Ever since the advent of social media, companies have chased the elusive “viral sensation” in the hopes of boosting sales. Keith Boswell, the VP of Marketing at ADHD Online, joins Seth on the podcast to talk about the challenges in purposefully setting out to create something that will go viral on social media, and why this shouldn’t be the primary goal of marketers. Hear how thinks companies should approach content for social media instead.
They also talk about the challenges involved in marketing mental health services, which people may be reluctant to seek out.
[00:00:00] Seth: Hello, and welcome to Bad Marketing Advice. This is the podcast where we invite marketing professionals to come on the show and tell us the worst piece of marketing advice they’ve ever received. My name is Seth Resler. I’m the founder of Community Marketing Revolution. We produce branded podcasts for organizations. So if your company has ever thought about creating a podcast, to engage with customers or clients or even employees. Maybe you want to use it as an internal communication tool. Please go to communitymarketingrevolution.com and, uh, schedule, uh, some time with us. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help with your project.
[00:00:43] All right. Today’s guest is the VP of marketing at ADHD Online. ADHD Online was founded in 2018 with the mission that everyone should have access to quality ADHD assessment, regardless of who and where they are. Their board of directors sat down with a group of psychologists, physicians, mental health nurses, healthcare attorneys, HIPAA consultants, and network security experts over a period of a year and a half. And they created a solution to help individuals get a certified ADHD assessment, much faster than traditional methods. Wanna welcome to the show, Keith Boswell. Hi Keith, how are you?
[00:01:20] Keith: Good Seth. Thanks for having me.
[00:01:22] Seth: Oh yeah, no, I’m excited to talk to you about this because this is a little bit different marketing, you know, mental health services. But before we get into that, I just wanna make sure, you know, everybody I think is heard of ADHD, but what exactly is ADHD?
[00:01:37] Keith: So it is, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder used to be referred to as ADD but uh, several years ago, the designation was changed. So that now, there are essentially three types of ADHD. So there’s hyperactive. That’s the one I think most people traditionally think of. Quick to distract, driven by an engine, kind of typical personality description. Then you’ve got, what’s called Inattentive ADHD. So this is more the introvert, highly focused type of person. And then you’ve got what’s called combined types.
[00:02:13] So essentially they present both types and, and for, to be diagnosed with ADHD, either type or combined type, you have to have at least six of nine symptoms of that from a DSM-5 criteria that psychologists and psychiatrists have agreed upon, and you have to have be presenting those symptoms in multiple settings.
[00:02:35] And typically they say you will have seen those symptoms as early as age 12, or they would’ve showed up. But then you’re also looking to see, does it show up in multiple situation? Uh, whatever it might be.
[00:02:48] Seth: Got it. And your organization is relatively new. It sounds like they identified a real problem that was out there. Can you talk about who your target customers are and what the problem is that you solve for them?
[00:03:00] Keith: Yeah, so we started in, uh, assessment and diagnosis, like you mentioned. Because for a lot of people in their communities today, if a physician recommends you for ADHD testing, you might be looking at about a six to nine month waiting period. And depending on the type of insurance that you’ve got, you’re probably looking at anywhere from four to eight meetings with various providers before you ever find out if you even have ADHD, right? So you can’t start treatment until you’ve gone through this elaborate and could be costly, uh, process.
[00:03:36] So the two founders who both also have ADHD, saw an opportunity to create a clinically guided assessment. So you’re essentially taking the same test with us at the convenience of your home on your time for $149. And once you hit submit and finish the assessment, which typically it takes people about 60 to 90 minutes on average, in about three days, one of our psychologists in your, it’s licensed, in your state, reviews it and provides a diagnosis back a diagnosis or exclusion.
[00:04:11] So, uh, not everyone that comes to us is diagnosed. In fact, oftentimes we’re kind of changing the diagnosis for people that their family physician might have diagnosed them with ADHD, but, uh, they never went through actual clinical testing. So we really wanted to try to break the bottleneck of that assessment in testing.
[00:04:32] And then, uh, the second part of our business, really when COVID happened and everyone was at home, access to mental health declined rapidly to mental health resources declined rapidly, and some exceptions were made to existing legislation that allowed us to offer telehealth treatment to people that are diagnosed with ADHD, including prescribing stimulants. We currently do that in about 37 states. Every state operates differently. And then we also offer generalized therapy in 10 states. So, you kind of touched on it.
