The Top 75: HealthEd Group

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Though 2008 was a year of relatively small revenue gain—up 3% from $14.7 million in 2007 to $15.2 million—it was a year of big investment for HealthEd Group.

A new agency, HealthEd Encore, was launched and HealthEd Interactive was restructured and significantly expanded. Anita St. Clair, chief client development officer, expects 50% growth this year over 2008 revenues.
“We used the growth of 2007 to reinvest in 2008 and expand because we knew we were poised for growth,” says St. Clair.

“We focused on the successful launch of HealthEd Encore and on expanding and reshaping digital,” she continues.

HealthEd Group is headquartered in Clark, NJ, and delivers branded and unbranded educational marketing programs for both patients and healthcare professionals and advocacies across multiple channels.

HealthEd Encore was launched to manage conflicts, and St. Clair reports a smooth transition.

“We spent the whole year pitching like crazy, and we landed a lot of clients—13 new clients in the last three years across both agencies,” says St. Clair.

“This year we're already at 50% [of our goal]. We expected that because we spent the year pitching and other business came on top of that,” she notes. “We're very fortunate to be growing in a down market. It's because we're in a very niche segment offering what the market needs right now.”

No accounts were lost in 2008. Wins came in from big names, including Novartis, Schering-Plough, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen and Celgene. This year work has been awarded from Genentech, Daiichi-Sankyo and Ovation Pharmaceuticals.

Digital has seen huge gains—it represents about half of overall growth—and HealthEd Interactive added a lot of new talent.

Overall headcount is up to 94 compared with 84 ending 2008, and it's expected to top 104 ending 2009. The agency is hiring account managers, digital experts, project managers and strategists.

St. Clair is proud to note that HealthEd Group employs many health educators who have worked  directly with patients, which she says brings a “genuineness” to the work. The agency attracts a lot of talent, but St. Clair says it hard to find people with a mix of professional, consumer and CRM experience.

“We're a combination of consultant and agency because we pull from multiple marketing disciplines,” she says. “That's a hard talent pool to find. We're asked to think about the whole marketing mix from patient perspective. Clients ask for decisions on the spot. Strategists and account people need to be [very] experienced.”  

This year many clients are asking for unique products and offerings with extremely niche-oriented focuses.
“2009 is all about being ready for incremental business,” says St. Clair. “We're often asked to develop very targeted monitoring or measurement or service offerings that analyze literacy guidance within a certain area of oncology, for example.”

Concerns over FDA compliance have prompted an increasingly conservative approach to reaching patients, and it's a big challenge for HealthEd Group and its clients. St. Clair cites the new FDA ruling on search marketing as a “tremendous change” and particularly challenging for marketers. 

“We're in a conservative marketing environment overall,” says St. Clair. “It's going to be a challenge for 2009 and beyond to communicate the benefits of our products and keep it in balance with risk information. We're well poised to deliver that balance and get it through the FDA.”
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