Don’t You Forget About Gen X: One Generation’s Crucial Role in Healthcare

Webinar

Featuring

Salinas Valley Memorial Health System
Feedback

Description

While the battle rages on between Boomers, Millennials, and Gen Z, one group is quietly transforming healthcare. 75% of Generation X (people born between 1965 and 1979) report that they’re the primary healthcare decision maker in their households.


Gen X now drives more healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. How do they make these decisions, and what drives them?


Alan Shoebridge, Director of Marketing at Salinas Valley Memorial Health System, & Dean Browell, Principal at Feedback, wrote the book on Gen X healthcare decisions. They’ll be breaking it down for us.


In this session, learn the traits, characteristics and thought processes that link Generation X. We’ll discuss the differences in how they make healthcare decisions, and how healthcare marketers can nurture and grow relationships.

Alan Shoebridge

Alan Shoebridge

Director of Marketing
Salinas Valley Memorial Health System

Salinas Valley Memorial Health System
Dean Browell

Dean Browell

Principal
Feedback

Feedback logo
Alan Tam

Alan Tam

VP of Marketing
Actium Health

Actium Health logo
Chris Hemphill

Chris Hemphill

VP, Applied AI & Growth
Actium Health

Actium Health logo
1

Transcript


Chris Hemphill:
Hello healthcare. Hello, everybody watching this, if you’re watching this a little bit later on YouTube we wish you could have joined us live, but we’ll go ahead and get it started. So, for everybody who’s coming, and this is a really powerful topic, and we’re really excited to talk about it. Normally, we’ll be focused on things that are directly related to data science and AI and things like that. We’ll get into the data a little bit. There’s been some tremendous research that went into to developing this and we’re really excited to have Alan Shoebridge and Dean Browell join us. We’ll get a little bit more into their backgrounds in a second, but just a quick hello from you Dean and Alan.

Dean Browell:
Yeah. Good to see everybody.

Alan Shoebridge:
Great. Thanks for having us excited to talk about gen X.

Chris Hemphill:
So, if you haven’t had the opportunity to check out their book, folks it’s a really quick read, but really informative, packed with information, packed with really cool visuals. Maybe even by the end of the call you can hop on amazon.com and get the ebook version. Just really, really good, but super, super fast read. And what we wanted to do was kind of bring that off the page and bring that into the discussion. So, obviously no requirement. If you haven’t read it yet but the concepts that they’re talking about, the differences in generations and the similarities, and really, even better ways to look at how we orient our conversation than just looking at, do you fit in this 20-year gap or are you born in this 20-year gap?

Chris Hemphill:
There’s obviously a better ways to get more personalized. We’ll get into all that stuff. So, the way we’re going to structure that, I’ll just hop to the agenda here, where Dean and Alan are going to start is on defining generation X. And this is important because you keep hearing, people throw out terms, millennial, boomer, you don’t hear people say silent generation very much, but that exists too. But the main idea is what is it that we’re talking about? What are the actual timeframes here? Am I generation X or millennial myself? You might learn something new based on the definitions that they come up with, but we’re going to start from the perspective of what is generation X, and then what we’re going to go to is the impact that gen X has on healthcare.

Chris Hemphill:
So, Alan and Dean will be doing the discussion on that. And then following that, what we’ll finish up is the opportunity to connect and ask questions with Dean and Alan themselves. And the way we structure this, what we’d like to do is rather than it be a full hour of that conversation, you notice that it says 30 minutes there. That means that there’s a big amount of time for you to be able to get involved in the conversation, get your questions answered, share, participate. While you’re chatting, feel free even if it’s not a question, if there’s just challenges that you’ve had identifying as a member of a certain generation and the way that you’ve received materials or challenges you’ve had in doing outreach and conducting the your growth with other generations or gen X.

Chris Hemphill:
I mean, those are the kinds of things that we’d like to hear. Look each other up, add each other on LinkedIn. We’re building a community here. So, thank you, Dean. Thank you, Alan Shoebridge. Thank you also Alan Tam, Alan Tam’s our VP of marketing, and he’s a bonafide generation X-er. I’m a geriatric millennial as I recently found out. But he’ll be helping to provide some insights and also help us facilitate the conversation. But we’ll go ahead and get started with just quick introductions. Dean is principal of feedback and is heavily involved in all kinds of really interesting market research that spans not just healthcare, but numerous other industries. So, what we’re going to get, we’ll be talking about generation X, but we will be getting a cross industry perspective with learnings that we can apply as folks who are in the healthcare market. Dean, Anything that you want to say before we roll on to Alan?

Dean Browell:
No, I mean, other than, as you can see from the logos here, I also teach and literally teach this technique both at VCU, as well as through University of Richmond and here in Richmond, Virginia. And so, thrilled to be here.

Chris Hemphill:
Excellent. We’re thankful that you and Alan got together and put this research piece out in a very entertaining way too. So, onto Alan. Alan, I hope that you recognize, like if you’ve been on some of our LinkedIn live sessions before some of our zoom webinars before, oh we got to give a shout out here. Jean Batting she has expressed her love for the book. So thank you. Thank you, Jean. Alan, has been on our video series a couple of times before and with good reason, just a tremendous background currently leading marketing efforts at Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System, but has also served at Kaiser Providence, other names you might recognize and gave us the vital definition of marketing. So, Alan anything that you’d like to say before we go ahead and get started.

Alan Shoebridge:
Just thanks for having us and look forward to your questions. And I also hope we can talk about your geriatric millennial life-stage a little later, too.

Chris Hemphill:
Great. I’m going to need your support on that. I’ve just had a very depressed weekend ever since that term was invented like last Thursday. So, yeah, I’ll need some support with that, but let’s go ahead and get started. So, Dean and Alan are going to go through, as we said, kind of defining what generation X is and talking about the healthcare impact. Let’s go ahead and I’ll hand it over to Dean on that.

