Mark Lea is Commercial Manager at London Doctors Clinic and his remit involves heading up the marketing function of the private clinic chain.
We caught up with him to find out what he does every day.
And remember, if you’re looking for a new position yourself, head on over to the Econsultancy jobs board.
Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do?
Mark Lea: London Doctors Clinic is the largest clinic chain of private GPs in London, growing from two locations to nine in London in just 15 months.
As commercial manager, I’ve done just about everything but actually treat patients at LDC. Initially I was brought on for three months as a project manager after we got a £1m investment to grow from two locations to six. That involved building our systems, hiring & HR, regulatory compliance, location finding, financial projections, marketing, etc. After another round of funding, we have now grown to nine locations.
As we’ve grown, we’ve hired quite a few people to fill bits and pieces of those roles, and I’ve ended up heading up our digital marketing team with some of the time saved from handing off much of operations and basic streamlining.
E: Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
ML: I report directly to the CEO and founder, Dr Seth Rankin.
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
ML: Speaking just to the digital marketing side, and in addition to the absolutely vital skills of understanding SEO, PPC, PR, etc., the most valuable insight is product knowledge, market knowledge, and understanding how the company was built and how it’s structured.
If we want to launch a new service, that means our doctors need to know what’s included, our receptionists need to be able to speak comfortably about the service, our pricing must be competitive, our marketing channels must be set up and monitored, and everything must work pretty smoothly.
It sounds cliche, but teamwork is so important. We grow 20% month-on-month on average, some months it’s even higher, so things are always evolving and improving, but the only way to keep the product consistent is to communicate vertically throughout the organisation because people see different sides of the business. Especially when our relatively small head office is located in Soho and we have eight more clinics spread across London.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
ML: Oh boy. Well, a typical working day is different each day (at least the fun ones are!). Other than Monday mornings being spent doing weekly reporting and Tuesday mornings with additional marketing reporting, almost everything else is always based on prioritizing what needs to get done to push growth or improve our service.
It all seems to come in waves; we experiment a bit, try a bit of this, a bit of that, see what works, then work to implement it fully. Then it’s on to the next thing. We’ve done that with our systems and marketing, and we really seem to have found our stride of late after initial trial and error. That said, it’s still changing!
Literally, just yesterday we decided that I will be dusting off my academic skills to craft a white paper on private healthcare in the UK – along with Dr Rankin who has 20+ years of NHS experience.
When it comes to digital marketing we’ve got two people dedicated almost fully to content creation around our internal targets, and we’ve got another who works maybe 50/50 in marketing versus broader projects (usually when I need to address something else or do some ad hoc analysis). They are all really bright, are self-motived and a lot of fun.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
ML: I love the sense of urgency. We are a startup, and in the 18 months I’ve been around, we’ve gone from three employees to over 70, seeing more patients in a day than we saw for my entire first month! It’s easy to do work in marketing – or anything else really – when you believe in the service you provide. It’s also kind of cool that I’m working in an industry that I have a lot of family experience in – my step-dad and mum both manage a hospital system back in Dallas, Texas.
And yeah, it’s really cool how somewhat random things have seemingly come together in this role: I worked in finance for four years, two in urban policy and planning with a lot of exposure to design, got a masters in management and policy, and now I get to bring bits and pieces from all of those backgrounds, combined with new skills acquired on the job here, into something that I think fills a massive service gap in London and maybe eventually the UK.
What sucks? Well, not being from the UK originally definitely adds some challenges – learning regulatory compliance (well, that probably isn’t fun for many people), even learning terms for services that are different – but I’m really stretching to come up with anything to complain about… it’s a pretty good place to be!
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
ML: As a company, we are still projecting 15% month-on-month growth for the foreseeable future, so that is the number one goal, and how this translates into SEO growth, CPC reductions, domain authority growth, conversion rate on the website, conversion rate on calls, and satisfaction rate from customers.
And growth in the number of patient-facing hours our doctors have is obviously pretty important, but our CEO and medical director handle that.
The LDC logo
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
ML: Google Analytics is obviously huge. But we also use tools such as Google Search Console, AdWords, Bing, Moz, Searchmetrics, Adobe Creative Suite, and if I don’t mention MS Excel I have a feeling I might get called out for it by one of our associates.
Before we had Creative Cloud, I made our poor associate do some design work in Excel. It was pretty basic – and actually worked just fine! – but yeah, I still remember him asking me “Do people do that?!” Well, one person does! Either way, we’ve progressed from the dark ages and all use Creative Suite now! Just don’t tell the architects and designers I used to work with, if that’s okay?
E: How did you get started in the marketing side of the industry, and where might you go from here?
ML: Complete chance. Honestly, we just needed to figure out how to get our name out there, and at LDC we have had a few consultants come in for 3+ month project management roles to shore up certain areas. They’ve all been great exposure for me – I never want to do our accounting ever again! – but one of them was focused on digital marketing. PPC expert, knew his SEO, and a great teacher. We still work together on many things tech-related, and he’s been a great mentor.
It’s been pretty exciting as well. Truth be told, I never wanted to do anything at all involved in marketing. I was strictly a numbers guy, but turns out the combination works pretty well, and I’m having a blast. But once again, it helps to believe in the service you provide. Probably couldn’t do it any other way.
E: Which healthcare companies do you think are doing digital/marketing well?
ML: You know, whenever you discuss healthcare in the UK, you have to talk about the NHS. They dedicate a lot of resources to digital, and it really does show. WebMD/Boots does a pretty good job as well, and some of the newer online consultation setups are making some headways, and it certainly makes sense for them to invest heavily into digital, given the platform.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in the marketing industry?
ML: Believe in your service and know your product inside and out. The gains we experience by knowing how one part affects another part of the business is key, especially if you are working in a fast-paced environment.
Oh, and be flexible. At least with us, doesn’t matter if you came in for one role, if something else needs to get done and becomes a higher priority, it only helps to be fluid, adaptable, and get it done. Then move on to the next!