It’s not exactly breaking news that Americans are obsessed with their smartphones. But medical marketing has been slower than other industries to evolve its business model with that in mind.
Timmy Garde is making sure that isn’t the case with LevLane.
Garde, chief innovation leader at the Philadelphia-based agency, said his company approaches everything it does with a simple strategy: Go where they are.
“So much of what’s happening right in terms of advertising — and specifically television — is moving toward digital,” Garde says. “We’re in a mobile environment now and we’re making sure everything we’re creating is starting with mobile first.”
To that end, LevLane has focused on attracting talent that can keep the agency on the cutting edge of technology. This past year, it hired four women who possess a wealth of digital experience and expertise: SVP, director of content, social media and PR Liz Weir; supervisor, content, PR and social Gabrielle Costello; SEO director Dani Hawley; and director, digital services Megan Hegarty.
“We’ve brought in the right folks to do the front end and the back end,” Garde says. “Everything we’re doing should have a great user experience from a mobile device.”
Social, in particular, is an area in which Garde wants LevLane to be even more aggressive. “Because the FDA has only put out guidance for social media, we want to make sure we’re pushing our clients to provide us the opportunity to build communications that are in bounds. We want to leverage as much as we possibly can for a positive return on investment,” he explains.
The approach appears to be working. LevLane saw revenue increase 5.3% to $10 million in 2018. It increased its head count from 56 full-timers to 65.
On the new-business front, LevLane added seven accounts in 2018. Garde points to Genomind, a biotech company that has garnered mainstream media coverage for providing genetic tests for patients with mental health illnesses, as a particularly noteworthy addition.
Overall, LevLane has seen the most growth in the areas of retirement and senior care, diagnostics, specialty pharmaceuticals and health systems. Moving forward, Garde envisions the company expanding into biotech and health-tech. He adds that the agency is also keeping a close eye on the medical cannabis industry.
However, Garde is conscious that the healthcare marketplace remains quite volatile. “Pricing is always an issue, especially where budgets are getting reduced and where pharmaceutical companies are looking at their internal resources,” he explains. “We need to provide value in what we’re doing, specifically in the strategic avenue.”
He also sees increased competition from a certain e-commerce behemoth as a potential game-changer. “Beware of Amazon,” Garde warns. “They have some of the best people in the industry and are going to be a force to be reckoned with. [Jeff] Bezos is a smart guy.”
Then he adds, with not a hint of understatement, “We’re paying attention to them.”