Digital Selling is a Healthy Investment for Healthcare Companies

With less access to doctors, digital selling is the only choice. That leads to smarter strategies.


How the Digital Transformation of Sales Could Go Too Far

There are real and costly risks to an overly digitized sales process.

There have been hidden human costs in our drive towards efficiency and productivity using technology. As we approach the post-pandemic period, when businesses will decide which practices to continue and which to wind down, I foresee a rush to digitally transform B2B sales too quickly as harmful to human connections that build trust and long-lasting relationships.

The Cost of Efficiency

When I managed social media at a big bank in the early days of this technology disruption, I needed to understand and exploit its value for financial services. While looking back at the history of technology disruptions in banking, I found a pattern of automation in which to gain efficiencies the industry slowly chipped away at personal connections with their customers. Starting with telebanking, we at least had someone to talk to from home without driving to a branch, automation grew less personal.  ATMs gave customers quick access to basic banking functions, such as making a deposit or cash withdrawal. This culminated in smartphone apps, where many banking functions were accessible from the phone in our pocket.  Each step separated customers further from banks, slowly eroding personal relationships.  Luckily, as a “people-powered” digital platform, social media could address the trust gap.

It’s incredible how wide the gap between customers and businesses has grown.  Here’s an example, as told in Wells Fargo’s blog. After the 1906 San Francisco Great Earthquake and Fire, most of Wells Fargo’s ledgers were in a vault that survived the quake and fires but couldn’t be opened for weeks without exploding. To help the devastated city recover, the bank’s tellers relied on memory and personal relationships to get their customers the cash they needed to survive, let alone start to rebuild. These tellers knew their customers well and were able to disperse money based on their recollections of customer balances and creditworthiness. After recording these transactions in school children’s composition books, they found that these transactions were squared within a few dollars after the bank ledgers were finally retrieved weeks later.

When the financial crisis hit in 2008, many banks that were already established in social media had built trust and better weathered the brand damage that other institutions suffered throughout the industry. They’d built social capital with their customers, which was much needed in the aftermath of the crisis.  While financial services have modernized and scaled through efficiencies that have harmed human connection, the financial services blogs rebuilt trust through stories employees told of how they’d helped their customers succeed and reduced the fear that was palpable then by recounting how the bank had helped their customers survive previous economic catastrophes, thus swinging the pendulum back a bit towards trusted relationships.

As we rush towards the digital transformation of sales, let’s not let the pendulum swing too far. Consider the shift post-pandemic in manufacturing from “just in time” to “just in case” supply chains and our collective desire to emerge from isolation with live events and shopping. We’re wired and ready to connect.

The Right Use of Sales Technology

Sales and customer success teams maintain relationships that can only be built and preserved by people over time. This is particularly true when buying expensive enterprise business products or services.

While conducting research for this year’s upcoming digital selling report, I’ve found a number of approaches that dial back automation in favor of genuine relationship-building.

For example, video meetings exploded during the pandemic as a way to continue face time with customers and prospects while in shut-down.  As more sales reps used video calls, we then saw growth in personalized videos sent via email.  As a consumer, this change was palpable and impactful.  Getting less, “Hi Ed, I thought you might like…” in an annoying automated email, I instead started receiving videos clearly meant for me. In one case, I received a personalized insurance briefing based on a request I’d made, which used my own and my husband’s name, presenting insurance plans that might be best for us and ending with a simple call to action (which I took, I’m now a customer of this broker).

Personalized video messages are a great example of how tech can be used not only to scale but also to build trust in essential long-term relationships.

Maintaining Relationships Post-Pandemic

Sales and customer success team managers know which of their team members have relationships that have grown the bottom line.  These reps need to be supported by digital, but not necessarily by building deep digital skills. A salesperson is much better at reading a customer’s body language, gestures, and so on than any AI I know of.  A data analyst is better at connecting data points to draw valuable insights than most sales reps. We need both of these skills, and that won’t change with the digital transformation of sales in front of us.

“Personalized video messages are a great example of how tech can be used not only to scale but also to build trust in essential long-term relationships.”

To scale and meet the demands of digitally savvy customers, many brands I’ve spoken to have told me that their return on investment in customer experience is diminishing—perhaps a sign that consumers are on to overly automated engagement.  In response, they’re investing in more personable tactics.


B2B businesses I’ve interviewed have built a virtuous circle by leveraging their customers’ digital reach to advocate for them once a trusted relationship is established.  One company I spoke to told me how during shut down, when most communication went digital, they discovered that they didn’t have the permissions needed to reach out on some digital platforms, like email. So, they built customer advisory boards to listen to feedback and build better products, which in turn were amplified by those customers in digital, such as sharing company content with colleagues. Valuable human connections with customers can build a businesses’ reach in digital.

The best digital transformation of selling strategy is one that invests in the digital domain but focuses on bettering the human domain. Tricky, but as the pandemic has demonstrated a realistic and achievable goal.


