Sometimes less is more and it’s about the quality of each of the marketing levers you pull, not always quantity.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Adam Scott Riff.
Adam Scott Riff serves as Modernizing Medicine’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). He brings over 20 years of executive leadership with both startup and Fortune 500 marketing expertise, as well as a proven track record of entrepreneurial success. Prior to joining Modernizing Medicine, Adam served as a trusted marketing officer for private equity and public company stakeholders, including Fortune 500 companies ADT and Office Depot. In addition, Adam founded and led a technology-based demand generation marketplace, Exact Match Media, to an INC 500 ranking and successful acquisition in 2017. He received his bachelors of business administration from the University of Florida — Warrington College of Business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
There isn’t one specific story that stands out, but creative concepting can be hysterical. During this process, you essentially ideate ways to communicate a concept to an audience. As you do that work, all kinds of comedic ideas come out. If you add drinks to the equation, the results are even more entertaining. Often through this brainstorming, you come up with great and actionable solutions as well as entertaining memories.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
My path may be a bit different than most. I really started out as an entrepreneur in college and digital marketing was simply a means to promote the roommate website I created. I didn’t have much money at the time, so I bootstrapped it, and was able to drive traffic and generate revenue through search engine optimization (SEO) efforts and other digital marketing strategies. The ability to reach an audience, create an effective message to use and convert that to revenue, is really motivating. Seeing results provided confidence. This experience gave me a jumpstart when I began my career as a marketing professional. Along the way I have learned that you need to study the craft, test things out and, as your confidence grows, take risks.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
It’s all about setting expectations and understanding the purpose. Marketing is one of the most important and challenging areas of business because it requires a massive amount of quantitative analysis and creative thinking — the right and left brain working together. It also requires skillsets in many disciplines such as demand generation, media buying, public relations, creative, analytics, and beyond, which can really push the limits. What works for me is to set expectations for myself and also be clear on purpose. It’s important to share with the marketing team and organization as a whole why we are doing what we do, each and every day, week, month, quarter, and year. That underlying purpose is so important to reach full potential and alignment.
Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. Where do you see the future of marketing headed?
Authenticity. That’s the one word that comes to mind in order to have a successful marketing program. In our industry, we serve healthcare professionals and physicians. The audience is quite informed and can see right through B.S. Everything about the brand needs to be built around driving trust and offering thought leadership so we are viewed as not just another health IT vendor, but rather an ally — a company who takes a vested interest in the success of their practice.
A recent and timely example I can share relates to our company’s response regarding the COVID-19 crisis. In mid-March, as many of our client practices had to shut their doors and reduce patient volume, we fast-tracked telehealth platforms and other digital solutions to help our clients to continue to see patients, albeit virtually. While this was a concerted company effort, marketing was tasked with creating new materials to help inform and educate both current and potential clients, not just about the new solutions, but also about the benefits and value they could bring to their practices and base of patients. This included a new website, marketing materials for practices to inform patients, sales enablement pieces and the star of the show, our thought leadership webinar series.
Working closely with our Chief Medical and Strategy Officer and co-founder, Dr. Sherling, along with the rest of our on-staff physicians, we crafted thoughtful content for these virtual events to replace the numerous trade shows (and other opportunities to reach our client base) that had evaporated overnight. From having actual client panelists and industry experts offer different perspectives, topics ran the gamut from new telehealth regulations, tips for maximizing the effectiveness of telehealth visits, to what the new normal in healthcare looks like. They weren’t sales pitches by any means but offered a way for the community to connect with and build trust in our brand and our people. The engagement and results were remarkable and by far the most successful webinars the organization has hosted to date.
Like most things in life, you want to do business with not only people you trust, but companies you trust — and marketing messages are key in helping to instill that confidence.
Thank you so much for sharing so much value with us!