Dean Browell:
Yeah, absolutely. So, what’s wrong with this picture? This is very much also how Alan and I really got started on even the idea of this book is incredibly frustrating images like the one you see on your screen here. What’s missing? Some of you may notice that they somehow decided just from wasn’t important enough, missed an entire generation. Now, I know the gen X is smaller than millennials from a generation perspective, but we’re not infant testable. And also the fact that they even bothered to put the silent generation in there, but not put gen X in, this graphic has continued to embody exactly not just the frustration of leaving out generation X, but also to me, it also just invites us to be way more curious than about what role they can play. So, let’s take this angst as gen X is want to do and turn it and turn our powers for good.

Dean Browell:
First off, just to fill in the gap that was on that previous screen, where are we? We’re from the years born in from ’65 to born 1980. So, again, it’s a nice 15-year span that gets us through some crucial periods of the ’80s and ’90s there in terms of when many of us grew up. And it’s interesting to see just where it fits when you actually do have them all laid out. And how old are we right now? And what’s kind of interesting, I think, by all of this, and you will reference this a little bit later. I’m sure it’s just the idea that, I mean, I still work with people that will occasionally refer to just anyone under 30, as a millennial, even though there’s not that many millennials under 30 anymore.

Dean Browell:
And so, just seeing where everyone is, I think is important to kind of level set from just a pure table setting standpoint. So, let’s think about that a little bit deeper. Millennials are 40 now, maybe that’s why they’re geriatric, all of a sudden. But if they’re geriatric, what does that make us? The youngest boomers are in their late ’50s. Now, when we’ve seen some really general studies, like from pew, they love to characterize gen X as basically having no characterization. They like to call us we’re in the middle innings of life, so we don’t have a theme. Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for that incredible endorsement. Here’s the thing we’re in the middle of the innings of life, just like the boomers were when they were our age.

Dean Browell:
So, that’s not unique to generation X. I mean, they’re just sort of extolling about the fact that where we are in terms of our life stage. And the problem is the gen X especially often gets defined by other generations. Are we boomers? Are we millennials as opposed to actually giving us do as a unique generation? So, let’s look, what does make us kind of interesting? What makes us kind of unique in this way? First off, we’re the most likely generation to be married, which is kind of fascinating. 71% of us have kids right now, a very varying ages, wildly different ages. I’m a perfect example of that. I am a generational unicorn in that way. I’ve got a 17 year old, who’s looking at going into her senior year of high school next year. I also have a baby on the way in September and I have an 18 month old and I’m married to a millennial.

Dean Browell:
So, I’m a great example of how generation, you can’t peg me based on my demographic, you’re trying to market to me because you could just as easily be marketing a college as you are diapers to me right now. We’re the most likely generation to get into a great income bracket, but we also have the debt that comes along with that. And saving for the future is not a luxury they can afford. They often say and that they worry about how they’re going to manage financially in just a few years. I mean, considering how old the oldest gen X-er is.

Dean Browell:
Now, what’s also interesting from an economic impact standpoint though, higher percentage of college degrees in the workforce then even compared to millennials who again, most of which are out of college. So, it’s kind of fascinating actually, when you look at that gap. We make up the majority of startup founders. We’re 31% of the entire US income, average income environment about 150 K, but we have the worst financial context highest in debt. Even before you talk about mortgage, you kind of put mortgages aside, we’re still higher in debt. And our credit score is worse than in for many of our cases, our parents and the boomers.

Dean Browell:
What’s really fascinating about generations that people don’t think about because we talk about generations in, let’s say America, let’s take one country, the US, generations in the US. Well, because of immigration well and death, death, and birth we actually will outnumber the baby boomers soon. The millennials will actually pass the boomers this year in terms of how many millennials are versus boomers who are both living, but also we’re talking about the fact that millennials and gen X-ers will be very high categories of immigration influx. From the standpoint of how that affects the generations. So, again, something else to kind of keep in mind, because we often think about the boomers as this massive generation. And then, of course, because the millennials have been overwritten about millennials are just massive, massive generation, well, gen X will be as big as the boomers.

Dean Browell:
And so, we really do need to deal with the fact just from a sheer numbers standpoint being significant, but how they aren’t healthcare is a whole nother matter of course, entirely too. So, I’ll hand it over to Alan for that.

Alan Shoebridge:
Yeah. Thanks, Dean. And kind of building on that last point. So, you think about 65 million gen X-ers in the country, they’re getting older. What does that mean? They’re going to be consuming healthcare. So, it was really how we got into this thing too, you want to think about the context too. So, not only are kind of aging into the healthcare system and I’ll talk about a little bit we had a different experience with healthcare just in general. So, kind of think about us as being the first generation to really grow up in that era where internet health information became available. Healthcare kind of reached the mainstream, lots of our favorite TV programs from the ’80s and ’90s, early 2000s were focused on hospitals and healthcare.

Alan Shoebridge:
There was also the AIDS crisis, health advocacy, and I think what all that really means is this generation grew up more comfortable around healthcare, more comfortable thinking about it, talking about it, and that’s starting to influence some of the decisions. So, kind of that theme of the triple threat and healthcare what does that mean? So, that means, and Dean talked about it a little bit, but there’s another element here as well. So, for many of us we’re becoming caregivers for our parents. Much, many of our parents are either older boomers or members of the silent generation, or potentially even a little bit older than that. And that’s where we’re going to have time where we’re thinking about coordinating their care.

Alan Shoebridge:
And so, that’s an element that we’re giving ones. We’re also becoming patients ourselves. As you start turning 40, I just think that it’s true that you start consuming more healthcare. I would love to say it doesn’t happen that way. But it does, I kind of equate turning 40 to owning a German car. All of a sudden that check engine light starts coming out about every three months and you’ve got to go and see the dealer, you got to go into the mechanic and the same thing with healthcare, little aches and pains, screenings, other things you got to figure out is this serious, whatever.

Alan Shoebridge:
So, we’re starting to become patients ourselves a lot more. And then there’s an element of being a decision maker for your kids. And many times as Dean was saying, he’s got a teenager, he’s got an infant. Well, they’re not coordinating their own care. They’re not thinking about what doctor they should go to, that’s happening. So, we’re in this life stage. And again, as Dean mentioned, and as we talked about in the book, life stages change, so things change, but right now, gen X is in this position. Again, caregivers to their parents, patients themselves and also decision makers.