Four Traits of Top-Performing B2B Digital Sellers

Understand the mindset and strategies of the most successful brands. Hint: Teamwork makes all the difference.


Improve Your Digital Content Strategy: 3 Learnings for European Companies

Our new research shows firms benefit from tech that automates, personalizes and localizes content strategy.

Companies are well aware that quality content — engaging, personalized and distributed at scale — is an essential part of modern marketing. Whether it’s using light-hearted memes or in-depth reports, an agile content strategy builds relevance and brand awareness while also establishing companies as thought leaders in their industries.

Though businesses worldwide are developing increasingly sophisticated content strategies to generate leads, demand and revenue, our latest research – surveying 484 executives across the U.S. Europe and China – uncovered some powerful focus areas for companies, specifically in Europe, to hit those goals. Here, we outline the three digital content imperatives European companies should be actioning against now:

1. Optimize Your Organizational Structure

A slight majority — just over 50% — of all European companies in our research use a centralized creative team, which manages content across departments and geographies. That’s not surprising, since for many years, that’s been the go-to model.

In the past, there were good reasons to consolidate content production with a central creative team. This internal agency model allowed for better governance, more consistent quality and a quicker production time. As businesses became more digital, they moved away from creating awareness through brand-centric content and focused more on mid-funnel content, such as thought leadership or buying guides. These factors were instrumental in companies shifting content production away from external agencies.

But this model is only sustainable up to a point and as many companies transform for the digital age, conditions are rapidly changing. Badly judged centralization can constrain the ability to tailor content locally and add significant differentiated value. Our research showed that German companies are most likely to rely on a centralized approach, at 60 percent. That compares to 53% in the U.S. and 44% in China. The European companies we spoke to said that aligning multiple teams around a unified content strategy is their biggest challenge, at 27%, this compares to 23% in the U.S. and 15% in China.

A better way: Increasingly, more companies — and 32% of our global sample — have moved beyond centralization, setting up additional content-producing centers. Typically, they still have a central creative team, which sets much of the overall content strategy. This team creates and enforces editorial guidelines for quality and owns the visual and verbal identity for consistency. It can also hold the technology and provide training for data-based content creation and the measuring of content success.

The work with our clients in Europe has shown how helpful this organizational structure can be in meeting the unique content demands of different business units and geographies. It’s vital in European markets, which often face other regulatory guidelines.

2. Embrace Tech and Data to Create, Personalize and Measure Content

The biggest challenge for today’s content producers is to consistently produce personalized content at a large scale — and do it in a way that increases revenue. To do this, companies need more than the right content. They need to deliver it to the right person, at the right time and in the right channel – and that requires using more data and automation.

Yet companies in Europe are most likely to say that their solution is simply to hire more content creators, at 24%, compared to 18% in the U.S. and 13% in China. Producing content at scale isn’t something that can be solved by simply adding more employees.

“An agile content strategy builds relevance and brand awareness while also establishing companies as thought leaders in their industries.”

Only 11% of European respondents say they use AI to create and deliver personalized content at a large scale, based on AI-driven customer segments and analytics. That compares with 22% of those in the U.S. and 25% in China. (Germany presents the most extreme example of this at two percent, versus 10% in the U.K.)

And just 10% say they rely on AI-driven analysis of demographic, behavioral and psychographic data, enhanced with third-party data to create customer segments. That compares to 19% in the U.S. and 35% in China.

European companies are also noticeably more conservative about most uses of consumer data, citing more concerns about privacy than those in other regions. And for good reason, as data privacy legislation in Europe is more stringent than it is in the U.S. or China.

A better way: Our research shows that the best approach is investing in an innovative set of practices that make up an agile content system. These systems:

  • Use data to inform content creation
  • Produce content in modules for approval and recombination
  • Centralize and automate content storage
  • Upload a standard design system
  • Measure content effectiveness beyond awareness and engagement

European companies need to push harder to create clear guidelines on how data is used. What is acceptable, and why? What are the guidelines for content aimed at consumers versus B2B efforts? These conversations are increasingly important as companies face a cookie-less future.

3. Tune Campaigns for Different Regions

European countries have long understood that regional differences are significant and strategies that resonate in Portugal might be a total failure in Finland. But in a world of digitally-driven content and AI that can be finely tuned for each market, those differences are not what they used to be. And they can often become excuses for inconsistencies that limit the effectiveness of a content strategy.

These disparities can also be seen in channel effectiveness, with European countries less likely to say their audience engages with them on critical social-media channels. Just 37% of European companies say Facebook provides their highest engagement rate, compared to 55% of those in the U.S. Also, only 15% cite LinkedIn as their most effective, compared to 20% in the U.S. (Interestingly, more European companies say Instagram is their best source for engagement, at 31%, compared to 22% in the U.S.)

Companies in Europe are more likely to use reach as the primary metric of effectiveness than the more advanced engagement metrics used in the U.S. and China. But, companies in Germany (36%) and Spain (34%) are more likely to lock those metrics away in silos specific to individual channels.

