May 24, 2018
We hear a lot about large, national healthcare brands – but what about the smaller, community-based institutions that are making just as great of an impact? In our latest episode of The 19: Healthcare, Orange Label Agency Principal Rochelle Reiter sits down with Dan Segal, President of Optimal Senior Care Solutions, to discuss the power and value of local care providers.
This is The 19. In 19 minutes or less, game-changing insights in healthcare from Orange Label, the leading response marketing agency for established brands that are driven by a fearless entrepreneurial mindset.
Hey there, this is Rochelle Reiter, agency principal at here Orange Label, and today’s episode as all about the versatility and impact of healthcare response marketing. Now to me, one of the most rewarding and inspirational parts about working with healthcare brands is that you’re contributing to a cause that truly changes lives for the better.
From regenerative medicine to cancer research, healthcare is saving the world one patient at a time, and having even a small stake in that mission makes it all worth it. At the forefront of healthcare innovation is Dan Segal. Dan is currently the president of Optimal Senior Care Solutions, a homecare services business, based in Newport Beach, California. And over his long career in healthcare, he’s pioneered several incredible projects, including breakthrough stem cell therapy treatment, biotech services, and more.
Rochelle: Dan, welcome to the show. We’re so glad to have you.
Dan: Thanks, glad to be here.
Rochelle: So, Dan, tell us a little bit about your professional background. How did you enter the world of healthcare?
Dan: Well, I started my life in healthcare in the sales area. I was a sales rep for a medical device company about thirty-five years ago, and through a series of changes in jobs and responsibilities, I made my way through into different functions, including mostly sales, but then marketing, and eventually operations, and executive management.
Rochelle: Great. Now, a lot of the projects that you’ve worked on are quite innovative. What do you think is the best way to market these new products and services to the widest target audience possible?
Dan: I start every initiative or project with a sort of a strategic focus. So, I’m looking at what the market is, and what’s the best way to reach that. And it’s really different between the type of products and services you’re talking about.
Rochelle: Dan, you’ve also worked in the startup market. What have you found has helped new brand achieve growth in the healthcare realm?
Dan: You need to have a product that has a unique selling proposition to it. So that you can differentiate from your competitors. And sometimes you just have to try everything, honestly, and see what works best. And when you find something that works you just keep doing it.
Rochelle: Can you think of a brand that you’ve worked on where you’ve tried something and it was – it hit a home run?
Dan: Going back to when I was involved with some specialty devices for the processing of stem cells, we had developed a very unique product, and it really solved some problems that nobody else was able to address. That allowed us to go right to the thought leaders in the industry, so we were able to very quickly present this new technology through a very focused efforts of face to face meetings and being everywhere they were at. Having them be part of the development process of the product, we were able to establish a market leadership very quickly, within a matter of years in that segment.
Rochelle: So finding experts helped you launch the brand.
Dan: Absolutely. In that case, it was integral to it. Again, going back to strategic process, we looked at how do we penetrate markets in every single country in this case. And the way to do that was to go top down to the thought leader or the most well-known established clinician or researcher in that particular market, get a relationship going with them, in a number of different ways, and in that process getting our equipment placed. By doing that over and over and over again, and then you have your first – we call the first tier, second tier, third tier type of customers. By the time you’ve got to your third tier – you pretty much, you own the market in this case.
Rochelle: That’s great. Healthcare can be challenging to market or to advertise in. In addition to finding experts, what did you do to spread the word in terms of marketing and advertising?
Dan: I think you really have to know, you know, where your market is. Not just who they are, but where it is, geographically. Also where it is along the scientific arc as far as development of new products and techniques. And then you need to be everywhere. And I think that holds true for every type of business these days. I say be everywhere. In terms of what we do today it’s to stay top of mind with all of the decision makers, with all of the end users, and everybody else involved in the process. And being everywhere can be expensive, so it’s a matter of prioritizing and leveraging as many technologies as you can to be able to be in front of as many people on a consistent basis – but the right people.
Rochelle: As a healthcare professional and a consumer, what healthcare marketing is currently resonating with you?