Alan Shoebridge:
So, that’s why this generation is so important with healthcare. So, thinking a little bit about the characteristics and Dean says, gen X is skeptical, not cynical. And I agree, but I think personally I’m skeptical and cynical, but that’s more of a personal problem and a whole generation thing. But we’ll unpack that a little bit because what does that mean to the skeptical? There’s some coordinates I think the characteristics of that, and that means they’re hungry for information. They are going to be skeptical of expertise. So, evidence is going to be really important. How do we back up claims?

Alan Shoebridge:
It’s not enough to just say, so-and-so told me, wait, we want to see some data. We want to see some examples, but when there’s a plan of action, we can be loyal to it. So, again, after we’ve made a decision, we tend as a generation to be loyal to that. And again, it might take us a while to build a relationship, but once you have it, it really will last and pay off. And it was interesting to see COVID obviously, such an impact on our society, but what did the generations do as a whole? And again, there’s individual exceptions and everything, but we kind of looked at gen X, really some of the things that were maybe that the pejorative things about us in some ways became benefits. We can hunker down and deal with things. We’re okay being on our own. We’ve been dealing with work-life balance for a long time.

Alan Shoebridge:
We’re kind of responsible and it was so funny. And again, I know everyone’s experienced varies a little bit, but it was so funny to see gen X-ers on social media talking about having to reign in their boomer parents and get the boomer parents to stay in doors and wear masks and all that. And also dealing with some of the younger generations to get them to be responsible. So, it’s funny to see how gen X, some of the traits, again, that maybe people didn’t think about, or again, that weren’t always positive became a real asset during COVID.

Dean Browell:
We’re features not bugs.

Alan Shoebridge:
Right, exactly. So, I just think this is funny, but again, we really value relationships with those we trust so things like mentors and again. In the healthcare space there’s opportunities. So, when you build a relationship with a doctor after you’ve kind of established, you really have a good chance of keeping that. But there’s also going back to where we started on that skeptical side. So, thinking about how you make decisions. So, this is interesting, but gen X tends to be very skeptical of what their doctors say. So, again, the relationship is going to require getting information, getting facts, and then probably it’s going to require some level of verification, like we’ll say.

Alan Shoebridge:
And this is a good one. So, when it comes to my health, I know better than my doctor. And this does tend to skew again with younger generations and millennials even rank a little bit higher than we do here. But when you can actually reach a gen X-er and start that relationship, just know that it’s going to get tested, that we’re going to want to know from our doctor, as soon as we leave the exam room, we’re going to be on Google double checking everything that we heard. So, that is one of the challenges on the relationship side.

Alan Shoebridge:
And just building right off of that. So, in the last 12 months I went online to self-diagnosis instead of visiting a physician, gen X is outpacing the older generations. And we’re actually kind of very even with the one else here on this one, but again, we’re going to take the first step of trying to figure out things on our own. And if we can’t, we’re going to make an appointment, we’re going to go see our physician. But again, we’re probably going to do that homework before we ever get into the visit, which can be frustrating for the doctors sometimes. I know that they make a lot of jokes about Dr. Google and things like that, but that is the reality. We’re going to come in armed with probably some information or some questions.

Alan Shoebridge:
So, how do you kind of work around that, knowing that those are some of the characteristics of generation, what sort of messaging works? So, things that will be effective in your marketing communications are peer endorsement. So, if I can see that Dean and Alan were really supportive of a doctor or they re left a rating or whatever I’m going to value of that. I’d be like, “That’s kind of interesting.” And I might need to see some more people too, but that’s going to really help me. Just being moderate and I think, not making wild claims that we’re just going shoot down. We’re want to poke some holes in it. We’re going to want to know if it holds up and, also thinking, just using logic. I mean, we respond well to facts and value kind of seeing how things are being done, how decisions were made, how you got to a place of decision, transparency would like to know kind of everything.

Alan Shoebridge:
And like to see those reviews, like to read the comments, now we’re going to do a lot of research. And the more information you can give us the best is the best approach. And then I think to understand the life stage people are at. So, and then we’ll get into this, I think a little bit with the questions later, but really thinking about that sort of piece that I led with at the start, managing internal health care, managing the healthcare of our parents and potentially managing the healthcare of our children through the people who do have kids. So again, understand that if you’re messaging this generation, there’s a lot on their plate as far as healthcare goes, but that also means there’s a lot of opportunity.

Dean Browell:
Yeah. So, we’ll wrap here just with like, how do we not make this mistake of completely missing a generation and make sure we value, who’s at what point? Well, one thing is just to understand, I mean, generation X, isn’t the only one that gets a bad rap. I mean, millennials right now, we look just like just last week, geriatric, millennial, and the lexicon for no apparent reason. And certainly with very little backing, if you read that article. But it’s just a great example. I mean, just because of generation is written profusely about does not mean it’s a fair characterization. Also, we tend to always write about just a particular kind or maybe even a particular life stage of that generation. That’s its own problem. My favorites horse, a dead horse to beat on this is the book Millennials Rising.

Dean Browell:
If you’ve ever read it first off, I’m sorry, because it was published right before 911, it begins with the concept of millennials have never been through a tragedy. It says all kinds of things like they will never be into things like South Park, which I think is hilarious because South Park is still going 10 years after this book has been written and certainly not just powered by gen X viewers. And I think generations as a concept also can sometimes trap us in thinking about generations. So, we like to always put out this whole thing about life stages, which is that we tend to, when we talk about generational differences, we tend to talk about them down life stage. We’re complaining about those crazy kids. We forget the fact that those crazy kids are 40.

Dean Browell:
In fact, millennials could have two kids in college right now. I mean, think about that. But that also means that when I’m talking to parents, when I’m dropping off my toddler at daycare, the parents next to me are all different generations. They could be gen Z, they could be millennials and they could be gen X-ers. So, it really has more to do with the fact that we all have kids at their same age than it does about what generation that we are. When I’m looking up reviews of car seats, I’m probably not reading a review by a gen X-er.

Alan Shoebridge:
Dean.

Dean Browell:
Yeah,

Alan Shoebridge:
No, go finish your point. And I have just one thing to add.

