Marketing in Behavioral Health: Lifting the Veil with CEO, Michael Myles

What a boon for us to interview Michael Myles, CEO of Active Marketing. His firm is the only strategic marketing firm that caters exclusively to Behavioral Health. It’s our pleasure to work directly with his organization. Michael and our host, Kristin Walker, could have talked for hours. The intel given on this show is invaluable. Michael shared some information about the show in the Q & A below but you’ll have to listen in for the GOLD!


Why Behavioral Health?

I was referred by a client to someone in the Addiction Treatment Industry.  I immediately realized that there was a lack of marketing acumen in the industry.  That was a void I knew we could fill.  There was no really smart, professional marketing agency in the space.  They were creating commodity websites, buying links and using old SEO tricks to try to trick Google into ranking them higher.  I believed that with well-conceived and planned marketing strategies I could give clients a competitive edge.  By taking marketing to the next level, we are able to be successful without compromising on ethics.

Which Sectors of Behavioral Health do you focus on?

Addiction Treatment- all levels of care and eating disorder treatment.  We also focus on business services in the BH industry like EHR, billing companies, revenue cycle management, outcomes tracking and toxicology laboratories.

What services do you provide to the behavioral health market?

We are a full service marketing agency that focuses on creating great brands and great messaging. We produce creative pieces like print ads, brochures, trade show exhibits, and websites. We also negotiate and manage advertising campaigns that drive new business for our clients.

activemarketingquoteWhy is marketing overlooked by this sector of healthcare (especially EHR)?

This industry has really matured quickly over the last couple of years.  Until very recently there was not very much outside interest in Addiction Treatment, and people didn’t need to focus on marketing for their program very much to fill their programs.  In the last few years there has been a proliferation of new treatment centers and business services that work for these programs.  In order to stand out from the crowd you all of a sudden need a well-defined brand and a user-friendly website that speaks to your target audience.

As the market matures, what can EHR vendors and other Behavioral Health business service providers do to keep up?

Be agile, and test your marketing. Find out what is working and what isn’t, then make changes. Make decisions quickly, and then test them.

What channels offer the biggest growth opportunities for EHR companies in behavioral health?

Addiction treatment programs and eating disorder programs.  Smaller start up EHR’s should go after the smaller private pay programs. There is less competition for these programs business and the sales velocity is much higher, allowing new companies to get paid much more quickly so they can turn around and reinvest those dollars to continue to grow their businesses. These treatment programs can be reached by event marketing at conferences for addiction treatment or eating disorder treatment such as the iaedp conference for eating disorders and the Foundations addiction treatment conference. To get to the next level, or for larger companies, the biggest growth opportunities lie with in network treatment programs that are generally much larger with a lot more users, (and thus bigger accounts), but with the accompanying longer sales cycle. Event marketing can be extremely useful for this market as well, but conferences like NATCON or NCAD are a better fit here.

What do you see as the most effective channels to market for companies marketing to behavioral healthcare providers?

No question the most effective way is through conventions, trade shows, and other networking events. This is where they all are, it allows you to create relationships with the market and also get to know your audience.

What are the most common mistakes you see companies making when marketing to the behavioral health category?

The biggest mistakes we see are companies that have no defined brand, and we see companies that have no marketing strategy. It’s my opinion that clearly defining your brand, for instance in a Brand Style Guide, makes that process of creating brand awareness much more effective. It allows an organization to more quickly, and with less exposure, really show the market who they are and what they’re about.

Over the years we have dealt with dozens of healthcare companies, both the healthcare providers and their supporting business services. In all but a handful of cases there was no strategic plan in writing, or plan at all for that matter. All they had were tactics, like pay-per-click, or event marketing. This leads to a lack of focus that dilutes all the marketing efforts of the business, drastically increasing the cost of acquiring new business.

How do you measure success when marketing an EHR?

It all comes down to the numbers that matter, which for an EHR are pretty straightforward. We want to manage the Customer Acquisition Cost, but also make sure that new clients are engaged and loyal. The most meaningful single metric we use to judge the effectiveness of our marketing strategies and the health of the business is Net New Revenue. This  is the sum of revenue from new clients, revenue expansion from existing clients, and the loss of revenue from churned clients.

Are there any benchmarks that you use as a rule-of-thumb to determine if a marketing plan for a software company is working?

We use the following two important rules:

1.       Lifetime Value should be more than 3x Customer Acquisition Cost

2.       It should take less than 12 months to recover the Customer Acquisition Cost

These measure both the profitability of the business in the long run, and the speed to profitability in the short run. If EHR companies just follow those two rules, they can have confidence that their marketing is working for their business.

Michael Myles is the founder and CEO of Active Marketing, a full-service internet marketing agency specializing in strengthening brands and generating leads for the behavioral health and addiction treatment industries. Mr. Myles began his career as marketing director of an electronic health records software company helping private practices take control of their businesses and improve patient care, but soon realized that his passion was in marketing and technology. Mr. Myles holds a BS in Marketing, and an MBA from Davenport University.

As the founder and lead engineer of a successful online marketing software company, Marketing Optimizer, Michael has combined his formal business education with his technical programming and engineering skills. He believes that companies are best able to optimize their marketing effectiveness by finding the ways that technology can assist in testing, refining, and automating marketing processes.

Michael brought his marketing and technical expertise to the behavioral health industry in 2004, serving his first clients in the addiction treatment industry. Active Marketing began attracting attention as a leading agency in the addiction treatment market almost immediately, and for the past decade the company has been focused on branding and direct response advertising in the addiction treatment industry. He has become an expert and a thought leader on substance abuse marketing topics including lead generation, reputation management, social media, conversion rate optimization, and marketing optimization.

As CEO of Active Marketing, Michael has always put integrity before profit. This attitude has created an organization where attention, clarity, and transparency have crossed from being an internal culture to being the foundation on which client success is built. Through detailed reporting, education, and accountability, he has created a system that ensures substance abuse facilities will remain aware and in control of their marketing processes and results.




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