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How to align marketing with big-picture goals

October 25, 2017
by Alicia Hoisington
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When the team at Footprints to Recovery took a step back to evaluate the organization’s marketing efforts, they found that their messaging didn’t quite align with the patients they were treating and hoping to target.

“We identified that millennials for the most part were our patients and clients,” says Chief Marketing Officer Eliott Wolbrom. “What we identified was that the industry as a whole had a lot of messaging and outreach that was talking to an older crowd while our patients were much younger.”

With that realization, Wolbrom says the organization, which has treatment centers in Chicago and New Jersey, revamped its branding to target a younger generation. It was a move that he says others in the industry can learn from, especially as addiction tends to affect millennials more often.

Treatment centers need to adapt their marketing efforts to make sure they are reaching the right audience, and Wolbrom shares the ways in which his organization did just that.

A total revamp

Millennials grew up with technology, and the majority of their communication happens online. Wolbrom and his team knew that their organization’s website needed to speak to a younger generation if the centers were to appeal to the types of populations who need treatment.

“If you look at many other websites in this industry, a lot are your typical footprints in the sand—no pun intended on our company name—or a Beethoven symphony trying to induce peace and calm,” he says. “While that’s important, it also speaks to baby boomers. The people we are helping don’t relate to that kind of messaging.”

That’s why the website was changed to a more “modern and hip” feel, using warm greens and browns that Wolbrom says induce a feeling of calm that appeals to a younger generation. Clinical lingo was rewritten into layman’s terms so that potential patients could understand and get a sense for the treatment they would be provided. Website copy was written into shorter sentences that allow for visitors to easily digest the content.

Navigation was streamlined, with a navigation bar at the top just below contact information displayed in an eye-catching green. Front and center on the home page is a button that reads “Show Me the Way,” while a live chat box opens upon visiting as a way to immediately reach out to site visitors.

Not only were the website and other collateral updated to mesh with the new branding, but Wolbrom says the treatment facility spaces were updated to coincide to what was happening across the enterprise.

Strategic partnerships

The team also recognized the power in strategic alliances and partnered with the Chicago White Sox baseball team to raise awareness for the need to seek treatment. At a recent home game, fans were able to arrange free screening times with the Footprints staff.

“We want people everywhere, if they know someone dealing with addition, to talk about it and know there is help available everywhere,” Wolbrom says. “As an industry, if we start talking about it more, we will start making an impact.”

He says that it was important to go beyond sending out press releases and broadcasting commercials. Partnering with a professional sports organization that had a “strong megaphone” was key to raising awareness for an ongoing problem, especially one in Chicago.

“They can stand with us and say, ‘OK there’s help, let’s talk about it,’” Wolbrom says, adding that the partnership aligned with the treatment center’s goals of targeting millennials.

Wolbrom says it’s important to work with partners that align with your messaging and who are in it for the right reasons, not who will make the most impact on revenue.

“There’s nothing wrong with a net result of profit, but identify strategic partners who are like-minded,” he says. “If all of your decisions are about healing people, the net result will be great.”

While he says these types of partnerships don’t necessarily lead to immediate intakes, the staff did notice parents called in requesting more information about the center as a way to help their children. Thus, the partnership not only raised awareness about addiction but also about the treatment center itself. It’s a lesson Wolbrom says his peers can learn from.

“Other treatment centers should look at ways to partner with organizations,” Wolbrom says. “From the business side, if treatment centers work together to break the stigma, we’ll all benefit. I’m hopeful it will translate into healing.”




Thanks for posting this Ms. Hoisington,
To the readers, I am a copywriter and work for the behavioral health industry. A good place to start in marketing your company or organization is with an audit of the content on your website. As Ms. Hoisington notes here, you may not be reaching your target audience. You may also be reaching others who are not your prospects. It is therefore in the best interest of your and this visitor that the visitor be redirected to other companies and organizations. If you are interested in an audit, I can be reached at and at