Rhonda Blaschke

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Andreea Borcea:
Welcome to the Marketing Mondays podcast, where we explore how we can make your offerings stand out in the health and wellness space. Through conversations with thought leaders and innovators in health and wellness marketing, we'll discuss marketing, best practices, case studies, and innovative ideas to help scale your business and grow revenues with impact. I'm excited to be your host. My name is Andreea Borcea, I'm a fractional CMO and owner of the Dia Creative Marketing Agency.

Andreea Borcea:
Hi there, and welcome to Marketing Mondays. Today, I'm super excited to share a conversation I had with Rhonda Blaschke, who has over 20 years in healthcare marketing. We talk about personas, we talk about specifics of healthcare marketing, it's a great conversation. I think you're really going to enjoy it.

Andreea Borcea:
So tell us a little bit about your background. What have you been doing, and how did you get into healthcare marketing?

Rhonda Blaschke:
Thanks for having me, Andreea, it's so great to be here. I've been in healthcare IT for over 20 years, and when I got into marketing, I actually came in through a consulting route. So I was not marketing the entire time. But what I did was a lot of work in helping to create new launch strategies and go-to-market planning for betas and new products that were being developed to help healthcare organizations, specifically in hospitals and provider organizations. So my background has been in not only being in the hospitals, helping physicians understand what their needs are, but helping to develop how we could create value and messaging those to different organizations to drive growth and help improve healthcare.

Andreea Borcea:
That's incredible. How, I mean, I feel like launching in particular, especially something in beta, has got to be really challenging. Are you, were you finding that doctors were like, yes, give me new tech, or they were like, slow down?

Rhonda Blaschke:
You know, it's a little bit of both. It's really interesting. They want technology, but they don't want technology to get in the way of what they're really there to do, which is to take care of patients. And so it was a lot of work, and what I really enjoyed about it was that it's not just knowing what technology they want, but really understanding how it fits into their ultimate drive and why they're in healthcare in the first place, which is all patient care. So we always, I always looked at it as how do I help them do what they're there to do, which is take care of me and you as a patient, and that's where I looked to understanding who they were, what their needs were, and how we could really drive value into the organization. So it was a very customer-centric thinking.

Andreea Borcea:
Oh, nice. So when you were, when you do that, do you actually start by conversations with the potential customer or, because you were actually working as a consultant, so you, that, I mean, because you also have the tech company being like, this is what we have, go sell it. Like how do you balance the two?

Rhonda Blaschke:
You know, I think marketing has shifted a lot to really making sure you understand who your customers are, and my background has helped me with that because the way that you would create the solutions was to go into those customers. So we would find beta partners or customers that were interested in helping us develop and really understanding what we were developing to help them drive again that patient care efficiency gains and safety requirements that they had to meet regulatory requirements, all of the things that are put upon a physician every single day. And so we would go in, and we would interview customers, and we would fail sometimes, Andreea, and we had to learn from that, and that would drive our roadmap. And I think that's why I ended up in marketing, is because when you develop those roadmaps, you really need to understand ultimately who your customer is, what are you trying to solve, and how do you actually take solutions from just an idea in somebody's head, but really make sure it's the right idea at the right time and put it in the hands of the right persona. So it was really interesting because you'd see completely different requirements from a physician than an administrator, and you have to balance the two. So it's a lot of communication and understanding and listening to learn.

Andreea Borcea:
And I've had a lot of building trust with both parties, right? And that to me seems like the biggest challenge, really, is because physicians, in my experience, always like, they feel like they know best and they know how they want things. So building that trust as an outsider coming in, did you have any experience with like how to better build trust?

Rhonda Blaschke:
Absolutely. You know, I think one of the biggest things for any of us is we learn from our peers. And so, me coming in and telling a physician what they need in their workflow, probably not the best idea. But what I did is, again, I listen to learn, and I brought in experts that were physicians, that were CMIOs, that were technology forward-thinking innovators and really understood how they would help position it, so I partnered very well, even internally with those that were physicians but were physicians that are, there's a lot of physicians out there that are very technology savvy, that are very innovative. And having those physicians help us educate ourselves as marketers or consultants, in addition to what we're trying to do with the customers, really was how we bridge that trust. So it's really, again, going back to persona speaking to persona, I should never tell a finance person what's best, right? But they can be my advisor and provide me guidance to what we need to do to be the best that we can.

