Jeff Spanbauer is the Co-founder and Chairman of the Board at Relevate Health, formerly known as Healthcare Regional Marketing. Since its inception in 2007, Jeff has led Relevate Health through four acquisitions and integrations, now supporting 185 brands, 15 hospitals and health systems, and generating over $70 million in revenue.
With a background that includes 10 years at Pfizer and Procter & Gamble, Jeff has demonstrated expertise in leading teams to develop and grow businesses in the pharmaceutical, medical device, and hospital sectors. As a transformational organizational growth leader, his specialties encompass creating a world-class culture, producing measurable results, setting organizational strategy, building strategic roadmaps, driving marketing innovation, and paving the path to profitability.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Jeff Spanbauer talks about his role at Relevate Health
- The mission and vision behind Relevate Health
- Jeff shares the lessons learned and mistakes made throughout his career
- Why building a strong company culture is critical
- How Jeff grew through various roles at Relevate Health
- The importance of making a real difference in patients’ lives
In this episode…
Navigating the healthcare engagement landscape can be challenging, but for those who master it, the impact on people’s lives is invaluable. Take a deep dive with Jeff Spanbauer, who has dedicated his career to revolutionizing healthcare engagement and building a successful business focused on improving patient outcomes through innovative strategies.
So, what can you do to create meaningful healthcare engagement and improve patient outcomes? Jeff believes the key lies in developing locally relevant messages that resonate with patients, breaking through the clutter, and delivering content that motivates positive behavior change.
Join Dr. Jeremy Weisz, host of the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast, in an insightful conversation with Jeff Spanbauer, the Co-founder and Chairman of the Board at Relevate Health. Jeff shares his insights into the world of healthcare engagement, discussing the importance of locally relevant messaging, the value of learning from failures, and the role that innovative strategies play in achieving success and improving patient outcomes.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- EO Cincinnati
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO)
- Dr. Jeremy Weisz on LinkedIn
- Inspired Insider
- “[Top Agency Series] Navigating a Merger and Becoming an End-to-End Digital Partner With Kevin Hourigan of Spinutech” on the Inspired Insider podcast
- “[Top Agency Series] Building Sales Teams for Strategic Business Growth With Scott Scully” on the Inspired Insider podcast
- “[Top Agency Series] Most Valuable Advice When Selling Your Agency With Todd Taskey of Potomac Business Capital” on the Inspired Insider podcast
- Jeff Spanbauer on LinkedIn
- Relevate Health
- Mountaingate Capital
- The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni
- Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business by Patrick Lencioni
- The Five Temptations of a CEO, Anniversary Edition: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
- “How to Lead a Lasting Change in Your Organization with Joseph Grenny of VitalSmarts” on the Inspired Insider podcast
- Scott Weintraub on LinkedIn
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Welcome to the Rising Entrepreneurs Podcast where we feature top founders and entrepreneurs and their journey. Now let’s get started with the show.
Jeremy Weisz 0:13
Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, founder of InspiredInsider.com, where I talk with inspirational entrepreneurs and leaders today is no different. I have just found power of relevant health. And Jeff, before I formally introduce you, I want to point out some other episodes people should check out. This is part of the Top Agency series. And Jeff has an incredible journey. And so there’s some other ones you can check out, I had one with Kevin Hourigan, who’s been agency owner since 1995. What the landscape was like then and still doing it today and growing. It’s been the attack. And Scott Scully founder of Abstrakt Marketing Group, they specializes in a lot of like, auto, they do b2b lead generation. And they grew, he’s done it for the past 28 years, and they’re growing to over 70 million in revenue. And Todd Taskey, he has a Second Bite Podcast, and he helps match agencies with private equity. So sometimes they have more on the second bite than they do on the first. And Jeff knows a little bit about private equity. And we’re going to talk about that as well. But in more episodes at inspiredinsider.com, and this episode is brought to you by Rise25. That Rise25 we help businesses give to and connect to their dream 100 relationships and partnerships. And how do we do that we actually help you run your podcasts. We’re an easy button for you to launch and run your podcasts we do strategy, accountability and full execution around a podcast. And you know, Jeff, for me, the number one thing in my life is relationships. And I’m always looking at ways to give to my best relationships. And I found no better way to do that than the profile that people and companies I most admire on this planet and share with the world what they’re working on. And guess what I get to learn from them too, and so does my audience. So if you thought about podcasting, you should if you have questions, you can go to rise25.com. We’ve been doing it for over a decade. And I always say it’s the best thing since sliced bread. So check it out. And today we have Jeff Spanbauer co founded Healthcare Regional Marketing. Now it’s Relevate Health in 2007. He’s led for acquisitions and integrations to really transform from a niche player into the healthcare platform engagement leader in the life sciences industry, with 200 colleagues supporting 185 brands and 15 Hospitals and Health Systems. He’s partnered I mentioned before, Jeff, he partner with P investor Mountaingate Capital to grow revenue to 70 million plus he scaled his company starting with two people, I think in a basement somewhere and growing to 200 people and his experience. You know, Jeff, what’s fascinating is, your experience comes from a combined 10 years with Pfizer and Procter and Gamble, Jeff helped. And you know, he’s a humble guy, but I’ll say this, he helped drive over a billion dollars in sales with these companies while working with some of the top brands in the market. So Jeff, thanks for joining me.