A better way: In developing a company-wide digital content strategy, investigate differing standards and requirements in each geography. What changes can be made for greater consistencies within markets, especially regarding automation and success metrics?


European companies are well-aware of the importance of content in their overall business strategy, but to stay relevant and keep up with fast-moving digital audiences, it’s no longer enough to produce quality content. Content must be personalized, engaging and delivered at scale.

Our research shows that European companies have essential steps to take against some important measures, but by optimizing organizational structure, leveraging tech and digital data to create personalized content for varying consumer and regional segments, they will reap the full benefits of an effective and strategic approach to digital content. Watch those leads come in, that demand increase and that revenue rocket.

Prophet can assess your content strategy and help find alignment across business units and geographies. For more on how to scale your content, drive efficiency and maximize growth, contact our Marketing & Sales practice today.


Three Ways Financial Services Companies Can Help Advisors Win in the Meme-Stock Age

Who cares if it’s trendy? Meeting digitally-driven new investors in their favorite channels can help brands win fans.

Some people – including the co-founder of Reddit – say that the tsunami of new investors snapping up shares of GameStop, Clover Health and AMC amounts to a “bottom-up revolution.”

Maybe. We certainly agree that the meme-stock movement, the viral stock surge of GameStop, AMC, and others in the first part of 2021, means new and old types of consumers are looking for financial advice in new places.  The pandemic-induced shift to virtual interactions made consumers open to new channels for receiving advice. As we look beyond the pandemic, and advisors need to find ways to establish credibility and win trust.

These digitally-driven customers represent enormous growth possibilities if served in the right way. For companies and advisors, this requires agility in responding to market changes and commitment to cohesive omnichannel experiences, especially when it comes to onboarding clients.

Companies that don’t adapt fast enough or don’t support their financial advisors with the right tools are pushed out of consideration. A recent study of more than 250 financial planners finds that 77% of advisors have lost business because they did not have the right technology to interact with customers. In fact, these advisors reported losing an average of 20% of book value as a result.

Redefining Target Markets

First, it’s time to ditch the negative “Reddit bro” and “FinTok” stereotypes. Yes, there’s plenty of over-the-top gambling going on in social media and some genuinely terrible investing advice. However meme-stock investors aren’t just young kids investing pizza money. In fact, meme-stock investors represented a major slice of America. A Yahoo Finance-Harris Poll found that in January 2021 – the height of the GameStop saga – 28% of American adults had purchased shares of viral stock that month. Nearly half of those people invested more than $250 and almost 17% were more than 45 years old.

But even before that, we saw massive increases in the demand for digital financial advice. The pandemic served as a financial reset for many, and consumers began reaching out to advisors with greater urgency. One study found that 67% of people said the pandemic had been a wake-up call for them to examine their finances.

“A recent study of more than 250 financial planners finds that 77% of advisors have lost business because they did not have the right technology to interact with customers.”

Another study from  Nationwide Financial, which surveyed more than 2,000 people, found that by the first week in April of 2020, 24% said the pandemic had ­caused them to contact a financial adviser for the first time. It also reported that 80% of respondents felt they had lost control of their ability to manage their investments and finances.

Fast forward eight months to the GameStop frenzy. “How to invest in stocks” surged in Google search rankings, proving how quickly people moved from feeling helpless to digital derring-do. These people, who are adults, want answers, with 73% of viral-stock investors saying they have researched the U.S. financial system and 20% consulting a financial advisor before buying.

“Since then, some advisors and firms proactively publish content with a clear point-of-view on how to navigate meme-stock fluctuations. They adjust their content strategy to anticipate the flood of customer questions and to educate and prevent hasty decisions.

The best of both fintech and legacy companies are stepping up their tech investments. They understand the elevated consumer demands for frequency and channel of advisor interactions. Facet Wealth, for instance, makes its sign-up process straightforward. Once a prospect becomes a client, the dashboard makes it easy for them to engage with their finances from one place and schedule an appointment with their advisor.

It’s smart since 53% of millennials and 29% of baby boomers say they would switch advisors if they can’t use satisfactory technology.

Three Ways Financial Services Brands Can Gain Relevance in the Meme Stock Era

  1. Survey financial advisors to understand what support they need to proactively initiate conversations about topics like viral stock options and to explore different channels by which to interact with customers.
  2. Create a market sensing function to respond to market changes. And compile a centralized point-of-view on hot topics, offering a range of responses to support advisors.
  3. Incorporate a regular placeholder within the marketing content calendar for market commentary to proactively address market changes and reinforce brand credibility.


Firms that win in the market use digital-first thinking to create agile experiences and proactive communications. They’re stepping away from dated ideas about who invests and why. These innovators are working to establish trust and meet customers where they are right now. They’re striving to support remote customer-advisor relationships that meet and exceed technology table stakes. In doing so, they’re building trust and relevance in the era of digital-first finance.


