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The Disconnect In Advertising In The Medical Sales Industry With Zed Williamson And Clark Wiederhold

Posted on April 13, 2022

MSP 84 | Medical Advertising


Have you ever wanted to provide a certain therapy or treatment, but there is just no patient demand for it? Zed Williamson and Clark Wiederhold are the people hired by private practices and med-tech to capture that demand. In this episode, they join Samuel Gbadebo to share how they are helping many healthcare providers give the procedures they want to do and see the patients they want to see. At the heart of it is advertising. Zed and Clark get to the root of why people need to unlearn what they know from advertising and start being accountable for the results. Join this conversation as they dig deep into the disconnect in advertising in the medical sales industry and how they are fixing that gap.

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The Disconnect In Advertising In The Medical Sales Industry With Zed Williamson And Clark Wiederhold

We have with us two great guests, go by the name Zed and Clark. They help businesses grow, specifically physician practices and companies in the med-tech space and the way they do it is very interesting, fascinating, and something you want to know. I love coming across unique, nuanced businesses and these guys are the definition of that. For those out there interested in growth that has a practice or are part of a company and are trying to grow an area, you want to know everything these guys have to share. As always, thank you for reading and I do hope you enjoy part one of this interview.

Zed and Clark, how are you guys doing?

We are doing well.

That is what I’d love to know. Let’s take it from the top. Tell us who you guys are and what you guys do.

I’m Zed Williamson. I have a company that I started several years ago out of frustration for an advertising industry that does not hold itself accountable for an actual result. The company is rooted in an understanding of neuroscience and behavior change. Private practices and med-tech hire our company to create demand for specific therapies and treatments for patients or capture demand. Practices that are having a hard time dealing with a load of patients will hire us to bring in that patient demand.

My name is Clark Wiederhold. I have been in sales and sales leadership positions for many years. I worked in a number of different industries. I did not start out in healthcare or med device, but I ended up there for several years and that is where I ran into the Zed’s company, team, and business. I’m here with the company because I honestly felt the impact of the business on my own sales territory. I happened to have a client and this physician’s numbers started blowing up, so I walked in and I had a good relationship with them. I was like, “What’s going on? I know I’m good, but what’s happening?” He goes, “I’m working with this company and they happen to be headquartered right outside of my territory.”

I reached out to Zed and we got connected. It was one of those things where some other counterparts also started leveraging them. You push them with other clients. As I moved into the management leadership role, their influence spread around across our organization, and not only did I see and feel the impact on the clients that we worked with, but also on our own business in med-tech. A few years ago, when a Zed was looking to take scale to the next level, we were having some discussions, and it made a lot of sense, and the move was easy for me.

We are bringing the most amazing solutions to patient populations. Share on X

What’s your audience like? How many people or accounts are you serving, so we have a general idea?

We have about 140 private practice customers all across the United States in different specialties. You would categorize them as private practice specialties who are interested in staying independent. There are others that hire us, but that is the person who has a goal, wants to do more, and may say something like, “I would do this procedure, except I don’t have the patients.” If someone says that, that is likely someone who would hire us to help them achieve a very purposeful business for their practice.

You guys work with providers that are private practices and medical tech companies, is that correct?


Before we get into that, when it comes to private practice, what stage are you working with providers on, when they start out or do they need to have been in business for a little while? Where do you guys jump in?

The answer is not singular. One of our most favorite things in the world is when someone is starting from scratch because maybe they are leaving a group they are unhappy with. You have that one person who realizes they were hauling most of the load in the group practice and they said, “Enough of this, I’m going to go start my own practice,” and they hire us to help them create something very strong and profitable quickly. The thing we do for that customer is that people would say it is not possible, but we get practices, see the patients they want to see, and be profitable within months.

MSP 84 | Medical Advertising

Medical Advertising: You can take ownership of steering patients towards providers that believe what you believe, and if they are good candidates, they will treat them that way through their algorithm.


It is so gratifying. It is because the data is all raw and you don’t have interference from referral networks that have been there. In fact, in most of these situations, those referral network data don’t exist because they are brand new in a new market, or they were severed because of a bad partner relationship or something like that. You get to see the impact of the full team plan go into action because their patients are coming from anywhere else.

There’s another group of people where they may be in practice and they have decided that they are busy, but they are not busy with the patients they want to be busy with. They may have been in practice for years. Maybe they are getting closer to retirement. They are 10 or 8 years away from retiring and still want to treat patients, but they are not looking to work from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM beyond the call. They want to focus on having a healthy business but also a healthy life outside of business.

Let’s talk about the med-tech companies. How do you guys work with them?