Dan: The advertisements for healthcare systems like Kaiser, has a good campaign out there. Like Memorial Care and some of the other healthcare systems. Because in that case, I think you can drive consumers to your door. Because, from a personal perspective, when we choose a healthcare plan for our family, we often look to see what facilities are connected to it. And we’ve made decisions specifically on which ones were not connected to it. That we wanted to frequent or be able to go to. So I think that actually is a real benefit to the consumers, that kind of advertising.
Rochelle: So you’ve know segued into the world of home care. Can you tell us a little bit about your current company?
Dan: Sure. Optimal Senior Care Solutions is a licensed homecare agency. We’re nonmedical but we work alongside medical professionals. We provide caregivers to go into people’s homes to help them with their activities for daily living. And those are things that are defined, like being able to get dressed, to ambulate, to get to appointments – the goal being what they call “aging in place.” Aging in place is what 95 percent of people will respond to when you say where do you wanna spend your sunset years? How do you wanna spend it? How do you wanna be? Ninety-five, or it’s even higher than that will say I want to be in my home. I want to stay home. I don’t want to go into a facility or a nursing facility. Sometimes those are unavoidable, but a lot of people, the majority of people, can actually safely age in place at home. We help facilitate that by taking the activities that they’re finding difficult or that they can’t do anymore, and we do that for them. In a lot of ways we sort of are a surrogate for the family. Caregivers, as a group, are generally family members. So our business is a commercialization of an activity that had been traditionally done by the family.
Rochelle: Sure, sure. And are you finding it’s most people that are your clients or I’m not sure what you call them, your clients – don’t have the access the access to family, and so you’re providing that support for them? Because I know one of the greatest challenges in people’s life as they become an older adult is loneliness. So do you find that you’re providing that – you’re filling that gap?
Dan: Absolutely, absolutely. In some cases, there is no family. It just doesn’t exist. They’re either, they’ve never had children, they were an only child. That is not uncommon. What’s more common is the families dispersed. They’re living in different coasts of the country or in different countries, and they’re not in close proximity to their aging loved one, whether it be their parent, or an aunt, or even a sibling. So, that’s more common. And the issue of isolation is a very significant one. And as we age, a lot of things change. You become less social in some ways because your mobility is restricted. Your friends pass away. Neighbors leave. You become increasingly isolated. So a big component of what we do is companionship. It’s even called companion care, it’s got a category. And that feeds into, you know, improving quality of life for the clients. Some cases it’s a replacement, but sometimes it’s just adjunctive to what the family’s doing.
Rochelle: Yeah, I have to believe that emotions drive a lot of the activity that you have in terms of your marketing. How do you currently get your message out to people who need it?
Dan: In this particular business, unlike other ones I’ve been involved with, this is really a local business. We service Orange County. This is a local business, and so you have to market it that way. So everything that we do is really focused on the local community. And it’s a combination of things. We have an internet presence, we support organizations that are connected to the elder community, we sponsor seminars and luncheons and things like that, where the attendees are elderly people, or their other representatives in this industry are there. So, it’s a combination of networking, advertising, and we tried a lot of different types of advertising, so it’s mostly – it’s a local effort.
Rochelle: Local grassroots.
Dan: Yeah. And it’s word of mouth. So the question is, how do you amplify word of mouth? And word of mouth with social media is really a great tool to amplify word of mouth. I would say probably 20 percent of our new clients come through direct advertising. The rest of it comes through referral marketing. And referral marketing is a combination of being at all these specialty events, and networking with the appropriate healthcare providers in the field, and also I try to partner with my referral network.
Rochelle: How do you define success for your brand, in terms of what’s out there in the marketplace?
Dan: Well, I think when I hear people say “I’ve heard of your company.” That’s a good way to say there’s some success. We have some metrics as far as, we’re looking from a business standpoint. We’re focused on billable hours. That’s basically what it’s about. It’s a service business, so we look at billable hours as an indicator for how we’re growing, and then of course, you know, gross margin and things like that as far as managing the financials as a company to maintain the profitability. The one thing about this industry – and this is my observation – is that it’s a low brand awareness industry. When I was looking to start a business, I was looking to – well, what kind of business can I start? What am I interested in? From a personal perspective, I had seen home care delivered to my parents. But not in a very professional way. So I thought there would be a very great opportunity to be in this space. What I discovered was, there was a lot of companies doing it. There was a lot of franchises popping up. If you ask the average person on the street to name a homecare company, a national brand, you probably would not get any answer.
