EPISODE 002: JENNY BRISTOW – CEO, HEDY & HOPP, A HEALTHCARE MARKETING AGENCY
[00:00:08] Michael Mahoney: Hello Friends! Jenny Bristow is the founder and CEO of a very cool integrated healthcare marketing agency called Hedy & Hopp.
What I took away from my conversation with Jenny is that she is an original thinker when it comes to marketing for healthcare and senior housing. One of my favorite quotes from Jenny is “People remember how we make them feel, not what we tell them.”
I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did. Ladies and Gentlemen, Jenny Bristow.
[00:01:11] Michael Mahoney: Jenny, welcome to the show.
[00:01:10] Jenny Bristow: Thanks for having me on.
[00:01:15] Michael Mahoney: I’m glad you’re here. I was hoping to see you at the SMASH event for senior housing coming up here in a few weeks. I’m not going to make it, so this is a great opportunity to talk with you now and get some nuggets of wisdom. You run an integrated marketing firm and you specialize in healthcare and senior housing. I want to start off by asking you what is the difference between brand and brand positioning?
[00:01:42] Jenny Bristow: Sure. The way that I like to think about this— There’s tons of marketing jargon, lots of different words and ways people try to explain it, but I really try to simplify it. Brand is the way that you define yourself and brand positioning is the way you want to show up to the people that you want to care about you.
For example, with Hedy and Hopp, we have a good understanding of what our core values are. We have a good understanding about who we are as an organization, but our brand positioning is really how we want to show up to marketing leaders in the healthcare industry. What are we going to talk about? What are the emotions that they’re going through and the frustrations that we can help alleviate? It’s really understanding how we can be important to them, not just who we are as an entity.
[00:02:31] Michael Mahoney: Okay, so I see a lot of stories in the industry news for senior housing about rebranding and brand positioning and branding. It seems to get a lot of attention, the topic of branding. Why is brand positioning so important for healthcare providers and specifically senior housing providers?
[00:02:53] Jenny Bristow: Yeah, great question. There is a lot of competition in the senior housing and senior living space right now. Your brand and your brand positioning are really the way that you can stand out. Imagine and put yourself in the shoes of that adult child that’s going to Google, trying to search to be able to find a place for mom. Brand positioning is the language you use to speak to the things that are her biggest concerns.
That is the differentiator. That is the reason why she’ll pick up the phone and call your facility versus another. Spending the time to really understand those pain points, those emotions, that journey that either the adult child or the senior themselves, depending on the kind of housing that you’re running, are going through to make that purchasing or that buying decision, really allows you to make sure that you’re speaking to what matters.
[00:03:47] Michael Mahoney: That makes sense. Are you speaking typically to the family that has mom or dad that’s going into the facility or are you speaking to the prospective resident? And if you’re speaking to both, how do you do that? It’s complicated, isn’t it?
[00:04:00] Jenny Bristow: Yeah, great question. It really is. I would say though, majority of the time we’ll be speaking to the adult child. Statistically, it will be the daughter that will be making these buying decisions. SMASH actually put out a really great statistics sheet to all of the presenters that they invited, and it actually walked through the typical decision maker within this industry, and it was very clear that it was the adult daughter.
But again, there are lots of different subsects within this industry. For example, if it is more of a situation where it is independent living and it turns into transitionary care then the adult or the resident may actually be doing that research for themselves, but typically trying to speak to the adult child is the proper positioning.
[00:04:47] Michael Mahoney: That makes sense. I’ve heard you speak about how important it is to reach the, as you’d say, core of residents, who they truly are, to provide a more meaningful and emotional connection to the brand, and the idea of you reaching, figuring out the core of the residents, and who they are from a personal standpoint. What do you mean by reaching the core of who the residents are?
[00:05:08] Jenny Bristow: Yeah, so one of the things we do often with our clients is we do persona work. We dig in, whether it is the adult child and or the resident, really dig in and figure out who’s choosing to live at this facility, what kind of person is it, what are they attracted to, and what is the emotional state when they’re making this decision.