[00:05:08] I mean, the, the growth in mental health need and demand has been huge over the last few years. I mean, it was always there. That’s kind of what founded the company, but yeah, it’s never, for me personally, it’s never been as more satisfying time to be in marketing in mental health. Cause it is quite unique.
[00:05:28] Seth: What is involved in marketing in mental health?
[00:05:32] Keith: We’re highly regulated in order for us to advertise on Google with ads that talk about some of the prescription, these stimulant, you know, class two prescriptions, we have to go through exhaustive certification. So we actually have a third party certification that checks all of our licensing, all of our DEA permitting all of the licensure of all of our providers. I mean, we’re, we’re about a 40 person company in Grandville. But we have about 160 plus providers throughout the, the country. So we’ve got a number of, uh, physicians, nurse practitioners that are the frontline of out there treating our patients and it, because we’re so highly regulated, that’s what makes our model, we feel like really the gold standard, there are a number of, of people that was actually quite a bit of capital poured into this space in particular, because there was a belief that you could shortcut and let physicians both diagnose and provide treatment in a single sometimes 15 minute session.
[00:06:40] So imagine trying to present your entire history and, you know, talk about symptoms, current presentation, all of that, and you’ve got 15 minutes and they’re gonna put you into likely a prescription right after that. We have this church and state. So assessment and diagnosis happens with psychologists.
[00:06:58] Those psychologists never treat the, our patients. The, so our providers only are treating patients that they know have been diagnosed through us. And that’s quite unique. But, you know what, I think the other big part about this, part of what drove me, or kind of pulled me into this role that was so appealing was the opportunity to look at marketing in the way that I’d always dreamed of it being, which was, um, actually creating material for our patients that produces positive outcomes, right? So I’m in marketing. I can produce content, we’re producing a podcast and that commitment to content creation is really starting to pay off in spades for us. We put in some more advanced analytics to kind of look at our content marketing efforts starting in mid April.
[00:07:53] And since mid-April this weekend, we crossed a threshold of over a million minutes of read time on our blog. The average engagement per user is about three minutes, 34 seconds. And the industry average not mental health is about a minute 40. So. In, in a world of highly distracted consumers, I’m pulling interest because I’m creating things of value. And that really does make a big difference. I mean, I am marketing with this attitude of giving back more than we’re asking. We’re investing more in content and being a resource than we’re asking people to pay us for our services. And that’s a very fulfilling place to be as a marketer.
[00:08:45] So that, you know, even as much as I’m advertising to get new patients, I’m balancing that with. All of the engagement and positivity that we’re getting from, uh, that content creation and, and really bringing subject matter experts to our patients and getting out of the way, because I think when I got here, we had was kind of the traditional corporate blog, right?
[00:09:10] We were, our agency was producing one article a week and it was about ADHD and it looked like we were talking about ADHD, but we really weren’t bringing experts to the table. We weren’t really offering up our platform. We were kind of just going through the motions, right. It’s really been transformative and we’re seeing it paid off now.
[00:09:32] Seth: That is so important too, to just believe in the mission of the organization that you’re working for. I mean, it, it, it really does make a difference. Let me ask the types of people that you are marketing your services to. How much do they know? I mean, I could see it run the gamut from people who don’t realize that they have mental health issues or need of mental health services to people who, you know, like me, by the time I’ve gone to the doctor for anything, I’ve done six hours of research on WebMD. And I basically diagnose myself and I’m like, look, you need to prescribe me this.
[00:10:03] Keith: Right. Right. Yeah. I mean, it’s a real mix. I mean, it’s really interesting. Over 60% of our patients are adult women. And that surprises a lot of people, but it also to me is very indicative of the fact that ADD typically was kind of the, the wound up boy stereotype. Right. And we didn’t really see the inattentive or the hyper focus or, I mean, it, it’s really interesting. There’s a staff, they think probably about 30% of CEOs in America have ADHD. And I mean, there’s a real skill that ADHD opens up in your brain. It can be quite challenging. I mean, so it’s really interesting.