Jeff Spanbauer 3:08
Hey, it’s a thrill to be here. Thanks, Jeremy.
Jeremy Weisz 3:11
So talk about Relevate Health and what you do.
Jeff Spanbauer 3:14
Yeah, so Relevate Health, real simply, we’re experts in engaging healthcare professionals, so doctors, by using data and marketing to create relevant ways to be able to create value for them. And so, you know, we’re working with about 1.4 million doctors across the US day in day out, supporting the 185 brands you mentioned. And it’s really around omni channel marketing, you know, how do we surround sound the doctors with content that they’re, that’s helpful for them in their practice, and serving up to them at the right time, so that they can use that to get the best outcomes for their patients.
Jeremy Weisz 3:49
Everything, it seems like, you know, you have a northstar in your company, and I’d love to hear how you came to that. But life changing healthcare engagement, really, it seems like it helps drive decisions, maybe people and services. How did you come to that succinct piece?
Jeff Spanbauer 4:09
Yeah, it’s, you know, even though we’re marketers, it took a while to really figure that out. And so, you know, one of the things that helped me was, I read a book by Patrick Lencioni called The Advantage and, you know, coming from P&G, and Pfizer where we had these really great, you know, visions and purposes, but they’re really long. The whole idea of the advantage was if you can create a succinct way to kind of explain your vision, your purpose and your values, it creates clarity in your organization and clarity drives a better culture, and then a better culture drives this huge advantage for you as an organization. So, you know, kind of given you the, you know, back in when we started HRM you know, our purpose was, you know, grow the business like we didn’t have a lot of, you know, fancy you know, kind of thinking around that was really this idea of, you know, we we can help brands, you know, market better through data and analytics to get their message to the, you know, to the market in a relevant way. And, you know, we did that we had a lot of success, we started off, the company grew at about 15 million in the first four years. And we’re like, Hey, this is great, we should have started this a long time ago. And then 2020 12 hit, and we went, we took it from 15, down to six. And doing that was really painful. And hot, and I was hard. And it was really hard our culture, and I didn’t realize how important important culture was until, after I went through that experience, read the advantage, and it was like, Hey, we really, you know, we need to do something different here to really have a very clear vision and purpose and values. And then set ever since 2012, we’ve been working really hard at at doing that. And with with the different acquisitions, we’ve we’ve kind of tweaked it. But you know, our vision, you know, in a vision, something you are aspiring to never reach is to, you know, every communications relevant, which really ties back to relevant health. And this purpose of life changing healthcare engagement, that gets me excited to come to work every day, if I’m helping people, you know, leverage, you know, use my skills in a way to really serve people and help them be able to do something that’s impacting lives in a positive way. And then we have core values four core values right now. It’s called our pact. PACT, it stands for pioneering, accountable, caring, and transparent. And so those values kind of really give us this, this clarity in their organization on when we hire people, if we have to fire somebody, when we do reviews, every month in our town halls, you know, we recognize people based on their core values, this peer recognition, recognition, actually, where peers recognize each other for these values. And so that’s kind of how that came together. And, you know, we’re continuing to tweak it, you know, all the time. But for the most part, you know, I would always start our town halls, when I was CEO is, hey, let’s talk about our vision and purpose. And even though I got tired of talking about it every month, we have people joining every month, I had to keep reading or reinforcing that to make sure that new people heard it. And quite frankly, you know, some people may not remember it. And so that part of you know, being being the leader is also being the chief communication officer or the chief reminding officer and reminding people kind of why we’re here and what we do, but it’s great having a purpose that is so you know, kind of externally focused, and really, you know, trying to help people live longer, healthier lives. And that’s one of the benefits of being in the healthcare space.
Jeremy Weisz 7:20
Well, we’ll talk about some examples. And, Jeff, there’s so much to unpack on what you just said. But can you just repeat the core values for a second, and I love for you to talk about how do you have peers recognize each other in the company?
