|Addiction Treatment Industry Newswire
|07/23/2013 –ATIN – Fast growing Caron Foundation has hired a new marketing chief, with Fortune 500 veteran John Henry taking over the responsibilities of public relations, community outreach, marketing and business development at a key time for the Pennsylvania non-profit, a time when Caron says its annual client services revenues have surged to $125 million making it the largest private non-profit addictions operation in the nation. Like its high-end non-profit brethren, players like Hazelden, Betty Ford, Father Martin’s Ashley and others, Caron competes broadly with for-profits in the addictions space that sometimes spend as much as a quarter of client revenues and more on advertising and marketing expense. In an interview with Treatment Magazine, Henry scoffed at such exorbitant marketing spends as completely inappropriate for a non-profit, saying that Caron’s spend would be in the range of four percent to eight percent of revenues, indicating a dollar outlay of perhaps $10M-$12M annually.
In the wake of its big acquisition of the struggling Hanley Center and greenfield developments like the ultra high-end Ocean Drive, Caron has emerged has the largest player in the key “destination” South Florida addiction treatment hub with over 400 beds of capacity, much of that based on the Florida Model partial hospitalization. Making the Caron marketing feat all that more remarkable and unique is that Caron has held fast to its all cash pay policy, refusing since managed care’s earliest days to submit its care standards to outside review by insurance gatekeepers. “It’s true that what drives this, and allows us to fill beds with a relatively modest spending profile, is Caron’s very strong alumni outreach and referral programs,” says Henry, agreeing that filling beds in this manner is by far the most cost effective. “It’s not free though by any means,” he added. “We spend substantial sums maintaining these networks, but acquiring clients through reputational word-of-mouth is still far, far less than going out on the Internet.” The alumni networks of places like Caron and Hazelden, based as they are on decades long relationships, in fact represent an enormous competitive advantage over the for-profits, which tend to maintain relatively underdeveloped alumni networks. Promises in Malibu is a big exception to that rule, it’s network being a Hollywood Who’s Who and the most valuable asset Elements Behavioral picked up when it acquired Promises from founder Richard Rogg five years ago. In South Florida, Watershed CEO Chris Crosby put big resources into a formal alumnus referral mechanism that Watershed said very quickly began to pay off.
Despite Caron’s rapid growth – a decade ago CEO Doug Tieman was still struggling to bring the $20M-a-year non-profit back from excessive debt pre-managed care – and the center’s historic position as among the pioneers beginning over 50 years ago of the 12-Step-based modalities that dominate in the U.S., Henry perceives that Caron suffers from underdeveloped name recognition and branding of the Caron moniker. To remedy this, Henry points out that Caron’s marketing spends have tended to be heavily weighted toward the Internet – understandable given the pressure of getting “heads-in-beds” in an all cash pay environment – and that in the future he plans a broadening Caron’s exposure using more traditional marketing channels like print and television. “We also plan on leveraging our research, using the public relations function more aggressively to highlight what is going on here at Caron.”
Like most top marketing guys in recent years, Henry in addition to working marketing and advertising at top corporates has been engaged as a principal in technology enterprises like data mining and other ventures.
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