Revenue dipped 3% to $5.9 million
“We are on track to double our revenue this year. It’s going to be explosive”
“Consumers are more demanding, especially given high-deductible insurance. They have more skin in the game, so they expect more”
There are several reasons you might not know about Healthcare Success. It handles mostly smaller providers and hospital systems, and very little traditional pharma. It is as likely to traffic in direct-response “make the phones ring” marketing strategies as it is vast DTC TV campaigns. And while most of the 60-plus accounts it handles are based on the East Coast, its 25 employees blithely go about their business off the usual pharma- corridor radar, in sunny Irvine, California.
“People typically hire us because they have a very precise type of patient they want to find and the goal is to generate phone calls,” explains CEO Stewart Gandolf. “Our job is to build scientific marketing systems that predictably — and profitably — attract patients.”
The agency’s client roster is principally composed of hospitals, entrepreneurial doctors, and health systems, among them Kofinas Fertility, The Hernried Center, the Start Center for Cancer Care, and Carolina Vein Specialists. Given its strength in digital marketing, Healthcare Success’ approach leans heavily on patient-experience work and PR. It also handles less glamorous assignments, such as coaching employees to answer phone calls in a manner that converts casual inquiries into paying patients and customers.
“Most clients hire us to create a marketing blueprint where we do a combination of digital approaches with a proprietary dashboard, so they can see how many and what type of calls they’re getting,” Gandolf notes. “And we wind up training almost every client in how to make the most of answering the phone.”
Gandolf says 2016’s revenue of $5.9 million, a decrease from $6.1 million the previous year, represents the first decline to date in the agency’s 11-year history (a cofounder, he bought it outright four years ago). “We were maturing and we needed to take a little bit of a pause, focusing more on systems and less on growth. We’re already on a much faster growth track for 2017,” he reports.
To that end, he says one of the agency’s biggest successes during 2016 came in the form of a phone call from Google. The agency is a certified Google partner and Gandolf reports that the tech behemoth “has been vetting us as part of a two-year program that will help us continue to build our business. It’s quite an honor.”
Healthcare Success’ plan for growth calls for more selectivity in partnering with clients, especially those within the agency’s traditional base of medical centers and groups. “Most of them find us through SEO and people call us every day,” Gandolf says. “But my joke about SEO — and I don’t mean to demean it in any way — is that it’s like throwing a net into the ocean. You get plenty of fish, but also boots or stumps or scorpion fish that sting you. When we were smaller, we got very busy by responding to all of that, but now we’re trying to go after the growing provider groups in our sweet spot.”
In terms of hiring, Gandolf says that the agency is always on the lookout for business-development and technical people. While he hopes to open an office in the New York area at some point, given the number of Healthcare Success clients based in the region, he doesn’t expect to do so “for several years.”