Hill House Home: A Model for DTC Brands

This start-up’s fast moves, quick changes and hot drops offer lessons for much bigger brands.

Hill House Home (HHH) and its internet-famous Nap Dress have an impressive news presence for just a six-person company founded in 2016. So, how did the founder Nell Diamond generate so much publicity? The company has followed the right strategy playbook to leverage organic content from a community of loyal customers to spark demand for the brand.

Context is Key

Some companies found accidental success during the pandemic, while others capitalized on the new opportunities. Hill House Home did both. Though the brand launched the Nap Dresses in 2019 and trademarked the name in January 2020, the cutesy name became a masterstroke of branding when the divisions between work and home were erased. Rather than relying on the good fortune of newfound popularity, the brand doubled down on the production of dresses and embraced its new reputation as an apparel, not linen company, and it worked. The five-year-old brand had 275% growth in 2020, with the Nap Dress category increasing 1120%. The lesson here is in order for brands to stay relentlessly relevant, they need to capitalize on the quickly changing world around us.

Unafraid to Refocus 

Hill House Home started with bed linens as its primary product offering, but the founder always had a bigger vision for the company beyond bed sheets. When the Nap Dress quickly outpaced other categories, Diamond wasn’t afraid to lean into the organic PR customers enabled and spurred even more product demand. Although Diamond is quick to point out that all categories experienced triple-digit growth during the pandemic, the Nap Dress category quickly outpaced all others. It was so popular, likely due to its ruched design, that flatters many body types and professional yet comfortable look, perfect for working from home. HHH allowed the customer voice to guide which products sat at the forefront of the brand. Other DTC companies can learn from HHH’s example and avoid becoming too attached to their product vision to accelerate growth in products that show the most potential.

Drop It Like It’s Hot 

The other half of the production equation that has worked well for HHH is selling products using the “drop” model — an industry practice that goes against the usual model of releasing products on a rigid calendar 4-6 times a year. The brand produces limited runs of its products and drops them at random times throughout the year. This creates buzz and excitement more reminiscent of a streetwear brand than a Victorian-style dress brand. Online, women talk about their Nap Dresses the same way sneakerheads do about the latest Air Jordans.

“The cutesy name became a masterstroke of branding when the divisions between work and home were erased.”

Diamond’s vision from the start was to create luxury products at a non-luxury price point, and her production timeline helps boost the brand’s luxury feel. Although the dresses are not made of luxury materials, simply pulling the strings of supply and demand creates an exclusive aura. Other DTC brands similarly can capitalize on the scarcity effect, making limited edition products that are automatically associated with exclusivity.

Content is King

Hill House Home knows that sharing beautiful marketing images and user-generated content naturally gets people talking. The brand maintains an active blog filled with stories from the founder and has more than 100k followers on Instagram. The company shares a mix of photos with of-the-moment influencers, UGC and non-product photos that come together so seamlessly that it becomes difficult to tell which photos were taken by the company and which by its fans. The best CEOs know that loyal customers are their best marketers, and that content and community can fuel each other, generating more and more excitement around the brand.

The brand vision is aspirational and authentic. HHH describes itself as a “lifestyle brand that brings beauty and joy to everyday rituals” which it delivers through high-quality accoutrements such as sheets and bathrobes. Although customers may not attend an outdoor picnic complete with china and tea sandwiches, as many photos suggest, a customer may realistically wear a Nap Dress on a walk outside with friends. All of this is a credit to Nell Diamond’s strong conviction in her own personal aesthetic. The product line and color offerings are tightly curated and adhere to the brand’s ultra-feminine image. It would have been easy to create a Nap Dress in every color and try to appeal to everybody, but Diamond stuck to one unified creative vision.


Hill House Home is a model for any DTC brand looking to create the right mix of content, commerce, and community. Here are the four key takeaways for other DTC brands:

  • Content: Recruit customers to market your product for you and allow them to feel part of the brand by championing their content
  • Commerce: Adapt when necessary and let your customer guide you instead of trying to guide your customer
  • Community: Create buzz around product launches through innovative production models and the scarcity effect,
  • Purpose: No brand can be relentlessly relevant without having a strong sense of their own brand vision and purpose

Prophet helps companies establish a DTC business mindset and approach for customer-centric, performance-based growth activities, fostering direct consumer relationships to achieve the benefits that unfold. Prophet also helps digitally native companies reach next-level growth in brand and consumer engagement, with a focus on profitability and long-term sustainability.

Let’s chat how your brand can reach and engage potential customers directly to maximize growth.


Will Your Organization Be Left Behind as Consumer Healthcare Transforms?

Offer more value, and be willing to meet your customers in the messy middle.

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has changed the way consumers interact with healthcare. We see it in the proliferation of virtual care across the care continuum, from acute to chronic, episodic and now primary and preventive care. We see it in the embrace of new digital devices and programs designed to monitor chronic conditions at home. And we see it in the uptake of digital pharmacy services that promise ever-faster delivery times and simple, easier, prescription transfers. These shifting consumer need states are forcing companies to action.