We actually create a one-page persona with a fake name, and a fake age. We walk through the emotions. Then you can say, “Okay, right now we’re talking to Sally, the adult daughter. She is 56 years old. Here’s where she is in her life. Here are the concerns and fear she’s dealing with as she’s making the decision. Then here’s Tom, the resident, and he’s 88. Here are some of his concerns about leaving his home he’s lived in for 50 years. Here are our differentiators as a brand and why he would choose us over our competitors.”
Really being clear about those differentiators, and who your personas are allow your entire team to speak the same language because throughout your marketing team you can then say, “Okay guys, this part, this piece is directed at Tom. Let’s make sure we’re speaking to Tom’s needs, his fears, what may get him relieved, and make him feel like everything’s going to be okay as we’re writing this piece.”
[00:06:32] Michael Mahoney: That really speaks to the next question I had, which is, why understanding who they are or understanding these personas helps you connect or helps them connect to your brand, or you connect your brand to them.
[00:06:47] Jenny Bristow: Yeah, one of the exercises that we do often— So sometimes, we work with organizations that have really large data sets about their residents, their patients, or the adult decision maker. We can actually take that data and we could do clustering analysis and pull it together and say, “Okay, on average, the decision maker, the adult child is this age, and this is their household income, and this is the gender.”
We can actually make those personas off of data. Other times, we actually have to interview people that work at the facility, the leadership team, maybe even real adult children that have made that decision, and or residents to be able to pull together the proper personas. We prefer when there’s data, but not all organizations have begun collecting data to that extent where they can use it to drive those decisions.
[00:07:38] Michael Mahoney: I definitely want to come back to that in a minute and talk about data because that’s what Hedy and Hopp is known for. It’s being able to use that data to help craft your branding and marketing. But I’ve also heard you talk about integrating your client’s brand, those senior housing providers’ brand into the lives of their residents. Can you elaborate on that?
[00:08:02] Jenny Bristow: Yeah, absolutely. There are a couple of different ways you can do this. The first and most important step is like we just talked about, the persona development and understanding who your resident is, but then thinking about and mapping out their journey as they’re making the decision, and once they make the decision and are actually living in the facility.
What are the important touch points where they regularly engage with staff, with other residents, or with the building in the facility? What are ways that we could either verbally or visually reinforce the brand and the messaging that we know that’s important to them?
That’s a way to really tie everything together and make sure that you’re just not focused on getting people into the facility, but you’re really making sure that your brand and your positioning really goes throughout the entire life cycle of the relationship.
[00:08:54] Michael Mahoney: So that speaks to everything, including how your staff are speaking to prospective residents or residents. Maybe the type of apparel they’re wearing, the signage in the building, welcome gifts, all these things have to be reflective of your brand and ultimately these profiles you’re referring to in order to really help integrate your brand into their lives and therefore have a great experience.
[00:09:21] Jenny Bristow: You’re exactly right. Even the services or the outside vendors that you bring in, all of that is reflective of the community that you’re building and the way you want your brand to show up.
[00:09:32] Michael Mahoney: Okay, so what shifts in branding focus are you seeing by senior living providers as consumers seek better experiences? The demographics are changing, always moving to a new generation. Are you seeing shifts in how these organizations have to think about their branding?
[00:09:53] Jenny Bristow: We are. We’re seeing more and more organizations actually begin to care about having a brand that means something versus just a crappy logo that they paid their nephew to design for $20. They’re like, “Okay, what actually is our brand going to be? What’s our positioning? How are we going to show up?” More and more people and organizations are actually thinking about that now. They’re also thinking about content marketing and bringing that brand to life in a way that it can help attract potential residents to them in the future.
[00:10:24] Michael Mahoney: Talk about that. How do you bring a brand to life? That’s an exhaustive topic, but can you give some examples? How do you actually bring your brand to life that is impactful?
[00:10:33] Jenny Bristow: Oh, I have a great example. About five years ago, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is one of my clients. About five years ago, my main point of contact and me were going out to a happy hour, having a little brainstorming session around what we could do for content marketing to elevate the visibility and lovability of the brand.