Med-tech is one of my favorite things in the world and the reason is that med-tech is bringing the most amazing solutions to patient populations and there is this little barrier in between that called private practice. I mentioned that the company is rooted in neuroscience and is about behavior and behavior change. In reality, in advertising and marketing, all we are doing is changing behavior when it is done correctly. Something is happening out there right now. We want something slightly different to happen.

Med-tech will hire us to create patient demand for a very specific procedure. This does one of a couple of things. One, patients learn that there may be an opportunity to feel a lot better, a lot sooner than going through the typical healthcare bureaucracy, spending years in private practice, and getting referred to a specialist. This gets them to a solution quicker. It also gets patients asking for procedures, which drives behavior change at the practice level.

If someone has been slightly against shifting from their current treatment algorithms or protocols, that is to be expected. There are a lot of biases that tell us that that is how humans are status quo bias, commitment bias, mission bias, and all these things that keep people doing what they are already doing. However, a patient goes into the practice and asks repeatedly, “Do you do the ABC procedure?” It will shock that person into being more aware that maybe they need to learn or potentially offer a different therapy.

The industry of advertising and marketing is horrible. It is built on a complete foundation of no accountability to actual results. Share on X

Med device, med-tech, biotech, whatever terminology or subsegment you fit in the industry, we do a good job of professional ed training, internal training, peer-to-peer training from technique and everything, but traditionally the piece that they haven’t taken ownership of is patient education. They have a little bit, but I’m talking well beyond the brochures that are available and literature that can be put up around an office. That is stage one.

Emotionally connecting with the issues that patients that they help fix or dealing with and letting those folks know, as Zed mentioned, “You may not have to live this way,” and as opposed to hoping that Bob’s nephew or neighbor recommends one of the providers that happens to believe what you believe as a company. You can take ownership of steering patients towards providers that believe what you believe, and if they are a good candidate, they are going to treat them that way through their algorithm.

Some people might be reading this and thinking this sounds a little bit too good to be true, telling me these guys can magically do the procedures I want to do, get me doing them or get the patients that I want to see, get me seeing them regardless of the industry whether it be biotech, medical device, or medical equipment. The burning question that everybody wants to know and you guys can only share what you can, how are you guys doing this?

First of all, you are right to say it is too good to be true. In most cases, it is because the industry of advertising and marketing is horrible and sucks. It is built on a complete foundation of no accountability to actual results. If you go back 100 years, copywriters were brilliant. It was all based on psychology and behavior. If you go look in an ad that was written in the late 1800s, you want to buy the product. It is because it was solving a problem and emotionally connecting.

They knew a lot of what we know now and we know more now, so it is silly we don’t do this anymore, but what destroyed the advertising industry is awards and college for marketing, honestly. I’m sorry to say this, but if you have a degree in Advertising and Marketing, unfortunately, you’ve learned a lot of stuff you need to unlearn.

I want you to speak to both more about why getting a marketing degree is probably not advantageous as people might assume it is, but the first talk to us about these awards. What do you mean by awards in the advertising industry?

MSP 84 | Medical Advertising

Medical Advertising: If you understand the biases that drive behavior nowadays, you also know how to shift that behavior and create messaging that does specifically that.


Back in the late ’50s and ’60s, they started giving awards for creativity in advertising. As an advertising agency, you get to charge a lot of money to create messaging. Let’s say, TV commercials, digital ads, and all these different ads, you charge a lot of money to create that stuff. You tend to get hired more if your work has been “award-winning.”

The problem with award-winning is the awards are not given on results or outcomes that the commercial created. They are given on the opinion from an artistic standpoint. If you want to have a beautiful woman twirling in a bed of daisies with nice music in the background, in a single word that says, “Ooh,” or whatever, it might win an award, but not a single patient went and got your service.

Is this a governing body that gives out these awards?

There are different associations. The more awards you win as an ad agency, the more likely you are going to get new clients. Imagine a huge company. If you decide who to hire, are you motivated to hire someone who has got the most awards or not? It is the most awards. The problem is that they are awarding the opposite of effectiveness, so that is one big industry issue. It is, “Let’s do a bunch of focus groups. Let’s ask questions and create advertising that is not designed to do any behavior changing.”

We all like it. We can pat ourselves on the back that it is pretty, cute, or amusing, but in reality, the patient in misery sat there during the commercial or saw it online and then they went on with their life as normal. They did not do anything different. I do not call that success. That impacted the industry. The advertising industry isn’t fond of us because we will push back against the idea of, “Let me create a commercial that everybody loves and is proud to put an award upon the bookshelf.”

We don’t want that. We want results. Results come from behavior. Neuroscience has known that human behavior is predictable. If you understand the biases that drive behavior nowadays, you also know how to shift that behavior and create messaging that does specifically that. If that is your goal, then it can be done.

This is probably on people’s minds now. Is this something that is well-known in advertising that there’s a big disconnect? If it is not, how did you catch it? What allows you to say, “It is not being done correctly. We got a better way?”