Those that will win with consumers in the post-pandemic age are the ones that will accelerate innovation as they reimagine their business models – integrating and re-configuring assets around emergent consumer use cases.

Here are three healthcare business design imperatives for making markets and capturing post-pandemic value through big, bold and transformative moves:

1) Trade the value chain for value exchange

The old news? Payers, providers, pharmaceuticals and MedTech companies once controlled discrete pieces of the value chain. Today, they are operating as collaborators and competitors alongside one another – with non-healthcare entrants (financial services and technology companies) also looking for a piece of the pie.

The new news? “Who does what” doesn’t matter to consumers, instead they value the promise of an integrated approach to health. Whether you build, buy or partner, leaning into the discomfort of superseding the value chain can lead to transformative, new offers. Teladoc Health is a great example of a company that bet big on the idea that virtual primary care is here to stay. It built the Primary360 platform as an entryway to take advantage of its unique portfolio of assets from acute and episodic care (Teladoc Health) to chronic care (Livongo), behavioral health (BetterHelp), and more.

Alternatively, a company that took the partnership route is Cigna. They joined forces with Oscar Health to create an integrated, easily navigable approach to health plans for small businesses. By bringing together Cigna’s provider network and Oscar’s technology platform, they’ve created a relevant solution for the small business population that meets their needs.

2) Meet consumers in the messy middle

If transcending historical value chains is one way to play, another is to exploit the current outages in the value chain and become the middleware that bridges a care gap. Emerging care gaps could include areas like post-acute care, kidney care, pre-and post-Cancer treatment, and health conditions at the intersection of health and wellness (e.g. sleep, behavioral health).

Take recently acquired startup PatientPing, which focuses on the post-acute care space. Through its technology platform, the company can coordinate care by “pinging” healthcare providers when their patients are treated at other facilities. For instance, a provider could be notified in real-time when a patient is transferred from a nursing home to another outpatient setting. Now, with its acquisition by Appriss Health, close to 1 million healthcare professionals across all 50 states can be connected across care settings.

“Those that will win with consumers in the post-pandemic age are the ones that will accelerate innovation as they reimagine their business models.”

In another direction, Alula Health is a startup tackling the “messy middle” of the physical, emotional and financial changes involved with a cancer diagnosis and treatment process. Alula’s platform focuses on patients and their caregivers. They provide organizational tools such as spreadsheets and calendars to ease treatment coordination and a curated list of cancer-specific shopping items (e.g. post-surgery bras and robes with extra room for prostheses or drain management, “Travel to Treatment” bundles with pill organizers, sickness bags, sanitizing wipes, and face masks).

A final example is Talkspace, a platform aimed to make behavioral therapy more accessible. In a world where the dominant method of therapy was administered through expensive 1:1 sessions, Talkspace broke the prevailing mode of thinking and dispensed therapy through bite-sized, text-based interactions – a new modality for meeting the needs of those struggling with mental health challenges discreetly and without confining therapy to a set date/time. In doing so, they normalized therapy for a whole new, addressable market and have since expanded to partner with employers to offer its service as part of workplace benefits.

3) If it doesn’t have their name written on it, it’s not for them

The third hack for making markets through transformation is to address the unmet needs of unique consumer populations. Traditional provider-driven healthcare focuses on triage to identify a treatment path for every patient. But flipping this approach on its head allows for a deeper level of focus, prioritizing time, resources and expenses to solve the needs of one population group more effectively than a general solution.

Segment-specific opportunities are everywhere and can include:

  1. Those with a stigmatized condition
  2. An underserved population with unique needs
  3. An overly generalized population.

A good example of the first opportunity is Ro, self-styled as “the patient company”. Ro started by providing telemedicine and prescriptions for erectile dysfunction via its Roman brand, but gradually expanded to include other medical challenges like smoking cessation (via zero) and weight management (via Plenity). With the technology infrastructure, brand architecture and consumer base established, the company can pursue additional disease states with room for growth.

An example of the second segment-specific opportunity is Included Health, newly acquired by telemedicine provider Grand Rounds / Doctor on Demand. Included Health focuses on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community, who have all too often faced challenges finding culturally competent and affirming providers. The company works with employers to provide benefits to individuals that help them connect to physical care providers, mental care providers, community support and gender-affirming care.

The third-dimension type of play is to identify an overly generalized population – and the field of women’s health is a great example. While some companies have developed “female” healthcare brands, women have different needs by life stage. The spectrum of startups in today’s women’s health space demonstrates different focus areas such as reproductive/sexual health, pregnancy and postpartum, as well as menopause. Within each focus area, individual companies target specific challenges. For example within the category of reproductive/ sexual health, some companies focus on areas such as fertility (Modern Fertility, recently acquired by Ro), cycle tracking (Glow), birth control (Nurx) and more.