They had just gotten a survey result back. They did regional surveying regularly to understand the sentiment, and the overwhelming response was that parents were intimidated by the facility. If their child had a cancer or something that was absolutely life threatening, they would go, but otherwise they thought it was big and scary, and they would rather go somewhere else, so we actually came up with a content idea to do a Facebook Live series called, Belly to Baby, and we followed my point of contact because she luckily got pregnant.
[00:11:24] Michael Mahoney: That’s a great name. Belly to Baby. I love it.
[00:11:27] Jenny Bristow: It was perfect timing. We followed her through the entire nine months, every Friday at 11:00 AM on Facebook Live. We had different specialists throughout the facility come in and talk to her about what was happening to the baby at that week of gestation, what was happening to her body, all of the things, and all of the surveying came back, and it was very impactful to make the brand feel more relatable, make it feel more like it was a person that they were comfortable going to see versus big, scary, grey building like the responses had shown before.
[00:12:02] Michael Mahoney: Yeah, because I could see that the people who are watching these live streams are identifying with this woman, and what she’s going through. I’m sure it’s not rehearsed. She’s going through a meeting with these providers, so she’s having questions, and learning, and experiencing, and they’re following along. Wow. So, that helped to really change the persona of the hospital, even though they’re one of the top hospitals in the country. To change their persona, so they’re more relatable. People are comfortable going in for just routine procedures.
[00:12:31] Jenny Bristow: Yeah, you’re exactly right. It’s made their YouTube channel one of the most popular in the country for children’s hospitals, because we still have all of the episodes living there, so they, years later, they still get massive amounts of traffic. Content ideas like that that really allow people to engage with your brand and understand and know who you are and what you care about is worth investing in.
It doesn’t even have to be high production. One of the things a lot of our clients are afraid of is they feel like they have to invest a hundred thousand dollars in this amazing video production process. You can. There’s a time in a place to do really expensive high-end production, but if you’re doing content marketing just to extend the reach of your brand, there are cost-efficient ways, and it should not hold any senior housing brand back from getting started.
[00:13:20] Michael Mahoney: That’s good advice. Your agency, Hedy and Hopp has a reputation for using data and data-driven insights, as you say, to activate effective and emotional connections between brands and customers or residents. It’s your language. Activating effective and emotional connections between brands and customers using data.
But you can think of data as being cold. It’s just numbers. It’s data. First of all, what kind of data are you talking about here? Then how are you using that data to start building a connection between senior housing provider and their brand and their residents?
[00:14:01] Jenny Bristow:. This is the exact topic SMASH invited me in to speak on. They proactively reached out to me and said, “Hey, we really like what you guys are doing in healthcare. We want you to come in and speak,” so I’m doing a two-hour workshop on this topic, and I’m so excited because in the senior housing space, clinical data that they’re legally required to report is what most folks think about when you think about data.
Most of them don’t even realize all of the data that is collected and saved through the lens of marketing and the way that their perspective residents or the adult children are interacting with their brand on the front end before a buying decision is made.
What we do is we go through, and we figure out all of those touchpoints and we help begin tracking that interaction. For example, if they go do a search, the Google listing where all of those different providers show up in that map view, if you click through to the website or you click through to the phone number to call, we can begin tracking that.
We can understand the percentage of residents that are coming from Google. If they’re actually going to the website or finding you through SEO, paid media, or your organic social media post, whatever it is, we help the providers actually figure out how to track that to understand where the potential residents and adult children are finding them, also what source is actually driving to appointments and conversations.
It really helps you understand if you’re spending lots of time and energy with different marketing initiatives which ones are actually the most impactful? But then we talk about actually getting to the heart and core of the person. What that means is once you actually get onto the facility’s website, we do both quantitative and qualitative tracking to figure out— Let’s say the adult child starts going through the frequently asked questions, goes to the facility page, they start filling out a form halfway, and then they quit. They abandon then leave the site.
We actually start looking at that website data and say, “Interesting.” People are visiting the FAQs always after going to the homepage. What information are we not sharing that’s important to them? What key points are we missing? If there’s a search bar on the website, what are people searching for? That information is very important, but they’re not getting access to it.