Jeff Spanbauer 7:34
Yeah, so the core values we call our pact, so kind of our promise to each other. And that’s pioneering, accountable, caring and transparent. And so that, you know, and we define each of those with a few words that kind of explain what they are, and there’s different ways to be able to kind of live those values. But one of the things we do internally is we’re transparent, I’m a big believer, and I’ve learned this through that my journey, you know, if you and I have similar data, we’re probably gonna make a very similar decision. And if I’m making a decision, and you don’t understand why I’m making it, that means there’s a big gap in data. And so we’ve been really clear about trying to be transparent. So we have a, you know, every every four to six weeks, we’ll have a town hall. And the town hall invites everybody to the company to come and we record it for people who have client meetings. And prior to the townhall, our leader in HR reaches out to everybody and says, hey, we’d like to get peer nominations for people who are live in the pact. And so people can submit into HR, different, you know, ways that you know, Jeremy or other colleagues have lived, you know, a value by, you know, somebody who, you know, went the extra mile and caring for a client or somebody who, you know, made a mistake, but then owned it and fixed it, and they are accountable, or someone who tried something new for a client or internal, and we’re pioneering. And so that those are all examples that happened the last 2025 minutes of Our Town Hall. And quite frankly, it’s probably the best part of our town hall. I know our people like it the most, because you’re recognizing each other. And it means a lot when it comes from here versus from a manager or leader in the organization. And so, you know, I did that as well. And I would do that more one on one. But for a lot of people, you know, being able to recognize each other just creates this caring culture, where we’re paying attention and saying thank you. And you know, you never see people’s smiles bigger than when they’re being recognized by a peer for something that they went above and beyond on.
Jeremy Weisz 9:29
I’d love to hear, you know, mistakes, or we’ll call it learnings. Right? And you mentioned, I know in your journey, and you just mentioned going from 15 million to 6 million. Yes. And one of those learnings is a customer concentration thing but talk about some of the learnings that you know, we could start with that one.
Jeff Spanbauer 9:55
Yeah, that one was a really hard one because we had a client who Uh, you know, they didn’t hire us the first two years when my, you know, co founder, and I started the company, because we both had left, you know, the company was Pfizer. And, you know, but once once we, you know, got established and added some value, and they had kind of a team, you know, they, there was a internal restructure, and they went to a very regional structure. And they reached out to us and said, Hey, we need your help. And it was like, Okay, great. And it was so great, what we grew from, you know, basically very little in revenue with them to about 10 million a year of that 15. And, you know, in a lot of ways, you know, we rationalized it internally, like, Hey, this is great, when you have a big client, you can really focus on them, you can really go deep, you know, their processes, we came from there, we know a lot of people it was, it was really a great partnership on working together to be able to really help them grow their business, and be able to do in a way that we’re basically an extension of them. And so all that was good, you know, it was a good margin business for us. And we, you know, felt like, Hey, this is great, because it’s, you know, you don’t think about when it’s going to end, you just think about as you’re growing hair on fire, how do you get stuff done, you know, how do you hire people. But in 2012, they had a big restructure, because one of their big drugs, Lipitor was going generic. And that’s one of the challenges in the life science space, is you only get 17 years with a drug before it goes generic, and usually the first 10 years that you’re doing clinical trials.
Jeremy Weisz 11:23
So it was like a seven year span there.
Jeff Spanbauer 11:27
Yeah. So they’re very, you know, they gotta aggressively market to try to make all the money, the billion dollars, they invested in a dryer comeback in that short period of time. So you know, fast forward, you know, kind of rewind back to 2012. For us, what happened is, you know, they restructured and we, you know, went from them, probably from 10, down to two with them. And so that was extremely painful. And, you know, if I look in the mirror was, you know, my fault that I didn’t do a better job diversifying back then, to prepare for the day that they were no longer going to be such a large client. And, you know, the hard part was, you know, or the sad part for me was having to tell, you know, 10 different colleagues, hey, sorry, we’re gonna have to let you go. And we did all the right things, we, you know, had a, you know, a training package with right management where they can go and get, you know, some career counseling, we gave a severance, you know, we did all the things that kind of fit our carrying culture. But there’s nothing worse than, you know, knowing that I could have prevented this by, you know, maybe spending less time on focused on that business and more time focused on how do I get new business. And so after we went through that painful experience, and I remember, like, meeting people in the conference room with HR, each one, one on one, and then going out and getting somebody else and bringing them in, and at some point, everybody was hiding from me, because they didn’t want me to come pull them in to the conference room to have that conversation. So it was really a painful moment, that was really when I kind of, you know, came to the conclusion, like we can’t, you know, this is not a great way to run a business. I mean, that was it, you know, my MBA school teaching taught me like, Hey, you shouldn’t be concentrated. But when you’re living it, you can rationalize a lot of things. And so that was, that was a really, you know, pivotal moment for us to say, hey, let’s rebuild this business, but diversify it. And as we grew up, back, we grew up back to about 18 million in 2020. And we I think we had last nope, nobody was more than 10% of our business at that point, because we just learned a lesson, it’s better to say no, then put yourself in a position where you’re going to have to deal with all this all these challenges later. And that was, you know, a lesson that, you know, was pretty painful from a culture and from a people perspective.