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Top Investments You Can Make When Starting a Business with Jessica Walker

Jessica Walker is the CEO of Care Sherpa. She’s a marketer by chance, data geek, and business strategist. We’re so excited to have her as our first guest. Today, we’re geeking out on data and leads with Jessica. Hear her entrepreneurial journey and the top investments you can make when just getting started. 

Time Stamps:

  • 00:00 - Intro
  • 04:57 - How many touch points does it take to become a lead.
  • 08:32 - Top investments you can make when getting started.
  • 11:20 - Jessica’s best lead sources.
  • 13:16 - The Alpaca Spirit Animal
  • 14:35 - The business survival strategy for COVID.
  • 16:26 - Psychology of the buyer
  • 18:14 - Jessica's final tip


You can connect with Jessica on LinkedIn here.

Find more marketing insights and show notes here


Intro: You're listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast with John Ballard and Evan Facinger.

Evan Facinger: All right, everybody. Thank you for joining us for another Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast. John Ballard's here of course with me, and I'm Evan Facinger. And we've actually got a guest this time around, and we're pretty excited. It's Jessica Walker from Care Sherpa. Jessica, you want to introduce yourself?

Jessica Walker: Hi Evan. Thanks so much for the invitation and excited to be having the convo today.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, definitely. So why don't you just get us started? Maybe tell us a little bit about yourself for I guess those of you who aren't aware.

Jessica Walker: Well, thank you for that. So, as I mentioned, my name is Jessica Walker and I am the founder and CEO of Care Sherpa. Care Sherpa specializes in the healthcare space, where we assist healthcare providers with the effectiveness of what happens after they work with partners like you guys and generate all these amazing leads that are looking for their services, where we come in, and as the Sherpa name implies, we help them kind of get across the line and actually convert to high value, high margin patients.

Jon Ballard: I was really excited to hear from Jessica. Again, she's been a long time client and worked with Foremost for a long time. So, that was really kind of cool to see her go out on her own. Because in the past, you worked for bigger companies doing a lot of marketing automation and stuff like that. Is that right?

Jessica Walker: Yeah. So you're right, John, to our history and kind of the way that we connected in the space. And people ask me all the time how did I come up with this idea for Care Sherpa and what was the impetus? And to be candid, I just got pissed. I got pissed off that these hospitals and health systems were spending all this money, hundreds of thousands of dollars on these massive campaigns. And I was a part of that. I was part of the system working with CRM vendors and digital marketing groups. And then we generate all these leads, and patients will be calling, sending in web forms, and no one would call them back. No one would reach out to them. No one would respond.

Jessica Walker: And I remember one day I was having a conversation with my biggest client and basically said, "Why are you flushing your money down the toilet? Why are you doing this? You're actually detracting from your brand by having this campaign and not responding to people who have a need. Let's shut this off if you're not going to do anything." And the long and short of it is it ultimately came down to where she just said, "I can't control this. As a marketing operator, I can't control operations. It's outside of my control. I can't fix it. I have no solution.: So that's where Care Sherpa was born to say fine, I'll fix it. I'll find a solution. I'll make it.

Jon Ballard: Awesome. And its surprises me all the time, we'll do the same thing with clients. We'll get all these leads in, and operations will get them or the sales guys. And sometimes there's a delay in even getting them. And by the time they're calling somebody back, it's two, three weeks sometimes. It just amazes me that you'd spend money on marketing and not think about execution, who's going to follow up. And I think Evan, we find this really true on your sales side, how quickly you can to leads that really get people engaged with you. The first one to get back a lot of times will get a project or a job.

Evan Facinger: There's a lot of studies to support that.

Jessica Walker: Well, I was thinking too, on one of the projects you guys helped me with with Foremost around the research we did to look at how many touch points does it take to get a lead? And so, you will go across any industry. The data says you basically have 24 hours or less if you want to capture a lead and make that contact. We at Care Sherpa, our rule is 20 minutes or less. So we set up with the relationship to actually live answer. But then outside of those office hours or whatever the case may be, we have other mechanisms, but the goal is 20 minutes or less because we want to make sure we're there before the competition is. But the other kind of key stat, as I tell people all the time, when we talk about marketing effectiveness and the ROI on marketing, is that it takes nine to 13 touch points to convert a lead.

Jessica Walker: So if you think about your average campaign, like, okay, sure, go on your website, they fill out a web form. There's one touch point. Do they get the thank you message after they were sent in the lead? Did someone call them? And then did we email them? Did we follow up? Do you think about that? Nine to 13 times, we have to purposely with a plan, with intentionality, reach out to this person to get them across the line. And as I talked to my hospital clients, I say, what do you think you're doing on average? And I don't know what you guys have seen in other industries, but in healthcare, we're freaking lucky if they get one touch point. We find on average 38% of all leads are never touched at all.