Dean Browell:
Oh, no. Yeah. I was just going to say, I think, so it really is about looking at that life stage, first house, first car, where are they at? Because that will tell you more about them than just the generation label.

Alan Shoebridge:
I just wanted to add to your point about the kind of looking at the life stages. So, you think about the generational spread for the millennials, say the youngest are 25, the oldest are turning 40 and think about the differences of life. So, what does a 25-year-old have in common with a 40 year old? It’s a lot different, but as you start moving up into the life stages and you think about a 41-year-old gen X-er or a 56-year-old gen X-er, they have a lot more in common. I think than earlier generation does that spread. So, again, a lot of times people tend to think about only the youngest and that really, I think, starts making a difference with the younger, the overall generation is really starts skewing things a lot, I think.

Dean Browell:
Absolutely. So good news. We’re poised to help. As you know, the world continues with extreme wealth inequality, tech revolution, environmental instability, I think we’re poised to really to be of help of that because we’ve seen some of that ourselves and because of the work characteristics. And yeah, there’s both the book on Amazon, as well as, as the mixed tape. There’s a Spotify playlist that you can look up as well that you can enjoy. And with that, well, let me shut up for a moment as we start with Q&A.

Chris Hemphill:
Thank you, Alan and Dean, I can’t wait to get into the questions based on that, but I just dropped it in the chat watching this presentation, if you have any questions or if anything’s come up that you’d like to share, drop it in the chat or drop it in the comments we will know where to find it. So, basically this part of the presentation is really just a discussion. And what we’re going to do is we’ll just go through we’ll go through some questions and take your questions live. So, to go on ahead and get started with it, I think I’m going to throw the first question to Alan, but let’s feel free to chime in.

Chris Hemphill:
How do you think that… One concept that we focus on a lot within healthcare or at least has been discussed heavily is lifetime value. And Dean and Alan, you were bringing up points around where this generation fits, the growth of this generation, their status in terms of their families as well. And the people they’re taking care for including their parents. So, in terms of lifetime value and the economic impact to a health system, how do you think about generation X?

Alan Shoebridge:
Yeah, well, I think, so much of the generation is in that stage where they’re making decisions. So, you need to capture them now. If you haven’t already captured them, I think you need to do it now because again, with the right relationship, you catch someone who maybe they’re in their early 40s, let’s take the early part of generation. If they haven’t established a primary care relationship now. And some still haven’t, you’ve got this opportunity to capture that now. The older part of the generation is probably moving into, I hate to say it orthopedics and other stuff that we didn’t want to admit that’s coming, but again, you’ve got some opportunities.

Alan Shoebridge:
So, I think anywhere you can capture people who aren’t in a system now think about it in terms of you have opportunity to build a relationship that might last the rest of the lifetime could be 30, 40 years. So, that’s good. I think I’d say too, though you got to think about though, and we were joking, but the geriatric millennials. So, you got the older ’30s to turning 40 that’s another life stage thing you should think about. So, again, there’s a real impetus, I think for people who have, for the most part, again, except for something went wrong with your care, or there was something unexpected. You do have a lot of people who in their early 40s have finally decided I got to get serious about my health.

Alan Shoebridge:
I got to start doing the yearly screenings. I’ve got to do a primary care provider. I’ve never done that before. So, those people that can be captured again, I think you’re talking about an opportunity to build the rest of their lifetime relationship, which has faced different healthcare system you’re talking about orthopedics, you’re talking about other things that are going to have a high dollar value, not to mention the other piece of just the right thing to do to manage people’s care. So, again, I think that opportunity is right when the time is right to build those relationships now.

Dean Browell:
Yeah. I would just want to add to that because I think this literal moment right now, as the country starts to open up is also going to mean a really important moment of reflecting of where we’ve been. And I think you’re going to have a lot of people who are thinking about how their mental health, how their medical, physical health has changed. So, I think that this is a prime moment to be able to start, I’d say sort of converting people who are already probably for their own age, ready to face some things and talk about some things. But I think there’s going to be a willingness to examine where they’re at from a population health standpoint, but I think it also is a perfect opportunity to begin relationships that might have otherwise, they they’d be waiting for an incident to engage.

Alan Tam:
So, one of the things, Dean, I think that you guys highlighted, I found super interesting was this concept of life stages. I mean, that’s something that’s really resonated with me, especially, I think you’re a prime example of that. With the daughter.

Dean Browell:
Living proof.

Alan Tam:
Right. Exactly. And I think it’s an interesting perspective given how we move through our life stages and how healthcare and our impact in healthcare changes things and changes the messaging and kind of what our needs are, because it’s much more than just the age. And the fact that we have to be caregivers to our parents, our kids, and our kids span a huge age range. How do you identify these various life stages and kind of their impact as a health organization?

Dean Browell:
Well, I think it’s a good question. The good news is it’s not any more obtuse than it is to use generations because the problem is, let’s say you’re building them, I’m going to go really tactical for a second. Let’s say you’re building a marketing campaign and it’s entirely around digital ads. And you’re like, “Okay, I want to target people from this age to this age.” you’re already making a call, whether you like it or not to be weirdly specific about if they’re one month older than this age, they’re not in our target market. And so, I think the good news is with life stages. Again, it’s not any more obtuse, but I think the way to think about it is in terms of either the decisions they’re making. But the easiest thing is also just economically, like what are the economic life stages that they’re at?

Dean Browell:
And again, whether that’s first time home buyers. But again, and the good news is this should be different based on whatever geography you’re in, because there’s a big difference between a first-time home buyer versus the apartment rental sort of way of life, for example, in major cities. And so, thinking about where they’re at, the kind of decisions that they’re making, I think is a big part of that. The aging watching the higher generations for their age to say, “Okay, if their parents are boomers, then suddenly, they’re going to be those caregivers they’re influencing those decisions.” So, I think looking at, “Yeah, are they parents or not?” And you can’t go by all, all of those things are not going to be true for everyone, but the good news is it’s going to be still a much smaller, more quality filled target than by trying to go with just big old age brackets and hoping that your message is appropriate.

