Johnny Smith is Disrupting B2B Healthcare Marketing Strategy at Encompass Health

by | Jan 7, 2021 | Healthcare Industry Insights | 0 comments

With a track record of success in building national healthcare brands, Johnny Smith was recruited as a change agent for Encompass Health—the largest post-acute care provider in the country. As vice president of marketing services, he’s challenging the status quo of business-to-business (B2B) healthcare marketing to empower his team, enhance the digital experience and drive growth for the organization.

Johnny Smith of Encompass HealthJohn­ny joined Encom­pass Health in 2020 to unite three dis­parate func­tions as one cohe­sive mar­ket­ing team. In this con­ver­sa­tion for our Health­care Insight pod­cast, he talks about redesign­ing the orga­ni­za­tion’s B2B health­care mar­ket­ing dis­ci­pline, cast­ing a vision and fos­ter­ing a cul­ture that val­ues strate­gic think­ing and accountability.

His approach to lead­er­ship by “keep­ing your mouth shut and lis­ten­ing” is counter-intuitive—and high­ly effec­tive. The first thing you have to do as a leader when you’re walk­ing through the door is to just be qui­et and lis­ten. Lis­ten to your team’s goals, their strate­gies and more impor­tant­ly, the chal­lenges they’re going through. Learn the com­pa­ny and its cul­ture. Every orga­ni­za­tion and com­mu­ni­ty has its own cul­ture, and it’s impor­tant that you under­stand that and you don’t just jump right in. A lot of times lead­ers come in with our grand scheme and want to throw it out there. It’s impor­tant that you first sit back and learn.

In an unprece­dent­ed envi­ron­ment, vision is the north star. As head of mar­ket­ing, I’m here to cast the vision and get out of the way so the team can thrive. As a leader, it’s impor­tant that you cast a vision and put guid­ing prin­ci­ples in place that ensure peo­ple not only under­stand them but also live them out. Every­one knows the role they play, and can answer the ques­tion: Where are we try­ing to go and what role do I play in help­ing us get there?

At Encom­pass Health, we’re demon­strat­ing a dif­fer­ent lev­el of mar­ket­ing val­ue based on cus­tomer and mar­ket intel­li­gence, brand equi­ty and cre­at­ing and enhanc­ing the dig­i­tal expe­ri­ence. Our approach has noth­ing to do with a press release, or a com­mu­ni­ca­tion email or a piece of col­lat­er­al. This is strate­gic mar­ket­ing and what I would advo­cate for your lis­ten­ers: Under­stand your busi­ness and find the val­ue that mar­ket­ing deliv­ers out­side of a tac­ti­cal solution.

As a leader, your peo­ple are the pri­or­i­ty. I use this acronym to illus­trate pri­or­i­ties for lead­er­ship: PVP, which stands for peo­ple, vision, process. The peo­ple come first because you’re not suc­cess­ful with­out your team, which requires a con­stant invest­ment in them. It’s impor­tant that we sit down one-by-one with team mem­bers and iden­ti­fy where they want to go in their careers. Once we’ve iden­ti­fied the devel­op­ment areas to focus on, we ask what addi­tion­al resources and sup­port can we pro­vide to achieve those goals. That’s been my focus despite all the changes and being in the mid­dle of a pandemic—and COVID has brought the team togeth­er in ways that I couldn’t have imagined.

Account­abil­i­ty involves man­ag­ing the three Ws: who does what by when. This involves account­abil­i­ty between the indi­vid­ual teams, between each oth­er and—more importantly—to the part­ners we’re serv­ing through­out the orga­ni­za­tion. I want them to under­stand that I’m not suc­cess­ful, and the company’s not suc­cess­ful, unless the mar­ket­ing ser­vices team is suc­cess­ful in posi­tion­ing and build­ing this brand.

He’s bor­row­ing a page from the Lou Holtz lead­er­ship play­book. As they say in Notre Dame foot­ball, you have to focus on what’s impor­tant now (W.I.N.) and what’s impor­tant lat­er. For Encom­pass Health, this means address­ing COVID-19 while con­tin­u­ing to focus on our strate­gic direc­tion and rede­fine our­selves in how we look for the future.

Let data be your guide. One major dis­ci­pline we’re focused on is cus­tomer and mar­ket intel­li­gence. This involves bring­ing in peo­ple who don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly drink the mar­ket­ing Kool-Aid, indi­vid­u­als with a back­ground in data ana­lyt­ics who can give a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and chal­lenge old-school, tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing think­ing. By under­stand­ing the data on our cus­tomer seg­ments and our refer­ral sources, we can see how they think and act, which allows us to tar­get them more effec­tive­ly. It’s a per­son­al­ized, high-touch and sur­gi­cal approach to engag­ing key refer­ral sources.

Where Johnny Smith Finds Inspiration and Stays Informed

Here are a few of Johnny’s favorite resources for stay­ing cur­rent on B2B health­care mar­ket­ing trends, lead­er­ship insights and oth­er crit­i­cal top­ics of interest:

Listen to the full episode below!

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