Jon Ballard: That's amazing.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. It seems like a lot of money well spent.

Jessica Walker: And again, I mean, I'm not dogging anybody. I know you guys want your margins. They're marketing partners. But let's be honest. I think we all get in this space because we want to take care of our clients. We want to see them succeed. We want to impact their business. And it's frustrating that you spend all this mental energy to build these fantastic campaigns and strategies, and then to see them not realize the full value.

Evan Facinger: Well, exactly. And I think, Oh, sorry, go ahead.

Jessica Walker: No, no, no, go ahead.

Evan Facinger: Well, I was just going to touch on you're talking about how it takes all those different touch points, and it's exciting even when you take that before they become an actual lead or they fill out a form, and you start to back into what all those touch points did they have to actually even become a lead in the first place. You start taking a look at whether it's first touch attribution, last touch, multi-touch, kind of taking into consideration all those different touch points, and how much different the success of some of your campaigns can look just based on that alone.

Jessica Walker: Absolutely. And one of the things that, so I have to also make a confession. I'm not a marketer by trade, never have been, never claimed to be, but I am a data geek and a data girl. And what got me into this space was exactly tracking to the data. Because I'm used to kind of that hard science of if this, then that. And as I came into marketing, that was one of the things I discovered is that there's not a lot of attribution tracking that's clean and pure. We can answer those big questions. And so another big part of what we do is going back to talking about and tracking the data to say, okay, there's this lead that came in, and that's great, yay. Let's all celebrate a lead. But was it a good lead? Was it really the valuable lead that we're looking for that's going to impact our business?

Jessica Walker: Or then was it a bunch of garbage? And so a lot of what we do through the work with our partners is the tracking and the mechanisms to say, let's optimize your marketing spend. Why are we spending money on this Facebook campaign if we're only getting garbage leads that are never going to convert? Versus let's double down in this SEM because we're actually seeing that the people that are in that moment of truth activating are converting in that period of time. And just by having that through the data. And I think that that's another part that is just one of the opportunities that so many people can do to really optimize their spend and optimize their performance.

Jon Ballard: So I'm curious, I mean, you took this big jump. I mean, how's it going? I mean, how long have you been at it and are you still terrified every day?

Jessica Walker: That's a great question, John. Gosh, if you would've asked me back in March, I would've had a completely different answer. I mean, we help healthcare providers with elective procedures. So COVID did not do us any favors when elective procedures completely fell frozen. And so at that point, I'm happy to say we are just at one year of being in business. And I mean, I honestly was not sure what was going to happen during the COVID lockdown period. That ability to kind of pivot and say, okay, where can we help our clients, one of the things that came out of it was also not just new leads, but the whole patient pipeline and activation and reactivation. And where our new growth has come from of folks who are realizing that their biggest opportunity is they can't spend the way that they needed to or had in the past or that patients aren't activating at the same rate.

Jessica Walker: So a lot of the work that we're doing now is helping them go back through and kind of re-harvest their internal leads, reactivate some of them and then candidly also prioritize the leads they have and ask that question of where are we spending our time for the biggest return? Are we getting the people who are ready to go and have that surgery? Or are we nurturing people manually, very expensively that maybe you're thinking 12 months out? So building those prioritization models is where a lot of our work has come from in helping support clients.

Jon Ballard: Awesome. Now let's talk about-

Jessica Walker: Sorry, that's a long way of saying that we're in business still and it's going okay. But it was a journey.

Jon Ballard: Yeah, that's a good answer. I think a lot of businesses could identify with that right now during these crazy times. So, let's switch gears a little bit to your marketing. I mean, you were starting out. Where did you invest your dollars, and how did you prioritize that for people that are thinking about starting their own business? I mean, where would you go first?

Jessica Walker: Oh my gosh, what a great question. So I have some biases, let's just start there. So again, being a data girl, I started with probably the first marketing spin I had was on a good CRM, knowing that I had from my professional network. So yeah, one of the first lists I loaded from my CRM was my LinkedIn and just pulled that data down and said, okay, who do I know? And prioritized them from connections and networks, et cetera. The next and well, okay, that's not true, because the first investment I made was my website. So I knew that I had put my domain-

Evan Facinger: Good answer.

Jessica Walker: Those are pretty close together. But definitely once I named the company, that website. I actually built my first one just to claim the domain and have something out there. But then working with partners like you guys and others in the space, I could not show my face with a website that I created knowing to have the partners that actually know what the heck they're doing. And so working with a good branding agency and a good partner to help me think through the content, that's going to matter, that's going to resonate and speak for my brand. And especially as I'm creating a new vertical, I knew that I'm not a commodity that someone's going to be out there searching for. So what are the other keywords that are going to jump out that people are going to pay attention to? So those were my first three major investments, a good content partner, strategist, good website and good CRM.