[00:10:47] I think the company was founded and we thought there would be a lot of parents bringing their children through this. It’s actually been more of a discovery by adults. And it’s really interesting where adult women are the largest segment of our population. Over 50, our largest population is men. So again, we’re kind of starting to wonder, like, is that because they wondered they have ADHD and now they’re coming to us and, and finding out and women of that generation just assumed it was a male condition?
[00:11:19] So it’s, it’s really quite eye opening, but we get all walks of life, all types of people. I mean, that’s the thing about it. I mean, I think they, you know, it’s about 8% of the population likely has ADHD. 50% of the people will say they do. Most of that I think though is, is probably distraction from the phone or, or some device.
[00:11:43] So , we actually are, are starting to question like, is device usage creating ADHD, like behavior and maybe spawning future ADHD that we’re not recognizing.
[00:11:56] Seth: Well, I wouldn’t be surprised to, to learn that at all. I mean, I find that I can’t read books anymore, even though I can read a million different things on my phone.
[00:12:04] Keith: Right.
[00:12:04] Seth: It impacts my attention span.
[00:12:06] Keith: It does.
[00:12:07] Seth: So let me ask mental health is one of those things where there can be a stigma around it. People can be reserved or, you know, when I buy a new car, I want everybody to know I got a new car, you know, that’s obviously not the same with mental health services. Does that impact the way you market your services?
[00:12:26] Keith: It does. I mean, you know, because we are in an industry that you know, we prescribe stimulants. There are pill seekers that come to us that are just hoping we can fast track them to prescription. And, you know, we routinely discharge patients. We routinely discharge physicians because we have to just like, we’re running a regular practice, even though we’re telehealth only.
[00:12:54] It’s a fascinating time. I mean, review management and reputation management is actually. One of the big pieces we’re tackling next. Um, I’ve, I’ve done quite a bit of that in my background, so I’m, I’m familiar with it and it is quite explosive. I mean, people leave because it’s mental health. They leave sometimes scathing reviews of us.
[00:13:17] And typically those are the people that we weren’t able, we turned them away and told them, look, we’re not the company for you, but sometimes it’s not some, we don’t get everything right. But, you know, we live in an age where you have to really own that and take it as a viewpoint. So we’re getting quite aggressive in review ownership and asking for reviews because it is a very sensitive topic, but you know, there’s also a, a real interesting generational divide that’s happening.
[00:13:44] You know, I’m in GenX. We’re more likely to talk about it than our parents, although the boomers, although we’re still more hesitant. My kids, GenZ, I’ve got a two teenage girls they’re very open. Their friends are very open and they’re open almost to a fault in that there’s a lot of misinformation, you know, I mean, there was a stat recently that 75% of the information about ADHD on TikTok is incorrect and it’s a huge amount of information that’s on TikTok about ADHD. It’s a, one of the most trafficked mental health topics on the platform. So yeah, it’s, it’s a really interesting time. And that’s where, you know, our, a big part of our job is like putting the spotlight on educating and making sure we’re doing everything we can to dispel the myths and talk about what’s going on.
[00:14:42] It’s I, you know, it’s, it’s really interesting. I tell people I’m, I’ve, I’ve been in digital marketing for over 25 years. Uh, the last nine months here at ADHD online has probably been the most productive period of my career just because I joined an organization that was very hungry for my experience and really embraced letting me kind of lean on a lot of the things that I always wanted to do, especially like leaning in with content marketing and, and putting a lot higher quality material out there for our audience. And I’m quite grateful that it’s paid off because it is one of those, uh, things, you know, in mental health, we didn’t know. Or do we have permission as a company to talk about these things?
[00:15:28] I mean, there are industry organizations, there are magazines that do this already. And so really was a question. Is this something our audience is gonna embrace? And I’m really encouraged to say that they are and they continue to ask for more.
[00:15:43] Seth: Well, like you said, you’ve been doing this for 25 years. I’m sure you’ve heard some Bad Marketing Advice in that time. Let me ask you, what is the worst piece of marketing advice you’ve ever heard?
[00:15:55] Keith: Well, so it’s, and this is not a, maybe necessarily a piece of advice, but it was more of a declarative statement. And I unfortunately have heard it several times in my career, but it was this. You know, request of, Hey, this is gonna go viral. Right? And I think the thing that’s laughable to me about that, I mean, I’ve had that given to me in, in regards to a job posting, I’ve had that given to me in regards to something that might be in a Sunday flyer, like, you know, shoes going on sale or something else, but then I’ve also been given it, you know, in terms of like this wildly big idea that it might go viral. Right.
