Top 100 Agencies: Heartbeat Ideas & Heartbeat West

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iPad work for Bausch + Lomb's Ocuvite
iPad work for Bausch + Lomb's Ocuvite

Heartbeat Ideas went bi-coastal last year with the opening of Heartbeat West in Santa Monica, and revenue shot up 58% to $25.3 million.

“Heartbeat West opened us up to a lot of new West Coast clients and helped expand business,” says CEO Bill Drummy. Heartbeat West GM Janelle Starr has grown the office from 15 employees last year to 26 now.

Both Starr and Drummy attribute much of last year's success to employee satisfaction. An anonymous survey revealed 95% loyalty, while involuntary turnover dropped to 5%. Total staff across both offices climbed from 90 ending 2011 to 107 last year. It‘s at 120 now.

Drummy continues to keep a high profile through numerous speaking and writing gigs. He and Starr call this knowledge marketing, and it's attracting clients. A win from California-based XenoPort is a great example. After hearing Drummy speak at a conference, a XenoPort executive invited the agency to pitch for a pre-launch MS brand, for which it won full-service AOR status. The relationship expanded to include full-service AOR status on Horizant (restless leg syndrome).

Another big win was consumer digital AOR designation on Corcept's Korlym (Cushing's syndrome). New relationships also began with Otsuka (mobile project work), Physicians Television Network (marketing strategy) and UNICEF (media planning and creative).

“Mobile is reshaping how people consume healthcare information,” Drummy says. Some clients fear mobile apps, given the approval process required should the FDA deem an app a medical device, but Drummy feels it's often worth the time and effort. “We're doing it now for one client, and it's not so scary.”

Organic growth last year included a full-service AOR win on a pre-launch brand from Galderma and iPad development work for three Teva products— Azilect (Parkinson's disease), Fentora (breakthrough cancer pain) and a pre-launch brand.

“We're in the midst of a dynamically changing marketplace at the nexus of two revolutions,” Drummy says. “The digital revolution, which has been going on for a long time, is intersecting the healthcare cost control revolution, and they're impacting each other.”

More office openings are being considered, though Drummy doesn't see it happening soon. Generally speaking, he's skeptical of the acquisition model and isn't interested in a deal right now.
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