Jon Ballard: I was going to say, I'd encourage people listening to go check out your brand because I think you've really done a nice job of making it look very professional. For a year old company, a lot of times we'll see somebody that either did something themselves or did something on the cheap. And it's really hard to market yourself as a professional services company when you don't have your act together to be frank. So hats off to you. I think you've done an excellent job of putting it all together. And to be transparent, we didn't build your website. I know we helped you with some stuff on there, but you did an excellent job of putting that all together.

Jessica Walker: Well, I'll tell you guys from the Startup Hustler's Playbook, the reason why you guys didn't do my site is because I was able to hustle and do some trade-offs with somebody else that built it for me. And that's kind of key of early-stage startup of how do you make things happen? But I mean, like you said earlier, we've worked together since then, now that I can afford you, with some amazing projects that we've done. But I will definitely say my biggest piece in even being in the space was looking at my networks, not even necessarily people that will buy from me, but people that could help support me.

Jessica Walker: And I think that the biggest, most encouraging thing was just having people, and I count you guys as one of them, that were just encouragers and supporters and willing to give me feedback and make sure the areas of knowledge gap that I had, give me those resources and the time. So, I think that's the best thing I would say to anybody that's thinking about it from an entrepreneurial perspective is find your tribe. And the closer you get to that and the people and connections, then it's amazing the partners, the time people are willing to help you.

Jon Ballard: Is there one tool, in particular, you can say this is probably my best lead source? Or maybe you don't even want to give that away. But are you using LinkedIn really heavily to prospect? Or how are you finding new people these days?

Jessica Walker: Well, okay. So I have the advantage of being in a very specific industry in vertical. And the other thing is that, for me, I'm probably the biggest lead source in that I had 15 years of relationships and connections. And I would definitely say that I kind of got very comfortable with putting myself out there and posting things on LinkedIn, posting things on social about just this journey and what I'm doing and kind of talking about it. And I will say that's been the most surprising thing for me is that it's interesting. You never know who's watching and listening until much later someone will reach out and say, "Oh, I saw that video that you posted. And that was spot on." And that always surprises me. So it encourages me to continue to do that. So kind of now a year later, one of the next investments that I've made in marketing is I actually have a content consultant that is actually specifically pushing out content from my brain.

Jessica Walker: We're having regular intervals talking about what's out there. And how do I stay relevant? How do I stay connected? What messages am I sending? Like we were talking before we got going, I recently am recovering from COVID myself. And so now it's like, okay, how does that extrapolate out to my company and the work that we've been doing? And so I have her helping me write blogs and content and videos. So, in terms of, I'd say that that's been my biggest source of just putting good information out there that's helpful to my buyers, that it's not a hard sell. That they're just finding my content, enjoying it, and then looking into what we do and starting conversations.

Jon Ballard: That's awesome. And I think you nailed it too. And I think for a lot entrepreneurs, it's really hard to be the brand and put yourself out there. I mean, it takes effort to, you get criticism as well I think sometimes when you put yourself out there, and nobody likes that. But to really be in this space, if you're going to be leading a company, you got to do that.

Jessica Walker: Well, I'll tell you my other accidental success story. So going back to my website and my branding, my friend that helped me with it, he actually proposed, so Care Sherpa, Sherpa going up the mountainside. So he proposed to me to do our logo with an alpaca and kind of the symbolism between this alpaca. And I was like, oh my gosh, I sell into conservative healthcare systems. There's no way I can go in with an alpaca. But I loved it. It was just so to me. So we ended up turning it into our company mascot, or kind of our this. And it now represents our team and our team spirit. We call it our spirit animal. Well, marketing to marketers, we all know, you got to stand out.

Jessica Walker: Your brand has to be memorable. And so we got t-shirts printed with these alpacas on them. And I'll tell you what, people lost their darn mind over the alpacas. And so I would say from where I stumbled into some success is that I have found that the alpaca, the spirit animal, something fun that represents our culture, represents our brand, it resonates. And so I'd say to your listeners, don't be afraid to also put your personality into it. Because as we talk about, you've got to stand out amongst the crowd, and that's a great way to do it too.

Jon Ballard: Awesome. And people will do anything for a t-shirt.

Jessica Walker: A good quality one.

Jon Ballard: Awesome. Evan, you got some questions prepared as well?

Evan Facinger: Well, I'm actually just curious as to, you kind of touched on this a little bit, but how the beginning of this year and how crazy that was for your company, what are you most excited about as we're kind of closing out 2020?

Jessica Walker: Mm. Well, I'd say as a result of what happened, changed the face of the healthcare dynamic. And so prior to COVID, I was spending a lot of time working with prospects and kind of trying to help convince them to think about patients as consumers and how do you treat a consumer with this elevated experience, and therefore it's going to make a difference. Now, post-COVID, that volumes are the way that they are, and there's even more competition for the surgical volumes, the clients that have come to me more recently are starting at that place. They recognize the pain. They recognize that we know that we need to do something different. And so I would say that the level of relationships, so my newer client, we work with the cosmetic surgeon, and it's probably one of the most rewarding relationships we have.

