Klick Health, the Toronto think tank/marketing shop, seems to have a critical number—three. Almost every important stat about the firm is either a multiple of three, or at least has a three in it somehwere. CEO Leerom Segal pegs the company’s organic growth at between 30% and 60% for the year, for example. In terms of staff, the company has just over 330 people and is looking to fill an additional 60 spaces. And as far as client accounts are concerned, there are currently 34 on the Klick roster. Three is also the number of months new employees have to prove their mettle and ambition, and 3% is the company’s attrition rate.
Such synchronicity is not unexpected for a company that has made its name by infusing every step of the client process with data. Segal is quick to point out that he’s not just talking ones and zeroes, saying “when we say data, what we really mean is intelligence.” Segal says the key is that data “lets you orchestrate everything… lets you understand what’s working and what’s not.”
Summing up the agency’s competencies as “digital” would be accurate, but that’s only part of Klick’s story. Segal says where the agency excels is at “having the discipline within our organization to really, on behalf of clients, read the digital body language of their patients and healthcare professionals… to really personalize the information we serve you and render for them.”
For Klick, this translates into attracting business. The 34 accounts that the company is currently juggling represents a pace that Segal says is the new normal for the firm.
The self-described health communications firm offers its clients a range of services that includes strategy, analytics, creative and platforms, such as its iConnect iPad tool which doubles as a sales platform reps can bring on calls and use for CRM. It can also be deployed as a training tool, to help reps make their customized presentations effective ones. The project is in its 2.0 stage, and Segal says the ROI is that doctors have increased the amount of time that they are willing to spend with reps using iConnect from beween two and three minutes to as long as eight minutes.
Segal’s list of company highlights is a long one, and the element that unites them all is the ability to anticipate client needs and then just go for it. A prime example of that is the Dynamic ISI tool that emerged from innovation group Klick Labs and went live in 2013. This program works like a master find-and-replace, so clients have to update safety information in one location. The updated safety information is then immediately applied to all the digital material associated with that file, keeping things current and in line with medical legal requirements. “It really enables our customers to have that piece of mind… that’s really helped us create a lot of love with the medical/legal [departments],” Segal says.
Also on Segal’s list of highlights: having the research firm Nielsen Norman Group name the Synapse Intranet that Klick created for the biotech Acorda Therapeutics as one of the 10 best in the world.
Synapse came out of yet another part of what could be called Segal’s best-of reel: Klick Labs, which the independent company describes as an innovation center and think tank. Usually the inner workings of such an asset is kept secret, but doing the traditional isn’t exactly Klick’s way, and the company decided to allow both present and future clients to get a glimpse of how the agency converts brainpower to results. “We had a little bit of soul searching to do earlier about this time last year and the decision we came to was… we have to put our ideas out there and we developed Future 15,” a 240-page book containing what the firm calls “everything we know about digital health marketing.” The book was a way to celebrate what was at that point Klick’s 15 years in the industry. Segal says it gave the company the opportunity to share its present and to show “what we see over the next few years … how we view the world from a digital strategy point of view.”
Klick also turned around and added a new client conversation in 2012 and 2013. “We are definitely seeing customers that are more sophisticated in the last few months… and we’re definitely seeing that our customers are being challenged by their leadership to practice what we now call ‘evidence-based marketing,’” otherwise known as return on investment. The key: Big Data. Segal says the concept has permeated the company to the extent that it can not only offer marketing insights, but engage with clients to a greater degree and so could encourage clients to challenge them by asking them the question: “What do you want from us?”
This sort of openness is just one part of what keeps business rolling in for the firm. The other part, Segal says, is the connection that teams are able to form with their clients. “We have what we call a no-BS policy, and by that we mean no bait and switch.” Segal says this means who clients see is who clients get. “All of their leads stay with them as long as the fit is right and typically that includes their lead strategy, lead account director, lead program manager—and having those really senior resources be committed to the brand is great.”
Segal says the above is just one component of what makes the company stand out. “It’s how we think about every business problem,” he explains, adding that the trust Klick cultivates with clients propels deep discussions and collaboration. Internally, this means coordinating the increasingly complex interaction among the individuals who will convey a coherent, effective communication and touchpoint strategy across professional, caregiving consumer and payer audiences.
Helping this along is the company’s flat organizational structure. There are titles—six of which include the words “managing director”—but Segal says this isn’t the managing director role of the past and is basically that the six people carried over the titles that each of them had at their previous agencies. Segal says the tradition is to bump a creative to managing director, essentially asking them to trade in their creative skill sets for administrative duties. “You go from being a master craftsman to being an administrator.” He says Klick offers its people a different path: they can take the title and salary but they must also be prepared to participate on all fronts, and understand that they won’t be able to measure success by the number of direct reports. He says the benefits of this process are twofold: employees are able to continue doing what they love, and they can also function as “master orchestrators” who deliver.
Segal wouldn’t offer up a list of notable promotions, but he says that the company rewards drive, saying “it would be rare to have a year where the strongest people didn’t receive a promotion, just because of the nature of the pace of growth.” The company is also building out its decision sciences roles because client demand for sophisticated models and advanced analytics is growing. Segal says this talent pool is generally outside of the health field, and can include engineers, for roles such as development. At the same time, competitors should also be on their guard. “We’ve been pretty shameless about poaching talent from competitors,” he adds.
He says that what the next year has in store for the think-big-but-act-small agency will offer is consistency and more rewards. “Our investments from last year are paying off and when I say that I’m really talking about the Labs and the partnership and our investments in people… if we continue on the same trajectory we’ve been on, we’ll be looking back on it in the rearview mirror with great pride.”