Then we make changes to the website to positively reflect it and provide easier access to that information. That’s what we mean. When we talk about making data real and meaningful is what is working and actually providing value that you’re doing on the marketing side, and then how could we make that adult child or resident’s experience better on your website, so that way they actually view as a brand that’s easy to engage with.
[00:16:47] Michael Mahoney: What challenges would a senior housing provider possibly face when it comes to collecting this information?
[00:16:55] Jenny Bristow:. The first thing is HIPAA compliance. One of the main reasons healthcare is slow to adopt technology innovations are all of the regulations around how you collect and use data.
My team are a bunch of nerds and we’re proud of it, and we are experts on HIPAA, how you can collect data, where it can be stored, who can have access to it, and how you can use it. It can be scary because you don’t want to collect something that you’re not supposed to have access to, and then you can potentially get fined. Understanding data, how to collect, and store it for compliance purposes is one thing.
The other thing is making sure your technical team can implement all of these tracking mechanisms on your website in a way that’s accurate. It’s really easy to go and just put a little pixel or a little piece of code on your website, but it doesn’t always mean it’s collecting data accurately, and it doesn’t necessarily mean people on your team have the analytical or technical skills to evaluate the data.
Really stepping back and saying, if we’re going to go down this path, or we’re going to try to be more of a data-driven organization, how are we going to support that and what does that mean? What is the desired outcome? Because if you don’t know what the finish line is and you’re just going to try to be more data-driven, then it will be very frustrating for your entire team because you won’t know where you’re headed or why.
[00:18:16] Michael Mahoney: Well, you have to bring the human element into it. It’s not just about data. It’s taking that data and really using it to bring the human element, so as you said, to create those emotional connections.
[00:18:29] Jenny Bristow: One of the things that my team is actually doing— We are in the process right now of setting up tracking for all of our client websites to aggregate this data, but we have a goal of over the next five years to positively touch a hundred million patients and directly impact 10 million appointments scheduled or actions taken.
We’re trying to aggregate all of it because for us, yeah, it feels good to run a big paid media campaign for an insurance company or a provider or a senior housing, but actually understanding the number of lives that you’ve touched makes everything so much more human. We’re trying to get a real time ticker going so that way everyone on our team every day can feel good about the impact they made.
[00:19:14] Michael Mahoney: That’s ambitious. That sounds like a big hairy, audacious goal to me.
[00:19:17] Jenny Bristow: Yes.
[00:19:18] Michael Mahoney: A BHAG.
[00:19:20] Jenny Bristow: Yep, that’s how I roll.
[00:19:23] Michael Mahoney: Fantastic. This has really been enlightening. I appreciate you sharing, Jenny. How can listeners find you?
[00:19:30] Jenny Bristow: Sure. The easiest way is to go to my website. It’s Hedy and Hopp dot com, and I believe you’re going to link in the resources section, but it’s H-E-D-Y-A-N-D-H-O-P-P dot com. I’m on LinkedIn. I love connecting with people and talking about innovations in the healthcare industry.
Please connect with me. Then finally, I have my own podcast called, We are, Marketing Happy. You can actually find it anywhere you listen to podcasts. It’s also linked on my website and social medias, but we invite folks on every Friday, to talk about and discuss the innovations that are positively impacting patient access to care. Similar to your conversations, Michael, but with a broader view across the entire healthcare space. It’s a whole lot of fun. I’d love to have listeners tune in.
[00:20:19] Michael Mahoney: I encourage people to check out your podcast. You had a recent episode on the question, the topic we’re just talking about. I asked what challenges do providers face in collecting information and you had an entire episode in your podcast about marketing silos, data information silo, so if anyone’s interested, definitely go check that out. It’s one of the recent podcasts that you’ve had. All right. Fantastic. Thank you so much for joining us. Good luck at your speaking event coming up here. It’s in Vegas?
[00:20:50] Jenny Bristow: It is. It’s outside of Vegas.
[00:20:53] Michael Mahoney: Outside of Vegas? All right. Well, good luck. Enjoy and we’ll talk to you soon. Thanks, Jenny. Bye bye.
[00:20:58] Jenny Bristow: Thanks, Michael.