The pandemic has created new and exciting consumer use cases. Uncommon growth will only be captured through transformative moves that reconfigure assets and ecosystems. To capture this growth, companies can deploy one or more of the three design imperatives.  Incrementalism is a direct path to low growth and missed opportunities,  and capturing uncommon growth will require high-conviction leaders, cultural resilience and organizational agility. To help companies forge a path to uncommon growth, Prophet approaches each organization as though it were an individual – with a unique DNA, Body, Mind, and Soul.

Contact us to learn more about our proprietary Human-Centered Transformation Model and how we can deliver uncommon growth for your business.


Transforming Healthcare: The State of Digital Marketing and Selling in Life Sciences

Leaders in healthcare need to embrace a marketing and sales strategy that is digital and collaborative.

The pandemic accelerated the integration between marketing and sales – and it’s never going back to the way it was. Leaders in healthcare and life sciences will need to embrace a marketing and sales strategy that is both digital and collaborative to reach business goals. The reality is that if organizations fail to transform their go-to-market approach they will be at risk of losing customers.

Transforming Healthcare: The State of Digital Marketing & Selling in Life Sciences identifies and quantifies the salient trends and key practices used by top companies today. Based on data from Altimeter’s research for The 2020 State of Digital Marketing and The 2020 State of Digital Selling, this industry-specific report provides insights for healthcare and life sciences leaders looking to strengthen their marketing and sales functions and jumpstart a new era of uncommon growth.

Read this report to gain deeper insights on:

  • The top priorities of marketing and sales teams in healthcare and life sciences today
  • The biggest obstacles organizations are facing in terms of digital collaboration and performance
  • Marketing and sales leaders’ candid observations of what their teams are doing well – and how they need to do better
  • Four key recommendations for marketing and sales teams seeking significant performance gains

Download the full report below.

Download Transforming Healthcare: The State of Digital Marketing and Selling in Life Sciences

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Thank you for your interest in Prophet’s research!


Three Shifts in Content Strategy To Win Over Chinese Consumers

Our research finds that it’s time for companies to use content to build brands, not just increase transactions.

Content strategy has become increasingly important for brands to stay competitive in the ever-changing China market. As consumer expectations for relevant, branded content continue to climb, companies must regularly adapt internally to deliver on these needs.

In a recent report The 2021 State of Digital Content by Altimeter, a Prophet company, we surveyed 484 executives across the US, Europe (UK, Germany, Spain) and China, to understand how companies are shifting their strategies when it comes to content. Our study showed that Chinese companies, in particular, are taking a more proactive approach to winning with content.  73% percent of respondents indicated they’re focused on increasing output volume and scaling internal capabilities for better content production and processes.

Learn key insights and takeaways from the report, including how companies in China are redefining their approach to content strategy:

1. Beyond the Transaction: Building Brand Through Content

When it comes to measuring success, tangible revenue and lead generation are still important to marketers as an outcome of a successful content strategy. In China, 52% of companies mentioned transactional goals (e.g., lead generation, revenue increase, customer support) as the primary purpose of their content strategy. However, the shift towards a more brand-driven approach is increasingly apparent, with an almost equal number of companies (48%) responding with branding goals (e.g., brand awareness & sentiment, thought leadership) as the main driver.

Q: What is the primary goal for your content strategy?

Further driving the shift from short-term transactional goals to long-term brand building is the focus on engagement as a key metric of content performance. In our research, 49% of Chinese companies point to engagement metrics as the primary way to measure the success and effectiveness of a piece of content.

“The focus on engagement as a key metric of content performance.”

In China, e-commerce platforms, such as Alibaba’s Taobao, are recognizing the role that content plays as a vehicle for customer engagement. Taobao is rapidly building out the necessary tools to support both sellers and key opinion leaders (KOLs) in managing sales, content and customer/ fan engagement. In an interview with SCMP, Yu Feng, Alibaba’s vice-president who oversees Taobao’s content e-commerce noted: “We [are dedicated to] driving unique value propositions for long-term engagement and business opportunities for the ecosystem.”

2. Scaling Up: Delivering Data-Driven Personalization

When asked about content strategy priorities for the next 12 months, using data to create better, more personalized content tops the list for Chinese companies.

Q: Which of the following initiatives are your top priorities in the next 12 months?

And they are quickly scaling up their internal capabilities to meet these goals. As many as 68% of companies surveyed are already using centralized data systems (e.g., CRM) to help create customer segment-specific content rather than relying on disconnected data sources (versus 42% in the rest of the world).

Q: What sources of data do you use to create personalized/customized content?

To define these customer segments, 36% are leveraging AI-powered analysis of demographic, behavioral and psychographic data (versus 15% in the rest of the world). This data-driven customer segmentation allows brands to effectively create relevant, customized content for their consumers and adapt to changing trends based on continual data collection and analysis.

Q: How are you creating segments for customizing/personalizing content?