Andreea Borcea:
I'd love to dig into a bit more like personas because I think a lot of people think they know how to build a persona, but it's a lot more complex than I think a lot of people originally think. So tell me, how do you personally build personas when you're starting off something new?

Rhonda Blaschke:
A lot of what we do or what I've done in the past that's successful is not only working with customers directly but actually doing market research. So going out into the industry, and there's lots of, in healthcare, there's lots of industry organizations that have a very broad depth of different personas that are members of them, and you can do surveys and analysis of what are they looking for, what are their top priorities, how are they looking to drive growth? For instance, right now, digital health is not only a big thing, but it's actually diversity and equity, and inclusion. And how do we not only create a way in which everybody has access to care, but where do they access that care? How are consumers changing the way in where we want to access care? So it's a constant iterative process, Andreea. It's something that you really have to have a starting point and get that research from not only surveys but actually going out in the field as well and putting that together and then continue to build upon it. It's not easy, but right now with marketing, I think it's a huge thing to really understand who the personas are so you can message correctly to what the needs are they need to solve.

Andreea Borcea:
Definitely, yeah. If you're not talking to the right people in the right way, then it's pointless. How often do you feel like you need to update your personas to make sure that you're still speaking the right way to the right person?

Rhonda Blaschke:
You know, I think it depends. I think a lot of it is if you're going into a new market versus if you're staying in your current market. So for example, if you're going into a new market with new solutions, there's probably a lot more research upfront, but once you have a good foundation of a persona, you can do kind of just a little bit of a test on that. And I think you need to update it on at least a, I'll say a yearly basis, but again, it kind of depends on if it's a brand new solution coming in because you're solving a different problem, and you may need to speak to different buyers. In healthcare marketing, in healthcare right now, the buyers are not a single person, it's really a committee, and I think that's what you have to stay aware of as well. So in addition to keeping yourself aware of, from research that you can do yourself, it's also staying involved in the organizations that are out there, helping you stay abreast of what's going into the minds in the forefront of solving for the healthcare issues. So I'll give you an example. I went to ACHE recently, American College of Healthcare Executives, and what was interesting there is it seemed like there were certain themes you could pick up from every presentation, at least the ones that I attended, that were really around how do you get access to your patients, as far as the care that you're providing, in a different way than what you may have done five, ten years ago? How do you use different resources within your hospitals because there's a sort of shortage of resources? So how do you start changing the way that you actually deliver that healthcare?

Andreea Borcea:
Oh, that's really interesting. Are you seeing, because at least what I'm seeing on the wellness side is a lot more people are trying to take better control of their health, they're reading more books, they're more aware, are you seeing that in the hospital space as well? Is that influencing how people use hospitals in their healthcare journey?

Rhonda Blaschke:
Yeah, and I will say that with hospitals, a lot of the care is moving outside the four walls of the hospital. And so that's where you're seeing the change, a lot more interaction with, well, I mean, the industry is shifting completely. You know, how many times have you gone to a clinic at your local pharmacy that you would have never gone to and gotten a flu shot or gotten a COVID test, for example? I just think there's a natural way in which healthcare delivery is being changed or is changing, I should say. And I think that's what hospitals are managing through. How do they partner, how do they give access outside of the four walls of hospital versus traditional ways of bringing in people to the hospital and to the larger clinics?

Andreea Borcea:
Yeah, the whole challenge of how do I own my own health data, because that's never what it was before. But you used to go to one doctor, so it didn't matter, but now, you know, you're right. I went to the MinuteClinic and then I go to the hospital when I need to, and then I go to urgent care, and then I go to my doctor, and how do they all actually understand what's happening?

Rhonda Blaschke:
You know, and I don't think that's a challenge that we've solved yet, to be perfectly honest with you. I think there's a lot of data that's being, there's a lot of organizations that are looking at how to solve that right now. Originally, they thought EHRs were going to be the solve for it, but the EHRs don't talk to each other, and you could literally be in the same health system and have multiple EHRs in use. And I think that's one of the biggest things to deal is, data can be very siloed, but how do you move it to being accessible by all when you need it to be able to serve that patient? So that's a lot of the things that are actually changing the way healthcare is delivered too. Because your point, patients want access to their healthcare not only for themselves but for those they have to provide care for. And, you know, we have a population that is, we've moved away from our parents, maybe, and we have to keep up with them. So how do you do that in a way that's helpful, especially as you have older generations that are needing care?