Alan Tam:
Right makes sense.

Alan Shoebridge:
One of the things I think is kind of interesting about the life-stage conversation too, is this happens a lot with planning and talking about some of the things we’re doing tactically and someone who will say like, “Oh, we’ll talk about maybe doing an email campaign or something.” And people will say, “No one wants to, or my teenager doesn’t want to do that.” And you think about, “Okay, that makes perfect sense.” So, we have to think who our target audience really is and plan for the consumer as we have now. And I also think about when people say something like, “Well, no one wants a relationship with a doctor or my teenager doesn’t want a relationship. Or my 25-year-old son doesn’t want a relationship.”

Alan Shoebridge:
And I always think it’s funny because who does want a relationship with a doctor? I don’t want one, I need one. And as you get older, you need it more and the value becomes clear. So, that another fallacy again is sort of looking at a younger generation and thinking that what they want at 20 is going to be the same thing they want it 50. And it’s very different. So, again, I always just caution people there’s value in planning for the future and thinking about the future, but you really, probably in the marketing sphere of communications, you need to look at who your coordinates is now and how to best reach them now. And not carried away with the, “Well, the other people don’t do this so this has no value.” And that’s a trap. I think people fall into a lot.

Chris Hemphill:
This is interesting because when we started talking about life stages, it becomes a conversation that I like because you have a broad characterization, a broad group minimum age and maximum age, but in order for something to be focused and meaningful to someone, it has to slice through more different characterizations all the way down to, I would argue to a one-to-one relationship. We’ll actually be talking about that tomorrow on our personalization call. But for this discussion that we got a question from Virginia Kafer, with regards to when it comes to, when it comes to diversity in messaging with authentic diversity, are there any tips or pointers on kind of the diversity of people that exists within this generation?

Dean Browell:
Yeah, I’ll start with that. I mean, I think that this is where that word transparency, I think is incredibly key because it is the difference between, and so, in another life many, many years ago, I was in higher education. And so, higher education is notorious for just get a photo of a blanket, a basketball for books, and then just what they would consider a diverse audience of students sitting on it, pretending to study together. And that photo equals diversity. And I think that for me, especially from a gen X standpoint, but I think is true for every generation. I really don’t think this is special to gen X necessarily, but in terms of communicating that message wise, it’s about allowing people in their own words to talk about why, what you’re communicating is important to them. I do, I mean, just testimonials yes.

Dean Browell:
I mean, testimonials is kind of what I’m getting at, but I think it’s also about the fact that it’s not contrived, but allow whether you’re, if you’re talking about trying to truly let diversity feel and sound authentic is to let it be authentic and let it come with the own words let’s allow them to express that. So, it’s not simply a contrived image or even a contrived message. But allow it to seem as if it comes from a peer, because that’s much of what you’ll notice that we talked about is really just say, “Look, I know your website’s going to say nice things about you. You created it. I want to know what to someone else say about you. I want to know what was someone else’s total experience even if they’re there for a different procedure than I’m going to go for. I just want to know what, how did they feel about it now?” They may accurately say, “Well, if you’re the one showing me this testimonial, you’ve clearly claimed this testimonial.”

Dean Browell:
It’s been scrubbed, but that will at least be an attempt to acknowledge that you’d much rather hear from a human being and their experiences than from something that feels like ostensibly, a stock photo campaign. And how that can come across.

Alan Shoebridge:
I would say too. I mean, there’s a lot of value in that if you’re not a diverse team and sometimes we’re not right, you might have a marketing team or something that doesn’t have a lot of diversity in it, but if you’re creating something for different ethnicity or whatever, it needs to have some input beyond just your immediate team. I think you can do that through research. You can do that through bringing in an expert to take a look at it, but I think there’s a lot of value if you don’t have that diversity, that’s not to say you can’t get the ball rolling, it starts with content, but you probably want to have other people look at it and validate and say, “Yes, this makes sense. We’re using the right terms. We’re using things that resonate.” And so, there’s ways that you can do that, I think pretty easily, but they do take conscious effort to bring in another perspective and do some validation.

Dean Browell:
Just to add on that, actually, I just thought of another really good example and that is people want to see themselves reflected in what they’re looking for input from peers. So, here’s one way just to test, go to your own reviews, let’s go to like Facebook, there’s an easy one, right? Go to Facebook, look at the reviews of a facility. Who’s leaving reviews? Are the people leaving reviews reflective of all the people you serve? So, does that mean that someone looking at that review does, or does not see themselves reflected in all of your reviews? That can also be very telling, I think from inadvertently telling, it doesn’t represent everyone that you… and trust me when I say that, I don’t just mean that purely from just one angle of diversity, it could even be, if we’re talking about service lines, are your reviews only about two service lines?

Dean Browell:
Are your reviews only from one demographic, from an age perspective? What does that communicate to someone who needs to see themselves in that? And I think that’s an important example of authenticity when someone is doing their homework before making a healthcare decision.

Chris Hemphill:
Thank you. And I agree that it’s extremely important to ask and they’re actually people, consultants and services who focus specifically on that because to your point, I’ve learned so much by reaching out to people who have an understanding or are in other communities, and you lose that perspective if let’s say that you’re not on a diverse team and you are just kind of working in within your own bubble, you have to find ways to get out of the bubble. And if it isn’t going down to the streets or meeting people and things like that, then there are people who offer services that help on that front. Next question is just based on the fact that we were talking about the doubts, the skepticism among generation X, it trickled down to this geriatric millennial to highly skeptical. So, with folks like us who are data hungry, self reliant, they want to prove it for themselves. What’s the health care marketer’s role in earning trust in growing those relationships? I’ll start with Alan.

Alan Shoebridge:
Well, I think, part of it is just offering good content, content that is going to speak to the data is going to speak to showing examples. I think again, not just throwing out the headline and saying, “We’re the best.” But actually, telling some stories. And I think patient stories do that well. I think testimonial videos do that well again, how much can you add to this story beyond just sort of the key headline thing? Let’s build out an actual content around it, let’s build out things that resonate. And again, if you’re sort of know that your target audience is going to be made up of a group that really needs to validate again, how much can you put in there? Like sources and again, I think we’ve had a lot of good results when we actually have someone tell their own story in their own words. That helps a lot.