So-Young (新氧), a leading digital player in the booming medical cosmetology industry, shows how Chinese companies are building deep data capabilities to help power their content strategy. The app, which went public in 2019, acts as a platform for users to discover, evaluate and book plastic surgery and other medical cosmetic procedures online. It begins with an AI-powered “facial diagnosis,” the results of which lead to the user to recommended expert articles, blogger videos and reviews from other users. Based on the user’s in-app and purchasing behavior, the content is further refined and tailored, increasing customer engagement across the entire journey.

3. Breaking it Down: Leveraging Modular Content Management

Due to the hierarchical management style of most Chinese companies, coupled with their being in the earlier stages of content strategy development, content management is typically a centralized function.

79% of Chinese companies report managing content strategy within a single department or dedicated team that acts as the content owner across the organization (versus 60% in the rest of the world). To ensure quality and consistency across all elements of the brand, 74% utilize a central design system that includes visual and editorial guidelines (versus 52% in the rest of the world).

Q: Who is primarily responsible for your digital content strategy?

Nonetheless, this centralization and hierarchical model can hinder the speed at which content gets created. 59% of Chinese companies still share every piece of content with legal and compliance teams for approval.

Modular content management, however, is becoming more valued, as it allows brands to deliver content quickly across different channels and to different audiences. 30% of companies have adopted modular approval systems to break content into smaller pieces, increasing both efficiency and flexibility.

Q: How would you describe your current content approval process for compliance?

This modular content management is critical as the proliferation of Chinese content platforms is at an all-time high, with brands needing to manage various content mediums (e.g., imagery, video, live stream, user-generated) across a growing number of social media and e-commerce touchpoints. A centralized but agile management system is critical to balancing consistency, relevance and speed across content platforms.


Many Chinese brands are well aware of the critical role content plays in their overall business strategy. To compete effectively and win with content, we’re seeing companies in China double down in three key areas:

First, they are making the shift from treating content as a short-term lead and revenue generator to investing in content as a means to longer-term brand building. This means tracking how customers are engaging with content, beyond just conversion metrics.

Next, businesses in China realize that a one-size-fits-all approach to content is no longer sufficient. To meet growing customer demands for relevant content, they are building internal capabilities that can leverage digital data to create personalized content for their varying customer segments.

Lastly, to ensure that there is a cohesive content strategy across the business, Chinese companies are centralizing content management as a function. However, they are also developing agile processes such as modular content management in order to respond swiftly to fast-changing market trends and evolving consumer needs.

Download the full report for more details about the 2021 State of Digital Content.

Want to learn how to develop a winning content strategy? Get in touch today.


Webinar Replay: B2B Leaders Series feat. Randstad & Boston Medical Center

B2B leaders discuss the challenges of building the right culture and systems for digital transformation.

59 min

Watch the webinar replay in which you’ll learn about the challenges that B2B organizations face in undertaking transformation on a large scale and how they address them. The discussion features Rene Steenvoorden, Chief Digital Officer, Randstad, Heather Thiltgen, President, Boston Medical Center/WellSence Health Plan, and Fred Geyer, Senior Partner at Prophet, who were interviewed by Joerg Niessing, Senior Affiliate Marketing Professor at INSEAD.

Two of the participants, Fred Geyer and Joerg Niessing, co-authored ‘The Definitive Guide to B2B Digital Transformation’. Get your copy of the book here.

If you have any questions or would like to learn how our Marketing & Sales practice helps clients identify a clearer path to a digital transformation that powers growth with real and measurable results, contact us today.


To Transform Digital Selling, Must Sales & Marketing Converge?

Despite historical differences, sales and marketing teams now see that more collaboration equals more revenue.

In our 2020 State of Digital Selling global research report, we found a consistent theme: the more in sync sales and marketing was, the better the outcome for sales, in terms of revenue, customer satisfaction and other metrics. That, and the tremendous growth of executives managing both functions—LinkedIn has identified the Chief Revenue Officer as the fastest-growing C-Suite role—has led to an emphasis on studying this convergence as part of my research on the digital transformation of sales. In this post, I’ll look at the impact of this convergence, which was discussed in my recent webinar with our research director, Omar Akhtar.

Convergence or Collaboration?

Convergence of sales and marketing today is embodied by the rise of new C-suite leaders, often with the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) title, who manage both sales and marketing—often with a new combined Revenue Operations team supporting both. What is the line between convergence and collaboration? It’s undoubtedly possible for these teams to align and collaborate so well that they could appear converged and achieve the same benefits. A question my research will answer this year is: what points of convergence or collaboration are required to digitally transform sales?

Clearly, the trend is in favor of convergence as shown by research indicating the CRO title is the fastest growing in the C-suite. What benefits are CEOs seeking with convergence?

An important benefit was a clear finding in my recent report which found the high performance of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Account-Based Selling (ABS). One factor we evaluated was the type of digital sales model employed, in terms of scale as measured by the size of the deal, lead time and level of collaboration employed. Our research found that high-touch, high-value, long lead-time sales that rely on a well-coordinated team and unique sales planning with marketing paid off well. Top performers (represented in the purple bars in the chart below) follow this model, and it was even the most frequent model among average performers as well (shown by the index in blue).