Andreea Borcea:
Yeah, that's really challenging. So even with that, it might even be the patient that's your target persona. It's actually who's taking care of the patient and then what are all their healthcare touchpoints. That gets a lot more complex when you go back to your personas.

Rhonda Blaschke:
Yeah, it does, and it even gets more complex and it's not always B2B anymore. Sometimes you have a B2B2C factor in there because again, we're becoming much more consumer-driven in healthcare. I know for me, gosh, I do all my appointments now through my patient portals with my physicians, for me, my kids, my husband, everybody else, and we manage a lot of our healthcare in that way. Access to our labs, we expect it to be right there, access to our exams, so there's so much that's changing in healthcare. And I think it's a challenge for marketers because they do have to become a little bit more, not a little bit more, a lot more strategic in how they actually continue to modify and change their messages to meet the needs.

Andreea Borcea:
Absolutely, yeah. Well, and because I think you're right, everybody wants this like grand solution that they expect this is how things should behave and it just doesn't. And so you have the want there, but then how do you convince them which solution is the right way? Are you finding with B2B2C that you're actually having to educate a lot of the hospitals on how to talk to their consumers, quote-unquote, right?

Rhonda Blaschke:
You know, I don't think so. I would say that I think hospitals do a really good job of talking to their consumers for the most part. Patient portals have been out for a while now, and the COVID push made telehealth explode exponentially, but I think they're still trying to figure out what does that mean, because the numbers may not still be as high as they were in the height of COVID, but they're definitely higher than they were before. So I think they're having to very quickly think through how they communicate to those consumers and actually retain them, because there is a fluidity in care. Like you just mentioned, urgent care, clinics of the CVS or the Walgreens, there's all kinds of ways in which patients are consuming, and so hospitals, I think, are challenged to retain and make sure that they actually are able to expand their network of physicians outside and help deliver that care. You know, as far as education, I would say one of the biggest challenges still is just keeping up with how do you educate the ways in which technology is advancing in the way that's helpful to those different personas. So cloud technology versus on-prem technology, interoperability, access to data, all of those things, and that's where I think the personas also take a really big forefront, is because you are definitely with new technology, having to make an education as your step as the first one because they just don't know what's out there. There's so much to consume, and how do you stand out is really important.

Andreea Borcea:
Absolutely, and are you seeing a lot more startups coming into the health tech industry? And so same sort of thing, right? With all these new startups coming in, how do you know which one is going to be the one that has the right solution in the long run?

Rhonda Blaschke:
Yeah, there's a lot of startups right now and I think it's a great thing. I think it's disruptive, and I think it's pushing the organizations to do better, from a technology perspective as well as from a healthcare perspective. I always think it's interesting, I worked with EHR systems for a while selling solutions in and one of the things we found is that insurers have massive amounts of capabilities and functionality, but sometimes organizations are only using a portion of it. And then what you see is purchasing happening where they're buying additional technology that they think they need, but maybe there's actually that capability within their organization. So you see also a lot of CIOs and IT resources looking at how they rationalize their portfolio of technology as well. What am I investing in, and can it meet more than one need? But that's where I think the amazing things are coming in from a technology perspective because it's pushing the boundaries, it's making us think differently, it's keeping up with our consumer mindset and our instantaneous need. We as consumers now are very used to being able to going online, finding something, ordering it right away, that doesn't really change in healthcare. You want to be able to find an appointment. And I know for me, even I've looked at doctors and I'm like, I don't want to wait three weeks for an appointment, I'll find another one in the network. I mean, it's kind of like, and unless you have built that relationship with your physician, people are prone to look for the most immediate need, and how do they solve for it?

Andreea Borcea:
Yeah, I can definitely see that. It still blows my mind when I was asked to fax something to a doctor's office, and I don't know how to fax. I guess there's an iPhone app for it, and I'll fax from that, does that work?

Rhonda Blaschke:
And it's funny you say that because like I go into the doctor's office, I'm like, why am I having to fill out all these forms? Can't I just go online and fill this out one time and say, yeah, nothing's changed? So I think there is still definitely some digitalization that needs to happen in healthcare.