Alan Shoebridge:
And then, I think when you’re focusing on a physician story or something like that, that’s one piece of the equation, but it really works better. Again, if we have some other viewpoints to back that up and even just simple things, testimonials worked so well. So, I think again, offer a good relevant content, but then do go beyond the extra mile to I think validate it as much as you possibly can.

Dean Browell:
Yeah. Show don’t tell. I mean, I think that you could sit there with a smile on your face and say, “Trust me all you want, we want to see the proof.”

Chris Hemphill:
The Validation layer. That’s huge. Especially if you’re citing your sources and those sources have to be repUtable as well. That’s a major component of it. I got another question that’s related, very related to it. So, when we’re thinking about where people are in their life cycles and life stages and things like that the question was, well, what are ways that we can collect data and know what those lifecycle stages are within our markets?

Dean Browell:
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I’ll start at least on one half. And again, this is a little bit I’m biased in so far as I am a qualitative researcher. But part of it is truly just listening, finding out where they actually are talking and listen. And you may be very surprised in particular how different geographies can be, in terms of how they talk. In fact, I’ll give you a really concrete example from this week. I gave two completely different presentations on research that we did on orthopedics in two different parts of the country. So, one was the deep south and one was in the upper Midwest. And it was amazing to me how completely different these particular areas were in one case they were very physician forward, they’d never mentioned the facility.

Dean Browell:
It was only about the physician name and that’s how referrals were. And the other one, it was very facility and large brand-focused physicians got named, but only in sort of a secondary case as opposed to the larger brand. So, my point being that, just listening and understanding the nuances. I mean, in fact, I think you could take away from everything we’re saying is stop painting and giant brushes. I think that’s part of it, but I think yeah, I think so, listening, I think in that terms of both what they’re saying to one another and the tears. I think that, that can then combine with things like preference studies and focus groups and things to understand what will they say in front of you when asked and what are they saying when they’re not in front of you?

Dean Browell:
And when they’re just talking to peers, and I think understanding both of those is a really important part of understanding the complete picture. The other thing it’ll do for you is that it will also let you know what is out there being said about you, including what may have been even said a couple of years ago, but it’s still sitting out there as very visible misinformation. Because for example, if I go through a new issue, I like how Alan characterizes, instead of saying, getting old, I’m just a heavier healthcare consumer. I’m just consuming healthcare more. I’m not getting old but I may run into an issue that I have not experienced. And so, I’m going to look for help. I’m not going to sit there and check the wallet of anybody to find out how old they are. I’m just looking to see how have they gone through the same thing. So, that information may have been sitting out there for a while, but I’m encountering it for the first time when I’m actually needing it.

Chris Hemphill:
I like that comment. Ben said, “You’re a vintage, Dean. You’re vintage.

Dean Browell:
It’s vintage. That’s what it is.

Alan Shoebridge:
You’re vintage, just improving overtime.

Dean Browell:
I’m just becoming more and more of a collector’s item. That’s all. That’s what I’d like to see it.

Chris Hemphill:
Awesome. Hey, you guys also Dean now, earlier in the presentation, you also talked about messaging characteristics to kind of focus on. I like to kind of understand, and perhaps you can walk us and the audience through a campaign example of something that’s successful outreach to us gen X-ers we’d love to hear kind of some of those stories in terms of what’s worked and some of the examples that you guys have seen.

Alan Shoebridge:
Yeah. I think a lot of it depends on the ability to segment and how deep you want to go. So, I haven’t not done… We’re only going to focus on gen X type of campaign because obviously, a lot of the times we’re kind of spreading. We’re going to that life stage where like we may be trying to market to the geriatric millennials, the gen X, and a little bit of the boomers. We might have a 20-year span the age on a campaign. But what I think really does work and what we’ve tried to do, and I tried to do in the past with campaigns is again, let’s say you’re not going to be tremendously segment or tremendous, you’re not going to drill down too much, but if you know your kind of middle target audience the key consumer really values some things, I think that’s how you build your campaign.

Alan Shoebridge:
You build your messaging around some authenticity, use the testimonials, you kind of adjust to the most common denominator in that say, maybe that 20-year-age span that you’re targeting to. Now, if you do have the ability to do some segmentation, I thought about this with some campaigns we did when I lived in a really large metro area with a high population. We did an in mover campaign that was highly segmented. And you can take the characteristics of, well, if I know that I’m getting a thousand movers every quarter that are millennials. Well, here’s some things that they need to know because of a life stage. Again, maybe they don’t have the complexity of things, but if I’m going to drill down in another segment, I’m going to target is going to be again, you might have 10, 20 segments who knows, but within those, I think you can really start getting more targeted on the messaging that works.

Alan Shoebridge:
And for the people who are the 41 to 56-year-olds, you might put in your, and I think thinking back to that campaign, we really sort of put some key messages in that talked about the complexity of health care, the things you might be managing. Again, we’re not drilling down to the end of one thing, but we might have a couple of segments where we have one segment that we know has children and one that doesn’t. But again, how can we take some of those key things that we know they experienced that are likely to be going to, and we try to message to that. And also again, depending on how many campaigns you’re running, how many versions you have, you can use appropriate images and things like that to also sort of build a credibility.

Alan Shoebridge:
And again, depending on the segment, you might want to put in more about a certain service or a testimony or things like that. Others, maybe it’s not as important, but I think the key is just, if you can be very highly segmented, then you can do a lot with things and you can have many versions that’s challenging. And I know that’s probably challenging for some people on the call, but if you’re going to do something broader and again, you know your sort of sweet spot target audience, just make sure you’re using things that are relevant to them. And I think that’s the best kind of approach for success and what I’ve seen kind of work in the past. Now, I know, again, the segmentation and sophistication of marketing is approving all the time. And I think that we’ll see more and more of this as people get access to the right technology, they get more comfortable doing these things.

Alan Shoebridge:
I think in healthcare, you’re going to see more targeted things, more segmented things, especially in higher population areas where you really can have an opportunity to drill down and get very segmented and targeted.

