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Zoe Bedford | ZPB Healthcare Communications

“Starting up a business is easy but staying with it and growing it is far harder,” states Zoe Bedford, the Chief Executive of ZPB Associates.

Setting up ZPB Associates in 2009, right after the recession, Zoe faced storms that made her plump for a creative mindset and team-oriented ethos, making the organization thrive through the pandemic, recession, and the European geopolitical crisis.

With this mindset and a comprehensive approach, the consultants at ZPB Associates work toward providing quality and effective communication to the healthcare niche. The organization has acted as the bridge between providers and the healthcare system. With its data-driven communication network, the organization helps position and steer its clients on the path of growth. Under Zoe Bedford’s exemplary leadership, the organization combines strategy, data, marketing, and communication all in one place.

In an interview with Insights Care, Zoe Bedford shared valuable facts about the USPs of ZPB Associates highlighting its vital role in providing effective communication in the healthcare niche.

Below are the interview highlights:

Zoe, please tell our readers about ZPB Associates in detail.

 ZPB Associates is a data-driven and insight-led communications business based in London, UK. We offer clients new networks, channels, and ways to succeed in the changing UK health care system. We bring deep market insight and expertise to communications, driving the adoption of new treatments, technologies, and innovation.

From data and tech firms to pharma, med-tech, and organizations that care for patients across the acute, community, and primary care, ZPB Associates helps position and steer organizations through the UK health and care system, positioning them for growth.

We are a team of 16 communications consultants brought together from various backgrounds, including pharma, hospital trusts, the media, data firms, charities, and health regulators. We have a carefully selected team of associates, including research, data science, creative and digital. Our delivery model contains advisors who are all active leaders within healthcare organizations who bring live system insight, sector knowledge, and stakeholder access.

Tell us about the services that ZPB Associates provides to its clients as a comprehensive suite of growth services.

ZPB Associates’ work fits into three categories: insight and analysis, marketing and communications, and creative services.

Our team of data analysts and market researchers creates convincing evidence bases and new perspectives on which to make qualified and evidenced decisions and build effective strategies. We blend quantitative and qualitative techniques to help clients understand their audiences and market better.

Our multi-award-winning marketing and comms team has a track record of delivering outstanding campaigns spanning from brand creation, to digital, to PR and media. We do whatever it takes to grow our clients’ profiles, expand their audience base, and build meaningful connections with their audiences.

Some of our clients come to us with a specific project or problem to unpick, while others require a full-service integrated marketing and comms service that spans all areas of our offer. From buyer journey mapping through social media and digital marketing – we’ve got it covered.

What are the USPs that highlight ZPB Associates’ presence as one of the trusted companies in the healthcare industry? 

We work with clients to help them improve outcomes for patients, value for the health system, and staff experience. Our USP is our unrivalled network and deep market expertise, enabling us to offer clients an insight-led approach. We operate across three sectors within healthcare: pharma and life sciences; digital health and technology; service delivery and providers.

We have a unique 360-degree view of the market, allowing us to create new routes to markets, leverage strategic partnerships, and utilize alternative channels.

Our team is agile, creative, and responsive. Our insight into the UK healthcare landscape and profile as full-service UK health sector specialists means we understand our clients’ audiences, allowing our work to have more impact.

What are the essential factors and aspects that ZPB Associates implements to provide effective solutions for the sustainable growth of businesses for its clients in the healthcare space?

What sets ZPB Associates apart is our insight-led approach and deep understanding of UK healthcare. All our work is built on knowledge of our client’s business, customers, and market. These foundations allow us to create work that facilitates growth and achieves objectives.

What were the initial challenges that ZPB Associates had to overcome, and looking at the current industry scenario, what are the challenges now?

ZPB Associates was set up in the aftermath of the 2009 fiscal crisis and has subsequently weathered a global recession, a pandemic and the subsequent aftermath. The business was born in challenging times that necessitated a particular mindset that has stood us in good stead over the last decade.

Healthcare is a highly politicized sector, and in the UK, we are often beholden to the parliamentary cycle. This can be destabilizing for our clients, but it also heralds plenty of opportunity for a communications business that specializes in deep sector knowledge and insight.

The team is passionate about healthcare and creating a healthcare system that improves lives. This focus, coupled with an agile and inventive mindset and team-oriented ethos, has allowed the business and the team to thrive.

As an experienced professional, what would you like to advise the budding aspirants who are willing to venture as a service provider in the healthcare industry? 

Starting up a business is easy but staying with it and growing it is far harder.

Healthcare is complex, so underestimate that at your peril. If you want to provide an innovative service, it is vital to understand your customers and your patients or users.

There are many customers within the healthcare system. Your economic buyer will not necessarily be the same, nor even have the same motivations, as your clinical buyer or your end patient or consumer. Understanding this is essential.

We have seen a proliferation of modern technologies and digital health platforms enter the market in recent years – the ones who succeed are the ones who understand the context of their customers’ worlds, whether that be the regulatory context or the local market forces. The other thing to bear in mind is product-market fit. It sounds obvious, but different markets have different payer and funding models, determining your go-to-market strategy.

For all its difficulties, however, healthcare is endlessly rewarding, fascinating, and vital. We wouldn’t want to work in any other sector.

What is the current scenario of healthcare marketing agencies in the healthcare niche? 

As the NHS emerges from the pandemic and undertakes significant structural change, healthcare agencies must be innovative, particularly when developing insight.

We’re obsessed with understanding our clients’ audiences and what will help them achieve their desired outcomes. The changing NHS means many of our clients’ customers have moved, evolved, or even temporarily disappeared, so we need to work smarter to get the insight we need to be effective. Content and delivery must be uniquely compelling to create the cut-through necessary to drive action and awareness.

Fundamental to our approach is a deep understanding of audiences and their drivers. The mix is unique to healthcare–policy and operational guidance at a national level, as well as local priorities and individual motivations, which means there is a lot to unpack before strategy and delivery start.

Our Insights Team has developed methodologies and techniques to help clients understand how to position themselves for new NHS models, what value they need to bring to customers, and what thought leadership would be highly valued by buyers and influencers.

An Exemplary Leader

Zoe set up ZPB Associates in 2009 to build an environment where the NHS, independent sector, life sciences, and third sector can have better connected and more productive partnerships. This was inspired by Zoe’s recognition that UK healthcare is a complex system with multiple payers, providers, and suppliers from many sectors. And yet, despite shared goals, the partnerships between the distinct parts of the system were often dysfunctional and not necessarily set up to succeed and deliver value to patients and taxpayers.

Focusing on this, Zoe set up ZPB Associates to use data, insight, and communications to drive stronger partnerships that ultimately would allow patients to access better treatments, technologies, and therapies faster. Since then, ZPB Associates has gone on to win multiple awards and has doubled in size over the last couple of years.

Zoe sits on various advisory panels, notably on women in healthcare and female leadership or entrepreneurship. She is a Non-Executive Director of the NHS Confederation, a Trustee of the public health charity C3 Collaborating for Health, and until recently, was on the Board of the global business network, The Entrepreneurs Organization.