Rochelle: Well and maybe there’s just not one that’s taken the leadership position nationwide yet.
Dan: I don’t think so, and it’s partly because the nature of this business is very very local, and it’s very personal. Because every company is unique in this business. It really is. It’s a reflection of the owner, it’s a reflection of the values of the owner, and of the employees that work there. You can’t really franchise that, I don’t think, very well. To me, my success, is honestly it’s getting good reviews from clients, and people that will tell me they’ve heard of my company.
Rochelle: Well, and it’s sounds like you’re really proud of what you’re doing for the community and giving back.
Dan: Yeah, I gotta say it’s a difficult business to be in, in a lot of ways because it’s – you’re dealing with people that are typically in a crisis situation. And many times they’re at the very end of their life. And that’s not always a fun place to be, right. But I gotta tell you that often, I get to meet some very, very interesting people. And they’re often pretty impressive. You know, we talk about the greatest generation. I have a lot of clients that aren’t from that generation, and I have several of them who are well into their 90s, who are very clear and alert and cognitively present, and they’re just incredible people to spend time with. It’s rewarding on that level. That’s a personal thing. When you’re focused strictly on the hospital discharge business, it’s a little different than when you’re working with someone for the long term, who you’re gonna have a companion care person in their life, for many hours a day, many days a week. So I started consciously drifting away from the hospital discharge side of it. More towards the, I guess it’s called, concierge-type business, where you’re focusing on a very highly personalized service. So that took me away from that source of clients, and towards a different source. So I typically get a lot of my clients through relationships I have with geriatric care manager specialists, who are helping people. And in turn working elder law attorneys, bank trust officers, and fiduciaries. It’s a little bit different segment, that I’ve carved out sort of a nice spot in there. Because I’m comfortable talking to those referral partners. I feel that what they typically need, is that they’re dealing with people – often very high net worth people – that have very, very specific needs and wants. I’ve been able to deliver on that, for them. And they’re usually complicated cases, too. Health wise, and also legally. So I’ve kind of found a little niche right there to provide a service that a lot of other companies do, but do it in a way that delivers what these attorneys and other professionals need that, in order to deal with their clients.
Rochelle: Well, it sounds like you really know your market, and that’s marketing 101, right, is know your market.
Dan: Yeah, eating it, and breathing it, and living it every day. It’s an interesting – it’s an interesting business, and it’s rewarding on a lot of different levels.
Rochelle: Alright, Dan, one final question. What is one key marketing takeaway that you want to share with our listeners?
Dan: I always want to be, whether it be a product or a service, I personally want it to have a positive impact on the customer. Patient. Community. Client. Whatever you wanna call ‘em. That’s a personal thing. So when I look back on my career, I’ve always looked for those clients and products and services that I’ve felt had some aspect to them that was really an improvement for the people that were impacted by it. That’s my own personal need of what I’m getting involved with. So, you really have to internalize your business. In other words, you have to know your market, you have to believe in your product. If you’re building an organization, which I’m doing, you have to be able to communicate that to your people you’re hiring, and you have to hire good people. It’s just like any other kind of business. But in healthcare to me it’s just quality, and the impact of what you’re doing on the end user. Those are the things that are important to me.
Rochelle: Definitely. Well thank you, Dan. It was so good to have you today. And thank you for what you’re doing in the community and helping older adults.
Dan: Thanks, it was great being here.
Thank you for listening to The 19 Healthcare: Community Healthcare Finds a Home. If you have additional thoughts on this topic, please share them with us. Visit our website,orangelabelmarketing.com, and contact us. Be sure to subscribe to The 19 on iTunes and Google Play, and if you liked what you heard today, leave us a review.
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