Dean Browell:
Yeah. I just want to add to that to say that the great news is, millennials also want authenticity. Now, they may have come to that need and that want from a different angle. We came from a very cynical angle to get to this need of authenticity or cynical, skeptical. Exactly. But I mean, so we approached it from a different angle, but we both want the same thing. So, the good news is, let’s say it’s a mover campaign. You’re talking about first time home buyers, or maybe even second or third time home buyers who were moving in because of a job into this particular region. Then the good news is you’re probably talking about millennials and gen X-ers. You can actually, there’s the same messaging should resonate with both. If you’re coming at it from, let’s say their authenticity angle, because those are both traits that they both share.

Dean Browell:
So, I think that’s the other good news about this is as if you go by life-stage, there’s a great chance that you’re going to be able to find some middle ground on some of these. I’ve seen this, especially in orthopedics, like this is it I think I mentioned earlier too, but I mean, I think that I’ve definitely seen it there where people who are just trying to identify what’s wrong with them, there may be ortho urgent care that they’re considering because they just don’t feel like it’s a VR thing. We’re talking about aches and pains that might be going between a gen X or even a boomer population. The good news is some of the same things you could lean on the things where they bridge as opposed to even trying to segment too hard, when there may be some overlapping traits that can really help you target really well.

Alan Tam:
Yeah. That makes a ton of sense.

Chris Hemphill:
No. So, we’ve talked a lot about, hey, messaging strategies. Here’s what you should do here. Here’s what might lead to success. But there’s also other things that if you do them, you might cause it to catastrophe. There’s some things like we want to be in a box of things that we don’t want to do as well. So, as far as mistakes, foibles that you might’ve seen or things that are, that people have a really high proclivity to do today, things that people have a lot of inclinations to do today, what should people be taking out of their toolbox? What should people stop doing? What are some things that people should get rid of when trying to make that engagement with generation X?

Dean Browell:
I feel like there’s such a long list of potential don’t dos. Honestly, this is a really corny one, given the title of our book, but part of it is just not ignoring that gen X exists. And I think that is, I mean, you look at your imagery if all of your imagery shows people that are very clearly only in their 20s and 30s, but you’re marketing for services that absolutely would include generation X. You are doing nothing but turning off an entire segment of the population potentially, because I think acknowledgement is a huge issue. So, I think that’s a big part. And the other one, I would just say harping on what we said before is just that this is like, trust me, attitude. It’s one thing to claim thought leadership and innovation, and it’s another to show it. And but if you’re really leaning on that, trust me, attitude, boy, that’s a very easy way for me to just go, “Wow. Now, I know not to trust you actually.” Because if you have to say it about yourself I think you have to be careful.

Alan Shoebridge:
And I’ve learned that sort of like we’re the best with nothing behind it. Even when you aren’t going to give some proof points, like make sure they make sense. And I think that’s the one thing we struggle with is healthcare marketers is like, “What’s the value of some of these awards that we win, right?” So, we get named some patient safety score, but what does that mean? Do people understand it? And most times they don’t. So, it’s going to take some additional reinforcement. And I think that’s an opportunity of like, again, not just saying we’re the best, you’re not just saying we’re the best, because some accreditations you don’t understand, you’ve got to explain it and you’ve got to say what that means, and that’s going to help build some credibility with the claims.

Dean Browell:
And I actually think about it from the reverse, right? In other words, show them what you did to get that. Don’t just sit there and say, “Well, we’re the best because X says they’re the best.” Now, we’ve got to explain who X is and think about it from a top down. But thinking from the bottom up like, “Oh, our nurses have been doing this for this many years and this is why we’re recognized by.” And I think that’s way stronger.

Chris Hemphill:
So, much gold in that. The trust me attitude when we saw the level of cynicism and it’s just a different scenario now where people have the ability to get answers out. If you’re not that checking and not using reputable sources, there’s some percentage of the population that will not do their research, but a very small percentage of the population comes from this generation. Before we get to the next one, I was curious, Alan, as a member of generation X, any other things to caution about or anything that you might’ve seen lately advertised to you that you’re like, “Hold up. No, no way.”

Dean Browell:
Would you like me just to check my texts, Alan, to see what you’ve sent me recently?

Alan Shoebridge:
[crosstalk 00:50:11]. I think the biggest one for me, again, it’s not so much where I’ve seen a single brand deal or something, but just the conversations that ignore the gen X is even there, especially we didn’t get into it today, but it could be a whole nother topic. As a leadership piece, so, you have gen X that are leading workplaces aging into becoming leaders. And that piece gets overlooked a lot too. So, our role in the workplace, but I think just overall, it’s just sort of forgetting that we exist is the biggest transgression. And I think, again, that’s just a personal thing, but it’s really important. And I totally agree with Dean, if you are marketing their product to us it has to look like us to somebody.

Alan Shoebridge:
I mean, not exactly what I mean, my gosh, you got to make sure you got at least in the right decades of your imagery and things like that. So, those are just simple things that people do miss and they don’t think about. And again, they tend to really forget that piece of, if we don’t think it matches the experience, then we’re going to discount it.

Alan Tam:
I think from my perspective, and then as a follow-up question, I think well you guys have brought up earlier kind of the recurring theme of life stages really does matter when you’re marketing to gen X. It’s really about where I am in life and what you’re marketing to me. I’d like to think that gen X-ers are pretty savvy, pretty aware. And we span different age groups and we all look a little bit different depending on how stressful our jobs are. So, taking that into consideration, it’s real. It really is about life stages. So, one of my takeaways here is that’s critically important, not only in healthcare, but beyond healthcare marketing as well. And so, as I listened to the both of you share some of these amazing insights I can’t help but think about, okay, now, the next generation that’s coming up the millennials. We start aging and they start taking on more health care responsibilities. What are some additional lessons that healthcare marketers can take and apply to this new generation?

