Who are you and what do you do?
Tom Reid is Vice President/Managing Director of Serum, the healthcare division of HackerAgency.
Tell us about the business/for purpose organization (how long in business, what is your specialty, products or services, how many employees, etc.)
HackerAgency, a 29-year-old digital/direct marketing agency, formed Serum, a new stand-alone healthcare marketing business unit in August of 2015. We focus on acquisition, retention and wellness programs for Medicare, the Affordable Care Act insurance (under 65), and group healthcare markets. Serum offers its clients a holistic healthcare consumer perspective, while tapping the broad, multichannel CRM expertise the HackerAgency is known for. Serum has 8 clients and 30 employees on staff.
What makes their company/organization the leader in their industry?
We draw on years of agency experience in multiple vertical markets and focus that expertise to drive innovative solutions in the world of healthcare. As a digital/direct advertising agency, we take big data and make it smart—so it becomes actionable information that fuels better results for our clients.
We have a much more customer-centric point of view than our competitors. We’re unique in our creative approach: We blend the science of data with the art of customer insights. Our clients cite our creative work and unrelenting focus on program results as key differentiators between us and our competitors.
We’re also very data aware. We’re one of the few marketing agencies that are ISO 27001 certified in data security. That’s tremendously important to our clients who have to worry about HIPAA compliance.
What contributions have you made/ are willing to take towards the world? (i.e., donations, building things in other countries, etc.)
I don’t want this to sound trite, but I don’t think a marketer can be successful selling a product he or she isn’t passionate about. Our clients may not be “saving the world”—but I know for sure they’re improving and extending the lives of individuals. I also believe our clients are making a positive impact on our economy by making healthcare affordable for many more people.
The spiraling cost of healthcare in the U.S. is closely related to our lack of engagement with the healthcare system. People are often out of touch with how their actions affect the cost of their healthcare. They don’t take their prescribed medications and don’t comply with doctors’ orders. These things have significant impact on the cost of everyone’s care. On the flipside, health insurers and healthcare providers can do a much better job of helping consumers become better at making educated decisions.
We mitigate this issue by helping people learn to pay more attention to their health and their healthcare choices. Customer engagement and, ultimately, behavior change is what direct marketing is all about. Our clients use our marketing expertise to help guide people into good decisions. This reduces the overall cost of healthcare and can benefit the entire economy.
Who or what has influenced them (book, movie, person, other company/for purpose organization)?
I’m inspired by Bob Hacker, founder of HackerAgency and one of the smartest marketers I’ve ever known. Bob has an ability to walk into a client’s office and in a 15-minute conversation find the essence of the problem and come up with five different approaches to solve it. His wit and wisdom are legendary. One of my favorite quotes from him is, “Direct marketing doesn’t have to make sense. It just has to make money.” That’s not just cute. It’s true. You don’t always need to know why it works. Knowing what works is what’s important. And if you only try things that make sense to you, you may miss out on something very important.
What key qualities do they look for in their team?
I look for people with intellectual curiosity and energy. When I have a choice, I go for the smart person who has the energy—who’s thinking hard about why things happen the way they do, rather than someone with the “right” experience. There’s no denying that marketing is about money, so ambition and an ability to persuade others are also appropriate qualities for team members. Things are changing fast—both in the world of marketing and in healthcare. No one in this business can rest easy, believing they have a lock on the all the answers.
Words of advice for others growing their business/for purpose organization?
Never stop learning. For marketers, that means never, ever, stop testing. Every campaign, every message in a campaign, every target audience, every offer, every path to purchase, everything must be continually tested and measured against what is working best right now.
Written/Edited By: Meagan Sims, Senior Public Relations Agent at SuperInterns.com