[00:16:36] And I guess the reason I think of it as a piece of advice is it’s the type of statement that’s always made me stop and say, what are you really trying to do? Right? Because I think so often in, in marketing, A lot of the pressure that we get for the shiny new object syndrome comes from outside, right? It comes from, oh, I saw this this weekend and oh, you know, a competitor’s doing this. And if we’ve seen their new commercial or I saw them on this app, I got this ad and it was really cool. And so someone says we could do that too. Right? And it doesn’t take into account. So many of the things that ended up producing that moment for them. And it just kind of, it acts like there’s a shortcut to simplicity of like, well, I willed it into everyone’s mind and, you know, I’ve just learned through trial and effort. I mean, sometimes the things that are the most successful are the simplest. I mean, we were asked when I was admire. And this was before you could get, uh, KBS easily from founders brewing that, uh, a release that locally, when it, when it was showing up, it was one of those things that would sell out instantly.
[00:17:51] And they said, how are we gonna promote this? We’ve got a very limited stock. And I said, let me put something up on Twitter. I’ll announce the stores that have the stock. And we’ll see how long it put it takes to sell out. We put out one tweet, we updated that tweet several times as stores sold out. But by noon, all of those stores were sold out. Didn’t cost us anything. We went viral because we had something that was in high demand and it was really easy.
[00:18:17] But if someone come and said, oh, let’s create this huge, you know, thing. And we’re gonna announce that it’s in the store, we would’ve looked silly because we would’ve ended up with little product and no, like very little to pay off. Right? So more frustration for people than excitement. So sometimes it’s just, it’s, it’s trying to find the intent.
[00:18:39] And then my job as a marketer is really to put my expertise to, to work, to say, what’s the right way to get what you’re trying to do versus like, let’s just make this, you know, big declarative statement that we’re gonna win the internet today by going viral or whatever that is. Because it means something different to everybody too.
[00:19:00] Seth: So I wanna pick up on two things that I think you’re saying there one is that it’s hard to predict what’s gonna go viral and to make something go viral.
[00:19:07] Keith: Yeah.
[00:19:07] Seth: But the other thing is just because it goes viral doesn’t mean that that’s actually meaningful to the bottom line of your business. It doesn’t.
[00:19:15] Keith: And you know, and, and I had to remind people too. I mean, if, if you’ve talked to the people that have run the most successful viral campaigns, there was a lot of paid momentum to make that thing go viral. It wasn’t like, I mean, it’s very rare that it’s just a grumpy cat Reddit thread, you know, where suddenly like a, you know, you’ve got a mean manager actually met gr when grumpy cat was alive, I met grumpy cat’s manager who kind of like saw that thread on Reddit and was used to making things go viral, but that was his job. That’s what he did day in and day out. And he scoured the internet 24 hours a day to find the next thing it’s, it’s just, it’s not easy. Right. And I mean, I’ve been in this again, it’s since the earliest days of the internet, when people said, oh, we’ll get online. And they build this huge website and then, well, why didn’t anybody show up? Because that’s not enough. Right? You still the act of doing something isn’t enough to just impress everybody.
[00:20:18] You still have to, you know, get the word out. You still have to, there has to be something of value there for ’em it can’t just be your. Right.
[00:20:27] Seth: Well, that’s actually some great advice. That’s what I love about this is that we go in looking for bad advice and we always wind up with some great advice. So, uh.
[00:20:35] Keith: The worst advice always takes you to the best places. So..
[00:20:39] Seth: Absolutely. Keith, thank you so much. Keith Boswell, the VP of marketing at ADHD online, and if people wanna learn more, they can just go to ADHDonline.com.
[00:20:49] Keith: Yep.
[00:20:49] Seth: Well, thank you for being here. I really appreciate it.
[00:20:51] Keith: Yeah. Thanks so much, Seth.
[00:20:53] All right. That’s it for us today. I am Seth Resler and of course I am with Community Marketing Revolution. We produce branded podcasts for organizations. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about, please head over to communitymarketingrevolution.com until next time. Thanks for listening.
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