Andreea Borcea:
Absolutely, so do you have like a favorite campaign or launch that you've done in your career that you're just like, look back really fondly on?

Rhonda Blaschke:
Yeah, you know, I'm very proud of some of the work that I did recently with moving on-prem solutions to cloud and the way that we really took just a couple of customers and started breaking into thought leadership and how do we use those as thought leaders to really give momentum and drive momentum? And with that, we actually saw a huge growth in our pipeline. We ended up being able to drive over 200% increase in our MQLs and our leads, and I think a lot of it just had to do with building the momentum. I will say the one thing, though, that it is interesting is going back to that instantaneous thing. Marketing takes time, especially when you're going in with new solutions and really trying to differentiate yourself. And it took us about a year to reach some of those, but I think we just stuck to it. We knew where we were needed to go, we started really thinking about it. I'm very proud of the team that worked on it and how we came together across all parts of the organization to drive that momentum into the market.

Andreea Borcea:
That's really incredible. I feel like a lot of the fear, correct me if I'm wrong, is that, well, the data is not going to be safe if it's in the cloud, everything has to stay on-prem, right? You're like, I just I don't know about that, right? And how did you overcome that?

Rhonda Blaschke:
You know that is a great question, and I think cybersecurity and healthcare is a massive issue that everybody's trying to address. Healthcare data is, I think, one of the top, if I remember correctly, it's one of the top pieces of data that people are trying to steal, and so it's a very, very high or high-risk cybersecurity. And I think what's interesting is that when you really start looking at cloud technology, you start realizing that it avoids having to keep a lot of your systems up to date. And when you really look at the technology itself and how it's secure, Google has a great video out there of how their data centers are secure, and literally, there's few people that have access even into the data center. But it's a really fascinating way in which you have to educate people, healthcare in particular, about how you're actually more secure when you move your solutions to the cloud. And there's a lot of different reasons for that, Andreea, but one of the main ones is that, again, you have so many systems to maintain in the healthcare space and the resources and skill set to do it, I mean, it's hard to keep that type of stuff. A CIO I worked with recently, he said, I'm not in the business to maintain data centers, I'm in the business of delivering healthcare. Now, he was a very progressive CIO, he was also a physician by trade. So I think when you have those resources in healthcare systems that are very physician-focused as well as technology-focused, they begin to see that that's distracting away from their ultimate mission, and they'll also see that they don't have the resources to maintain it. They are the ones that I think are their first movers and the innovators on how do you actually get into different ways of using technology to again focus on healthcare delivery, not on the technology.

Andreea Borcea:
Yeah, that's really powerful because you're right. I mean, if every single hospital had to run a data center, that's a huge cost to have that team and that expertise, and what if you can't find that expertise when you're in the middle of nowhere in Missouri or something, right? Like it's just not possible.

Rhonda Blaschke:
Yeah.

Andreea Borcea:
That's so powerful, that's so cool. So what advice would you give if somebody was trying to get into healthcare marketing starting today? What should they really focus on to be able to make an impact and gain that trust you need for healthcare marketing?

Rhonda Blaschke:
You know, I think the biggest thing is just, become a very big partner with your sales organization, with your product management team, your R&D team. If there's anybody that's in customer experience or your customer success or really partner across the organization and listen and learn and go out in the field. I think that one of the best things a marketer can do is to go out in the field with a salesperson and actually hear them speak to customers for several times because what you're learning is the actual voice of the customer, and you're not hearing it just third party, you can actually see and feel and touch, so to speak, the customer voice directly, and hearing that story is so powerful in order for us to create the stories of what the needs are and how you drive value into those. So my advice would be if you're starting in marketing see and ask if you can go out or just listen in on a conference call. Be a fly on the wall with a salesperson with a couple of customers, and don't just do it once. You know, it goes back to kind of our conversation of how do you keep in touch with your personas? You keep in touch because you keep in touch with your field. You have to know what the customers are saying to your sales team in order to really understand the needs. And then the other thing is, be a learner, constantly learn. Keep up with different publications and events and organizations and just consume things. Set aside some time every single day to read some of the highlights and delve into an article or two. Continuing, just learning is my biggest thing with marketing.

Andreea Borcea:
Oh, absolutely. Especially with how quickly things are changing.