The benefits of collaboration are high. Consider the enormous investment marketing teams have made in technology, data, and skills development. Much of that investment can be leveraged by sales to digitize selling. By sharing the same data, enablement tools and customer experience platforms, costs can be reduced, and effectiveness increased, as near-real-time decisions can be used to nurture leads and provide the intelligence needed to up-sell, cross-sell and re-sell.

Barriers Are Deep-Rooted

Too many times, sellers and marketers don’t see eye-to-eye. In a recent conversation with a marketing leader, we discussed whether this is a left-brain/right-brain issue: marketers being more analytical and sales being more relationship and instinct-driven. Yes, these are broad generalizations, but they hold in my experience too. This impacts trust. Sales’ digital transformation will rely on new levels of trust among sales teams for the data and tools they use to navigate digital selling. This trust is lacking among the average digital seller, but high among top performers. For example, when we asked sellers if they trusted marketing’s data, 61% reported that they don’t—they want their own.

Perhaps the most fundamental challenge is misaligned priorities. In our recent 2020 State of Digital Marketing report, we found that marketing deprioritized sales-focused efforts, such as creating more sales qualified leads to buyers, supporting sales team productivity and growing e-commerce.

“An equal partnership in the form of an executive steering committee—or through CRO convergence—can address these barriers.”

Building trust is essential to sales’ transformation: if, as I believe, sales needs marketing’s help to digitally transform, we must tackle cultural mindsets and increase alignment focus. It may not be easy for sales leaders to accept marketing’s help given the risk of marketing dominating sales’ digital transformation, at the expense of what makes sales different from marketing. An equal partnership in the form of an executive steering committee—or through CRO convergence—can address these barriers.

What It Means & What You Can Do

The place to start is to look at the key touchpoints between sales and marketing that represent hand-offs, which tend to be problematic. The table below shows what I believe to be those key areas and the relative digital maturity of marketing and sales. As you can see, marketing and sales are complementary:

Planning. Much of planning integration is solved when sales and marketing collaborate through ABM/ABS. I’ve spoken with one large manufacturing business that plans GTM strategy holistically: team members from marketing, sales and service create a strategy through carefully structured workshops, spanning up to 5 days together working as a team. This not only ensures alignment, but time together can bridge cultural barriers.

Content. The content touchpoint includes selling assets, like playbooks, scripts and content that nurture leads to conversion. This area is most often led by marketing, but I continue to hear sales complain about the content they’re asked to share: it may not be easily personalized for the buyer, or the seller may not know how to position it for the prospect’s unique needs. Often training is the heart of the issue, but part of the root cause is a misalignment in strategy and insights. Sales need to be much more involved in content strategy and learn the tools necessary to use and measure content effectiveness.

Lead Management. Best next moves during lead nurturing are important in digital selling, because of the near real-time response that must be coordinated between sales and marketing. For example, after a lead downloads a white paper provided by marketing, what shared customer intelligence signals the best next step for sales? I’m also questioning whether lead management belongs in a digitally transformed sales organization that can do its own prospecting. As sales become increasingly comfortable with automation and data, the definition of a “marketing qualified lead” and “sales qualified lead” will surely evolve.

Data. My digital sales research has shown that top performers align performance metrics between sales and marketing, such as customer satisfaction, revenue goals, etc. In fact, there was a 34% spread in digital selling maturity between the index and top performers when KPIs, incentives and compensation were aligned between teams. But I also found that sales don’t necessarily trust marketing’s data—which brings us back to the cultural issues that must be addressed. The solution is also found in last year’s 2020 State of Digital Selling report: top performers collaborate with marketing on both a data architecture and technology stack roadmap to keep aligned—much more so than the index of average performers.

Technology. Technology touchpoints are dual: internally, represented by sales and marketing enablement (e.g., CRM, SFA, etc.), and externally, customer-facing digital experiences, such as websites, apps and social media. Marketing is leading CX work today, but as sales become more digital, they need to be part of a highly collaborative process with marketing and service teams to create a seamless customer experience that crosses their functions.

Ongoing Teamwork. Customer experience worries for the sales team don’t stop after the sale. Some of the most integrated sales and marketing teams work within a growing part of the economy: Software as a Service or SaaS. For example, a salesperson who has sold a SaaS HR system needs to understand whether their customer is utilizing the system to its full potential. If the customer is underutilizing the system, they may have bought the wrong product; if they’re overutilizing the system, there’s an upsell opportunity. Even if your product isn’t SaaS-oriented, it helps a lot to think of it that way by demanding marketing and service customer insights that may guide your sales strategy for an account.


Webinar Replay: The Digital Sales & Marketing Convergence

To find exceptional growth, both disciplines are leaning on one another for more support and collaboration.

56 min