Hope is not the most motivational thing in the world. Loss aversion is. Share on X

I used to be a copywriter years ago in the advertising world. I won some awards back in the day because I wrote a copy that was amusing. People laughed and thought it was fun. I had a little bit of an ego about it. I created a piece that was targeted toward an audience that happened to be the same demographic that my wife was at that time. We were dating at that time. About three seconds into this message, she started talking to me about some other thing.

I’m looking at her going, “I just told you I had blood, sweat, and tears over this. This is important.” “No, that is cute.” I went, “She does not care at all about this.” I went a little insane on a deep dive into human behavior. That put me on a path of understanding sales. I started applying things when I was working in media and saw an immediate difference. Everything was so different than what everyone else was experiencing. I said, “This is how it has to be. I couldn’t feel good about the idea of someone investing their money and their small business into doing something that wasn’t creating the outcome they were looking for.”

When you realized there needed to be a shift, was your copywriting more effective, and were you still getting recognized for the results you were bringing in or did people stop giving you awards?

I never won an award after that, never again, but people paid me a lot more money for their results. I did that for some years and then I decided to start this company several years ago. College is great. You should go to college. The joke I made about getting a marketing degree is they are going to review things like Coca-Cola. You are going to advertise a private practice that helps a patient get out of lower back pain way differently than you are Coca-Cola. College does not teach that. They just say, “Do this because this is good.”

It is the same thing with cars. We don’t have to explain to somebody what a car is. They already understand that. Advertising has to get you interested in the model, so you go buy that model. In medical, you have to get someone to understand that there’s a solution they didn’t know existed. Imagine if there were no cars and the idea of a car was not even close to your mind. How would you rate the commercial to get someone interested in buying a car? It is a lot different than what college teaches you, but that is what we have to do in healthcare.

You have sold us on what qualifies you guys to do it differently and because you guys get great results, but again, how are you guys doing it and share as much as you can?

MSP 84 | Medical Advertising

Medical Advertising: Advertising has to get you interested in the model, so you go buy that model. In medical, you have to get someone to understand that there’s a solution they didn’t know existed.


I like to think of business as a bucket with a bunch of holes in it. There’s no such thing as one specific light switch that you turn on and off to make a campaign effective. There are many variables that create failure. If we emotionally connect to someone that is going to drive a behavior change, the reason is something called the Reticular Activating System or the RAS.

If anyone out there is driving around, they’ve probably passed or followed a car sometime throughout now. I bet it is hard to think of a single one that they have. The reason is there’s no emotional connection to it. Unless they cut you off, then you can be like, “That jerk in the blue Ford,” but if there is no emotional connection, we are designed to filter it out. Our brains were awesome at keeping us alive thousands of years ago. Walmarts and stoplights did not exist then.

Now, we have to take into account how our brains are built, so the first thing, Reticular Activating System, is messaging that connects emotionally. We then have to understand negativity bias. All these advertising messages that tell people how great things can be are designed to fail. You go, “That sounds crazy. Why would we not tell people what the benefit would be?” It is because they are not wired for that.

Hope is not the most motivational thing in the world. Loss aversion is. Let’s talk to the person about their pain. Let’s connect on an emotional level, so they understand and start nodding their head, “These people get us.” Let’s speak emotionally to them so that we can motivate their behavior. A guy by the name of Jonathan Haidt came up with a pretty cool way to think about the brain and it is referred to as the elephant and the rider.

Make sure you tune in next time to read the rest of this story with a Zed and Clark. The elephant and the rider, it is pretty interesting what he speaks to, and that is going to be in part two next time. It is fascinating what these guys are doing in the med-tech space, for providers and for companies. It is truly innovative stuff.

You might be reading this and someone who wants to get into the industry or maybe you are in the industry and you are thinking, “I want to have my best year ever.” We are only in April 2022, so much can happen. Your performance can change overnight and overnight, meaning 3 to 6 months. What I’m saying is there is enough time to make significant impacts and the results you want to see this year.

If this is you and these are the things that have crossed your mind, make sure you visit EvolveYourSuccess.com and follow the prompt. You can select either Attain a Medical Sales Role or Improve Your Sales Performance. Either track you take will lead you to opportunities and resources that can transform your experience in your career and the career you might want to get into. As always, thank you for reading. Make sure you tune in next time for part two with Zed and Clark.


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About Zed Williamson

MSP 84 | Medical Advertising

President at TrackableMed | Podcast Co-host | We create predictable, trackable patient demand for specialty medical practices and MedTech companies.






About Clark Wiederhold

MSP 84 | Medical Advertising

Chief Sales Officer at TrackableMed | Podcast Co-host | We create predictable, trackable patient demand for specialty medical practices and MedTech companies.