Dean Browell:
I think it’s listening. I mean, honestly, it’s exactly what generation X feels like they didn’t get. And honestly, I think this is probably true for any generation, but I think that right now, especially it’s about listening. I mean, in fact, I’d say, most of the studies that I’ve done, even like some of the ones that have closed in the last couple of weeks that we’ve been doing every single one of them included someone, usually millennials sometimes generation X, as well as not just almost screaming for, “I just wish the doctor would hear me. I wish someone would listen about where I’m at with my problems. I wish I had a way to communicate effectively the pain that I’m in.” And even though it may be talking about some very acute situations with healthcare. I think what we’re going to find, especially with millennials, gen X is like completely forgotten and we have to like wave our hands to get you to pay attention to us.

Dean Browell:
Millennials have the opposite problem. They’ve been under a microscope for 30 years now, 40 years, really. I mean, people were telling them what they were going to be before they even had a dollar to their name. And so, I think that for them, it’s going to be, it’s asking them to tell their own story and listening and being very public about it, that you are listening that you are asking. Maybe it could even be as much as we’re going to create this campaign based on what we heard you saying. Or we talked to you and being really transparent about that. Even though some of those same traits are things that gen X wants. I feel like millennials, that it’s going to be very crucial to allow them to tell their own story because goodness knows. It feels like everyone else has been telling them who they are since they’ve been born.

Alan Shoebridge:
It’s funny. I mean, we were joking about it, but we’ll go back to that whole geriatric millennials thing, right? So, people have been turning 40 and starting to feel old for the last couple hundred years or something. But now it has a name and the thing is, I just encourage people to think logically about the life stages, because everyone’s going to go through some of these same life stages. Every generation goes through the same things and we just need to be logical about their behaviors. So, again, I’ll go back to what we talked about, the relationship piece. Every time someone says an 18-year-old doesn’t want a relationship with a doctor. I’m like, “Well, of course, like who at 18 wants to have a relationship with a doctor, nobody.” And that’s not different for the gen X. That’s not different for the boomers. My dad didn’t want a relationship with the doctor when he was 18 either.

Alan Shoebridge:
So, again, just kind of think logically about who people are in those life stages and what really matters to them and not kind of thinking, not extrapolating too much about what someone might be today versus what they might be in 20 years, because it’s very different. And I think people fall into that trap every single time.

Chris Hemphill:
Fantastic points. And I pointed out the things that you were talking about people feeling ignored as a generation or as Virginia brought up in terms of diversity, people not being represented in communications that has an impact. And over time as that builds up, I mean, it can put hurtful thoughts in people’s minds and their self perceptions about whether or not they’re valid or accepted. So, not only is it important from a perspective of being inclusive and making sure that we’re not missing opportunities, but also in terms of just people’s overall health and thought, and their wellbeing and being included in the society. So, we’re at the end folks we’re in our last four minutes.

Chris Hemphill:
So, we’re going to really make a count here. I know Dean and Alan and Alan, that everybody had a reason for hopping on here and having this conversation and having this discussion. Could be a reason in terms of just the communication, or just something that you’d like for people to do in the next 30 seconds, 30 minutes, 30 days whatever to change what they’re doing in their careers. So, just your final thoughts. So, your reason for being here. We’ll let Dean kick it off.

Dean Browell:
Yeah, no, I mean, my reason for being here is I represent not just generation X, but just that weird unicorn of wildlife stage matters. And I think that I could very easily get painted as an outlier, but I guarantee you that every single parent picking up a kid next to me at the daycare center, doesn’t think they’re outliers. I mean, they’re living their lives. And so I think that part of this, what if you hear nothing else? I think from us, it’s this idea of listen and really find out who are you talking to and stop painting with broad brushes. And that age is very much, and just as important to understand as any other facet of diversity. And it really comes down to respect and listening.

Alan Shoebridge:
Well. Yeah, and for me, I’ll never turn down any conversation about gen X, so I’ll have the conversation anywhere, anytime. And I just think it’s great to just think more deeply about our audiences. And obviously we’re talking about gen X today, and it struck me that, Chris and Alan, we got to come back because we barely talked about the boomers. I mean, we talked about gen X and millennials, we barely touched that. So, that’s a whole nother conversation, like it’s in the book a lot more, but again, it’s always fun to talk about generations and there’s serious parts to it and there’s fun parts, but it’s always great conversation.

Chris Hemphill:
My mom and daddy are boomers and I love you. I’m tired of the hate going towards boomers.
Alan Shoebridge:
I had to make some apologies for that boomer chapter in our book. I mean, it was a little rough I had to reach out and make sure just people were okay and feeling good, but it was a little rough, I got to admit.
Chris Hemphill:
And Alan, Alan Tam, your thoughts too.

Alan Tam:
I mean, I’ve been in marketing for wow, over a quarter of a century. And there’s just so much to learn, always view myself as a student of marketing. And I think today’s session has been extremely insightful in terms of just again, listening as you guys have iterated and just focusing a little bit more on life stages. And different ways and different approaches that we should be taking into consideration in all aspects of our marketing. So, thank you both so much. It was also really cool to be on a webinar with another Alan that actually spells their name correctly. That’s a huge bonus.

Chris Hemphill:
Well, folks I really appreciate that input as well. And I also appreciate what you’re doing by putting this content out. Anything that takes how people are abroad brushing, but then says, “Wait a minute, let’s go deep. Let’s find out different characteristics, different segments and everything like that.” The more we slice down, the more we realize that the era of mass marketing, mass communication is a dinosaur when we consider. We have the processing power, we have the data to be much more individualized in our communication and outreach. So, appreciate that. And to go further to that concept, I just brought up on being individualized. We’ve got Chris Buffalo who wrote the book, Joe Bevolo, Joe Public Doesn’t Care about Your Hospital.

Chris Hemphill:
He’s going to be hopping on with us tomorrow to talk about personalization in healthcare marketing. So, we’ll be really excited for you to join that if you want to keep in the loop on some of the stuff we’re doing, the conversations that are being had, you can follow us on LinkedIn, or you can go to our website, subscribe to our monthly newsletter and that’ll let you be apprised to conversations like this that are happening. With that, Thank you everybody for your time and wish you well for going into the weekend.

Alan Shoebridge:
Thanks guys.

Chris Hemphill:
Thank you everybody. Good to see you, thanks so much guys.
 

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