to market to reach employers is actively changing because this is a more crowded space. There’s a ton of room and demand for innovation, but you have to be smart about the way that you go to market, especially in a world where most startup companies don’t necessarily have a million different sales resources to go out there. That’s a big way that we help companies. We put together that plan and we help them execute on it.

Lauren: I love it. We say the same thing on the consumer marketing side, which is you have to stand out. You have to show the value of what it is and why they should choose you. It’s just so interesting to hear, yes, we’re talking to different groups, we’re trying to land a different type of business, but the fundamentals are the same. I love to hear that. Lindsay, thank you so much for joining us. I’m sure we’ll see you again soon. It was great to have you. Thank you guys for listening.

Lindsey: Thanks, Lauren.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. Interested in keeping up with the latest trends in healthcare marketing? Subscribe to our podcast and leave a rating and review. For more healthcare marketing tips, visit our blog at cardinaldigitalmarketing.com.

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