Rhonda Blaschke:
Oh, yeah!

Andreea Borcea:
I would totally agree with that. Yeah, one of my secret weapons for most of my marketing career has been talking to customer support because they actually hear directly from customers rather than what executives think is happening, right, with their customers. It's an actual ear to the ground.

Rhonda Blaschke:
Well, yeah. And I mean, when so many customers are now moving to SAS models and into cloud solutions, the customer voice is huge because they want, again, that instantaneous. They want to have their voice heard. And I think that's one of the things I loved about my career is, having worked on betas, being in the field with the customers, with the sales team, with the development team, and understanding how to put all those pieces together and create a solution is by far one of the things that I think I can say I've most learned from, and I think it's made me a better marketing person today.

Andreea Borcea:
I love that. I love that. Well, Rhonda, I really want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. This has been super fun.

Rhonda Blaschke:
Yeah, I'm so glad to be here and thank you so much for inviting me.

Andreea Borcea:
Thanks, everyone, for listening to this episode of Marketing Mondays. We're back every single Monday with a great new episode talking to healthcare marketing experts in the field. We'll talk about the ups and downs, the challenges, the unique intricacies of marketing, specifically in the healthcare industry. Thanks for joining, make sure to check us out on Outcomes Rocket on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and everywhere you listen to your podcasts. Also, visit DiaCreative.com for any of your marketing needs. Thanks again.

Andreea Borcea:
Thanks again for listening to Marketing Mondays. If you have any marketing questions at all, feel free to reach out to me directly at DiaCreative.com. That's D I A Creative.com.

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Summary:

Make sure you understand who your customers are.

Welcome to the Marketing Mondays Podcast! In this episode, Rhonda Blaschke, a healthcare marketing leader, talks about personas, technology, and innovation all around healthcare marketing. She discusses different areas that contribute to taking the right idea at the right time into the hands of the right persona. Rhonda speaks on healthcare subjects like building trust with providers and administrators, building personas, digitalization, cybersecurity, and data interoperability. Additionally, she advises those starting in healthcare marketing, telling them to go out in the field and listen to customers’ needs.

Tune in to this episode to listen about healthcare marketing and its potential!

About Rhonda Blaschke:

Rhonda Blaschke is a dynamic healthcare marketing leader with extensive industry knowledge, business development expertise, and a successful track record in services, sales support, customer relationship management, and segment and growth marketing. As a strategic leader with exceptional interpersonal, communication, and critical thinking skills, she excels at cultivating long-term collaborative relationships internally and externally across all levels of an organization. She is a highly-skilled presenter and facilitator, including marketing strategy and GTM planning, sales presentations, group discussions, user acceptance sessions, and cross-functional service and impact-analysis working sessions. She is an optimistic professional passionate about empowering and motivating team members to create innovative solutions and strategies focused on delivering measurable outcomes to drive business growth. Her extensive experience evaluating customer environments and challenges helps cultivate partnerships and develop marketing materials focused on helping drive results and solve customer challenges. She is a self-motivated individual with a passion for driving customer success and building teams that are strategic partners across matrixed teams to drive growth and enhance organizational successes.

Source

Things You’ll Learn:

  • In healthcare marketing, the buyers are not a single person.
  • Patients want access to their healthcare not only for themselves but for those they have to provide care for.
  • Healthcare data is one of the top pieces of data that people are trying to steal.
  • Consumer-driven tendencies and strategies are increasing in healthcare.
  • You have to know what the customers are saying to your sales team to really understand the needs.

Resources:

  • Connect and follow Rhonda Blaschke on LinkedIn.
  • Visit the Día Creative Website for solutions to any of your marketing needs.

Title Options:

  • Upgrading Healthcare Marketing
  • Healthcare Marketing Tips
  • Personas and Other Healthcare Marketing Keys
  • Keys to Healthcare Marketing

LinkedIn Post

Make sure you understand who your customers are!

Welcome to the Marketing Mondays Podcast! In this episode, Rhonda Blaschke, a healthcare marketing leader, talks about personas, technology, and innovation in healthcare marketing. Rhonda speaks on healthcare subjects like building trust with providers and administrators, building personas, digitalization, cybersecurity, and data interoperability.

Tune in to this episode to listen about healthcare marketing and its potential here: (add link)