Jessica Walker: It's basically him and his wife that are building a surgical practice. And we're seeing patient feedback surveys that are coming in and posted on Google reviews and Facebook where they're specifically mentioning my agents, my Sherpas, as making the difference in their decision of whether or not to go with this surgeon. That's rewarding. So to see that and get closer to it. And then as well, because they're so close to the pain, we're able to do some really awesome things really quickly. And it's very rewarding for us. So, I'd say that for me, the general trend is that it's shifted how my buyer is now more open to innovation because they have to. It's innovate to survive.

Evan Facinger: That's great. And I think it's exciting that you get to be part of that innovation too for them. So that's got to add a layer of excitement to the projects, I'm sure.

Jessica Walker: Yeah. And the other thing is that I get to nerd out and do some additional like we're doing some pretty cool research to look at how is the, I know you guys talk about with your customers around the whole idea of a buyer personas. So how do we think about our messaging on our website and how does that answer to each type of your personas? And now I get to extrapolate that out to that first touch point conversation. So, how does a patient decide to buy? What's the psychology behind it? So I would say that that's probably the second thing I'm most excited about is to take that from what we think we're doing on the website as a marketer for this provider, and then how is that translating to when people actually stroke the pen and say, "Yes, I'm going to do this procedure with you"? so I think that as marketers that want to continue to dig in, that's where it gets really cool.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. And I'm sure you've got quite a few different buyer personas that you have to create when you're talking about electives, right?

Jessica Walker: Yeah. And the psychology, and you think about from a cosmetic surgery encounter, someone thinking about a rhinoplasty or a nose job compared to somebody that is evaluating a hip and knee replacement. Completely different motivations. And so that's the cool part though. But I will say it still comes down to the fundamentals of, and people in healthcare don't like this word, of the sales process. We can't just generate all these leads and hope and pray they show up. We actually have to have that active sales process, regardless of what the procedure is, where it is, elevated customer contact and follow up and consistency. And frankly, here's my biggest tip I'll tell everybody, and you know this Evan from being in sales and John, that the biggest gap is asking for the business and asking for that assumptive close to say, let's get you on the books. Let's get you scheduled. So, that's a lot of what we do, is just the way we manage it.

Evan Facinger: Yeah, no, that's great. I was actually going to ask for some tips, so it looks like you beat me to it.

Jessica Walker: I can give you so much more, but I don't want to give away too much there too.

Evan Facinger: Well, how about one more? How about one more? We'll close it out with that.

Jessica Walker: So I think that the biggest tip I'd have if we talk about the average practitioner, I'm thinking about your customers and mine, that maybe have a small shop and maybe they can't afford someone like a Care Sherpa, but we're an outsource business development sales management team. But at the end of the day, what I tell a lot of folks is that it comes down to accountability and intentionality. So if you're going to spend the money intentionally, and it's a big investment, some of these marketing campaigns and investments, be just as intentional about what happens once that person raises their hand. And then make sure that whoever you're assigning, give them the time and the space to actually follow up with that, but also make sure that they're accountable for that follow-up. Any good sales process, you have to have tracking and accountability. And then outside of that, you start with those fundamentals. Then you get to the cool stuff, which is the followup sequence automations and all that good stuff. But get the basics, the blocking, and tackling done first.

Evan Facinger: Yeah. You got to have a process first before you can optimize anything. That's great.

Jon Ballard: So if you're in the healthcare field, make sure you check out our notes. We'll have links to Jessica's company and information out there. So Jessica, anything else to add? Evan? Otherwise, we'll wrap her up for the day.

Evan Facinger: Oh. Where can people find you besides the website that we'll put in the show notes?

Jessica Walker: Thank you so much. It's caresherpa.com. And you can find me, Jessica Walker, on LinkedIn and the socials, but definitely reach out to me and love to connect with LinkedIn. And like I said, going back to beginning of our conversations, my goal is that even if we're not in the same space, we can learn from each other. So I get some of my best findings, I extrapolate out from the financial industry, from heck, actually a long haul trucking company. Actually, I started following them on some of the socials. So I think by all means, reach out and let's get connected and let's share and find different best practices we can cross-pollinate.

Jon Ballard: Cool. Well, thanks so much for your time and we'll be talking to you soon.

Jessica Walker: Thanks guys.

Evan Facinger: Thanks, Jessica.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the Foremost Media Marketing Chat podcast. Don't forget to like and subscribe so you can stay on top of your game by never missing an episode. You can find even more marketing insights and show transcripts at formostmedia.com.