Rochelle de Silva, Director Marketing at Asiri Health, began her journey in marketing right after completing her advanced level exams. Upon receiving her results, she joined J. Walter Thompson’s (JWT), where she learned the art of branding. It is this aspect of her job she says, which to date she finds the most “thrilling” and derives the “greatest satisfaction” from. Following eight years with JWT, she moved to Hemas Marketing as a Senior Brand Manager and grew to the position of Brands Director of their personal care portfolio in seven years.
“I take great pride in saying I was a worthy part of some of Hemas greatest success stories in consumer brand development. During my time with Hemas, was when I experienced some of my most exciting and fulfilling work as a Marketer.”
On the completion of 15 years with Hemas, Rochelle moved to Asiri Health, as she desired the experience of marketing a service brand. “During my six years with Asiri, the role of Marketing has evolved significantly. We’ve a coherent, well-articulated brand strategy and use a complete 3600 approach in executing it. Marketing now plays a key role in the organisation’s business plans and we really are doing some exceptional, industry revolutionising work.”
The spirited Director is very analytical and strategic in her approach, but adds, “I like to think I’ve got creative flair too, and this finds expression not only in my work, but also in my eclectic sense of fashion. I love dancing, but since I hardly go out dancing anymore, Zumba is my dance party cum workout. A chocolate laced coffee is usually what kicks off my day, and a glass of wine closes it out most days. I have deep faith in a higher power and believe that there’s goodness to be found in any situation.“
Expressing her views on the role of marketing in the current healthcare landscape, Rochelle stated “Marketing, in any landscape is about a relationship, hence, when the environment is uncertain, it becomes all the more important that the assurance and reliability of the relationship is strengthened.” In the case of healthcare, she said “this relationship is imperative, as it is an industry in which the ability to provoke, induce, entice or incentivise a ‘purchase’ is quite limited.”
“The current ‘crisis’ being healthcare related calls for the highest level of integrity and transparency on the part of healthcare organisations, while the role of marketing is to keep the brand present in the lives of consumers in the most supportive, reliable and sincere way.”
On the topic of Digital Marketing in Healthcare, she stated that digitalisation is one of the best developments for Marketing in the industry, as it supports the more exclusive relationship that needs to be built between the brand and healthcare aspirants.
“The multitude of available mediums and platforms allow healthcare brands to share deeply informative, reliable, quality-rich content, which is presented in simple and very importantly, engaging ways. Being able to precisely segment and target our communications makes cost per acquisition relatively low while high on equity for the brand.”
Digital marketing, she said, also supports medical tourism, drawing in patients for high end medical solutions from countries with less evolved medical services, as well as seekers of wellness treatments.
Rochelle continued: “At Asiri, we use a mix of digital media in tandem with traditional media, alongside on-the-ground activations. This way, we extend the reach of our expertise, create maximum opportunity for community engagement and build virtual ecosystems around our patients and health and wellness-seekers. We also use social media for inclusion of internal audiences, to inspire and motivate them, so they are the best expression of our brand values.”
In continuation, when asked to share three major marketing challenges in the Healthcare industry:
- It is not an industry in which a ‘purchase’ can easily be provoked or incentivised. Also, private healthcare is perceived to be expensive.
- The decisions in relation to healthcare, especially high risk/complex treatment solutions are often made not by an individual, but a decision making unit, usually consisting of the patient and family/ caregivers. This gives rise to varying expectations and needs that have to be understood and addressed professionally, with empathy, sincerity and tact.
- The investments in technology and facilities related to upgrading a hospital’s service menu, to offer the most complete, current range of healthcare solutions, is exorbitant and not all investments have a direct ROI. Hence, understanding and supporting the service portfolio for sustainable return is very important.
Speaking of the latest trends in marketing, she mentioned how marketing is now more conversational and personalised. Influencers and brand ambassadors present brands as opposed to conventional advertising, while peer influence has increased due to social media.
“Video, gaming, apps, social media stories, etc. are now being used across platforms to attract consumer attention and engagement. Also, with the pace at which technology is developing, its cost-effectiveness and accessibility, programmes such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, etc. are all becoming part of the Marketers tool kit.”
In discussion, Rochelle shared her perception on how Marketing can play a wider role, “Marketing is one of the key drivers of economies. It is, however, responsible for the avid consumerism we now see, which is at the root of many issues being faced globally today. Socially responsible marketing however, could educate consumers on how to genuinely add to quality of life, while promoting healthy lifestyles, moderation, tolerance, kindness to animals, love for the planet, etc. We see brands that have chosen this approach growing significantly in equity, while impacting the world in the best of ways.”
On a concluding note, Rochelle’s long-term outlook for Marketing in Healthcare: “One of the most significant changes in marketing a healthcare brand is the shift from an image-building approach to a truly service-led one. Hence, personalisation, enhancing consumer experience, long-term relationship building and supporting preventive health, wellness and long-term chronic disease care become important, as opposed to a merely episodic presence.”
“Healthcare brands will become a life partner. Technology and digitisation is greatly supporting this role of healthcare providers. It is also aiding virtual and distance healthcare, making good medical assistance accessible to even those who are remotely located.”